Fall of Frost
by Brian Hall
(Viking, $25.95)

In Brian Hall’s powerful new novel, poet Robert Frost is a man “who never gets what he needs,” said Peter Behrens in The Washington Post. We meet the white-haired New Englander in the last year of his life. He has accepted an invitation to meet with Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow, and though his faculties are slipping, vanity tells him that his charm and moral standing might be sufficient to defuse the Cold War. Hall, author of a 2003 best-seller about Lewis and Clark, doesn’t stay long inside that scene. His story “operates the way an old man’s memory might,” flashing almost haphazardly to childhood, to grave personal losses, to verses committed to paper decades earlier. The result, though “occasionally confusing,” is “a pleasure to read.” Most of the book’s supporting characters seem little “more than flickering shadows,” said Kevin Nance in the Chicago Sun-Times. But when we’re watching the 88-year-old Frost “struggling to summon an eloquence that might save the world,” the effect is “poignant and engrossing.” Though all the events in the book are true, said Anna Mundow in The Boston Globe, Fall of Frost is “more than a fictionalized biography.” It’s an “intensely moving and supremely intelligent” portrait of a deep soul.