For many of us, the lives of artists are fascinating and extraordinary objects of contemplation and curiosity. It is fitting then that fiction authors seek to embrace this theme—since their medium provides an immersive experience without being constrained by the need for exacting research.

Readers can ponder the definition of art itself and wonder at the seemingly miraculous development of natural talent. They can also envision the dedication and commitment required of those who may have to struggle to achieve their aspirations.

For the December blog, I wanted to suggest some new releases that explore the world of the fine arts and those who devote themselves to their intriguing paths. I have organized these by my own broad and arbitrary categories, but many of those listed below could easily fit into more than one. Perhaps one of these will inspire you to resurrect or discover your own hidden talents!

Performing Arts

The TurnoutThe Turnout by Megan Abbott

"With its uncanny insight and writing that haunts, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game--a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity, and power, and a sinister tale that is both alarming and irresistible."

All's WellAll's Well by Mona Awad

"A darkly funny novel about a theater professor suffering chronic pain, who in the process of staging a troubled production of Shakespeare’s most maligned play, suddenly and miraculously recovers."

They're Going to Love YouThey're Going to Love You by Meg Howrey

"A magnetic tale of betrayal, art, and ambition, set in the world of professional ballet, New York City during the AIDS crisis, and present-day Los Angeles."

The AppealThe Appeal by Janice Hallett

"A murder mystery that follows a theater community rallying around a sick child—but when escalating lies lead to a dead body, everyone is a suspect. A wholly modern and gripping take on the epistolary novel,"

Girl Through GlassGirl Through Glass by Sari Wilson

"An enthralling literary debut that tells the story of a young girl’s coming of age in the cutthroat world of New York City ballet—a story of obsession and the quest for perfection, trust and betrayal, beauty and lost innocence."

A Theater for DreamersA Theater for Dreamers by Polly Samson

"A spellbinding tour-de-force about the beauty between naïveté and cruelty, chaos and utopia, artist and muse—and about the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius."

Visual Arts

Woman on FireWoman on Fire by Lisa Barr

"After talking her way into a job with a leading investigative reporter, rising journalist Jules Roth is assigned to locate artist Ernst Engel's most famous work, Woman on Fire, a painting stolen by the Nazis."

Second PlaceSecond Place by Rachel Cusk

"With its examination of the possibility that art can both save and destroy us, Rachel Cusk's Second Place is deeply affirming of the human soul, while grappling with its darkest demons."

Optic NerveOptic Nerve by Maria Gainza

"With its examination of the possibility that art can both save and destroy us, Rachel Cusk's Second Place is deeply affirming of the human soul, while grappling with its darkest demons."

Portrait of a ThiefPortrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

"A lush, lyrical heist novel inspired by the true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums; about diaspora, the colonization of art, and the complexity of the Chinese American identity."

The BirdcatcherThe Birdcatcher by Gayl Jones

"Set primarily on the island of Ibiza, the story is narrated by the writer Amanda Wordlaw, whose closest friend, a gifted sculptor named Catherine Shuger, is repeatedly institutionalized for trying to kill a husband who never leaves her."

Wendy: Master of ArtWendy: Master of Art by Walter Scott

"The existential dread of making (or not making) art takes center stage in this trenchant satire of MFA culture."


XstabethXstabeth by David Kennan

"A transcendent love letter to literature and music, Xstabeth is an exciting new work from a writer who, book-by-book, is rewriting the rules of contemporary fiction."

The Violin ConspiracyThe Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

"A mystery about a Black classical musician whose family heirloom violin is stolen on the eve of the most prestigious classical music competition in the world."

Book of Extraordinary TragediesBook of Extraordinary Tragedies by Joe Meno

"Aleksandar and Isobel are siblings and former classical music prodigies, once destined for greatness. As the only Eastern European family growing up on their block on the far South Side of Chicago, the pair were inseparable until each was forced to confront the absurdity of tragedy at an early age: Aleks lives with hearing loss, while Isobel struggles with preposterous expectations from herself and her family."

The Great PassionThe Great Passion by James Runcie

"Joyous, revelatory, and deeply moving, The Great Passion is an imaginative tour de force that tells the story of what it was like to sing, play, and hear Bach's music for the very first time."


Loudermilk, or The Real PoetLoudermilk, or, The Real Poet, or The Origin of the World by Lucy Ives

"Wickedly entertaining, beguiling, layered, and sly, Loudermilk is a social novel for our time: a comedy of errors that deftly examines class, gender, and inheritance, and subverts our pieties about literature, authorship, art making, and the institutions that sustain them."

The Poet's HouseThe Poet's House by Jean Thompson

"A warm and witty story of a young woman who gets swept up in the rivalries and love affairs of a dramatic group of writers."

The Hero of This BookThe Hero of the Book by Elizabeth McCracken

"A taut, groundbreaking new novel from bestselling and award-winning author Elizabeth McCracken, about a writer's relationship with her larger-than-life mother--and about the very nature of writing, memory, and art."

Summaries sourced from publishers' marketing materials

December's Featured Reviews

Hop on the Holds List

1. A Dangerous Business – Jane Smiley

2. The Villa – Rachel Hawkins

3. Exiles – Jane Harper

4. (NF) Spare – Prince Harry

5. Just the Nicest Couple – Mary Kubica

Recent Readings

I have recently finished reading McGlue by Ottessa Moshfegh and One's Company by Ashley Hutson. I also just finished listening to Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.

Right now, I am reading The Perfect Crime edited by Vaseem Khan, an international collection of short stories. I am also currently using GPL's Hoopla account to listen to Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger.

If you could be suddenly granted an artistic gift, how would you choose to express it? Would you seek fame and fortune, or keep your talent a secret? Let me know at After this, I may have to drag out my old cello for old time's sake.

Until next time: Be safe, be well and be well-read!


So, who am I, anyway? I am a resident of West Groton, with a husband, 3 children in college (and one at GDRHS) and a Samoyed that keeps my vacuum well-employed. I am currently working part time at the Groton Public Library and in a former life I was a Director or PR/Marketing at a high-tech consulting firm. My BA is in Psychology, but most of my time was spent in college earning a Concentration on the Novel. That is all to say that I make no claims at being an expert of any kind and my thoughts, opinions and mistakes are solely my own. I am just a person whose passion for books has continued to grow from the moment I was first able to grip and gnaw on them. I have been devouring them ever since.

Dec 01, 2022 / Joelle M Egan