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December 04, 2004

Ann Naplitano's Holiday Gift Suggestion

by Ron Hogan

napolitano.jpgI met Ann Napolitano at New York Is Book Country earlier this year, and she was one of the first authors that came to mind as I was putting together my holiday guest wish list. Her debut novel, Within Arm's Reach, is a multigenerational Irish Catholic American family story that, as Hannah Tinti advises, is "a must-read for any book group." Ann's holiday recommendation will strike many gift-givers (and -getters) as perfect: a recognizable tale often considered a modern classic.

I envy anyone who hasnít read Winterís Tale. Itís the best of books, one that will make you want to call in sick to work and turn off your phone until you've finished the last word. Mark Helprin's story is grand and beautiful, full of heart and ideas, written with gloriously-crafted language. For any admirer of New York City, he has put on the page the New York of your imagination: a glittering, magical, snow-locked city better than anywhere else on earth. And in the center of this world, sits an unforgettable love story: Peter Lake, middle-aged master thief, breaks into the mansion of the wealthy Penn family, and is surprised by the naked, eighteen-year-old, terminally ill Beverly Penn. This scene is only one perfect moment in an epic filled with them. In truth, anything I can say about this novel just feels silly and inadequate. It is one of my very favorite books, and I am grateful that it exists.
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