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Bowlaway : A Novel
2019
Availability
Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Bertha Truitt (Female), Married, Found in the cemetery with nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and fifteen pounds of gold on her
Leviticus Sprague (Male), Doctor, Married, Revived Bertha; gets married to her
Genre
Fiction
Historical
Family
Epic
Topics
Family
Secrets
Past lives
Betrayal
Passion
Setting
- New England (U.S.)
Time Period
1100's -- 12th century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

McCracken's stellar novel (after Thunderstruck) opens at the turn of the 20th century with Bertha Truitt being discovered unconscious in a cemetery in little Salford, Mass., seemingly having fallen from the sky. Bertha is middle-aged, plump, and enjoys the absence of a corset, but in spite of her unprepossessing appearance, she initiates a love affair with Leviticus Sprague, the doctor who revives her at the cemetery. The two marry and have a daughter, Minna. Townspeople, meanwhile, find Bertha charismatic; they begin to dream about her and to credit her with magical powers. With fierce determination, she establishes a bowling alley that uses newfangled candlepins, a game that she (falsely) claims to have invented. Bertha's loving family completes her happiness before a freak accident (McCracken is a pro at inventing such surprises) derails her plans. Almost everyone-Joe Wear and Virgil, LuEtta and Jeptha, Nahum and Margaret-with whom Bertha has come in contact mystically finds himself or herself in love; often the catalyst is the bowling alley, where they meet. Loss is as prevalent as love, however, and the whims of fate cast a melancholy tinge on characters' lives. The bowling alley itself is almost a character, reflecting the vicissitudes of history that determine prosperity or its opposite. McCracken writes with a natural lyricism that sports vivid imagery and delightful turns of phrase. Her distinct humor enlivens the many plot twists that propel the narrative, making for a novel readers will sink into and savor. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
<p>NATIONAL BESTSELLER</p> <p>A Recommended Book of 2019 from<br> <br> Entertainment Weekly * O, The Oprah Magazine * Southern Living * BBC * Huffington Post * Lit Hub * Kirkus * Bustle * Publishers Weekly * BookRiot * Popsugar * Bookish * The Boston Globe * The Seattle Times * Vulture * Real Simple</p> <p>A sweeping and enchanting new novel from the widely beloved, award-winning author Elizabeth McCracken about three generations of an unconventional New England family who own and operate a candlepin bowling alley<br> <br> <br> <br> From the day she is discovered unconscious in a New England cemetery at the turn of the twentieth century--nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and fifteen pounds of gold on her person--Bertha Truitt is an enigma to everyone in Salford, Massachusetts. She has no past to speak of, or at least none she is willing to reveal, and her mysterious origin scandalizes and intrigues the townspeople, as does her choice to marry and start a family with Leviticus Sprague, the doctor who revived her. But Bertha is plucky, tenacious, and entrepreneurial, and the bowling alley she opens quickly becomes Salford's most defining landmark--with Bertha its most notable resident.</p> <p>When Bertha dies in a freak accident, her past resurfaces in the form of a heretofore-unheard-of son, who arrives in Salford claiming he is heir apparent to Truitt Alleys. Soon it becomes clear that, even in her death, Bertha's defining spirit and the implications of her obfuscations live on, infecting and affecting future generations through inheritance battles, murky paternities, and hidden wills.</p> <p>In a voice laced with insight and her signature sharp humor, Elizabeth McCracken has written an epic family saga set against the backdrop of twentieth-century America. Bowlaway is both a stunning feat of language and a brilliant unraveling of a family's myths and secrets, its passions and betrayals, and the ties that bind and the rifts that divide. </p>
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