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Rivers of America: The Connecticut by Walter Hard

Lyons Press, 320 pages, 2019

In 1947, much-admired Vermont poet Walter Hard wrote a detailed and vivid chronicle of the Connecticut River. That work has been reprinted with a new introduction by Erik Hesselberg, a journalist from Haddam who has been writing about the river for 20 years. Far from being dated, Hard has an easy, descriptive prose that engrosses you in tales of the river. You’ll learn forgotten moments from history such as the tale of the Republic of Indian Stream, a nation-state on the river that formed to avoid paying taxes in modern-day Pittsburgh, New Hampshire. “The Connecticut is not a majestic river,” Hard writes. “It is, rather, a friendly stream, which invites intimacy and elicits affection. To be sure, it has its periods of mad haste, but somehow it gives the impression that it is merely in a hurry to get to the next area where it may wander through peaceful meadows.” — Erik Ofgang

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The Paper Wasp by Lauren Acampora

Grove Press, 2019, 288 pages

Acampora claims two things helped formulate the idea for her debut novel. One was the story of Katie Holmes, who grew up in Ohio and became a movie star and Tom Cruise’s wife. The second was Acampora’s own high school reunions, which she has attended over the years with former Darien High classmate Chloë Sevigny, a movie star in her own right. “Fame throws people off balance,” Acampora says, speaking more about the people in the midst of celebrities than celebrities themselves. The novel’s protagonist, Abby, is an aspiring artist working as a supermarket cashier in Michigan. Her old friend from high school, Elise, now a Hollywood starlet, stares at her from the covers of the magazines perched across the aisle from her register. “When my shift ended, I bought all the magazines, in hope of finding you.” They share a moment at the reunion, and an invitation to L.A. is extended. Abby stares at the magazines. “As I held your gaze, I understood that our bond had never truly been broken. You needed me as much as ever.” — Mike Wollschlager

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Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Ballantine Books, 2019, 448 pages

Kelly’s debut novel, 2016’s Lilac Girls, has been an out-and-out hit, with the work of historical fiction selling 1.5 million copies and a movie in the works. The World War II-set book introduced readers to real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday, whose life intersects with two women touched by the horrors of a German concentration camp. Lost Roses takes us back in time a generation, focusing on Caroline’s mother, Eliza. Again told from the perspective of three female characters, the novel explores Eliza’s work to help poor “white Russian” families, refugees of the Russian Revolution of 1917. A Litchfield resident, Kelly was inspired to write both novels after a visit to Bethlehem’s historic Bellamy-Ferriday House, where both Caroline and Eliza lived. You can visit the estate, as well as the gorgeous gardens designed by the two women, and find your own inspiration. (Read more here about the Ferridays’ beloved home and other historic Connecticut properties and gardens.) — Albie Yuravich

This article appeared in the June 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter here to get the latest and greatest content from Connecticut Magazine delivered right to your inbox. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.

The senior writer at Connecticut Magazine, Erik is the co-author of Penguin Random House’s “The Good Vices” and author of “Buzzed” and “Gillette Castle.” He is also an adjunct professor at WCSU’s MFA Program and Quinnipiac University

Mike Wollschlager, editor and writer for Connecticut Magazine, was born and raised in Bristol and has lived in Farmington, Milford, Shelton and Wallingford. He was previously an assistant sports editor at the New Haven Register.

Albie Yuravich is the editor in chief of Connecticut Magazine. A product of the Naugatuck River Valley, he's also been a newspaper editor and writer at the New Haven Register, Greenwich Time, The Register Citizen and the Republican-American.