DISCOVER YOUR NEXT GREAT BOOK
164 GIFT IDEAS
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G IN THIS ISSUE G Helen Fielding • Pat Conroy • Martin Cruz Smith • Donna Tartt • Ann Patchett Mitch Albom • Wally Lamb • Anita Shreve • Diane Setterfield Adriana Trigiani • Lee Smith • Eric Carle • and more …
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Rumor Has It
The Trouble with Princesses
Touch & Go
Recovering from a war injury, Special Ops soldier Griffin Reid finds comfort in the last person he’d expect. To Griffin, Kate has always been his little sister’s friend, but now he’s finding her to be so much more. As both attempt to forge their paths, they must decide if their passionate connection can turn into something lasting…
Ariadne will not seek a husband—she will take a lover instead. What begins as a well-deserved reprimand quickly spins out of control when renowned bachelor Rupert Whyte agrees to give Ariadne a few lessons in lust. But just how far will their passion go? And will their forbidden liaison lead them too far astray to turn back?
Risa finds herself under the scrutiny of the vampire council, some of whom consider her a monster who should be destroyed. But they offer her a bloody bargain: Take on the lethal head of the council and others will support her. She realizes that she has no choice and must find the keys before the next gate is opened.
An elite family has been abducted and investigator Tessa Leoni doesn’t know where they are—or if they’re still breathing. She’ll have to climb over unbending feds and territorial cops to find out, and if she’s not fast, their chances of survival will become little more than a hope.
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Promise Me Texas
To put an end to their conflict, Dragos, Lord of the Wyr, sends Aryal and Quentin on a reconnaissance mission. Their mutual antagonism escalates and draws forth more passion. But when their quest reveals real danger, Aryal and Quentin must resolve their differences in ways beyond the physical, before the entire Wyr is threatened.
Laura and Javier’s passion ignites, especially when Laura learns that her abduction was not random—and that she’s still a target for a killer with an impenetrable motive. Now Javier will have to rely on his skills to keep the woman he loves from being struck down before she dares uncover the truth.
In the moment before their train crashes, Andrew McLaughlin saves the beautiful Beth McMurray and is injured in the fall. He wakes up to find she’s claimed him as her fiancé—and now they’re both on the run, and destined to do everything it takes to make an unexpected promise of love come true.
Victor is contracted by the CIA to pose as his previous target. Forced to work with a group of ruthless mercenaries, Victor will face a choice he would rather not make: do the right thing, or sacrifice the only thing in the world he truly cares about—his own life.
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“Do you believe in Angels or God? I do.” —Ben Breedlove An inspirational and heartrending memoir about Ben Breedlove, whose videos about his near-death experiences and visions of Heaven went viral in 2012, written by his sister, Ally Breedlove. On Christmas Day 2011, Ben Breedlove’s soul went to Heaven. But it wasn’t his first time there. Ben suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart condition that posed a constant risk of sudden death. His condition, a thickening of the heart muscle, worsened over time, leaving him weak and fatigued. It also led Ben to some close calls medically, in particular cardiac arrest on four separate occasions, during which he felt the presence of angels and experienced a perfect peace. Unbeknownst to his parents and family, Ben created a two-part video called “This Is My Story,” in which he used flash cards to tell the world about his near-death experiences and his beckoning toward Heaven. When he died a short while later at the tender age of eighteen, his family and the rest of the world stumbled upon these videos. The world responded with overwhelming acceptance of the message Ben shared. Ben’s visions were his gift to his family, and to the world. And now this is the Breedlove family’s gift to us—an in-depth look at Ben’s life, the strength and faith of a family, and, ultimately, the hope of an afterlife.
NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY A Penguin Group (USA) Company
9780451239648 • $24.95 • Hardcover 9780451468154 • $15.00 • Paperback
NOVEMBER 2013 B O O K PA G E . C O M
THE KENNEDY LEGACY Give the gift of great books with a little help from our holiday catalog, packed with inspirational and thrilling reads.
Memories and new perspectives on JFK’s assassination, 50 years later
COVER STORY: AMY TAN A grandmother’s secret past inspired an entrancing new novel
GIFT BOOKS: RELIGION
GIFT BOOKS: MAKING MUSIC Musical legends reveal the truth behind the myths
GIFT BOOKS: FESTIVE BEVERAGES Raise a glass to the holiday season
columns AUDIO LIFESTYLES LIBRARY READS WHODUNIT ROMANCE BOOK CLUBS COOKING
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding Havisham by Ronald Frame The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom We Are Water by Wally Lamb At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón Buying In by Laura Hemphill
Meet the author of Bellman & Black Meet the author-illustrator of Train
04 04 05 06 08 09 10
Holiday catalog art © iStock.com/ma_rish Cover illustration © iStock.com/exxorian
Reflections on the real Santini Four new books for spiritual seekers
Falling Upwards by Richard Holmes This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang
Guests on Earth by Lee Smith Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton The Cartographer of No Man’s Land by P.S. Duffy The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani Stella Bain by Anita Shreve
THE VALLEY OF AMAZEMENT
The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Vanished by Wil S. Hylton Furious Cool by David Henry and Joe Henry The Heart of Everything That Is by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
Son of Fortune by Victoria McKernan Uncrashable Dakota by Andy Marino Reality Boy by A.S. King
Amsterdam by Russell Shorto
43 TEEN Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
THE NEW NOVEL FROM
Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett
A M E R I C A’ S B O O K R E V I E W PUBLISHER
Michael A. Zibart
Lynn L. Green
Elizabeth Grace Herbert
Angela J. Bowman
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R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
Friends by Eric Carle You Are the Pea, and I Am the Carrot by J. Theron Elkins God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant The Mystery of Meerkat Hill by Alexander McCall Smith From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos
BY SUKEY HOWARD
BY JOANNA BRICHETTO
An American epic
From cubicle to farm
You’ll be swept into The Son (HarperAudio, $49.99, 18 hours, ISBN 9780062280954), Philipp Meyer’s brilliantly crafted, multigenerational saga that swirls through the history of Texas from pre-Civil War days to the present. Told in three alternating voices, this compellingly complex narrative begins with Eli, the McCullough clan’s patriarch and most intriguing member. Captured in 1846 by the Comanche raiders who slaughtered his mother, sister and brother, Eli came to love his years with the Comanches and let his mentor’s maxim—you only get rich by taking what you want—guide his rise to wealth and power. His
How many times can we read about the brave soul who packs it up, packs it in and packs a punch by checking out of city life in order to—literally—buy the farm? The number of such volumes seems to be proliferating so rapidly that soon there might be more folks reading them by the natural farm-light of the setting sun than by Starbucks’ fluorescents. How does author Jenna Woginrich rise to the top of this literary woodpile? There are three simple attributes of One-Woman Farm (Storey, $16.95, 208 pages, ISBN 9781603427180) that give her the edge: superb writing, delightful line drawings and a palpable sense of be-
Time, which has sold more than 10 million copies. Hawking describes his youth, his eccentric intellectual parents, their fixer-upper Victorian home, his early school days and the great leaps forward he made in university. Everything changed when he was diagnosed with ALS at 21. He found the focus that had eluded him—and the rest is scientific history. He does talk about living with his deteriorating physical condition, yet says he has no regrets, that he’s “realized his potential” and lived in a glorious time for doing theoretical physics. This is a great gift for an aspiring scientist.
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES
TOP PICK IN AUDIO son, Peter, evoked through a diary he kept in the years before WWI, is a counterbalance to his avaricious father, the one McCullough who doesn’t revel in the family’s unabashed empire building. Jeanne, Peter’s granddaughter, adds the third voice. Now 86 and one of the world’s richest women, she drifts in and out of memories of the Texas oil boom, her fight to make it in a man’s world and the corrosive consequences of too much money. This extraordinary epic of American greed is performed by an all-star quartet of readers, led by the alwayspitch-perfect Will Patton.
R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
HAWKING ON HIMSELF
My Brief History (Random House Audio, $15, 2 hours, ISBN 9780804164283), Stephen Hawking’s book about his life and intellectual evolution, is very brief indeed. And it’s as remarkable for the things he doesn’t talk about (love, loss, marriage, divorce, children) as it is for the things he chooses to share (his groundbreaking work on black holes, his passionate quest to understand the laws of the universe). One of the most famous scientists alive (“a rock star scientist,” as he puts it), a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, he’s the author of many serious scholarly books, impenetrable by mere mortals, and books for the rest of us, including A Brief History of
Her tone is measured, quietly intense, charged with grief and sorrow, the very softness of her voice making what she says all the more affecting, making her testament, The Testament of Mary, all the more powerful. The actual voice belongs to the incomparable Meryl Streep; the words are Colm Tóibín’s, as he reimagines the very cornerstones of Christianity. The Mary of this testament doesn’t have alabaster skin and upturned eyes. She’s a very human woman, aging in exile, still mourning the brutal death of her only son, missing her husband and trying to piece her devastating memories together, to recount the Crucifixion and the events leading up to it as she knew them. She is also trying to keep the two evangelists whose uninvited visits plague her from putting false words in her mouth and false images in their writings. So we become her listeners, hearing about what she witnessed, hearing a very different truth, a truth without consolation. A mesmerizing, disturbing audiobook.
THE TESTAMENT OF MARY By Colm Tóibín
Simon & Schuster Audio $14.99, 3 hours ISBN 9781442363472
(both public and private) wherein human beings have demonstrated ingenuity and grace in giving substance to the flow of time, effectively killing time’s passage by investing it with meaningful stuff. Whether it’s Matisse standing at 6:45 every morning in front of his favorite Cézanne painting, or the fourth-century poet Wang Xizhi reciting spontaneous verses at 4:30 p.m. in the Orchid Pavilion, the secret to living a full life is to embrace our capacity for loving beauty, which is ridiculously obvious, everywhere, here by definition. Just look.
ing there on the farm as she reveals to us the details of her daily “Life Shared with Sheep, Pigs, Chicken, Goats, and a Fine Fiddle.” It is truly a sensible pleasure to discover the “wealth of ritual” at Woginrich’s farm in upstate New York, to read deeply into the “gospel of dirt, life, sex, and death.”
A BOOK OF HOURS You don’t have to buy a farm to find meaning and purpose in life. In All the Time in the World: A Book of Hours (Nan A. Talese, $28.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9780385535410), Jessica Kerwin Jenkins shows us how abundant a source of wisdom the history of civilization can be for constructing our days—month by month, minute by minute—into an artful and mindful cosmos of activity and repose. How can you make every second count? In a word, be a nerd. Find out everything you can about how civilized folks in all eras have shaped the passage of time through attentive engagement and daily ritual. According to Jenkins, our time is shaped, not budgeted. She offers us a life-giving art, not a deathfearing manifesto. By various intervals—always compact, but ranging from five minutes to a little over a half-hour—the author guides us through a single day, opening windows and doors to historic tableaux
Beauty. Ridiculously obvious. Everywhere. Just look. I have to repeat all that because it’s the only way to account adequately for the fantastical—but very real—glories waiting for you in Seeing Flowers: Discover the Hidden Life of Flowers, which features text by Teri Dunn Chace and state-of-the-art photography by Robert Llewellyn. For those of us who love the venerable history of botanical book publishing, the following paradox has a profound import: The photos in this book are so good they look like drawings. Family by family, species by species, Chace and Llewellyn take us through and around and deep into the miraculous complexity and wondrous vitality of flowers. There is a two-page photograph of the interior of a morning glory blossom that looks no different from a Hubble-captured image of a vast nebula. When the macro and the micro collapse together like this, you know you’re brushing very close to the truth of things. All you have to do is look—and see.
SEEING FLOWERS By Teri Dunn Chace and Robert Llewellyn
Timber Press $29.95, 304 pages ISBN 9781604694222
Selected from nominations made by library staff across the country, here are the 10 books that librarians can’t wait to share with readers in November.
A New York Times Bestseller
NOW IN PAPERBACK
BELLMAN & BLACK by Diane Setterfield
Emily Bestler / Atria, $26.99, ISBN 9781476711959
A seemingly trivial act has sinister consequences in the highly anticipated second novel from the author of The Thirteenth Tale. BookPage review and Meet the Author
Q&A on page 37.
2. THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Minotaur, $25.99, ISBN 9780312606848 Newlyweds Russ and Clare find their honeymoon delayed by a double murder in this compelling new mystery.
