Narrator

Xe Sands

Xe Sands
  • If misfortune hadn’t gotten in the way, Sandra Sanborn would be where she belongs—among the rich and privileged instead of standing outside a Hollywood studio wearing a sandwich board in the hope of someone discovering her. It’s tough breaking into the movies during the Great Depression, but Sandra knows that she’s destined for greatness. After all, her grandmother Vira crossed the country during the Gold Rush and established the Sanborns as one of San Francisco’s most prominent families, and her mother Mabel grew up in a lavish mansion and married into an agricultural empire. Success, Sandra feels, is in her blood. She just needs a chance to prove it.

    In between failed auditions, Sandra receives a letter from a man claiming to be her father, which calls into question everything she believes about her family—and herself. As she tries to climb the social ladder, family secrets lurk in the background, pulling her down. Until Sandra confronts the truth about how Vira and Mabel gained and lost their fortunes, she will always end up right back where she started from.

    Right Back Where We Started From is a sweeping, multigenerational work of fiction that explores the lust for ambition that entered into the American consciousness during the Gold Rush and how it affected our nation’s ideas of success, failure, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a meticulously layered saga—at once historically rich, romantic, and suspenseful—about three determined and completely unforgettable women.

  • Four women. One week. One question.

    Recent widow Willa Silvester, struggling to find a future, invites three friends to her Montana homestead, where they can learn from nature and one another as they contemplate their second acts.

    You are invited to the rest of your life.

    Three women, from coast to coast and in between, open their mailboxes to the same intriguing invitation. Although leading entirely different lives, each has found herself at a similar, jarring crossroads. Right when these women thought they’d be comfortably settling into middle age, their carefully curated futures have turned out to be dead ends.

    The sender of the invitation is Willa Silvester, who is reeling from the untimely death of her beloved husband and the reality that she must say goodbye to the small mountain town they founded together. Yet as Willa mourns her losses, an impossible question keeps staring her in the face: So now what?

    Struggling to find the answer alone, fiercely independent Willa eventually calls a childhood friend who happens to be in her own world of hurt—and that’s where the idea sparks. They decide to host a weeklong interlude from life, and invite two other friends facing their own quandaries. Soon the four women converge at Willa’s Montana homestead, a place where they can learn from nature and one another as they contemplate their second acts together in the rugged wilderness of big sky country.

  • A revelatory tale of love gained and lost, from a master of contemporary American fiction

    Gerard sits, fully clothed, in his empty bathtub and pines for Benna. Neighbors in the same apartment building, they share a wall and Gerard listens for the sound of her toilet flushing. Gerard loves Benna. And then Benna loves Gerard. She listens to him play piano, she teaches poetry and sings at nightclubs. As their relationships ebbs and flows, through reality and imagination, Lorrie Moore paints a captivating, innovative portrait of men and women in love and not in love.

  • A spellbinding confession of what it means to abandon one life for another, The Devoted bristles with psychological and erotic tension.

    “She comes early, wet with rain, and confronts him in the back hall of the Zendo. ‘I need to know some things,’ she says. ‘You better come in,’ he says, and holds open the door …”

    Nicole Hennessy’s life revolves around her Zen practice at the Boston Zendo, seeking spiritual solace in the tenets of Buddhism. After a decade of grueling spiritual practice under her master’s tutelage, living on a shoestring as a shop clerk, Nicole has become sexually and emotionally entangled with her mentor. To break free, she must retrace her entire life’s journey—from her strict Irish Catholic upbringing to her drug-fueled year as a teenage runaway. Even as she reinvents herself in New York City, her master’s intoxicating voice pursues her, whispering dangerously in her ear. Somehow, he knows everything.

    A hypnotic and daring debut, The Devoted asks what it takes, and what you’ll sacrifice, to find enlightenment.

  • It is winter in Area X, the mysterious wilderness that has defied explanation for thirty years, rebuffing expedition after expedition, refusing to reveal its secrets. As Area X expands, the agency tasked with investigating and overseeing it—the Southern Reach—has collapsed on itself in confusion. Now one last, desperate team crosses the border, determined to reach a remote island that may hold the answers they’ve been seeking. If they fail, the outer world is in peril.

    Meanwhile, Acceptance tunnels ever deeper into the circumstances surrounding the creation of Area X—what initiated this unnatural upheaval? Among the many who have tried, who has gotten close to understanding Area X—and who may have been corrupted by it?

  • June is in transition, reeling from her divorce, trying to stay sober, and faced with a completely stalled career. She returns to the beautiful Oregon coast where she grew up and must decide what to do with her late and much-loved grandparents’ charming cedar-shingled home, a place haunted by memories of her childhood.

    Jameson comes highly recommended to renovate the old house to sell, and from their first contact, his curiosity is piqued by June. He too is unmoored as he struggles to redefine his marriage in the aftermath of tragic loss, and over the course of the summer, his conversations with June about the house quickly turn to the personal—of secrets hidden in walls and of stories from the past half-told. Sensing connection, June and Jameson can’t seem to stop circling each other, shying away from hurt. But what can the future hold as long as they are gripped so firmly by the past?

