What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY's picks for book lovers include a posthumous story collection by the late Irish writer Maeve Binchy.
Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy; Knopf, 368 pp.; fiction
For Binchy fans, Chestnut Street is a gift bequeathed to the reader from the late author, her widower, Gordon Snell, and her longtime editors.
Throughout her career, Binchy wrote many short stories that were connected to Chestnut Street, a fictional street in Dublin. She often returned to Chestnut, and the result is this collection culled from published and unpublished stories.
Chestnut Street may be fictional but it represents the real city of Dublin and, just like real life, is populated with an idiosyncratic cast of characters.
Beginning with a young girl who discovers that her perfect mother is human after all to a makeshift family of strangers that gathers only on New Year's Eve, each tale offers a lesson about our preconceived notions and prejudices, themes that have been a Binchy hallmark.
USA TODAY says *** out of four. "Delightful … Binchy's prose is lyrical, carrying the reader along like a lullaby."
Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932by Francine Prose; Harper, 436 pp.; fiction
A "cross-dressing lesbian torturer-spy" who works for the Nazis (based on a real woman, Violette Morris) is the star lover of Prose's Parisian Chameleon Club.
USA TODAY says ***½ out of four. "Provocative, powerful."
Updikeby Adam Begley; Harper, 558 pp.; non-fiction
Five years after John Updike's death comes a biography that roots for a surge in the novelist's "posthumous reputation."
USA TODAY says ***. A "sympathetic yet thorough biography."
Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by Frances Mayes; Crown, 336 pp; non-fiction
The author of Under the Tuscan Sun remembers coming of age in small-town Georgia.
USA TODAY says ***½ out of four. "With perfect-pitch language, Mayes unblinkingly describes her growing-up years."
Watching Youby Michael Robotham; Mulholland Books, 432 pp.; fiction
Marnie Logan, a mother of two left broke after her husband disappears, starts working as a call girl but barely has earned the rent before her pimp is murdered. And, she's being stalked in this Joe O'Laughlin suspense thriller.
USA TODAY says *** out of four. "Tastily written and cleverly designed."
Contributing reviewers: Mary Cadden, Olivia Barker, Bob Minzesheimer, Sharon Peters, Martha T. Moore