3. THE DEATH OF SANTINI by Pat Conroy
Nan A. Talese, $28.95, ISBN 9780385530903 In a revealing memoir, Conroy finally explores the past of the man who inspired much of his fiction: his father. BookPage interview on page 16.
4. SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY by Joshilyn Jackson
Morrow, $26.99, ISBN 9780062105653 A single mom’s life changes forever during a fateful encounter at the Circle K in Jackson’s powerful sixth novel. On sale November 19.
5. THE VALLEY OF AMAZEMENT by Amy Tan
Ecco, $29.99, ISBN 9780062107312 Tan reaches back into her own family history in her latest novel, which sweeps the reader from Shanghai to San Francisco and back again. BookPage interview on page 14.
6. LIES YOU WANTED TO HEAR by James Whitfield
Sourcebooks, $14.99, ISBN 9781402284281 Good people make some bad choices in Thomson’s insightful and poignant debut, set in the late 1970s.
7. THE CARTOGRAPHER OF NO MAN’S LAND by P.S. Duffy
Liveright, $25.95, ISBN 9780871403766 A Canadian pacifist finds himself deep in the trenches of WWI-era France in this lyrical first novel. BookPage review on page 38.
8. THE RAVEN’S EYE by Barry Maitland
—ELIZABETH GILBERT, author of Eat, Pray, Love
“Vibrant, hopeful, and compelling . . . McCorkle’s greatest gift is in illuminating the countless tiny moments that make up our time on Earth.” —O: The Oprah Magazine
“Clever, bighearted, and wise.” —Vanity Fair
9. DEATH OF A NIGHTINGALE
by Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis
Soho Crime, $26.95, ISBN 9781616953041 In her third outing, Red Cross nurse Nina Borg is on the trail of a Ukrainian woman who just might have killed her own fiancé.
10. PARASITE by Mira Grant
Orbit, $20, ISBN 9780316218955 Ten years in the future, disease has been eradicated thanks to a parasite that protects humans from illness. But what happens when that parasite demands a life of its own? LibraryReads is a recommendation program that highlights librarians’ favorite books published this month. For more information, visit libraryreads.org.
“Illuminating . . . [McCorkle’s] novel sings with the mystical, the magical and the fragility of this thing called life.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Available wherever books, e-books, and audiobooks are sold. A L G O N Q U I N
B O O K S
R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
Minotaur, $25.99, ISBN 9781250028969 In their 12th adventure, DCI David Brock and DI Kathy Kolla of Scotland Yard investigate mysterious deaths among London’s houseboat population.
“I recommend this novel to anyone looking for a beautiful, heartfelt, funny, warm and smart story . . . It’s a rare delight.”
The Coziest Christmas Mystery of the Year!
WHODUNIT BY BRUCE TIERNEY
Up against the new Russian elite
MEIER CHRISTMAS CAROL MURDER A Lucy Stone Mystery And you thought Christmas shopping was scary…
“Reading a new Leslie Meier mystery is like catching up with a dear old friend.” —KATE CARLISLE
R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
New York Times bestselling author
“A great way to start the Christmas season… an absolute joy to read!” —Suspense Magazine “A delightful treat for the holidays.” —RT Book Reviews
“Meier writes with sparkle and warmth.” —Chicago Sun Times
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.— America’s Independent Publisher
Begin reading at kensingtonbooks.com • lesliemeierbooks.com
They don’t make cops much more world-weary than Moscow homicide investigator Arkady Renko, who has remained steadfast in his principles while trying to stay afloat in the vast sea of corruption that is post-Soviet Union Russia. Author Martin Cruz Smith puts it succinctly in the opening pages of his latest Renko thriller, Tatiana (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9781439140215): “As for himself, Arkady knew he should quit the prosecutor’s office. He should have years ago, but there was always a reason to stay and semblance of control, as if a man falling with an anvil in his hands could be said to be in control.” Due to his integrity and dogged determination, Renko has been sidelined with junk work, kept away from active and sensitive investigations. So, like any good investigator, he strikes out on his own, this time probing the suspicious death of a rabble-rousing journalist. The police are only too happy to write it off as a suicide, thus sweeping her untidy remains under the deep, plush carpets of Moscow’s new power elite. To say that Smith is in top form with Tatiana would beg the question: When has he not been in top form? Smith balances plot, characters and atmosphere with talents equal to the best writers in the genre, and his latest effort is guaranteed to please his longtime fans and likely to win him many new ones.
BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL While Arkady Renko is assailed by the greed and corruption all around him, Jack Taylor’s demons are strictly homegrown and nurtured. A lifetime blackout alcoholic and substance-abuse opportunist, the former Galway cop is, for the moment, tenuously on the wagon. It is a fragile sobriety, though, and it is about to be threatened by a serial killer with the cryptic moniker “C 33” in Ken Bruen’s latest thriller, Purgatory (Mysterious Press, $24, 272 pages, ISBN 9780802126078). Full disclosure: I have been a huge Ken Bruen/Jack Taylor fan since I reviewed The Guards back in 2003. Bruen has moved from strength to strength in the intervening 10 years, developing his protagonist into the
brutally flawed yet oddly sympathetic character who has captured reading (and TV-watching) audiences worldwide. “C 33” is a formidable adversary, cleverly shepherding Taylor through a maze of false trails and goading him at every turn with cryptic messages. Purgatory is another fine installment in the series that defines Irish noir. (Incidentally, the Irish word for noir is dubh, pronounced “dhoo,” and Bruen’s body of work is dubh to the nth degree.)
OUT OF RETIREMENT For her latest novel, No Man’s Nightingale (Scribner, $26, 288 pages, ISBN 9781476744483), Ruth Rendell has plucked superannuated
Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford from retirement to lend a hand in the thorny investigation into the murder of a biracial female vicar. There is every possibility that the murder has racist or sexist overtones, but Wexford stumbles on a clue—a folded letter serving as a bookmark—that suggests a different direction altogether. Fans will recognize “different direction altogether” as Rendell’s modus operandi, and before the book draws to its surprising conclusion, there will be quite a few alterations in the course of the investigation, not to mention enough red herrings to feed a moderate-sized Dublin suburb their Friday supper. Wexford is in fine form considering his advancing years, although as an ad hoc consultant on the case, he has to rein in his customary bluster, and this newfound diffidence seems a bit out of character. It’s understandable, though, as he has no official brief, and he is enough of a pro to know his parameters. Inspector Wexford has long been one of the most beloved characters in English suspense fiction, and No Man’s Nightingale will only enhance that status. (A fun fact: The Wexford series is approach-
ing its 50th anniversary. The first book, From Doon with Death, was released in 1964!)
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY Readers who were left wondering about the fate of Oslo detective Harry Hole at the end of last year’s Phantom can breathe a (tentative) sigh of relief. Harry is not dead—not yet, anyway. He lies comatose in a hospital bed, a round-the-clock guard stationed outside his door. The guard is a necessary evil, as there are forces on both sides of the thin blue line that would like to see Harry taken off the game board permanently. The police department is foundering in his absence, however: A serial cop-killer has eluded capture for some months, and without Harry’s guidance, the investigation has stalled. And who knows when, or even if, Harry will be able to jump back into the fray. Police is a denser novel than those that preceded it in the series, and it would be best to read some of the earlier books first, particularly Phantom. This is no bad thing, as the books are eminently readable, tracing Harry’s downward spiral through the loss of a relationship, troubles at work and his increasing dependence on alcohol, but always with that faint flicker of light at the end of the tunnel to draw him forward. With each successive character-driven installment, Nesbø has blurred the line between genre fiction and literature, and this time, he has pretty much obliterated it.
POLICE By Jo Nesbø
Knopf $25.95, 448 pages ISBN 9780307960498 Audio, eBook available
AN EXTRAORDINARY TALE OF
THROUGH THE AGES Weaving an intriguing narrative alongside photographs, diagrams, and visual explanations, Steve Parker recounts the quest of doctors and scientists to tame and conquer mankind’s ever-enduring enemies— disease, injury, and death.
The BookPage/DK Kill or Cure Sweepstakes Enter for a chance to win! One (1) Grand Prize of a $300.00 gift certificate and a DK History library (Total Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) of Grand Prize = $450.00) Ten (10) Runner-up prizes of a copy of Kill or Cure, published by DK (ARV of each prize = $30.00).
Available now wherever books are sold.
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From #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
The Sum of All Kisses The Third Smythe-Smith Novel
ROMANCE B Y C H R I S T I E R I D G WAY
The perfect match A matchmaker finds love in When the Marquess Met His Match (Avon, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780062118172) by Laura Lee Guhrke. American by birth, Lady Belinda Featherstone is aristocratic London’s best marriage broker. As a young widow, she makes a living by guiding other American heiresses to advantageous marriages. It’s a big surprise when Nicholas, Marquess of Trubridge, who has a reputation for running through money—and women—calls on her. Thirty-yearold Nicholas is desperate to find a rich wife to help end his financial
knows he wants her back, even though wooing the woman he still loves is a distraction from the goal he’s been pursuing since their breakup—revenge on the man he’s learned is his biological father, a hotel magnate who turned his back on Adrian and his mother. As Dana becomes aware of Adrian’s obsession, she realizes he’ll have to come to grips with his past before they can find a future. This story sizzles!
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE
R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
He thinks she’s an annoying know-it-all… She thinks he’s just plain mad… But when the pair are forced into close company, they discover that first impressions are no match for a kiss (or two, or three)…
“Delightful.”—Nora Roberts “Julia Quinn is truly our contemporary Jane Austen” —Jill Barnett
www.JuliaQuinn.com Win free prizes, get exclusive content, and more — scan with a QR App now! Text AVON to READIT (732348) for more exclusive content AvonRomance.com
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woes. Belinda longs to turn the sexy, arrogant man away, but when a young family friend shows interest in the Marquess, she decides to save the youngster heartache by agreeing to find a suitable wife for Nicholas. Soon, however, the only woman Belinda wants to see in his arms is herself. Nicholas is equally attracted, but Belinda is not the super-wealthy wife he imagined—so a happily-ever-after appears elusive. A delicious, sensual read about two good people rediscovering themselves and their belief in love.
HOT HOLLYWOOD NIGHTS In a world of wealth and glamour, former lovers reunite in Love After War (Kensington, $6.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780758276629) by Cheris Hodges. Two years after Dana Singleton’s boyfriend declared that things were over, she finds herself back in Los Angeles and face-to-face with Adrian Bryant—the very guy who broke her heart. A celebrity photographer based in New York City, Dana is on assignment on the West Coast to take publicity shots for a film studio. Running into her old flame wasn’t on her agenda, but there he is, a successful nightclub owner, still as handsome as ever. With one look at Dana, Adrian realizes his mistake. He immediately
Pamela Clare offers gritty and gripping romantic suspense in Striking Distance. For 18 months, reporter Laura Nilsson was held captive in a terrorist den, where she was threatened with death on a regular basis. When a military team brings the lead terrorist down, Laura is rescued . . . but her ordeal is far from over. Two years later, after she testifies against her abductor, the man publicly threatens her. Back in Denver, when a bomb explodes at the newspaper bureau where she works, Laura has to wonder if she’s the target. Navy SEAL Javier Corbray comes back into her life just when she needs a hero. They’d shared a passionate weekend before her kidnapping, and now mutual friends bring them together once more. As danger’s grasp tightens on Laura, Javier becomes both lover and protector and is impressed by her compassion and strength. But with more deaths and injuries occurring around them, they must pinpoint the mastermind before he puts an end to any future they might have. A steamy story filled with action, intriguing twists and an unexpected emotional wallop.