    Brimming with empathy, The Days When Birds Come Back, like the house itself, is a graceful testament to endurance, rebuilding, and the possibilities of coming home.

  • Bestselling author Peter Mayle showcases his talents in this delightful children’s storybook.

    Tomorrow night, just before you go to bed, creep into the kitchen very, very quietly. Go up to the fridge, and don’t make a sound …

    Once you meet Chilly Billy and hear of his adventures inside the refrigerator, you’ll never open the fridge door in quite the same way again. Chilly Billy is a fun and lovable character you won’t soon forget.

  • New York Times bestselling author Jim Harrison is one of our most beloved and acclaimed writers, adored by both readers and critics. In The Ancient Minstrel, Harrison delivers three novellas that highlight his phenomenal range as a writer, shot through with his trademark wit and keen insight into the human condition.

    Harrison has tremendous fun with his own reputation in the title novella, about an aging writer in Montana who spars with his estranged wife, with whom he still shares a home; weathers the slings and arrows of literary success; and tries to cope with the sow he buys on a whim and the unplanned litter of piglets that follow soon after. In “Eggs,” a Montana woman reminisces about staying in London with her grandparents and collecting eggs at their country house. Years later, having never had a child, she attempts to do so. And in “The Case of the Howling Buddhas,” retired Detective Sunderson—a recurring character from Harrison’s New York Times bestsellers The Great Leader and The Big Seven—is hired as a private investigator to look into a bizarre cult that achieves satori by howling along with howler monkeys at the zoo.

    Fresh, incisive, and endlessly entertaining, with moments of both profound wisdom and sublime humor, The Ancient Minstrel is an exceptional reminder of why Jim Harrison is one of the most cherished and important writers at work today.

  • In The Lightkeepers, we follow Miranda, a nature photographer who travels to the Farallon Islands, an exotic and dangerous archipelago off the coast of California, for a one-year residency capturing the landscape. Her only companions are the scientists studying there, odd and quirky refugees from the mainland living in rustic conditions; they document the fish populations around the island, the bold trio of sharks called the Sisters that hunt the surrounding waters, and the overwhelming bird population that, at times, creates the need to wear hard hats as protection from their attacks.

    Shortly after her arrival, Miranda is assaulted by one of the inhabitants of the islands. A few days later, her assailant is found dead, perhaps the result of an accident. As the novel unfolds, Miranda gives witness to the natural wonders of this special place as she grapples with what has happened to her and deepens her connection to (and her suspicions of) her companions, all while falling under the thrall of the legends of the place nicknamed “the Islands of the Dead.” And when more violence occurs, each member of this strange community falls under suspicion.

    The Lightkeepers upends the traditional structure of a mystery novel—an isolated environment, a limited group of characters who might not be trustworthy, a death that may or may not have been accidental, a balance of discovery and action—while also exploring wider themes of the natural world, the power of loss, and the nature of recovery. It is a luminous debut novel from a talented and provocative new writer.

  • With "incantatory prose" that "sweeps over the reader like a dream" (Philadelphia Inquirer), Hoffman follows her celebrated bestseller The Probable Future with an evocative work that traces the lives of the various occupants of an old Massachusetts house over a span of two hundred years.

    In a rare and gorgeous departure, beloved novelist Alice Hoffman weaves a web of tales, all set in Blackbird House. This small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod is a place that is as bewitching and alive as the characters we meet: Violet, a brilliant girl who is in love with books and with a man destined to betray her; Lysander Wynn, attacked by a halibut as big as a horse, certain that his life is ruined until a boarder wearing red boots arrives to change everything; Maya Cooper, who does not understand the true meaning of the love between her mother and father until it is nearly too late. From the time of the British occupation of Massachusetts to our own modern world, family after family's lives are inexorably changed, not only by the people they love but by the lives they lead inside Blackbird House.

    These interconnected narratives are as intelligent as they are haunting, as luminous as they are unusual. Inside Blackbird House more than a dozen men and women learn how love transforms us and how it is the one lasting element in our lives. The past both dissipates and remains contained inside the rooms of Blackbird House, where there are terrible secrets, inspired beauty, and, above all else, a spirit of coming home.

    From the writer that Time has said tells "truths powerful enough to break a reader's heart" comes a glorious travelogue through time and fate, through loss and love and survival. Welcome to Blackbird House.

  • From New England Book Award winner Lily King comes a breathtaking novel about three young anthropologists of the 1930s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and ultimately, their lives.

    English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying the Kiona river tribe in the territory of New Guinea. Haunted by the memory of his brothers' deaths and increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when a chance encounter with colleagues, the controversial Nell Stone and her wry and mercurial Australian husband, Fen, pulls him back from the brink. Nell and Fen have just fled the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo and, in spite of Nell's poor health, are hungry for a new discovery. When Bankson finds them a new tribe nearby—the artistic, female-dominated Tam—he ignites an intellectual and romantic firestorm between the three of them that burns out of anyone's control.

    Set between two World Wars and inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is an enthralling story of passion, possession, exploration, and sacrifice from accomplished author Lily King.

  • A young woman, an old woman, and the story of a lifetime…

    When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola's rambling Victorian house.

    Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola's walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, dating from Iola's youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper—the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything.