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Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures

Elsa Emerson relishes appearing onstage, where she soaks up the approval of her father and the embrace of the audience. But when tragedy strikes her family, her acting becomes more than a child's game of pretend. While still in her teens, Elsa marries and flees to Los Angeles. There she is discovered by Irving Green, one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood, who refashions her as a serious, exotic brunette and renames her Laura Lamont.

Week of July 1, 2013

Ian McEwan's latest novel, SWEET TOOTH, is set in 1972 during the Cold War. England's legendary intelligence agency MI5 embarks on an operation code-named "Sweet Tooth" to fund writers whose politics align with those of the government. Cambridge student Serena Frome is hired to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. But when she begins to fall in love with him, she wonders how long she can conceal her undercover life.