STRIKING DISTANCE By Pamela Clare
Berkley $7.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780425257357 Audio, eBook available
BOOK CLUBS BY JULIE HALE
New paperback releases for reading groups
CRACE’S HAUNTING FABLE Jim Crace’s starkly beautiful new novel, Harvest (Vintage, $15, 256 pages, ISBN 9780307278975), takes place in a small, tradition-bound village in an era that feels medieval. The planting and harvesting of barley has always been central to the community’s existence. No one can remember a time when things were different. But village life is forever altered when three strangers appear and a fire breaks out on the property of Master Kent, whose family owns the land the villagers farm. These
lawyer and Nazi hunter, arrives to investigate Josef, the process leads him to Sage’s grandmother, Minka, a Jew who was persecuted during the war and whose past is intertwined with Josef’s. Picoult writes with compassion and sensitivity about the Holocaust and questions of faith, and she demonstrates extraordinary insight into the grieving process. This is a memorable story that showcases her many gifts as a novelist.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
chilling events are recounted by a man named Walter Thirsk, who came to the village 12 years ago and knows how it feels to be a stranger there. Thirsk is an articulate and perceptive narrator, and his plainspoken account of the fear and upheaval that sweep through the community after the fire is unforgettable. Crace’s book is parable-like in its demonstration of what can happen when a people too-long isolated are overcome by suspicion and distrust. It’s no surprise that this deeply affecting novel was recently shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
TRAPPED BY THE PAST
THE HOUSE GIRL
The New York Times bestseller is now in paperback! “This will be the book-club book of the year.” —Marie Claire
The new shocking and provocative novel from book-club favorite Kristina Riggle “Love, loyalty and the murky nature of the truth, are at the fracturing heart of this astonishing novel about culpability, desire, and the ways we choose to see our world. Just breathtakingly good.” —Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author The New York Times bestselling novel about friendship and second chances “A lovely novel about the search for family that also happens to illuminate a fascinating and forgotten chapter of American history. Beautiful.” —Ann Packer, New York Times bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier
A spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror, New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill “Hill’s imagination is… far-ranging....NOS4A2 is full of chills and cliffhangers.” —New York Times
By Tara Conklin
Morrow $14.99, 400 pages ISBN 9780062207517
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Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller (Atria, $16, 480 pages, ISBN 9781439102770) is a complex, moving novel about two Holocaust survivors and the ways in which their stories change one woman’s life. Sage Singer, a 25-year-old bakery employee in Westerbrook, New Hampshire, is coming to grips with the death of her mother. At her griefcounseling group, she befriends 95-year-old widower Josef Weber. As they grow closer, Josef asks Sage to help him die. Confessing that he was a Nazi during the Holocaust, Josef shares the unsettling story of his past with Sage. Overwhelmed and confused, Sage contacts the authorities about him. When Leo Stein, a
In her much-praised debut novel, The House Girl, Tara Conklin tells the stories of two very different women—one a contemporary New York City lawyer, the other a 19thcentury slave—and the remarkable connection they share. Lina Sparrow is involved in a class-action suit that will benefit the descendants of American slaves when she learns about Josephine Bell. A Virginia house servant who may have executed the acclaimed paintings long attributed to her white mistress, Josephine captures Lina’s imagination. Lina hopes to locate a relative of Josephine’s to enlist in the lawsuit. As she researches Josephine’s life, she begins to wonder about her own past, especially the strange death of her mother two decades ago. The mysteries soon multiply for Lina, and what she learns changes her life forever. Conklin, who worked as a litigator before devoting herself to writing, develops the parallel stories of her two heroines with the skill of a seasoned novelist. Her understanding of history and instinct for detail make The House Girl a remarkably assured debut.
Give Thanks for Great Books!
Heartfelt Celebration OF FAMILY DINNERS
PASS THE MEMORIES—Christy Jordan, author of Southern Plate and publisher of the wildly popular SouthernPlate.com, knows that nothing tastes better than meals shared with family.
OVER 200 RECIPES TO FEED YOUR FAMILY WITH LOVE
columns Gourmet gifts, part I Suzanne Goin’s first cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, is one of my all-time favorites; I’ve been hoping for a follow-up since it was published in 2005. Here at last, and more than worth the wait, is The A.O.C. Cookbook (Knopf, $35, 448 pages, ISBN 9780307958235). Goin, a true omnivore and true believer in seasonal and local cooking, is boldly, brilliantly creative, combining ingredients, layering and reinforcing flavors so that the sum of the dish is greater than its parts (some of the “parts” are divine by themselves).
This is serious, challenging cooking, not dumbed-down, not simplified. A dish like Pork Confit with Caramelized Apples and Cabbage in Red Wine takes planning and time to accomplish. Read the more than 100 recipes carefully, savor the process, give yourself to Goin and reap the fantastic rewards.
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“This book is power-packed full of recipes that are not only fun to cook, but even better to enjoy with the ones you love.”
Food Network host and Iron Chef winner
“Christy’s emphasis on simplicity, goodness, tradition, and family come through loud and clear in her food and in her writing.”
Co-creator of VeggieTales and voice of Larry the Cucumber
The Gramercy Tavern, a star in Danny Meyer’s gem-studded restaurant empire, serves fabulous food in a fabulous setting. I go whenever I can to the big, bustling bar—or to the gracious dining room, if someone else is picking up the bill. Finally, we have The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $50, 352 pages, ISBN 9780307888334), with 125 elegant, seasonally arranged recipes presented by its executive chef-partner Michael Anthony, plus an intimate history by Meyer, 200 enticing photographs and even stories from staff members. With care and the best fresh ingredients, you can make most of these recipes at home, or you can just read through and soak it up. It’s almost as good as being there.
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COOKING BY SYBIL PRATT
“Serenity” isn’t a word usually associated with cooking or cookbooks, but it’s the word and the feeling that One Good Dish (Artisan, $25.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9781579654672), David
Tanis’ latest, elicits. Add simplicity and a minimalist’s less-is-more approach, and you’ll be in Tanis mode, ready to quietly revel in his eclectic collection of favorite dishes meant to be eaten at any time of day, alone or with friends. The 100 recipes are for nibbles, creations based on bread (fresh, aging, sliced, diced and crumbled), homemade condiments, soups and “soupy” dishes served in bowls, greens (steamed, braised and wilted), an array of dishes cooked in a hot castiron skillet, small sweets and a few “remarkable” drinks. A pleasure and a delight.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS Magnifique, marvelous! Daniel Boulud’s Daniel: My French Cuisine is the pièce de résistance of this year’s crop of grand cookbooks, a big, beautiful package, filled with luscious photos. First and foremost come the best recipes from Daniel, Boulud’s famed New York restaurant, with complex preparations inspired by classic French dishes and given a Boulud twist, like White Truffle Veal Blanquette. These are dishes more suited to armchair savoring than for attempting in your kitchen. He does include four “soulful” regional menus specially adapted for home cooks, a bit of a culinary stretch for mere mortals, but doable. In between is a fabulous piece by Bill Buford about preparing “extreme” versions of iconic French recipes with Daniel and Co. A gourmet gift for sure.
DANIEL By Daniel Boulud
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will hold you captive under his spell.
—Patricia Cornwell, #1 New York Times bestselling author An intense and atmospheric new supernatural thriller that brilliantly conjures the shadowed terrors of the Louisiana bayou—where three friends confront a deadly, ancient evil rising to the surface.
“Christopher Rice is a magician. This brilliant, subtly destabilizing novel inhales wickedness and corruption and exhales delight and enchantment.” —Peter Straub, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“An amazing horror novel with more twists and turns than a mountain road.” —Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times bestselling author
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Photo © Gwen and Eeddie Photography
“A masterful coming-of-age novel…Rice’s characters are complex and real, his dialogue pitch perfect, and his writing intelligent and strong.”
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THE KENNEDY LEGACY B Y PAT H . B R O E S K E
On a tragic anniversary, remembering the life and death of JFK
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ifty years after gunshots rang out in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza, the collective memory continues to celebrate the life and achievements of John F. Kennedy, and to ponder his death. Authors and publishers are also remembering the November 22nd anniversary with dozens of new books on Kennedy’s assassination and legacy. We’ve pored through the stacks to point readers toward some of the best.
military leader who went rogue; oil baron H.L. Hunt; Dallas Morning News publisher Ted Dealey; and incendiary congressman Bruce Alger. At odds with JFK’s foreign policies, they also resented the president’s domestic agenda, notably on civil rights. Into this toxic atmosphere came Oswald, an avowed Marxist who had resentments of his own. As authoritative as it is readable, Dallas 1963 is a significant addition to the JFK canon.
Corbis/Coutesy of LIFE, from The Day Kenney Died
James Swanson, author of the riveting 2006 bestseller Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, brings his storytelling acumen and research skills to the event he calls “the great American tragedy.” Swanson’s End of Days (Morrow, $29.99, 416 pages, ISBN 9780062083487) begins with Lee Harvey Oswald meticulously planning a killing. He has maps, surveillance photos, a planned escape route and more. His intended target: General Edwin A. Walker, a Dallas-based ultraconservative who considered JFK a political foe. But Oswald’s assassination attempt fails; his bullet comes within an inch of Walker’s head. Oswald isn’t a suspect in the Walker incident. It’s only after he succeeds at his next assassination attempt—on the life of JFK—that investigators make the connection. Swanson’s linear narrative positions all this as it happens. He does the same in detailing the forces that bring Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline to Texas, ultimately putting them in the crosshairs of Oswald’s rifle, and the reader in a “you are there” edge-of-the-seat thriller. Dallas 1963 (Twelve, $28, 384 pages, ISBN 9781455522095) masterfully describes the sociological and political forces that made the city a hotbed of reactionary activism. Bill Minutaglio—whose Texas-themed books include biographies of George W. Bush and Molly Ivins—and Texas scholar Steven L. Davis vividly describe the collision of the colorful characters who gave Dallas its foreboding renown. Among them: Gen. Walker, the once-celebrated
A RESTLESS ASSASSIN Peter Savodnik, who once reported from Moscow, is no conspiracy theorist. He believes Oswald did it—and acted alone. The nagging question is, why? To find the answer, Savodnik traces Oswald’s time in the Soviet Union from 1959 to 1962. The Interloper (Basic, $27.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9780465021819) gets its title from Oswald’s lifelong efforts to escape his old life and insert himself into a new one. Oswald’s youth was chaotic, in large part because of his hectoring mother, Marguerite. After dropping out of high school, he joined the Marines. He also discovered Marxism. Seeking a more fulfilling life, he journeyed to the Soviet Union where he perplexed the KGB (as a defector, he had little to offer), enjoyed success with women (who found him exotic) and ultimately married. But as Savodnik details, the lifelong outsider didn’t fit in; returning to America with his Russian bride, his anger and frustrations festered. Over the next 17 months, Oswald moved nine times, eventually
The Dallas motorcade, as shown in LIFE The Day Kennedy Died: 50 Years Later. making his way to Dallas. Ever the interloper, his disconnectedness led to his actions on November 22, 1963. In a sense, says Savodnik, it was as much a suicide attempt as it was a murder.
EYEWITNESS TO HISTORY In Five Days in November (Gallery, $30, 256 pages, ISBN 9781476731490), Clint Hill and coauthor Lisa McCubbin, who previously teamed up for Mrs. Kennedy and Me, focus on a timeframe that begins just before the trip to Texas and ends with a nation in mourning. As the Secret Service agent in charge of the first lady’s detail, Hill is known for leaping onto the back of the car that carried the injured JFK, pushing Jackie back into the seat. Five Days in November includes a reproduction of the trip agenda, a
plan of Air Force One and a chart of the Dallas motorcade—as well as seldom-seen photos. But the highlights are Hill’s personal remembrances, like hearing the first lady practicing her Spanish while en route to San Antonio, in anticipation of a speech to Latino constituents. The text is straightforward; the embellishments come from the heart, as when Hill relates the backstory of John-John’s famed salute at his father’s funeral. Or when the first lady takes Hill’s hand, during the somber flight carrying the president’s body from Dallas to D.C., and asks, “What’s going to happen to you now, Mr. Hill?” Other first-hand observers of the events in Dallas include the medical professionals who have been quoted in a spate of books over the years about what took place at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where the mortally wounded president was rushed. At long last, there is a single volume of remembrances, compiled by Dr. Allen Childs, who was on the scene. We Were There (Skyhorse, $22.95, 192 pages, ISBN 9781626361089) includes accounts of more than 40 Parkland staff members. Some are tearful, some insightful, some strictly by the book; all underscore the sense of urgency—and the craziness—that
THE KENNEDY LEGACY cance. (It was JFK’s passion for history that triggered McCullough’s professional calling.) There are biographical pages, family portraits—including Cecil Stoughton’s wonderful shots of Caroline and John-John cavorting in the Oval Office—and sections on the murder and its aftermath. It was LIFE that first published images from Abraham Zapruder’s legendary 26-second 8mm home movie. Here, all 486 frames are reproduced in an eight-page fold-out. The book also includes a removable reprint of the original LIFE issue that followed the assassination.
