Elizabeth I

Margaret George's capacious historical novel offers a portrait of the Elizabethan Age in duelling voices—one belonging to Queen Bess herself and the other to her lookalike cousin and enemy, Lettice Knollys. There's room enough for political machinations, palace intrigues, romantic passion—and Shakespeare, too.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…