Anton DiSclafani

Few authors are able to take the literary world by storm with their first novel. Yet Anton DiSclafani has done just that. Her debut, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, is prime summer book club fiction: the story of a scrappy Depression-era teenager who must forge her own path at a southern academy for debutantes. Yonahlossee achieves a delicate balance: it is as honest as it is about sex and romance as it is about class and social mores, seen through the eyes of a mature yet fragile fifteen-year-old girl. This week, DiSclafani celebrates three stories sharing qualities of her own, each portraying complex heroes overcoming hardship in singularly beautiful locales.

The Fountain Overflows
By Rebecca West

“I’ve never entered a world quite like West’s, populated as it is by artists and ghosts and relics of a vanished, prewar London.  Rose Aubrey tells her family’s story calmly and mercilessly, bringing a childlike clarity to the often confusing lives of adults.  But there is love in the Aubrey household, too, and real closeness. Reading this book reminded me of how I used to read and love books as a child, which only happens occasionally in my adult life.”

The Gardens of Kyoto
By Kate Walbert

“I’m a sucker for the unreliable female adolescent narrator, and Walbert’s Ellen is so beautifully captured that I loved her even as I followed her down the various rabbit holes of her mind. It’s also one of the best books about World War II I’ve ever read, detailing the various pressures of living a life during wartime — how war clarifies and expands your life even as it complicates it terribly.  Walbert’s characters make hard choices and live hard lives, but not without sweetness.”

The Orchardist
By Amanda Coplin

“This book is so incredibly atmospheric I felt like I was in each place Coplin described, from cabin to orchard to brothel. Coplin deals masterfully with time, and this book has the sweeping feel of an epic. I loved how Coplin paid equal attention to the horrors and joys of her characters’ lives. The birth scene is one of the most beautiful, brutal things I’ve ever read.”