Annal: 1996 Orange Prize for Fiction

Results of the Orange Prize in the year 1996.

Book:A Spell of Winter

A Spell of Winter: A Novel

Helen Dunmore

Bearing the distinctive lyrical beauty of her predecessors, A Spell of Winter asserts Dunmore’s claim to the territories staked out by some of the great nineteenth-century novelists. But with a strong, sensuous magic and a modern understanding of love that is all her own, Dunmore defies all the old formulas.

Catherine and her brother, Rob, do not know why they have been abandoned by their parents. In the house of their grandfather, “the man from nowhere,” they forge a passionate refuge for themselves against the terror of family secrets, and while the world outside moves to the brink of war, their sibling love becomes fraught with dangers. But as Catherine fights free of the past, the spell of winter that has held her in its grasp begins to break.

The novel’s rich imagery moves between the stark, harsh winter world that Catherine loves and the warm summers she loathes,…[more]

Book:The Book of Color

The Book of Color

Julia Blackburn

In the late 19th century, an English missionary arrives on a remote island in the Indian Ocean, intent on wiping our fornication among the natives. Instead he incurs a curse that strikes first his dark-skinned wife, then his son and grandson. But is the curse supernatural--or a white man's guilty fascination with an alien new world? "A hypnotic, cryptic, haunting exploration of the power of memory."--Boston Globe.

Book:Eveless Eden

Eveless Eden

Marianne Wiggins

Eveless Eden tells the story of a passionate love affair between a foreign correspondent for an American newspaper and the tough, sexy, talented photographer he meets at the site of an ecological disaster in Africa.

Noah swings between disillusion and romanticism, cynicism and faith, despair and hope, as he and Lilith pursue their adventure in Paris, London, at the fall of the Berlin Wall, and through the scandal of AIDS tainted blood in the orphanages of Nicolai Ceausescu’s Romania. Lilith’s fateful attraction to danger makes her vulnerable to the seductive appeal of a mysterious Romanian, Adam Pentru, a man of evil genius, Minister of Trade in the Ceausescu government and a spy for the British. When Adam enters the picture, the story darkens and narrative suspense mounts, as Noah struggles to piece together a story more horrifying than any he has ever covered.

Eveless Eden offers a sweeping vision of individual, political, and global evil in the modern world.

Book:The Hundred Secret Senses

The Hundred Secret Senses

Amy Tan

Set in San Francisco and in a remote village of southern China, this is a tale of American pragmatism shaken, and soothed, by Chinese ghosts. What proof of love do we seek between mother and daughter, among sisters, lovers, and friends? What are its boundaries and failings? Can love go beyond “Until death do us part?” And if so, which aspects haunt us like regretful ghosts?

In 1962, Olivia, nearly six years old, meets Kwan, her adult half sister from China, for the first time. Olivia’s neglectful mother, who in pursuing a new marriage can’t provide the attention her daughter needs, finds Kwan to be a handy caretaker. In the bedroom the sisters share, Kwan whispers secrets about ghosts and makes Olivia promise never to reveal them. Out of both fright and resentment, Olivia betrays her sister—with terrible consequences. From then on she listens to Kwan’s stories and pretends to believe them. …[more]

Book:Ladder of Years

Ladder of Years: A Novel

Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler tells the story of a 40-year-old woman, the mother of three almost-grown children, who on a sudden impulse walks away from her marriage, hitches a ride into the unknown, and settles in a strange new town to invent a new life.

What propels Delia Grinstead, the wife of a Baltimore physician, as she is spending another rainy vacation with husband, children, and assorted relatives? Is it old hurts and humiliations that surface this particular summer in the family-infested beach cottage? The feeling that she has become expendable? The memory, perhaps, of that angular young man in the supermarket who asked her to pose as his girlfriend when he runs into his ex-wife? Or is it simply the lure of the local repairman’s beautifully self-sufficient van, sailing off, unencumbered?

Whatever. Delia takes off, wearing only her swimsuit and her husband’s beach robe, and doesn’t stop until she is suddenly…[more]

Book:Spinsters

Spinsters

Pagan Kennedy

It’s 1968. Frannie and Doris, sisters and spinsters, have been taking care of their father for their entire adult lives. When he dies, they hit the road in their Plymouth Valiant to take a much needed vacation. Frannie, the novel’s narrator, longs to continue her reclusive life with her sister. But Doris, cut free of responsibility, wants to raise hell and get laid. Their journey through the changing landscape of America—civil rights marches, the deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago—is an elegy to a lost time in the United States. It is also a touching, lyrical, and superbly crafted mid-life coming-of-age tale.

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