Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler discusses and signs his 17th novel, Perfume River. It is a profound and poignant book written by an author at the height of his powers, a portrait of family, personal choice and how war resonates through the American experience. Download these Robert Olen Butler titles from our digital collection.
Robert Quinlan is a seventy-year-old historian, teaching at Florida State University, where his wife Darla is also tenured. Their marriage, forged in the fervor of anti-Vietnam-war protests, now bears the fractures of time, both personal and historical, with the couple trapped in an existence of morning coffee and solitary jogging and separate offices. For Robert and Darla, the cracks remain under the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert's own family are more apparent: he has almost no relationship with his brother Jimmy, who became estranged from the family as the Vietnam War intensified. Robert and Jimmy's father, a veteran of WWII, is coming to the end of his life, and aftershocks of war ripple across their lives once again, when Jimmy refuses to appear at his father's bedside. And an unstable homeless man whom Robert at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran turns out to have a deep impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.
A Small Hotel chronicles the relationship between Michael and Kelly Hays, who have decided to separate after twenty years of marriage. The book begins on the day that the Hays are to finalize their divorce. Kelly is due to be in court, but instead she drives to New Orleans and checks into the hotel where she and Michael fell in love some twenty years earlier and where she must now make a decision that will forever affect her, Michael, and their nineteen-year-old daughter.
The first World War is underway; Germany has allied with the Ottoman Empire, and the Turkish caliphs have declared jihad on the British Empire. Meanwhile, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson hesitates to enter the fray. Aboard the passenger liner Lusitania, war correspondent and American spy Kit Cobb has been assigned to shadow a German intellectual and possible covert agent who is believed to have information vital to the war effort. During the voyage Cobb is smitten with famed actress Selene Bourgani, who inexplicably seems to be working for the Germans. Cobb soon realizes this simple actress is anything but, as she harbors secrets that could pour gasoline on a world already in flames. From the doomed voyage of the Lusitania to the darkest corners of London to the powder keg that is Istanbul, Cobb must venture deep behind enemy lines and use all the cunning in his possession to uncover Bourgani's true motives.
It is 1917, and the United States is still wavering on the brink of war. At an elite intelligence meeting at a Hyde Park mansion, Kit's handlers pair him up with someone he would never have expected--his mother. There's a German mole somewhere in the British government, and the most likely suspect happens to be a diehard fan of the famous American theater actress Isabel Cobb. Disguised as a German-American reporter named Joseph William Hunter, Kit follows his mother and her escort Sir Albert Stockman from the relative safety of London into the lion's den of Berlin. This third installment in Butler's critically-acclaimed series features the swash-buckling action, charismatic leading man, and artful prose that have won the hearts of historical crime fiction fans everywhere.