REASSESSING KENNEDY Historian Thurston Clarke delves into the final chapter of Kennedy’s presidency in JFK’s Last Hundred Days (Penguin, $29.95, 448 pages, ISBN 9781594204258). This compelling page-turner follows JFK from August 1963—just after the death of his two-day-old son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy—to that fateful day in Dallas. The mystery Clarke sets out to solve is not who killed JFK, but rather, who the president was and where he might have led us. Clarke makes a convincing argument that, had he lived, JFK would have opted for a 1964 running mate other than Lyndon Johnson—dubbed Uncle Cornpone by Kennedy and his crowd—and that, following his re-election, he would have gotten the U.S. out of Southeast Asia. Domestically, Clarke contends, Kennedy would have pursued a strong civil rights agenda. (One anecdote finds JFK watching Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the White House’s only TV, a 13-inch black and white with rabbit ears—on which Caroline regularly watched “Lassie.”) Detailed in both political and personal revelations, JFK’s Last Hundred Days does not delve into the assassination, though the stage is set. The morning they left for Dallas, JFK warned Jackie, “We’re heading into nut country today.” After the assassination, Jackie and some Kennedy cabinet members
promoted a romanticized vision of the late president. It started with Jackie’s interview with LIFE magazine, in which she compared the Kennedy White House to King Arthur’s Court. A spate of glowing biographies followed. Myths are one thing; facts are another. Camelot’s Court (Harper, $32.50, 512 pages, ISBN 9780062065841) is an unvarnished account of JFK’s inner circle (nicknamed the “Ministry of Talent”). Robert Dallek, author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 19171963, goes behind closed doors as JFK deals with the communist advance and the foreboding possibility of nuclear war. Cuba and Vietnam
dominate Kennedy’s agenda, as well as this book—especially as the conflict in Southeast Asia grows. But Dallek has cleverly spiced up his scholarly reporting. In doing so, he humanizes the sometimes brittle politician who—when facing the Cuban missile crisis—confided to a lover, “I’d rather my children be red than dead.” Dallek takes a measured view of what might have happened had JFK not been killed. Perhaps he’d have been re-elected; it’s “plausible” he would have gotten the U.S. out of Vietnam. Today, what’s certain is Kennedy’s hold on the American psyche. No assassin’s bullet could snuff that out.
Speculative takes on Camelot
he assassination has inspired fiction by writers from Don DeLillo (Libra) to Stephen King (11/22/63). Now, two journalists take their turns.
Jim Lehrer, former anchor of PBS’s “NewsHour,” was a reporter at the Dallas Times Herald when JFK was killed. His questioning of a Secret Service agent about the use of the “bubble top” on the presidential limousine was the impetus for the novel Top Down (Random House, $26, 208 pages, ISBN 9781400069163). This slender volume begins like a detective story but becomes a character study of the emotional toll on individuals involved in a national tragedy. The characters include a guilt-ridden Secret Service agent who gave the order to remove the bubble top for the Dallas motorcade, his plucky daughter and a reporter clearly modeled on Lehrer (right down to the crew cut). If Kennedy Lived (Putnam, $26.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9780399166969), by political commentator Jeff Greenfield, has a cheeky tone and a scenario that begins with JFK recovering from the assassin’s bullet. He goes on to serve a second term; Lyndon Johnson resigns the vice presidency to curtail an investigation into his finances; both Bobby and Jackie seem to stand by their man. But increasingly, the media takes shots and the public is losing faith. Ah, politics. — PAT H . B R O E S K E
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resonated throughout the hospital. There’s Jackie, silently circling the emergency room, holding something in her cupped hands. Nudging a doctor, she hands him “a large chunk of her husband’s brain tissue.” In the halls, angry Secret Service agents brandish machine guns. Outside, a medical student watches as an ornate casket is carried in. It’s at Parkland that the seeds of conspiracy theories take root, beginning with professional differences over where the bullets entered the president’s body. In one startling recollection, a doctor says a Warren Commission representative admitted to him that witnesses were prepared to testify that “they saw somebody shoot the president from the front,” but the commission didn’t want to interview them. No wonder Skyhorse, the publisher of We Were There, has a number of conspiracy titles among the 26 JFK assassination books it is publishing this year, including The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ and They Killed Our President: 63 Reasons to Believe There Was a Conspiracy to Assassinate JFK. Another probe of conspiracy theories is History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time (Workman, $24.95, 160 pages, ISBN 9780761177456), a lively and cleverly packaged exploration. Adapted from the History Channel program “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded,” the book presents conspiracies in countdown format: 10, 9, 8 . . . with Kennedy’s assassination in the number-one spot. Authors Meltzer and Keith Ferrell review the top 10 theories pointing to a conspiracy in JFK’s death. Among them (at #9): the fact that the findings of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Assassinations, released in 1979, differed from those of the Warren Commission. The book comes with envelopes of removable facsimile documents for each conspiracy; for JFK, the envelope contains the order form for Oswald’s $19.95 rifle that may—or may not—have changed history. Weighing in at more than five pounds, the striking commemorative LIFE The Day Kennedy Died: 50 Years Later (LIFE Books, $50, 192 pages, ISBN 9781618930743) recalls the iconic magazine’s illustrious relationship with the Kennedys, as well as the dark days in Dallas. A foreword by historian David McCullough assesses JFK’s signifi-
AMY TAN BY AMY SCRIBNER
A peek behind the curtain at the secrets of a courtesan
my Tan does not have a fabulous closet befitting a world-famous author. She is in the midst of cleaning it when BookPage calls to talk about her lush new novel, The Valley of Amazement.
“It’s a terrible closet,” Tan says with a laugh from her home in New York City. “It’s a teeny-tiny closet. The doors keep going off the hinges and I keep having to figure out where to put my winter clothes.” Subpar closet notwithstanding, Tan is having a very good year, highlighted by the publication of her first novel in eight years. The Valley of Amazement is the spellbinding story of Violet, a pampered girl raised by her American mother, Lulu, in Lulu’s plush Shanghai courtesan house. When Lulu is tricked into sailing for California during the 1912 revolution, Violet is left behind and sold to another “flower house,” where young girls trade companionship and sex for lavish gifts and the hope of one day becoming someone’s wife or concubine. An older courtesan in the house, Magic Gourd, takes Violet under her wing, helping her become one of the most successful courtesans in the city. Violet meets many men during her time as a courtesan and eventually marries an American man and gives birth to their daughter. But when her husband dies of Spanish influenza and his spiteful American
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THE VALLEY OF AMAZEMENT
By Amy Tan
Ecco, $29.99, 608 pages ISBN 9780062107312, audio, eBook available
wife steals the daughter, Violet must decide whether it is worth reconnecting with her own mother in order to find her daughter again. Tan, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, modeled Violet in some ways after her own grandmother, who was widowed by age 30 and became the concubine of a wealthy man who eventually had seven wives. Whether she joined this household by choice The courtesans or force is a matter of Shanghai debate were competitive of within businesswomen the family. What who “wheedled is known and extracted,” is that she committed Tan says. “They were competitive suicide. A haunting and jealous.” photo of her grandmother dressed in the clothing worn by courtesans got Tan wondering how much she really knew about her. Whether her grandmother was actually a courtesan is a fact lost to time, but Tan discovered other surprising things about her during her research. “I found out during the writing that she was not who people said she was,” Tan says. “People had always said she was quiet, traditional, old-fashioned, she stayed home and listened to her husband.” Yet when Tan interviewed an older relative, who had lived with Tan’s grandmother as a toddler, the relative painted a much different picture of her grandmother as the favorite wife who had a fiery streak. “She said she was very hot-tempered, and if you did not listen to her, you would regret it,” Tan says. “That gave me a sense that she had something more interesting that had tested her more. I think my grandmother had to make her circumstances as best she could.”
Tan began writing fiction when she was in her 30s and burst onto the literary scene in 1989 with the publication of The Joy Luck Club, which sold more than 2 million copies and was adapted into a popular film. In the years since, she has extended her critical and commercial success with several novels, including The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Bonesetter’s Daughter and Saving Fish from Drowning. As with so many of Tan’s works, her latest book dives deep into the conflicted relationship of a mother and daughter and explores the questions of how much of life is shaped by circumstance and how much by what is passed down through generations. “It’s such a rich ground for me,” says Tan, who had a complicated but close relationship with her own mother. “When you think of identity, much of that stems from parental influences—that huge, constant guide for so many years of your life.” This book is a major departure for Tan in one way: It includes explicit sex scenes and graphic dialogue.
“I’ve always steered away from writing about sex,” she says. “Too many people already think I’m writing about my life. I had thoughts while I was writing about sadism— oh, they’re going to think this is based upon my 20 years of experience with beating. But I didn’t really care. What I was worried about was writing corny sex scenes. I didn’t trust myself that I wouldn’t hold back or go overboard.” She talked to several researchers who study the world of courtesans, and read a famous Chinese pornographic novel as well as the journal of a young Chinese man who regularly visited flower houses. While some of the details in the novel are from that research (an aphrodisiac called “Gates Wide Open,” for example, was one of Tan’s favorites), Tan says she had a great time coming up with other names for aphrodisiacs, genitalia and sexual positions. She also loved imagining the relationships among the courtesans. “It was fun writing those scenes,” she says. “I felt like I was there. These characters were not retiring
Antoinette van Heugten, comes a riveting exploration of the power the past wields over the present.
Critically acclaimed author Antoinette van Heugten writes the story of a woman whose child’s life hangs in the balance, forcing her to confront the roots of her family’s troubled history in the dark days of World War II….
“A high-speed chase of a novel, Saving Max is like the best of John Grisham with a feminine twist.” —New York Times bestselling author Eileen Goudge on Saving Max
On sale October 29
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flowers. They were businesswomen. They wheedled and extracted. They were competitive and jealous. “I thought the conversations with my editor [Dan Halpern] would be very awkward, but they turned out to be fun conversations,” Tan says. “At one point, he wrote ‘Lawrenceian!’ next to one scene. I didn’t know whether he meant that was good or bad or too repressed or what. I sent him a long email and at the end of the email, I said ‘Never mind. I’m taking it out.’ ” Tan maintains the pace and allure of the story as Violet endures harrowing years of abuse and uncertainty, eventually reconnecting not only with her mother but with the powerful businessman who took her virginity when she was a teenage courtesan. “Her thing was staying alive,” Tan says. “She thought of [her daughter] Flora all the time. It occurs to her what she has to do is find her mother and forgive her. Today, we can expend money, resources, call the FBI, whatever it takes, to find our kid. In that time, they didn’t have that ability. We impose our American sensibility on the situation.” Tan may have drawn on her family’s history for many elements of the story, but her own marriage is a far cry from Violet’s tumultuous love life. She has been married to her husband, Lou, since 1974. “We like to joke that it’s separate closets and separate bathrooms,” she says about the secret to their longevity. “We both share similar politics and respect for people. We have similar generosity. We allow a lot of individuality, but also we share a lot of things.” At the time of our conversation, Lou was on a bike tour of French wineries, a trip that Tan chose to skip—“I don’t want to get drunk in the afternoon on vacation”—but he will return in time for her upcoming 25-city book tour. “It’s very hard for me to travel alone these days,” says Tan, 61, who has experienced occasional seizures since being diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2003. “They’re not serious but they leave me very confused. It’s better if I have someone with me. He’s really good and supportive. He fed me three times a day when I was on deadline with this book.” With that, Tan bids farewell and gets back to working on her closet. “The exciting life of an author,” she says wryly.
From the bestselling author of Saving Max,
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2013-09-17 4:03 PM
PAT CONROY B Y J AY M AC D O N A L D
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Surviving Santini: Conroy looks back ong before Augusten Burroughs was running with scissors, a big-hearted Southern whirlwind of a writer named Pat Conroy served as America’s unofficial poster boy for family dysfunction.
