Drawn to the drama of An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser?
Then check out A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, who drew from the
same true-life incident as Dreiser when she wrote her novel.
"In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses above a certain rent are women ... the ladies of Cranford are quite sufficient ... (And) although the ladies of Cranford know all each other's proceedings, they are exceedingly indifferent to each other's opinions. Indeed, as each has her own individuality, not to say eccentricity, pretty strongly developed, nothing is so easy as verbal retaliation; but, somehow good-will reigns among them."I read that Mrs. Gaskell preferred Cranford to all her other books, and I can see why. It's a subtle comedy of manners set in a quaint English village with a delightful cast of characters. There's Captain Brown, who proclaims his poverty in a too-loud voice, and his two spinster daughters: Mary, who's ailing, and Jessie, who has a dimpled smile. Then there's the sedate and proper Miss Deborah Jenkyns, the former rector's eldest daughter, and her gentle and kind-hearted sister, Matty. They live alone with one household serving maid who isn't allowed "followers". Miss Jenkyns helps set the tone for the town.
"My parents were like gasoline spread around a room--there was the sharp smell of danger, the threat that something might erupt, but it could just as easily evaporate as explode."Marjorie further isolates herself from others with the way she talks, using an ungrammatical dialect that only she and her parents speak. The only sources of kindness and hope in her life are her Aunt Elaine, and the young stonemason who hires her to help him build a stone "cathedral" in town.
"I had my protective shell of funny talk and shyness, but underneath that lived a wilder me, a girl who would take punishment, and take it, and take it, but who would never let go of herself all the way, never completely surrender."I was blown away by this story. Despite its dark subject matter, it's not a sad or depressing book. It's just really, really good. And once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.
"However you painted the picture, I was still forty-one and single and, though I'd managed a life full of adventure, I hadn't quite found myself yet. ... My new plan was to transition to the more fulfilling life of an artist. At the moment I made sea glass earrings..."