Elevate Difference

Reviews of Ballantine Books

Arcadia Falls

Meg Rosenthal needs a fresh start after the death of her husband. She gave up her career as an artist when her daughter Sally was born, but when she is left with virtually nothing except for a barely functional car, she finds a job teaching folklore and English at a small boarding school for young artists in upstate New York. Sally, now a teenager and a promising artist herself, is admitted to the Arcadia School where her mother will work.

The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn

While the dramatic story of Anne Boleyn is familiar to many, very few actual facts are present in the typical retelling. In The Lady in the Tower, historian Alison Weir takes a day by day look at the life of Anne Boleyn and the social and political culture which influenced her fate. In her time, Anne Boleyn was one of the most recognized women in the world.


Sometimes there is so much heavy reading material to get through, that what you really need is a short, light, fun book, and Beachcombers is just that. The novel centers on three sisters and their father and what they learn about themselves and each other in that time. Their mother died when they were young and the oldest sister, Abbie, took some of the burden of raising her younger sisters because her father was dealing with his grief.

Juliet: A Novel

We all know Shakespeare's story of two star crossed lovers; it’s heartbreakingly romantic and tragic at the same time. It’s also a storyline that has lasted since its debut and has inspired many a story since. One of these stories—Juliet—is the authorial debut of Anne Fortier. We've all read, one way or another, some twist of the Bard’s original play. And if you’re a writer you may have written one yourself (I know I have).

With Friends Like These

Sally Koslow’s With Friends Like These is mostly predictable. The main characters—a group of four women who are each others’ best friends—are often caricatures, and there is nothing terribly new or innovative about the story. Still, I didn’t dislike the book (except for the ending, which was terribly trite) and may even read it again.


Set in 1930s and ‘40s in France and Poland, Amandine is Marlena de Blasi’s first work of fiction. The title character is a girl without a history. Or, at least, a history she knows. When she was just five months old, a mysterious woman deposited her in a French convent with Solange, a lay sister. Mater Paul, the head nun there, was given directions never to tell anyone claiming to be from the child’s past anything about the child, or to tell the child anything about her past or heritage, even what little that she knew. When the mysterious woman left her at the convent, the child didn’t even have a name.

The Passage

Trying to explain The Passage is like explaining Lost or the Harry Potter series to an outsider.

Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Alison Weir is first a historian, and it shows in Captive Queen. She studied Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 1970s and 1990s and realized one day that “the nature of medieval biography, particularly of women, is the piecing together of fragments of information and making sense of them.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Some of the best American literature tells the story of the immigrant experience. Numerous writers have written about the sense of loss both material and psychological that comes with leaving your country and everything that is familiar to start a new life. Many of the characters in these novels never seem completely at home in their new land, but they soldier on for economic reasons, or because they’re committed to making a life in this new world Equally compelling is the story of first-generation Americans who have one foot in the modern world and one foot in the past.

The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn

Having been drawn to the history of midwifery and peasants/working classes, I’ve always shied away from studying aristocrats. When I first picked up The Lady in the Tower, I was a bit apprehensive. Over 350 pages in length (not including the bibliography, source notes, or illustrations), it appeared to be a daunting reading task.

Self Storage

Flan Parker makes money off of other people’s lost stuff. With her husband passively working on his thesis and two children to support, Flan makes money off the contents of unpaid-for storage units that she bids on. Before selling her spoils, Flan vicariously lives through the contents of each box as a reprieve from her own routine life. Although there are worse mates out there, Flan feels somewhat alone in her marriage as her husband, Shae, atrophies on the couch “researching” his thesis. Tables turn, however, when an Afghani woman accidentally hits Flan’s youngest child with a car.