Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace

Isabella Robinson boldly recorded her inmost thoughts -- including her infatuation with a married man -- in a diary discovered by her husband on a fateful day in 1858. Kate Summerscale uses the diary itself, and the ensuing divorce trial, to render the world of Victorian women in revelatory detail.

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…