Lucid Stars

“A quietly charming, seductive first novel… The dynamics of the modern broken home… are limned here with rare sensitivity and insight.” — Publishers Weekly

Lucid Stars

 

What begins as a classic boy-meets-girl tale in 1955 becomes something far different when marriage and two children do not bring a family closer together. Lucid Stars is the moving story of how one family learns to survive by becoming a planetary system that just happens to be missing its sun.

Reviews

“A bright, absorbing first novel… [Barrett’s] prose style is extraordinarily confident.” — Kirkus (starred review)

“Subtle and beautifully crafted… Barrett’s prose is clear and lyrical.” — The Washington Post

“A moving exploration of the nature of family… An impressive debut.” — Library Journal

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Secret Harmonies

“Andrea Barrett’s characters are set out with meticulous care… Remarkably touching.” — The Los Angeles Times

Secret Harmonies

 

When childhood sweethearts Reba Dwyer and Luke Wyatt marry, they expect no surprises. But now that Luke—friend of Reba’s childhood, friend of her heart—is her husband, discord enters their lives. Secret Harmonies is a portrait of people struggling to make sense of their lives in the rural hills of western Massachusetts, an utterly absorbing, moving story of what happens to this couple and to the eccentric constellation of loved ones swirling around them.

Reviews

“Barrett has… an unrelenting instinct for what is true and for how human beings experience life… [Her characters] draw the reader passionately into their stories.” — The Orlando Sentinel

“An elegant, poetic prose style; dazzling imagery; a subtle understanding of the complexities of personality; and an ability to look unflinchingly at the compromises people make with life and yet retain compassion and affection for her characters.” — The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

“Poignant and atmospheric… Elegant, accessible writing.” — Publishers Weekly

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The Middle Kingdom

“An exhilarating book… wonderful insights… Ms. Barrett has captured a truly authentic Beijing.” — Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club

The Middle Kingdom

 

For Grace, the ardent yet puzzled heroine of Andrea Barrett’s third novel, this trip has been planned as a three-week stay: she’s to play dutiful wife to Walter, her prominent scientist husband, at the 1986 Beijing International Conference on the Effects of Acid Rain. Walter is twelve years older than Grace, and as sour as the rain he studies; he and Grace are at a particularly troubled point in their marriage. Their tightly circumscribed visit, however, becomes a journey exceedingly less tidy and more complex as Grace falls forever out of love with her husband and very much in love with this country and its culture.

Reviews

“An affecting novel about an American woman’s self-discovery…. Barrett here re-creates not China itself but, more reasonably, her heroine’s fascination with it, and she manages to infuse her characters, Grace especially, with a psychic energy and charm.” — Publishers Weekly

“With The Middle Kingdom, Andrea Barrett further consolidates her position as one of our most thoughtful chroniclers of contemporary life…. The Middle Kingdom is another impressive milestone in what promises to be a long and fruitful literary journey by an accomplished American author.” — The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

The Middle Kingdom is engaging. Andrea Barrett writes with felicity, intelligence, and humor.” — The Washington Post

The Middle Kingdom proves again that Andrea Barrett is a writer of talent and promise.”  — San Francisco Chronicle

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The Forms of Water

“Intelligent and elegiac… [a] winning novel.” — The Washington Post

The Forms of Water

 

At the age of eighty, Brendan Auberon—formerly of the Order of Our Lady of the Valley, now confined to a nursing home—has one last wish: to see his 200 acres overlooking what used to be Paradise Valley, before the villages were drowned to provide water for the city of Boston. Now, Brendan’s memories drift beneath the surface of the Stillwater Reservoir. When Brendan dupes his nephew, Henry, into hijacking the nursing home van for the journey, what begins as a lark becomes considerably more complicated.

With a sharp eye for the complexities of family life, The Forms of Water is a rich and absorbing look at grief and the ties that continue to bind us to the past.

Reviews

“If any group of mortals knows how it feels to be expelled from paradise, it’s the Auberon clan, the appealingly wretched family in Andrea Barrett’s fourth novel… Barrett nicely details the quiet agonies of people who have fallen from grace through bad luck and worse judgment, and suggests that if you can’t regain paradise, you can at least make peace with its loss.”  — New York Times Book Review

“Subtle and strong… Barrett’s talents shine… Barrett not only gets the geographical terrain right, she has the emotional terrain down as well.” — Detroit News

“Barrett returns with her speciality – a story about the tangled web of a family told in prose that’s spun smooth as silk…The strength this time around lies in Barrett’s fine writing and the haunting power of the water, rising to fill that reservoir. It was a real event, but like the best of fiction writers, Barrett makes it more than real.” — Kirkus