The eldest of seven siblings raised under the violent iron fist of a celebrated Marine Corps fighter pilot, Conroy sought refuge and revenge by channeling his nightmarish upbringing and its aftereffects into such gut-wrenching, cinema-ready novels as The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline and The Prince of Tides. The success of his prose on page and screen didn’t prevent the real-life marriage meltdowns and numerous personal breakdowns that come with having the devil himself as your muse. More than a decade in the writing, his new memoir The Death of Santini marks Conroy’s coming to terms with his “Chicago Irish” father, Don (nicknamed the Great Santini, after the trapeze artist, for his aerial prowess); his indefatigable Southern belle mother, Peg; his unsinkable grandmother, Stanny; sister Carol, the prickly family poet; and brother Tom, whose suicide plunge at 34 from a 14-story building came to manifest the malignant memories that haunt his siblings. Conroy was inspired to undertake his memoir in 1998 after writing the eulogy for his father, which he uses to close this book, both literally and figuratively. “I needed some kind of summingup, a wrap-up for the direction that my career has taken me,” Conroy says. “I’ve been so family-obsessed that I wanted to try to figure out what it all means and come to some conclusions.” Despite the book’s dark subject matter, readers may be surprised to find The Death of Santini uplifting, and at times downright funny, as the author casts off punch lines and personal demons with every page. Conroy approves but takes no credit for this reader-friendly chiaroscuro. “When you say it goes from light to darkness, that sounds like it should be, but I’m never very good at that,” he admits. “I had good editing, good people reading the book from the very beginning and arranging it.” One of those clever souls was Conroy’s wife, the novelist Cassandra King (Moonrise), who helped steel the author through his father’s final
days. The couple married a week after Don Conroy’s death. “My father adored her,” Conroy says. “Dad used to say, ‘What does Sandra see in you, son?’ And now, poor Cassandra has been marinated in the Conroy family madness.” Fiction provided a means for Conroy to process the constant belittling, badgering and physical and mental abuse the family suffered at the hands of his larger-and-scarier-than-life father. But when the budding author dared to expose the family secrets in the guise of the Bull Meecham brood in his 1976 debut novel, The Great Santini, the family was horrified. “One of the things my brothers and sisters have had to ask ourselves is, did this all happen? What was the result of it happening to us? How do we relate it to our children “I’ve been or our wives so familyor husbands?” obsessed that Conroy says. “We’re all I wanted to screwed up, try to figure coming through Mom and Dad. out what it That was a difall means.” ficult country to travel in, but we traveled it, we made it through, and somehow we survived it.” That fragile illusion would be destroyed years later when Tom, who’d had a minor role in the film version of The Great Santini, ended his life in Columbia, South Carolina. “But Tom did not survive it,” Conroy continues, choking up. “Tom can bring us to our knees. We all feel we failed him, left him behind. We were not watchful or vigilant enough with Tom to help him survive.” Conroy’s mother, who tirelessly encouraged him to pursue a writing career, was in her glory when the film premiered in her hometown of Beaufort, South Carolina, where it was filmed. She would later submit the novel into evidence in her divorce from Don. As for Don, the best-selling novel and the film that followed sparked a love affair that knew no bounds. “With my father, it wasn’t a flirtation with Hollywood, it was a mar-
riage,” Conroy recalls. “When he finally realized that I had killed him in the movie, he was furious for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t figure out why until he said, ‘You f__ked up the sequel!’ He did take that role utterly seriously. There were license plates of the Great Santini, hats of the Great Santini. Going to Dad’s apartment was like going to the county fair, only the county fair was based entirely on him and all the rides were Santini rides and all the clowns were Santini clowns. He could not get enough of it.” The family uproar over The Great Santini and his subsequent novels continues to this day. When his siblings got wind that big brother had a memoir in the works, Conroy couldn’t help having a little fun at their expense. “They always said, ‘You won’t be able to write this, Pat, because no one will believe it.’ My brothers and sisters are terrified of this book,” he says. “Of course, I was telling my brothers that I was giving them sexchange operations and my sisters that I was going to have them marry monsters and their children were going to be the devil’s spawn. But now that it’s coming out, I’m worried about their judgment.” Having exorcised his demons, Conroy is working on a new novel and his first young adult book, neither of which involves family ghosts. “I’m going to try to leave the family in peace,” he vows. “There are other things to write about. Of course, I’m ashamed that I didn’t think of this until I was 90 years
old!” (Conroy is slightly inflating his age: He turns 68 just before his memoir’s October 29 publication.) But his dark journey did lead him to a surprising conclusion about the family that fueled much of his career. “Being born into this family was the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” he says. “It just took me a long time to realize it and 40 years to write about it.”
THE DEATH OF SANTINI
By Pat Conroy
Nan A. Talese, $28.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780385530903, audio, eBook available
3 1 0 2 Y A D I HOL G O L CATA a ke M ks ts Bo o at Gif Gre
Give This Bo oks Yea r!
Mary Engelbreit’s Christmas collection rings in the holiday with classic Christmas carols, the story of Jesus’ birth and poems that celebrate the season with her beloved and engaging illustrations.
Christmas activities These engaging craft and activity books from Usborne are full of fun ideas for the holiday season. Whether it’s dot-to-dot, doodling or creating your own cards and gift tags, there is something for everyone! Each title contains stickers.
Peace on Earth
Santa Claus is going to town! Marrying the magic of Scanimation with the universally beloved figure of Santa Claus, Santa! is a holiday book unlike any other.
The Perfect Christmas Pageant
I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love
The popular Everyday Zoo series by beloved best-selling author Joyce Meyer continues with a heartfelt and humorous story about the true meaning of Christmas.
With over five million books sold, Nancy Tillman proves once again that celebrating love in families strikes a chord with parents and children everywhere.
Feiwel and Friends $17.99
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: Extra Sweet Edition A special edition of the classic picture book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, featuring stickers and gift tags. 9780062305947
Make the season shine bright for little ones Give her a gift to last a lifetime. Each heartwarming tale in the new Bitty Baby picture book collection helps little girls shine bright by encouraging curiosity, generosity, confidence and kindness.
9781609583491 $32.99 9780618756612
Balzer + Bray $16.99
From the threetime Caldecott medalist, a fantastical wordless adventure starring a haughty feline—who discovers the ultimate cat toy when tiny aliens crash-land in his living room. Clarion Books $17.99
Hang on to yer hat, Cowboy Best-selling author, songwriter and acclaimed artist Sandra Boynton brings you Frog Trouble, a terrific CD and illustrated songbook of her new and wildly original Country songs, featuring performances from some of the biggest names in Country music.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck
North of Nowhere
Greg Heffley’s on a losing streak. To change his fortunes, Greg decides to take a leap of faith and turn his decisions over to chance. Will a roll of the dice turn things around, or is his life destined to be just another hard luck story?
From the New York Times best-selling author of the Emily Windsnap series comes a captivating adventure about family, friendship and the bonds that bridge time.
The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett
The Carpet People An epic tale, set in a miniscule world. The best-selling author’s first novel—complete with his own full-color illustrations—is now updated with revised text and exclusive content!
The next episode in the best-selling Origami Yoda series is sure to inspire a new legion of devoted readers. Instructions for making origami Jabba and Ewoks are included in the book. Amulet $12.95
Candlewick Press $15.99
Clarion Books $17.99
Give books children will always remember In How I Became A Ghost, a Choctaw boy recounts 9781937054533 $18.95 his tribe’s exodus to the American West and how it led him to become a ghost. The Bulldoggers get stranded on a road trip with tornadoes threatening in The Tale of the Tainted Buffalo Wallow. It’ll take all their resources to ride out the storm. And, May Finds Her Way is the tale of a little sled dog trying to find her way home when lost during the Iditarod race.
The RoadRunner Press
Build your collection
Travel through the LEGO® Star Wars ® galaxy with Yoda; learn fun and interesting facts about your favorite LEGO® minifigures; or unlock your imagination and build your very own LEGO creations. Do all of this and more with these three new LEGO titles from DK!
9781465408686 $18.99 © 2013 The LEGO Group. © 2013 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization.
L L A S E G A
In the brutal world of The Testing, itâ€™s not enough to pass the Test. You have to survive it. Who will be chosen to lead? The best? The brightest? Or the deadliest?
Teardrop is the first book in a new series from #1 New York Times best-selling author Lauren Kate, about love, betrayal and epic consequences. Delacorte $18.99
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children $17.99 9780385742658
The Real Wonders of the World
The timeless book that started it all, by P.L. Travers, the author featured in the new movie Saving Mr. Banks. December also marks the 50th anniversary of the classic film!
The time has come for dogs to rule the wild! This is the action-packed third novel in the New York Times best-selling Survivors series, from #1 nationally best-selling author Erin Hunter. 9780062102645
Survivors 3: Darkness Falls
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children $16.99
Discover the most awesome places on the planet from a kidâ€™s perspective. Intriguing facts and amazing graphics will allow kids (and adults) to see the wonders of the world like never before.
Lonely Planet $19.99
Listening Library Audiobooks = GIFTS Regardless of age or interest, audiobooks are the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
Blockbuster reads from best-selling authors Brandon Sanderson and James Dashner! 9780385741392 $18.99
9780385743563 $18.99 9780449015131 $30
Steelheart is jam-packed with suspense, mystery and pulse-pounding action. The Eye of Minds is set in a world of hyper-advanced technology and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares. 9780804122801 $50
The First Phone Call from Heaven A masterful storyteller at the height of his powers, Mitch Albom has written an instant classic. Part mystery, part allegory, this is a heart-racing pageturner and a soulfulfilling tale of faith, hope and love.
N O I T FIC 9780062294371
The Road from Gap Creek
Someone Else’s Love Story
The Road from Gap Creek is a moving and indelible portrait of people and their world in a time of unprecedented change from writer Robert Morgan.
Shandi Pierce fell hard for William Ashe almost the first minute she saw him in a gas station minimart. She landed bang in the middle of a love story—but it wasn’t her own.
Algonquin $25.95 9781616201616
Enjoy the simple things Stirring stories of healing, hope and the love of family are sure to please this Christmas.
The Longest Ride
Best-selling author Nicholas Sparks is back with two converging love stories that remind us that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys to the furthest reaches of the human heart.
J.J. Abrams, the man behind “Lost” and “Alias,” teams up with acclaimed writer Doug Dorst to create a multifaceted reading experience like no other in this dazzling novel of love and mystery.
Grand Central $27
Little, Brown $35
Three great books to give
9781250027658 $27.99 9780764211713 $15.99
From New York Times best-selling author Mary Kay Andrews comes Christmas Bliss, a novella that celebrates love, the holidays and antiques. Best-selling author Rainbow Rowell brings us Fangirl, a coming-of-age tale of family, first love and fan fiction. Edgar Award-winner Lisa Scottoline returns to the Rosato & Associates law firm in her new novel, Accused.
St. Martin’s Press
From New York Times best-selling authors
This Christmas, give the reader on your list one of the latest novels from the top names in Amish fiction and inspirational romantic suspense—Beverly Lewis and Dee Henderson! 9781250030955 $18.99
The author of the classic bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend returns with an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
Little, Brown $30
Burial Rites Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm in Iceland to await execution.
Little, Brown $26
King and Maxwell
The Gods of Guilt
The October List
David Baldacci brings back Sean King and Michelle Maxwell— former Secret Service agents turned private investigators—in their most surprising, personal and dangerous case ever.
Defense attorney Mickey Haller returns with a haunting case that could mean his ultimate redemption or proof of his ultimate guilt in the gripping new thriller from #1 New York Times best-selling author Michael Connelly.
In this mind-bending novel with twists and turns, #1 best-selling author Jeffery Deaver has created a masterful race-againstthe-clock mystery that’s told in reverse, unfolding from its dramatic climax to its surprising beginning.
Grand Central $28 9780316069519
Little, Brown $28
Grand Central $26
Guests on Earth
Guests on Earth is a mesmerizing novel about a time and a place where creativity and passion, theory and medicine, fact and fiction, are luminously intertwined.
Dawson Scott, a wellrespected journalist recently returned from Afghanistan, is drawn into the mystery surrounding the disappearance and presumed murder of former Marine Jeremy Wesson, the son of a pair of terrorists.
A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.
A story of murder and moonshine from Tom Franklin, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and his wife, Pushcart Prize-winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly.
The latest novel from the New York Times best-selling author of The Joy Luck Club: a sweeping, evocative epic of two women’s intertwined fates and their search for identity.
The Valley of Amazement
In this electrifying sequel to A Time to Kill, Jake Brigance returns to the courtroom in a dramatic showdown as Ford County, Mississippi, again confronts its tortured history. Doubleday $28.95
The Tilted World
Grand Central $26
Doctor Who: The Vault
From #1 New York Times best-selling author Brandon Sanderson: Mistborn, The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages, all together in one boxed set.
Packed with a staggering amount of data and photographs, these reader-friendly volumes on “Doctor Who,” “Star Trek” and KISS are presented in a lively, engaging style that invites perusing at any point within the books.
Tor Books $23.97
HarperDesign $39.99 9780804147996 $32
The Mistborn Trilogy: Boxed Set
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles: Art & Design The ultimate insider look at the filmmaking process of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, packed with more than 200 pages of spectacular visuals.
