Novelist and critic Rumaan Alam is the author of Rich and Pretty and That Kind of Mother. In his new novel, Leave the World Behind, a white couple in a rented beach house are unexpectedly joined by the black owners amid a coastal blackout.
The Past by Tessa Hadley (2015).
There’s a whole genre of novels in which a family gathers in their beloved country home and secrets are revealed. At first, Hadley’s book seems to be simply that. But gradually, subtly, it reveals itself to be something stranger. There’s a whiff of the surreal in this book, but it’s also grounded in real emotion; the result is both a puzzle and a delight.
Howards End by E.M. Forster (1910).
This is one of my favorite books, one I re-read every few years. Forster is writing of the city dweller’s romantic view of the country, while also (perhaps