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Picks and Pans Main: Books

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The Uncoupling

by Meg Wolitzer |


People PICK


Wolitzer’s previous novels, most recently the 2008 bestseller The Ten-Year Nap, have established her as a whiz at smart send-ups of American culture and the people (us!) who comprise and consume it. In this, her wittiest and most incisive work yet, she delivers a modern version of the ancient Lysistrata story, in which the women of Greece withheld sex to convince their men to end a war. Wolitzer’s sex strike takes place in suburban Stellar Plains, N.J. When the high school drama teacher chooses Lysistrata for the school play, “Women who had suddenly risen up from long, happy relationships … inexplicably said no.” One after another, every woman and teenage girl in Stellar Plains loses interest in lovemaking-threatening high school hookups and lifelong marriages, forcing men and women in suddenly sexless relationships to reassess their romantic attachments and the very meanings of their lives. Stunningly insightful, characteristically hilarious, Wolitzer’s latest holds a mirror up to modern America, offering a shock of recognition amid the laughter.

What if suddenly women lost all interest in their men?

The Land of Painted Caves

by Jean M. Auel |



Three decades after Ayla first appeared as an orphaned Ice Age toddler in The Clan of the Cave Bear, her saga ends with this sprawling finale, the sixth in Auel’s hit series. A working mom’s life was clearly no easier 30,000 years ago: While Ayla’s training to become the clan’s shaman, her man strays, lions attack, the earth quakes. The paintings of the title, likely the famed discoveries at Lascaux, provide balm to her heavy heart. While the uninitiated may find Auel’s epic tedious, she does paint a convincing picture of ancient life. And readers who fell in love with little Ayla will no doubt revel in her prehistoric womanhood.

The Fifth Witness

by Michael Connelly |



The Lincoln Lawyer’s Mickey Haller-played by Matthew McConaughey in the current film-is back, still working out of his Lincoln Town Car but now defending foreclosure clients. When one is accused of murder, Mickey does what he does best, skating on the edges of the system while staying within the law. When his doubts about his client’s innocence grow, he begins to question his role. This is Connelly at his thought-provoking best.

Bent Road

by Lori Roy |



When Celia Scott lived in Detroit before the ’67 riot, she festooned her windows with lace curtains and accented her Sunday best with pearls. Then she and her family moved to rural Kansas, where her children are unhappy, her husband is grieving his sister’s death, and Celia’s pearls remain locked in a drawer. A former tax accountant, author Roy is calculated in the way she builds and eases tension; when a local girl goes missing, even the simplest scenes crackle with suspense. Inhabiting a world where lights are dim and laughter is hushed, Roy’s characters still manage to shine.