In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende [in Library Journal]
A big bang brings together two professors, an illegal immigrant, and a frozen corpse during a 2016 blizzard. Professor Richard Bowmaster rear-ends a Lexus driven by Guatemalan nanny Evelyn Ortega, who then appears that evening at Richard’s brownstone with a harrowing tale that requires Richard to call up his basement tenant, fellow professor Lucia Maraz, to help. Over the next few days, the trio will attempt to solve a murder, two will fall in love, one will need to disappear, and another will need to find resting peace.
Dennis Boutsikaris presents Richard with equal parts dignity and desperation, revealing a past filled with selfish decisions, lost relationships, and self-imposed isolation. Alma Cuervo becomes Lucia, her voice rich and melodious, buoyant and solemn, as she shares the teacher’s Chilean past, her family nearly destroyed by deception and violence. Newbie Jasmine Cephas Jones (Hamilton groupies might recognize her as the lauded originator of Peggy Schuyler!) assumes Evelyn’s horrific losses of siblings, culture – perhaps even her sanity – with compassion and grace.
Verdict: The terrific triad bring gentle nuance and empathic energy to Isabel Allende’s latest bestseller; libraries will want to be prepared with all formats to meet high demand.