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Ship Fever

“Her work stands out for its sheer intelligence, its painstaking attempt to discern and describe the world’s configuration.” — New York Times

1996 National Book Award Winner for Fiction

Ship Fever

 

The elegant short fictions gathered hereabout the love of science and the science of love are often set against the backdrop of the nineteenth century. Interweaving historical and fictional characters, they encompass both past and present as they negotiate the complex territory of ambition, failure, achievement, and shattered dreams. In “Ship Fever,” the title novella, a young Canadian doctor finds himself at the center of one of history’s most tragic epidemics. In “The English Pupil,” Linnaeus, in old age, watches as the world he organized within his head slowly drifts beyond his reach. And in “The Littoral Zone,” two marine biologists wonder whether their life-altering affair finally was worth it. In the tradition of Alice Munro and William Trevor, these exquisitely rendered fictions encompass whole lives in a brief space. As they move between interior and exterior journeys, “science is transformed from hard and known fact into malleable, strange and thrilling fictional material” (Boston Globe).

Reviews

“The title novella is devastating: as with every story here, you enter right into it, and cannot entirely leave it behind.” — The New Yorker

“Marvelous stories, unlike any being written today.”— Kirkus

“[A] gorgeously imagined story collection… Barrett’s stories are precise and concentrated, containing a truly remarkable wealth of psychological and social commentary.” — Booklist

“Ranks with the best of the new wave of historical writing… Barrett courses back and forth over the history of science and the science of human relations in the nineteenth century, giving us the people behind the history—doctors, collectors, inventors, and women—a glory of passion, ambition, and love. This is just simply inspired writing.” — Douglas Glover

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    The Voyage of the Narwhal

    “Breathes with a contemporary urgency, an exhilarating adventure novel… A genuine page-turner that long lingers in the mind.” — Chicago Tribune

    The Voyage of the Narwhal

     

    Capturing a crucial moment in the history of exploration, the mid-nineteenth century romance with the Arctic, Andrea Barrett focuses on a particular expedition and its accompanying scholar-naturalist, Erasmus Darwin Wells. Through his eyes, we meet the Narwhal’s crew and its commander—obsessed with the search for an open polar sea—and encounter the far-north culture of the Esquimaux. In counterpoint, we see the women left behind in Philadelphia, explorers only in imagination. Together, those who travel and those who stay weave a web of myth and mystery. And finally they discover—as all explorers do—not what was always there and never needed discovering, but the state of their own souls.

    Reviews

    “Like ‘Ship Fever,’ ‘Narwhal’ showcases Ms. Barrett’s gifts for extracting high drama from the complex world of science and natural history and for placing her characters in situations that reveal their fundamental natures.” —  New York Times Book Review

    “The intellectual range exhibited by this magnificent novel places its author in the rarefied company of great contemporary encyclopedic writers like Pynchon, Gaddis, and Harry Mulisch…. You feel she could do full justice to… whatever subject she chooses.” — Kirkus

    “Barrett delivers a stunning novel in which a meticulous grasp of historical and natural detail, insight into character and pulse-pounding action are integrated into a dramatic adventure story with deep moral resonance.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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    Servants of the Map

    “These stories possess a wonderful clarity and ease, the serene authority of a writer working at the very height of her powers.” — New York Times Book Review

    Finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize

    A New York Times Notable Selection

    Servants of the Map

     

    Ranging across two centuries, and from the western Himalaya to an Adirondack village, these wonderfully imagined stories and novellas travel the territories of yearning and awakening, of loss and unexpected discovery. A mapper of the highest mountain peaks realizes his true obsession. A young woman afire with scientific curiosity must come to terms with a romantic fantasy. Brothers and sisters, torn apart at an early age, are beset by dreams of reunion. Throughout, Barrett’s most characteristic theme—the happenings in that borderland between science and desire—unfolds in the diverse lives of unforgettable human beings. Although each richly layered tale stands independently, readers of Ship Fever (National Book Award winner) and Barrett’s extraordinary novel The Voyage of the Narwhal, will discover subtle links both among these new stories and to characters in the earlier works.

