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Marie Antoinette was a child of fourteen when her mother, the Empress of Austria, arranged for her to leave her family and her country to become the wife of the fifteen-year-old Dauphin, the future King of France. Coming of age in the most public of arenas--eager to be a good wife and strong queen--she warmly embraces her adopted nation and its citizens. She shows her new husband nothing but love and encouragement, though he repeatedly fails to consummate their marriage and in so doing is unable to give what she and the people of France desire most: a child and an heir to the throne. Deeply disappointed and isolated in her own intimate circle, and apart from the social life of the court, she allows herself to remain ignorant of the country's growing economic and political crises, even as poor harvests, bitter winters, war debts, and poverty precipitate rebellion and revenge. The young queen, once beloved by the common folk, becomes a target of scorn, cruelty, and hatred as she, the court's nobles, and the rest of the royal family are caught up in the nightmarish violence of a murderous time called "the Terror." With penetrating insight and with wondrous narrative skill, Sena Jeter Naslund offers an intimate, fresh, heartbreaking, and dramatic reimagining of this truly compelling woman that goes far beyond popular myth--and she makes a bygone time of tumultuous change as real to us as the one we are living in now.
What happened to Eden? The New York Times bestselling author of Ahab's Wife, Four Spirits, and Abundance returns with an audacious and provocative novel that envisions a world where science and faith contend for the allegiance of a new Adam & Eve Her books have been hailed as "exceptional" (People); "enchanting" (Entertainment Weekly); "of great cultural and historical importance" (New York Times Book Review); and "original and affecting" (Los Angeles Times). One of the most imaginative and inspired writers of our time, Sena Jeter Naslund masterfully uses her craft to lay bare the poignant complexity of humanity-the passion and despair, the ignorance and frailty, the genius and resilience that define us. From Victorian London to civil-rights-era Alabama, from nineteenth-century New England to revolutionary Paris, her novels offer profound insight and startling truths about human experience. Now, with Adam & Eve, she delivers her most ambitious and encompassing tale to date. Hours before his untimely-and highly suspicious-death, world-renowned astrophysicist Thom Bergmann shares his discovery of extraterrestrial life with his wife, Lucy. Feeling that the warring world is not ready to learn of-or accept-proof of life elsewhere in the universe, Thom entrusts Lucy with his computer flash drive, which holds the keys to his secret work. Devastated by Thom's death, Lucy keeps the secret, but Thom's friend, anthropologist Pierre Saad, contacts Lucy with an unusual and dangerous request about another sensitive matter. Pierre needs Lucy to help him smuggle a newly discovered artifact out of Egypt: an ancient codex concerning the human authorship of the Book of Genesis. Offering a reinterpretation of the creation story, the document is sure to threaten the foundation of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions . . . and there are those who will stop at nothing to suppress it. Midway through the daring journey, Lucy's small plane goes down on a slip of verdant land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East. Burned in the crash landing, she is rescued by Adam, a delusional American soldier whose search for both spiritual and carnal knowledge has led to madness. Blessed with youth, beauty, and an unsettling innocence, Adam gently tends to Lucy's wounds, and in this quiet, solitary paradise, a bond between the unlikely pair grows. Ultimately, Lucy and Adam forsake their half-mythical Eden and make their way back toward civilization, where members of an ultraconservative religious cult are determined to deprive the world of the knowledge Lucy carries. Set against the searing debate between evolutionists and creationists, Adam & Eve expands the definition of a "sacred book," and suggests that true madness lies in wars and violence fueled by all religious literalism and intolerance. A thriller, a romance, an adventure, and an idyll, Adam & Eve is a tour de force by a master contemporary storyteller.
From the opening line-"Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last"-you will know that you are in the hands of a master storyteller and in the company of a fascinating woman hero. Inspired by a brief passage in Moby-Dick, Sena Jeter Naslund has created an enthralling and compellingly readable saga, spanning a rich, eventful, and dramatic life. At once a family drama, a romantic adventure, and a portrait of a real and loving marriage, Ahab's Wife gives new perspective on the American experience. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
"Is it a crime to live? To create happiness for yourself through your own work?"How do writers and painters get their ideas? And what are the hard realities of such seemingly glamorous and romantic lives? In her groundbreaking new novel, New York Times bestselling author Sena Jeter Naslund explores the transformative power of art, history, and love in the lives of creative women. It's midnight on St. James Court, at the heart of which is a beautiful fountain sculpture of Venus rising from the sea. Kathryn Callaghan has just finished the first draft of her novel about renowned painter Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun, a survivor of the French Revolution who was hated for her sympathetic portraits of Marie Antoinette. Although the manuscript is complete, its author remains haunted by Elisabeth's experiences, which are revealed in Sena Jeter Naslund's ingenious novel-within-a-novel interleaved with the chronicle of a day in the life of Kathryn Callaghan. Despite being separated by time, place, and culture, Kathryn and Elisabeth possess similar gifts and burdens: uncompromising aesthetic codes, fierce pride in their artistic expression, and unwavering love and sacrifice for their children. And before the next midnight rolls around, Kathryn will have confronted personal danger as frightening as the butchery that Elisabeth faced during the Reign of Terror. Each woman will be called upon and tested; each will, like Venus, rise triumphantly above the expectations of her world. In this, her compelling and intimate ninth book, Sena Jeter Naslund presents the reader with an eye-opening alternate vision of The Artist: not an angry young man but a woman of age and hard-won experience who has created for herself, against enormous odds, a fulfilling life of thoroughly realized achievement.
Weaving together the lives of blacks and whites, racists and civil rights advocates, and the events of peaceful protest and violent repression, Sena Jeter Naslund creates a tapestry of American social transformation at once intimate and epic. In Birmingham, Alabama, twenty-year-old Stella Silver, an idealistic white college student, is sent reeling off her measured path by events of 1963. Combining political activism with single parenting and night-school teaching, African American Christine Taylor discovers she must heal her own bruised heart to actualize meaningful social change. Inspired by the courage and commitment of the civil rights movement, the child Edmund Powers embodies hope for future change. In this novel of maturation and growth, Naslund makes vital the intersection of spiritual, political, and moral forces that have redefined America.