Here are two stories with an emphasis on character and personal conflict. In My name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, the title character is convalescing from surgery. She receives the shock of her life when her Midwestern mother, with whom she’s been estranged, arrives at her NY bedside. “In its careful words and vibrating silences,” Strout “offers us a rare wealth of emotion, from darkest suffering to simple joy.” That she can do this without “a scintilla of sentimentality” which makes this an “exquisite” novel (NY Times). The Expatriates by Janice Y. K Lee (The Piano Teacher) is a ‘captivating’ book about three American’s living in Hong Kong. Their community is at once tight knit and heavily stratified. At the center of the story is Mercy, a recent college grad working as a nanny, who’s live is upended by an “incident” involving one of the children. Lee is “a perceptive observer” who “brings her characters vividly to life.” this moving novel.