The ultimate visual celebration of 50 years of the BBC cult hit “Doctor Who,” filled with iconic photos, artwork and materials from the official, previously untapped BBC archive and from private collectors.
Look what’s new in the FAQ series
A Christmas Story Treasury
Honoring the 30th anniversary of A Christmas Story and featuring stories, mementos, full-color photos and even sound, this is the ultimate salute to America’s favorite holiday movie. Running Press $24.95
9780804127097 $30 289 9780307939
No time to read during the holidays? Listen, instead!
Here is a collection of select audiobooks to listen to on long car rides, while baking those holiday cookies, or when finishing up your last-minute craft projects. They make great gifts, as well!
Packed with beautiful, breathtaking, full-color photographs and stories of incredible friendship, compassion and insight, Unlikely Loves is a celebration of love between animal species. Workman $13.95
n onON I T C I F
Five Days in November
Gettysburg: The Last Invasion
The New York Times best-selling authors of Mrs. Kennedy and Me share the stories behind the tragic days surrounding John F. Kennedy’s assassination for the 50th anniversary of his death. Gallery Books $30
“Smart and vivid writing, innovative organization and insightful analysis . . . will appeal to the literate novice and the seasoned Civil War history reader alike.”—The Civil War Monitor 9780307594082
Lonely Planet’s Beautiful World
A Field Guide to American Houses This fully expanded, updated and freshly designed edition of the most widely acclaimed guide to American houses is perfect for anyone interested in domestic architecture. 9781400043590
The History of Cycling in Fifty Bikes An illustrated retelling of the bicycle’s 200-year story by looking at 50 of its most important and interesting models.
The third book in O’Reilly’s best-selling history series, Killing Jesus delivers the story of Jesus’ crucifixion as it’s never been told before Millions of readers have enjoyed Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s best-selling Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln. Now the anchor of “The O’Reilly Factor” details the events leading up to the execution of the most influential man in history: Jesus of Nazareth.
This lavishly produced pictorial includes sublime photography of our planet’s spectacles: fiery volcanic eruptions, windsculpted icebergs, magnificent wildlife and other natural wonders. Lonely Planet $39.99
Combine the world’s most intriguing unsolved mysteries with born storyteller Brad Meltzer and you have History Decoded, a riveting, interactive literary adventure featuring removable facsimile documents. Workman $24.95
From DK and the Smithsonian Take an extraordinary, in-depth look at our planet, the history of music and a historic timeline of scientific discovery and technology with DK and the Smithsonian Institution.
9781465414373 $50 9781465414366 $50 9781465414342 $40
The Southerner’s Handbook
Come Home to Supper is a heartfelt celebration of family dinners—the comforting, delicious food that memories are made of—by Christy Jordan, the new doyenne of Southern cooking. Workman $16.95
The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook The Fabulous Beekman Boys present mouthwatering, delectable recipes in the must-have dessert cookbook of the year.
Artisan $25.95 9781609615734
Holiday baking with Betty Crocker Whether you’re looking for inspiration for homemade culinary gifts or entertaining for the holidays with baked sweets and savories, celebrate the season with Betty Crocker.
The perfect gifts for holiday cooks Southern Living 2013 Annual Recipes and Southern Living Best-Loved Christmas Classics offer mouth-watering inspiration for the holidays. For delicious dishes year-round, pair these staples with Cooking Light Lighten Up, America!, healthy versions of cherished dishes, and Southern Living No Taste Like Home, a regional guide to Southern cooking.
Come Home to Supper
In One Good Dish, the New York Times food columnist David Tanis offers 100 utterly delicious recipes that epitomize comfort food, Tanis-style.
One Good Dish
A guide to the mastery of essential Southern skills and traditions with contributions from the South’s finest writers, chefs and craftsmen, The Southerner’s Handbook is a guide to living the good life.
Timber Press $29.95
Remodelista Remodelista decodes the secrets to achieving a clearly defined aesthetic —classic pieces trump trendy and transient designs—through an in-depth look at the remodeling process.
Don’t just stop to smell the roses, see them! Seeing Flowers highlights 343 popular flowers through stunning photographs, accompanied by illuminating essays that will forever change the way you look at flowers.
idays l o H y Happ
This addictively readable day-byday literary companion and guide from a former bookseller and eight-time “Jeopardy” champion is like candy for any book lover.
In this powerful and intimate memoir, the beloved best-selling author of The Prince of Tides and his father, the inspiration for The Great Santini, find some common ground at long last.
In the tradition of Gladwell’s previous bestsellers, David and Goliath draws upon history, psychology and powerful storytelling to shape the way we think of the world around us—this time, about obstacles and disadvantages.
This illuminating biography of Dale Carnegie details how his understanding of psychology gave rise to the self-help movement in America and informed his groundbreaking bestseller, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
From Randi Zuckerberg, technology expert and former marketing director at Facebook, comes a welcome and essential guide to understanding social media and technology and how both influence our lives online and off.
Other Press $29.95
I Am Malala
Shot at point-blank range after speaking out about her right to an education, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai made a miraculous recovery. Her story will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.
Rediscover the beauty in life, even during the toughest times. In this honest, wise and upbeat guidebook, Alice Hoffman shares thoughtful advice to help readers reenvision happiness and recognize what matters most.
This special memorial edition of the #1 bestselling memoir by the late Chris Kyle, the deadliest American sniper of all time, includes a new epilogue, remembrances and tributes from family and friends, plus additional photos.
Little, Brown $26
The Death of Santini
David and Goliath
Little, Brown $29
A Reader’s Book of Days
Good Tidings and Great Joy
Chickens in the Road
The President’s Devotional
Following her two New York Times bestselling books, Sarah Palin defends the right to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas while also sharing family Christmas stories and memories.
Blogger and former romance writer Suzanne McMinn leaves her city life behind and returns to her West Virginia roots in search of love, strength and sustainable living in this memoir.
Named President Barack Obama’s “Pastor-in-Chief” by Time, former White House staff member Joshua DuBois has provided a daily meditation for his boss since he was a junior senator.
The Brick Bible: The Complete Set Now The Brick Bible: A New Spin on the Old Testament and The Brick Bible: The New Testament are available in a box set— with two handsome hardcover books and a colorful, two-sided poster.
Chronological Life Application Study Bible
The Berenstain Bears Storybook Bible
The Chronological Life Application Study Bible, KJV combines the Life Application Study Bible with a chronological format and brand-new resources to bring God’s story to life.
The Berenstain Bear family is learning new lessons and exploring the Bible! Kids will take a journey through the Bible in this deluxe edition, with audio narration on CD to follow along.
Gifts for every woman We all need some encouragement and inspiration. Let these wonderful writers offer words of wisdom and hope to all of the amazing women in your life.
#1 Bible for kids now in full-color
9780800718763 $17.99 9780801015700 $17.99
Encourage your child to explore the Bible with the full-color NIV Adventure Bible and a year’s worth of fun and inspirational devotions in the NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions. A great pair for the new year!
The Love Dare for Parents
Break Out! Every person has seeds of greatness planted within by the Creator. In Break Out!, Joel Osteen provides practical steps and encouragement for readers to “break out”—to let nothing hold them back and live without limits. 9780892969746
Authors of the international bestseller The Love Dare apply their 40-day journey technique to parenting, challenging Everyone can use some wise advice, a little parents to understand, sound science and an inspirational story. practice and communiGive a gift that can change a life cate Christ-like love to this holiday season. their kids.
Gifts for everyone on your list
B&H Books $14.99
Baker Publishing Group
A Look at Life from a Deer Stand Devotional
Great gifts from Howard Books
A perfect gift for hunters! Each devotion invites you to join in the thrill of the pursuit, the celebration of nature and the joy of God’s presence. Harvest House $14.99
Whispers of Hope Best-selling author Beth Moore guides readers through the process of offering Scripture-saturated prayer to God in response to a daily Bible reading. Includes 70 devotionals. B&H Books $14.99 9781433681097
Happy Women Live Better
Praying the Attributes of God
Valorie Burton reveals 13 happiness triggers—choices that can boost your joy right now, even in the midst of the busyness and stress of daily life. Unlock the secret to your happiness today!
Learning the attributes of God is like drawing water from a deep well—the kind that can refresh and invigorate your faith. God is far bigger and better than you think .
Harvest House $12.99
Whether you’re buying for a down-home gourmet, someone who loves to laugh or a fan of inspiring fiction, Howard Books has the perfect present for everyone on your Christmas list.
Living faithfully is a daily challenge for Christians in all seasons of life. With this selection of Christian living titles, you are sure to find the ideal books to encourage your loved ones who seek to grow their faith.
RELIGION B Y K E L LY B L E W E T T
Companions for spiritual journeys
During a 2011 retreat in Utah, a group of Jewish artists and writers found themselves hotly discussing Abraham’s binding of Isaac. Several admitted, though, that it had been a long time since they had really read a biblical text. Dialogue ensued and, luckily for us, so did Unscrolled: 54 Writers and Artists Wrestle with the Torah (Workman, $18, 384 pages, ISBN 9780761169192), edited by
We move from the lushly panoramic to the intensely personal with Flannery O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal (FSG, $18, 112 pages, ISBN 9780374236915). Penned by the Southern Gothic legend when
don’t visit me with it Lord, I would be so miserable.” Though O’Connor is delightfully glib, she worries about some of the big questions of faith and finds few answers. The journal illustrates her complexity of feeling. She criticizes certain sentences because they sound “too literary” and strikes out others altogether. A facsimile of the original diary in O’Connor’s own hand lets readers in on her process and makes the book feel very intimate. The volume is quite short, but that isn’t a drawback. The material that is here is well worth reading. I especially loved the last lines, written in September of 1947: “Today I have proved myself a glutton—for Scotch oatmeal cookies and erotic thought. There is nothing left to say of me.”
Roger Bennett. After the Torah was divided into 54 sections—which reflects the annual reading pattern of many synagogues—each contributor created his or her own Dvar Torah (“word of the Torah”) for an individual slice. Their creations range from short stories to poems, from personal essays to imaginary recipes for “bloody guilt offerings.” There’s even a drawing detailing how the Tabernacle could fit in modernday Manhattan. (Spoiler alert: It would have to be tilted on its side.) I especially like when contributors cleverly juxtapose the Torah and their response, as in Aimee Bender’s piece on the Tower of Babel. She celebrates how language defines individuality rather than lamenting the loss of shared consciousness.
as in DuBois’ account of Obama’s interaction with families of the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings. Other essays are more personal, as when the president encouraged DuBois to propose to the nice girl he’d been dating (he did). The devotions themselves are a diverse bunch. Some feature national heroes like Jackie Robinson and Johnny Cash, while others take inspiration from theological texts. The reader cannot help but wonder what was going on in the nation when certain devotions were emailed—like the one that extols the value of having a well-prepared army. Whatever the initial context, faith-filled fans of the president will want to add The President’s Devotional to their nightstands.
AN ECLECTIC REIMAGINING
R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
GRACE AND ART
she was just 22 years old and a student at the University of Iowa, these pages reveal O’Connor at the very beginning of her professional writing career. She prays to get something published, to understand God better and to be free of an ever-present concern that she is simply mediocre. Anyone interested in creative writing or literature will be thoroughly charmed by lines like this: “I am too lazy to despair. Please
DAILY DOSE OF INSPIRATION The President’s Devotional (HarperOne, $24.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780062265289) began as correspondence between a White House staffer and President Obama, and has since become a public daily devotional. Obama appointed author Joshua DuBois to be the executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership in 2008. Since then, DuBois has emailed Obama a spiritual reflection every morning. The book pulls content from the best of these, providing readers one for every day of the year. DuBois opens each month with a personal essay. Some of these tell heartrending stories about our nation’s leader,
hether written by an iconic Southern author in 1947 or compiled from emails written by a young pastor to the president in 2010, these gift books explore the enduring themes of spirituality and faith, reminding us that contemplating the divine can confirm our very humanity. Spiritual thinking has been with us from the beginning, as The Religions Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained (DK, $25, 352 pages, ISBN 9781465408433) reminds readers in its opening sentences. While it may be difficult to come up with a definition for the concept of religion, “cave paintings and elaborate burial customs of our distant ancestors and the continuing quest for a spiritual goal in life” indicate its timelessness. This book offers a remarkable overview of major world religions through recorded time. Though the introduction acknowledges the difficulty of covering such an unwieldy topic, the subsequent pages are easily comprehensible, and even feel nearly comprehensive. Organized chronologically, the book opens with prehistory, moves through the ancient and classical beliefs (devoting the longest sections to Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam), and closes with a selection of modern religions (such as Mormonism and Scientology). The material is both dense and broad, yet the book’s reader-friendly layout and clever graphics invite lingering. An impressive board of contributors (mostly academics) shaped this content. The result is a book at once egalitarian and open-minded, ideal for a visually oriented student of religion or anyone interested in scrambling up the mountainside of human spirituality and taking in the panoramic views.
