October 08, 2012 12:00 PM

In Sunlight And in Shadow

by Mark Helprin |

People PICK



Helprin’s delightful new novel is a 705-page mash note to Manhattan in the years immediately following World War II. Like Winter’s Tale, the 1983 bestseller that made his name, it’s a paean to women and their beauty-and above all to romantic love and its abiding power. Harry, handsome and honorable, returns from military service to run his family’s leather-goods company and is soon besotted with beautiful, strong Catherine, an heiress and actress. But when the Mob tries to run him out of business, the couple’s seemingly eternal idyll is threatened. Helprin paints a dazzling portrait of the city during a particular moment in history and evokes the universal, dizzy delight of falling head over heels in love. Though he occasionally veers toward soapbox pronouncements on honor and codes of conduct, those lapses are easy to forgive. Wise, saturated with sensory detail and beautifully written, Sunlight celebrates the unquenchable bliss of existence.

The Chocolate Money

by Ashley Prentice Norton |



Mommy Dearest, in this darkly funny novel, is Chicago chocolate heiress Babs Ballentyne, who shockingly mistreats her bookish daughter Bettina. Desperate to be loved, Bettina is instead sent to boarding school, where she punishes herself with rough sex and falls for the son of her mother’s lover. What makes Babs tick goes unexplored, but the book is compulsively readable-if not for the faint of heart.

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?

by Rhoda Janzen |



Breezy despite the weighty subject matter-Janzen’s battle with invasive breast cancer-this follow-up to Mennonite in a Little Black Dress tracks the author’s unexpected relationship with a burly holy-roller who stands by her through baldness, abstinence and “unfinished business with God.” Janzen’s wit and love of fashion keep things light, but her conversion to Pentecostalism after a miraculous return to health sends the book into serious seekers’ territory.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO KIM HUBBARD: bookseditor@peoplemag.com

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