    Reviews

    “Like fossil-hunters, most of Barrett’s characters are looking for a way to piece together fragments of the past; when, in the last story, a cherished belonging of one character shows up in the life of another, we feel rescued and redeemed.” — The New Yorker

    “One understands how the intricacies of the complex phenomena Barrett has studied have possessed her imagination… Gorgeous, illuminating, entrancing fiction.” — Kirkus (starred review)

    “Luminous…Each [story] is rich and independent and beautiful and should draw Barrett many new admirers.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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      The Air We Breathe

      “An evocative panorama of America… on the cusp of enormous change.” — Newsday

      The Air We Breathe

       

      In the fall of 1916, America prepares for war—but in the community of Tamarack Lake, the focus is on the sick. Wealthy tubercular patients live in private cure cottages; charity patients, mainly immigrants, fill the large public sanatorium. Prisoners of routine, they take solace in gossip, rumor, and—sometimes—secret attachments. But when the well-meaning efforts of one enterprising patient lead to a tragic accident and a terrible betrayal, the war comes home, bringing with it a surge of anti-immigrant prejudice and vigilante sentiment.

      Reviews

      “A marvel of intelligent design, and a truly original cautionary tale, from one of the most interesting and unconventional of all contemporary American writers.” — Kirkus (starred review)

      “Barrett’s artistry consists of a near-perfect equipoise between smooth storytelling and the suggestion of larger truths.” — Newsday

      “Barrett’s writing has a quality of reflective mildness, a restraint which some might call quiet…. There is an elegance of tone, but an enormous amount happens. The Air We Breathe is turbulent and dramatic, full of longing and death and lust, the yearning to cover one’s own life and way in the world.” — Boston Globe

      “A large cast of characters comes to vivid life…. [Barrett] allows the murmuring voices of those who have watched and judged the main characters to swell into a single epiphany of regret and contrition…. This rueful Bildungsroman… boldly replaces the conventional saga of a callow youth’s education with the drama of a group of fallible adults who, buffeted by ugly political winds unloosed by a far-off war, betray their best instincts but are mature enough to eventually acknowledge their mistake. Barrett draws no facile parallels, but American readers will find uncomfortable contemporary resonance in her historical novel.” — Los Angeles Times

      “Details of New York tenements and of the sanitarium’s regime are vivid and engrossing.” — Publishers Weekly

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        Archangel

        “Her characters’ thirst for discovery is contagious, and every story in Archangel is suffused with the most miraculous horizon light.” — Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove

        Finalist for the Story Prize

        Archangel


        During the summer of 1908, twelve-year-old Constantine Boyd is witness to an explosion of home-spun investigation—from experiments with cave-dwelling fish without eyes to scientifically bred crops to motorized bicycles and the flight of an early aeroplane. In 1920, a popular science writer and young widow tries, immediately after the bloodbath of the First World War, to explain the new theory of relativity to an audience (herself included) desperate to believe in an “ether of space” housing spirits of the dead. Half a century earlier, in 1873, a famous biologist struggles to maintain his sense of the hierarchies of nature as Darwin’s new theory of evolution threatens to make him ridiculous in the eyes of a precocious student. The twentieth-century realms of science and war collide in the last two stories, as developments in genetics and X-ray technology that had once held so much promise fail to protect humans—among them, a young American soldier, Constantine Boyd, sent to Archangel, Russia, in 1919—from the failures of governments and from the brutality of war.

        Reviews

        “At last! It’s finally here: the astonishing new collection from that genius-enchantress, Andrea Barrett. Who but Barrett can take on the inscrutable elegance of the cosmos and the messy complexity of the human heart in a single story? In her joy-to-read prose, with scientific precision and warm insight, Barrett translates the unknown into our world of reference. Her characters’ thirst for discovery is contagious, and every story in Archangel is suffused with the most miraculous horizon light.” — Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove

        “The award-winning author returns with another collection of stories distinguished by uncommon scope and depth…The characters are never secondary to (or mere mouthpieces for) the provocative ideas, as the stories explore relationships among mentors and students, scientific rivals, romantic attractions…Barrett’s stories rank with the best.” — Kirkus (starred review)

        “This book’s universe is very full… “The Island” is a testament to cutting-edge scientific thought in the face of strong resistance. And Ms. Barrett has the backbone to stage such challenges credibly and compellingly.” — New York Times

        “Andrea Barrett’s elegant new story collection, Archangel, feels like a dispatch from the moving front of scientific discovery.” — Boston Globe

        “Does anyone write with a calmer authority than Andrea Barrett?… In casting understanding on both sides of an issue and by recognizing how precious open debate it, Barrett brings a sense of humanity to bear on her stories.” — Chicago Tribune

        “When you read her elegant, thought-provoking work, you travel back to a time of possibility and wonder that you never want to leave.” — Miami Herald

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          Extras

          Family tree done during the writing of Archangel

           

          Family tree endpapers from The Air We Breathe, with Barrett’s additions during the writing of Archangel.

          Extra large version

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