Brief biblical summaries preceding each Dvar Torah feel contemporary and edgy, and unify the collection. In short, these artists and writers can certainly now say that they’ve read—yes, even wrestled—with a biblical text recently, and readers can be counted among the lucky beneficiaries.
MAKING MUSIC BY HENRY L. CARRIGAN JR.
The song remains the same
R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
itting the shelves this fall are several new biographies and autobiographies of rock, country and jazz stars that reveal never-beforeheard refrains of personal anguish, as well as triumph.
In 1969, Crosby, Stills & Nash emerged as a supergroup, showcasing sweet harmonies and tight arrangements. One year later, Neil Young joined the band, and the quartet rocketed to superstardom on the strength of Graham Nash’s song “Teach Your Children.” Behind the scenes, though, life wasn’t so harmonious. In his honest and wellcrafted memoir, Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life (Crown Archetype, $28, 368 pages, ISBN 9780385347549), Nash reveals the fierce struggles between Stills’ and Young’s titanic egos that eventually destroyed the group (although they have never officially broken up). With the lyrical flights of his best songs (“Carrie Anne,” “Our House,” “Chicago”), Nash carries readers on a journey from his often difficult childhood in the industrial north of England and the formation with Allan Clarke of the band that eventually became the Hollies, to his encounters with Mama Cass Elliot (who introduced him to David Crosby), Joni Mitchell, the Everly Brothers and Bob Dylan. While Nash holds back little, unveiling his disappointments with his own work and that of others, his love of songwriting and harmony remains: “I am a complete slave to the muse of music.”
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN While Nash tells his own story in his own words, Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant told journalist Paul Rees that he had no intention of writing a memoir because it was “too early in his career to do so.” Instead, Plant allowed Rees to have unparalleled access to his closest friends and associates to tell the story in Robert Plant: A Life (It Books, $28.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9780062281388). Rees chronicles
Plant’s childhood as the son of an engineer in England’s industrial Midlands, where he would often hide behind the sofa and pretend to be Elvis. Deeply influenced by the blues (in particular the music of Robert Johnson), Plant began singing with local bands around Birmingham and left home at 17 to pursue a music career. But it was not until he teamed with Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page in 1968 that his ascension to rock-god status truly began. A few months later, after the band’s name was changed to Led Zeppelin, their rapid rise to fame exceeded even Plant’s wildest expectations. Rees traces the successes and excesses of Led Zeppelin, from limos, groupies and sudden wealth to plagiarism charges and “poisonous” reviews. He also explores Plant’s recent work, including his acclaimed collaboration with bluegrass fiddler Alison Krauss. Plant comes across as a confident but agreeable superstar, a “preening peacock” whose long locks and powerful voice secured his place in the rock pantheon.
HELLO, I’M JOHNNY CASH Although Johnny Cash told his own story on at least two occasions—in Man in Black (1975) and, with Patrick Carr, Cash: The Autobiography (1997)—he nevertheless remains an enigmatic figure whose life story is surrounded by as much legend as truth. Until now. Drawing on previously unpublished interviews with Cash as well as previously unseen materials from the singer’s inner circle, former L.A. Times music critic Robert Hilburn gives us the definitive biography of the Man in Black in Johnny Cash: The Life (Little, Brown, $32, 688 pages, ISBN 9780316194754). In intimate detail, Hilburn—the only
music journalist at Cash’s legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968—elegantly traces the contours of Cash’s life and career. After a hardscrabble childhood in Dyess, Arkansas, Cash built on his early love of music and made insistent attempts to get Sam Phillips’ attention at Sun Records. Hilburn chronicles Cash’s early hits such as “Folsom Prison Blues,” his foray into television in the late 1960s with “The Johnny Cash Show,” his failed first marriage and his deep love for June Carter, as well as his drug addictions. Most importantly, Hilburn compiles an exhaustive record of Cash’s enduring contributions as a songwriter and singer to both rock and country music.
TAKE THE “A” TRAIN In the almost 40 years since his death, Duke Ellington has remained an enigmatic figure, even as his reputation as one our greatest and most culturally prominent orchestra leaders and jazz composers continues to grow. Following his acclaimed biography of Louis Armstrong, Pops, culture critic Terry Teachout draws on candid unpublished interviews with Ellington, oral histories of the orchestra leader and his times, and other little-known primary sources to tell a mesmerizing story in Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington (Gotham, $30, 496 pages, ISBN 9781592407491). Teachout follows Ellington from his childhood in Washington—where he gained his name “Duke” because of his stylish dress—and the first band he formed at 20, to his move to Harlem at the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance and his emotional distance from family and friends for the sake of composing his music. Teachout traces Ellington’s deep influence on various cultural movements,
from the Harlem Renaissance to the Duke’s own renaissance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival. Teachout brings Ellington to life in this richly detailed and engrossing biography.
OLD FRIENDS We often remember our favorite album covers and photos of our favorite musicians as much as their music. For more than four decades, Columbia Records staff photographer Don Hunstein snapped memorable shots of figures as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Sly Stone, Miles Davis, Leonard Bernstein, Mitch Miller, Tony Bennett and Bob Dylan, catching rare private moments of public lives. A collection of gorgeous, never-before-seen photos from the Columbia Records archive, Keeping Time: The Photographs of Don Hunstein (Insight Editions, $60, 224 pages, ISBN 9781608872244) illustrates Hunstein’s ability to capture artists relaxing and being themselves. Photos of Johnny Cash on his family’s farm in 1959, a weary Duke Ellington talking to Langston Hughes at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, and Cassius Clay and Sam Cooke teaming up in the recording studio in 1964 are just a few of the gems included here. In the words of New York Times music writer Jon Pareles, who contributes the book’s brief text, Keeping Time is “a quietly revealing close-up of artists who graced and transfigured the twentieth century.”
FESTIVE BEVERAGES BY EVE ZIBART
Oh, for a plain old Dickensian punch!
WHISKEY RIVER Drinking mirrors pop culture, and having passed through the “Mad Men” martini renaissance, Americans are testing the “Breaking Bad” waters—which is to say, whiskey, derived from the Gaelic
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Although the title is a little man-cave chic, The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks, From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes (Sterling Epicure, $24.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9781402797675) is an accessible and impressively informed dissertation on beer styles and best labels. Longtime beer journalist Joshua M. Bernstein has traveled, tasted, interviewed and researched centuries of brewing lore. Like nearly all his colleagues, Bernstein is prone to the pun (“yeast of Eden,” “all is not white in the world,” etc.). His picks of breweries and beer-centric restaurants and festivals make this a consumer’s guide in both senses. For those who want to go straight to the good stuff, World Beer: Outstanding Classic and Craft Beers from the Greatest Breweries (DK, $40, 300 pages, ISBN
for “water of life.” In Drink More Whiskey: Everything You Need to Know About Your New Favorite Drink (Chronicle, $19.95, 176 pages, ISBN 9781452109749) Daniel Yaffe, founder and editor of Drink Me magazine, covers the wide world of whiskey from the U.S. to the U.K. to Japan (and beyond), from single malt to small batch to honey whiskey to moonshine. Like Wagner, he can flourish a bit too often: “If a single malt is a group of violinists with a brilliant tone, a blend might be the full orchestra.” “Like people, peat mellows with age.” (Clearly, he and I have not met.) But if the flash is weak, the spirit is indeed willing: Yaffe mixes history, trends, ingredients—both within the barrel and in the glass—and technique into a truly tasty cocktail.
9781465414380), by veteran British beer critic Tim Hampson, disposes of brewing techniques, history, beer styles, tasting techniques and flavor pairings in a few high-gloss pages and launches headlong (sorry—the punning is contagious) into profiles of more than 800 fine craft beers organized by country and region. And Hampson does mean “world beer”: Who knew Namibia was a big microbrewery center? This is a serious coffee table book that could be the co-star of a fine beer-tasting party.
ing is Level 2; a Master is Level 4, the highest.) “Wine is a grocery, not a luxury” is Betts’ mantra. He demystifies in guy-pal style: “In this case, size does not matter: We’ve all got a great schnoz.” The cartoons by Wendy MacNaughton contribute so much to the book that she really should have been acknowledged on the cover. Betts includes a pullout map to the “whole wine world” that attempts to match mood to olfactory method. While the scratch-andsniff technology is in need of a little tweaking—the leather may be the best simulacrum—the illustrations, both literal and figurative, of the aromatic elements are memorable.
Once upon a time, wine drinkers aspired to be connoisseurs. Then came the wine wonks—those who carried calculators for vintages and futures—and the geeks, who bought by the ratings. Now we have entered the age of wine nerds, who buy the wine equivalent of self-help books. For example: Hello, Wine: The Most Essential Things You Need to Know About Wine (Chronicle, $24.95, 228 pages, ISBN 9781452111025) by Melanie Wagner, a self-confessed former wine “bumpkin” turned Certified Sommelier. Like most such books, it begins with a confessional, then runs through a catechism of allure and reassurance to bring the reader resoundingly into the converts’ fold. Once Wagner hits her stride, her descriptions of varietals, tips on restaurant wine lists, tasting, hosting and food-matching, etc., are very good. And her picks for dependable producers—particularly those whose wines are under-$15 steals or fall in the “sweet spot” of $26 to $50—are spot on, so to speak. This season’s best gag gift, perfect for pairing with a bottle, is the unexpectedly entertaining The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert (HMH, $19.99, 22 pages, ISBN 9780544005037). Brevity is indeed the soul of wit: A scant dozen spreads illustrate the pithy tips from Master Sommelier Richard Betts. (A Certified Sommelier rank-
oliday spirits are supposed to be high, not haute. But if the proliferation of cocktail “creations” and infusions and artisan mixers has you and your friends flummoxed, here are a handful of drinkers’ delights that could either adorn the coffee table or—just in time—restore your hostly confidence.
reviews THE GOLDFINCH
Tartt returns with an artful tale REVIEW BY MEGAN FISHMANN
Good things are worth waiting for. It’s been 11 years since the publication of Donna Tartt’s second novel, The Little Friend, and 21 since her groundbreaking debut, The Secret History. Luckily for fans, the acclaimed author has finally returned with a third novel, The Goldfinch, and it may be her most extraordinary work yet. Coming in at slightly under 800 pages, this masterpiece may seem daunting, but once readers begin, they will be unable to put it down. Tartt’s first two novels revolve around a defining loss, and the author—wisely—has returned to a subject she knows well. The Goldfinch opens as Theodore Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, has been suspended from school. Since his father has recently abandoned the family, Theo’s gorgeous, art-obsessed mother is left to deal with the ensuing parent-teacher conference. On the way there, a quick stop at the Met ends in tragedy—and with Theo in possession of a painting, Carel By Donna Tartt Fabritius’ “The Goldfinch.” The full details of Tartt’s intricate plot are Little, Brown, $30, 784 pages best left for the reader to discover, but after that fateful day at the Met, ISBN 9780316055437, audio, eBook available Theo hops from the wealthy apartments of the Upper West Side to the wasteland of abandoned housing lots outside Las Vegas and back again, LITERARY FICTION meeting an unforgettable cast of characters along the way. There are simply not enough worthy adjectives to properly describe Tartt’s dazzling odyssey. With meticulous detail, she takes readers to the dark side of the art world, a place full of greedy gangsters and art aficionados. At the same time, she tells an intimate coming-of-age story of a boy who keeps secrets even as he pursues answers. Tartt is a master at tapping at the well of sorrow, leading readers to feel immense empathy for a character who is not always likable—a sign of true talent. The Goldfinch is a tour de force that will be among the best books of 2013.
