I have fallen in love with Vaclav & Lena. I say this not for a lack of something more insightful, but because Haley Tanner's debut novel is simply so lovable. Her characters, quirky and vivid, are presented with the right mix of vulnerability and spunkiness, which quickly endears them to the reader. Upon finishing the novel, I was left feeling as though I had met good people - all flawed in some way and all full of good intentions. The last time I felt this way was while reading Helen Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (also a brilliant debut novel), and like Pettigrew, Tanner's novel contains a realistic, character-driven narrative.
Vaclav & Lena is also reminiscent of the widely acclaimed Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen; both are steeped in the ritz and charm of magic shows and circuses, but their distinction lies in how the two authors approach these similar themes. Vaclav ...
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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