March books: The best-reviewed titles of last month

“Booth,” by Karen Joy Fowler

In her exquisite new historical novel, Fowler raises the curtain on a cast of ego-driven family members, including future assassin John Wilkes Booth, as they jostle for a spotlight while carelessly shoving into the shadows the more timid among them.

“The Cartographers,” by Peng Shepherd

After her father is found dead, a once promising mapmaker discovers a 90-year-old road map with fantastical properties that sets her on a dangerous hunt for answers.

“Disorientation,” by Elaine Hsieh Chou

In this satire, a hapless PhD candidate roils her campus community after she discovers that the university’s most famous professor — supposedly a Chinese poet — is actually a White man.

“Fencing With the King,” by Diana Abu-Jaber

Abu-Jaber’s eighth book concerns a poet in Upstate New York whose desire to understand her ancestry sends her on a trip with her father to Jordan, where she winds up at odds with her uncle, the king’s right-hand man.

“French Braid,” by Anne Tyler

The Pulitzer Prize winner’s 24th novel may seem familiar to her fans, but that doesn’t make it any less engaging. Tyler begins her story in 1959, exploring the trajectories of a Baltimore family whose choices reverberate over generations.

“Glory,” by NoViolet Bulawayo

What Bulawayo thought would be a nonfiction account of the 2017 coup that ended Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s oppressive, 37-year reign transformed into this satire, which re-creates those real-life events using animals as the main characters.

“Groundskeeping,” by Lee Cole

Cole’s first novel, a love story about two people from divergent backgrounds, is a wrenching examination of class differences and political polarization, which the narrator addresses with an unusual amount of empathy for the side he opposes.

“Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey,” by Florence Williams

In an attempt to cope with the wreckage following her divorce, Williams, a science writer, penned this raw and exhaustively reported exploration of her emotional and physical suffering.

“In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss,” by Amy Bloom

Bloom’s stirring memoir recounts the emotional journey she took with her husband, who chose to end his life after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Julia Morgan: An Intimate Biography of the Trailblazing Architect,” by Victoria Kastner

Morgan, whose many designs included Hearst Castle, is the subject of this book — part biography, part coffee table decor — that walks us briskly through her extraordinary life and career.

“The Last Confessions of Sylvia P.,” by Lee Kravetz

Sylvia Plath continues to fascinate us nearly 60 years after her death. Add this beginning novel to the many books she has inspired. Kravetz weaves together three stories in different timelines that consider Plath’s iconic status.

“Lessons From the Edge,” by Marie Yovanovitch

Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine fired by President Donald Trump in 2019, shot to fame during his first impeachment hearings. Here she revisits her life as a diplomat who sought out difficult assignments in countries where corruption was endemic.

“The Love of My Life,” by Rosie Walsh

A classic example of the “I married a stranger” domestic suspense plot, Walsh’s follow-up to “Ghosted” revolves around a man who learns that his funny, warm, compassionate wife is also a liar.

“Lucky Breaks,” by Yevgenia Belorusets, translated by Eugene Ostashevsky

The Ukrainian author’s slim but meaty set of stories about women displaced by war uses humor and fairy-tale tropes to depict a community traumatized by Russia’s 2014 invasion.

“Mecca,” by Susan Straight

The story of a California patrol officer haunted by a murder he committed decades ago is just one strand in this capacious novel about people of color forming the backbones of agriculture, health care and hospitality.

“The Perfect Sound: A Memoir in Stereo,” by Garrett Hongo

Hongo’s roving intellect plants surprises on every page of this memoir, which is ostensibly about his coming of age and love for music but also makes space for meditations on sound waves, poetry and race in America.

“Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth,” by Elizabeth Williamson

Williamson’s meticulously reported book about a decade-old tragedy is more relevant than ever. She draws a direct line between the “Sandy Hook truthers” — as they called themselves — and subsequent conspiracy theorists whose delusions spilled from the confines of the Internet into real-world violence.

“The Second Half: Forty Women Reveal Life After Fifty,” by Ellen Warner

Women share the hard-won lessons they’ve gleaned. Warner, a photojournalist, accompanies her insightful interviews with stunning photographs.

“A Sunlit Weapon,” by Jacqueline Winspear

In Book No. 17 of this best-selling series, Maisie Dobbs is embroiled in a plot that involves attacks on military planes, a missing soldier and a group of men hoping to kill first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

“Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation,” by Erika Krouse

Krouse, a celebrated fiction writer who was struggling financially, recalls how she turned her superpower — a face that immediately elicits confessions from strangers — into a career as a private investigator.

“The Verifiers,” by Jane Pek

Pek’s thrilling plot centers on the potential for evil in the online dating industry, but it’s the keen, sprightly heroine and her complex Chinese immigrant family you can’t get enough of.

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