Today's releases include another epic tale full of palace intrigue, heartbreak, and girl power from Madeline Miller, and an unnerving but utterly engrossing memoir.
Learn more about these best books of the month below, or browse all of our favorites for April here.
Though revisiting classical myths, Madeline Miller’s bold, poetic new novel, told in the voice of Circe (Odysseus’s lover, famous for turning his sailors into swine), is very much on-trend, with an immortal protagonist and a feminist slant that will make #MeToo-ers cheer. Miller reimagines the story of Circe, “daughter of the sun,” and reinvents her, changing Homer’s ruthless seductress into a woman with a restricted set of godly powers, a keen intelligence, and most important, empathy for humans – a sentiment not shared by her godly relatives. When Circe’s father banishes her to the island of Aiaia, her isolation from her scornful family comes as a gift, and her solitude grants her time to learn the art of witchcraft – the only work she has ever undertaken. “For a hundred generations, I had walked the world, drowsy and dull, idle and at my ease,” she says. “Then I learned that I could bend the world to my will, as a bow is bent for an arrow. I would have done that toil a thousand times to keep such power in my hands.” She summons her skills when a boatload of would-be rapists lands on her shores, but shows Odysseus mercy, and their encounter changes her forever. Back in 2012, Miller’s novel The Song of Achilles earned the Orange Prize for Fiction. For her many admirers, Circe is certainly worth the wait. —Sarah Harrison Smith
In 1993, a private tennis instructor in Manhattan named Gary Wilensky attempted to kidnap a young woman with whom he'd grown obsessed. The crime itself is horrifying, for all the reasons you'd expect. More disquieting, however, are the recollections of Piper Weiss, one of Wilensky's teenaged tennis students—though for reasons you'd not expect. Weiss's chapters titled "Man" delve into Wilensky's charismatic relationships with his young players. Chapters titled "Girl" explore Weiss's life as she fights with her mom and stumbles through friendships, swinging between anxiety and rebelliousness. Many books have been written about coming of age in the rarefied air of Manhattan prep schools, but Weiss's honesty and willingness to plumb her own off-kilter and dark places make this memoir more viscerally real, less stereotyped. And perhaps only Weiss—always an outsider, emotionally vulnerable even in adulthood—could provide insight into Wilensky, who also never fit in. While this book won't set you jumping at shadows, You All Grow Up and Leave Me will make you shudder and wonder how many shadows linger inside the soul long after the tumult of adolescence has faded into the past. —Adrian Liang