BRIDGET JONES: MAD ABOUT THE BOY By Helen Fielding
Knopf $26.95, 400 pages ISBN 9780385350860 Audio, eBook available
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Bridget Jones aficionados will be thrilled that, after 14 years, there is a new installment about the adventures of this irrepressible British woman with a zest for life and wine. They may be less enthused to find out that Bridget is no longer with her love Mark Darcy (played to perfection—and with a wink to Pride and Prejudice—by Colin Firth in the movie). I won’t ruin things by explaining exactly why Bridget is single again. Suffice it to say, she is heartbroken, and must hold things together for her two young children. In Bridget Jones: Mad About the
Boy, Bridget is starting over again in a dating world that has moved mostly online. Like the previous Bridget books, this one is written as Bridget’s scribbled journal entries, but she now also Tweets (often drunkenly) and texts (also drunkenly). “The fantastic thing about texting is that it allows you to have an instant, intimate emotional relationship without taking up any time whatsoever or involving meetings or arrangements or any of the complicated things which take place in the boring old non-cyber world,” Bridget muses without a trace of irony. Some things never change: Bridget’s raucous old pals Tom and Jude are still around, as funny and loyal as ever, and Daniel Cleaver, Bridget’s old fling and godfather to her children, makes a few appearances to toss some of his trademark double entendres her way. But Helen Fielding, to her credit, has evolved Bridget from a navelgazing 30-something whose biggest worry was caloric intake to a (fairly) responsible mother who is lonely and overwhelmed. It’s not surprising
that Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is deeply funny and compulsively readable. What is unexpected is how poignant it is in its exploration of love, loss and the courage to try again. —Amy ScRiBnER
HAVISHAM By Ronald Frame
Picador $26, 368 pages ISBN 9781250037275 eBook available
Many an English student has speculated about the mystery of Satis House and the “witch of the place,” Miss Havisham, as introduced in Dickens’ Great Expectations. Left at the altar on her wedding day, she spends her remaining days as a bitter, living ghost inside
her family’s home. Enter Scottish novelist Ronald Frame and his novel, Havisham, which imagines the early life of this fascinating literary character. The only offspring of a wealthy brewer, Catherine is a precocious child. When her father eventually passes away and leaves her his fortune, she is sent to live with an aristocratic family to learn refinement. However, the only man she seems to be attracted to is Charles Compeyson, a charming, dishonest rogue—who, as we know from Dickens, will cause her heartbreak. Frame wants the reader to feel emotion for Catherine; he makes her human. An excellent example of a present-day writer taking on a classic, Havisham gives the reader food for thought while reviving one of the great characters of Victorian literature. —EliSABETH ATwOOd
THE FIRST PHONE CALL FROM HEAVEN By Mitch Albom
Harper $24.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780062294371 Audio, eBook available
For anyone who has reflexively dialed up a deceased loved one’s number, only to suddenly remember that the person is no longer reachable via a phone line, Mitch Albom’s new novel, The First Phone Call from Heaven, is certain to prove both haunting and comforting. While snobby literary types might not approve of Albom’s populist appeal, he has nevertheless established himself as a powerful storyteller, and this latest book surpasses even the wildly popular Tuesdays with Morrie in its page-turning power. If the plot seems dubious at first—eight residents of a small town in Michigan begin receiving phone calls from the departed— readers will soon be swept up in this plainspoken tale that asks, is there life after death? Or more precisely, is there life after life? Determined to prove that the phone calls are nothing more than a mean-spirited hoax, Sully Harding, a disgraced Navy pilot and single father, is a lovable antihero whom readers will find themselves cheer-
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perfect match Juggling a (pretend) fiancé, hiding out from her former best friend and managing her job at the family vineyard is keeping Honor Holland very busy. But the sparks between Honor and Tom are far from pretend…. Could their fake relationship be too perfect to be anything but true love? “Kristan Higgins not only knows how to write the woo, she knows how to show her readers a good time.” —USA TODAY
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reviews ing on every step of his strife-ridden way. Intertwined with this rousing, cliffhanging plot is a parallel story featuring historic anecdotes from the life of the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell— who, Albom suggests, also wondered if technology might someday breach the abyss between the living and the dead. Without spoiling the ending, readers should expect more than a few surprises. The First Phone Call from Heaven proves once again that Albom is adept at producing straightforward stories that are both heartwarming and compelling. —KAREn Ann cullOTTA
WE ARE WATER By Wally Lamb
Harper $29.99, 576 pages ISBN 9780061941023 Audio, eBook available
FICTION When the Ohs’ children return home for their mother’s wedding, longtime hurts and frustrations come to a head. Orion speaks for them all when he reflects on the parallels between water and people: “We are like water, aren’t we? We can be fluid, flexible when we have to be. But strong and destructive, too.” And that’s the message Lamb leaves the reader with in the gentle ebb and flow of this book: Relationships may bend, but they don’t have to break. —cARlA JEAn wHiTlEy
AT NIGHT WE WALK IN CIRCLES By Daniel Alarcón
Riverhead $27.95, 384 pages ISBN 9781594631719 Audio, eBook available
separated. As the book nears an end and Nelson’s return to the city grows imminent, the mystery deepens until the surprising, sudden climax. Alarcón, whose list of awards and accolades would need a page of their own, is the author of the story collection War by Candlelight and the novel Lost City Radio. He has been named one of the New Yorker’s “20 under 40” and has drawn comparisons to literary giants such as Steinbeck, Nabokov and García Márquez. A more contemporary, if facile, comparison can be made to Roberto Bolaño, the late Latin writer whose novels still seem to pop up. The investigative style of Alarcón’s book brings to mind parts of Bolaño’s classic—though flawed—breakout work, The Savage Detectives. A thick, fierce story of pathos and obsession, At Night We Walk in Circles is sure to be an important part of Alarcón’s growing oeuvre. At its best, it is impressively Shakespearean in its ultimate lesson: that even the calmest hearts contain a hurricane.
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Whatever form it takes, water is rarely still. It flows in a river, waves with the wind and ripples when its surface is broken. In his latest novel, We Are Water, best-selling author and masterful storyteller Wally Lamb (She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True) uses the Oh family to illustrate how ever-changing relationships can be. After 27 years of a mostly successful marriage, artist Annie Oh has left her husband, Dr. Orion Oh, for her female art dealer, Viveca. As the women’s wedding draws near, Orion and Annie’s three children are left to confront their feelings about their mother’s change of heart as well as their complicated familial history. Andrew’s career has carried him from Connecticut to Fort Hood, Texas, where he found Jesus and a conservative Christian fiancée. His twin, Ariane, has been unlucky in love but is content in her work, running a San Francisco soup kitchen. Younger sister Marissa is pursuing work as a New York City actress, juggling bartending work with casting calls as she strives for success. Their father is adrift, trying to figure out his next move after a scandal causes him to resign from his university psychologist job.
What happened to Nelson? For nearly all of At Night We Walk in Circles, Daniel Alarcón’s brooding new novel, the fate of this unworldly young actor is unknown. With dreams of his emigration to the United States dashed and his girlfriend living with another man, Nelson is drifting through his early 20s, haunting the cafes of his unnamed Latin American city, which is newly gentrified after years of war and poverty (think BedfordStuyvesant). Then he wins a place in the “guerrilla” theater troupe, Diciembre, which made a splash in the 1980s with its boldly subversive plays. The small troupe is leaving the city to tour the countryside, presenting a revival of its notorious show, The Idiot President, which proved so threatening to the former regime that its writer (and Nelson’s hero), Henry Nuñez, was thrown in prison. The weeks of this life-changing tour are recreated by Alarcón’s obsessive young narrator, a man not all that different from Nelson himself. Through interviews with Nelson’s friends, acquaintances and people he saw or met along the way, Alarcón’s dogged investigator reveals the inexorable series of events and circumstances that brought Nelson to the brink, and shows how the past, present and future can never be
BUYING IN By Laura Hemphill
New Harvest $24, 304 pages ISBN 9780544114579 Audio, eBook available
two bosses, is terrified of being sacked, despite being a good worker. The senior boss, the coldly efficient Ethan, has his own demons. The real kicker: The tale begins in late 2007, not long before the beginning of the Great Recession. What Sophie, Vasu and Ethan do share is that they’re working—and working and working some more— on the merger of two aluminum companies. For this, and the nebulous promise of a fat bonus, they will toil through the holidays, shrug off as many obligations to friends and family as they can get away with and basically become a band of predators. Vasu, for example, doesn’t dare tell Ethan that he stopped on the way to a diligence meeting in India to perform funeral rites for his mother. He’s pleased to let Ethan believe that his shorn head is a fashion statement. On the other hand, becoming a predator-in-training has an allure for Sophie. Check out how she bigfoots a co-worker, then pops her lips in the ladies’ room mirror after applying a layer of (pilfered) power lipstick. Sophie’s not just leaning in; she’s buying in. At the end, the reader has a strong suspicion that there could be a sequel to Buying In; we’re not through with these characters yet. It’s a testament to Hemphill’s talent that we want more, a lot more, of them. —ARlEnE mcKANIC
GUESTS ON EARTH By Lee Smith
Sophie Landgraf is not a Master of the Universe. When we first meet her in Laura Hemphill’s Buying In, Sophie emerges from beneath her desk after a nap and goes crawling about the offices of her investment banking firm, snooping in her coworkers’ desk drawers. It’s two in the morning, and Sophie, a lowly, overworked analyst, hasn’t seen her boyfriend for days. Not only that, but she doesn’t even have the comfort of making a lot of money. Her overpriced dump on Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan eats up half of her salary. Her goodhearted boyfriend Will is in even worse shape; his parents pay his rent. Both of them might be better off than Sophie’s widowed dad, whose mortgage just went up by $1,000 a month. Vasu, the junior of Sophie’s
Algonquin $25.95, 352 pages ISBN 9781616202538 Audio, eBook available
It is hard to imagine a more irresistible plot: an orphaned heroine whose mother was an exotic dancer, a Depression-era mental hospital that experiments with shock therapy—not to mention a tragic unsolved mystery straight from the history books. Lee Smith, the author of 13 novels, including the bestsellers Fair and Tender Ladies and The Last Girls, juggles all these stories effortlessly in the mesmerizing Guests on Earth. The book begins with an Associated Press news article about
FICTION an actual event: a March 10, 1948, fire at Asheville’s Highland Hospital for the mentally ill, in which nine women perished, one of whom was Zelda Fitzgerald. With this tragic remnant of history in mind, the reader jumps back to the 1930s, in New Orleans’ French Quarter, where heroine Evalina Toussaint begins her story. After her mother’s death, the young girl’s refusal to eat finds her shipped off to Highland Hospital, where she will spend the rest of her childhood and her early adulthood. Moving seamlessly from New Orleans to Asheville, then on to Baltimore and Paris before looping back to Asheville and New Orleans once again, Guests on Earth gives readers a fascinating, albeit heartwrenching, glimpse of early 20thcentury psychiatric treatments, including the work of celebrated psychiatrist Robert S. Carroll. His unwavering belief in the importance of art, music and exercise therapy in treating mental illness was revolutionary in his day—even as he popularized shock therapy. Guests on Earth delivers on all counts, entrancing readers with a brilliant tapestry that falls inside the confines of historical fiction, yet defies genre with a hypnotic narrative. —KAREn Ann cullOTTA
BELLMAN & BLACK
tire life. As a young man, William is promising, bright and handsome. As he grows into adulthood, he builds a successful business and has a lovely wife and children he adores—but then it all begins to crumble, and a mysterious man in black appears. Desperate to save what little of his former life remains, William makes a deal with the oddly familiar stranger, and a grim new business venture is born that will consume him. Despite the story’s macabre premise, Setterfield never gives in to the temptations of garish sensationalism. This is a slow-burning, creepily realistic tale, woven together with practical but often magically transformative prose that moves the reader from the comforts of an idyllic domestic life to the depths of despairing determination. Even with all its strangeness, Bellman & Black never loses sight of its emotional core, and that makes it a deeply affecting journey. Quite simply, Setterfield has done it again. —mATTHEw JAcKSOn
would you describe the book Q: How in one sentence?
Q: What inspired you to write this novel?
Q: Why do you find ghost stories particularly appealing?
Q: What one thing in life is most precious to you?
By Eleanor Catton
Little, Brown $27, 848 pages ISBN 9780316074315 eBook available
Eleanor Catton’s historical suspense novel The Luminaries is built like a triple Decker—one of those 19th-century novels that were so substantial, they were published serially in three volumes. Clocking in at over 800 pages, this pitchperfect Victorian pastiche set in New Zealand has all the right elements: long-lost siblings, hidden caches of letters, a séance and a villainess so wicked she could have walked right out of a Wilkie Collins novel. When Walter Moody comes to Hokitika in 1866, it is to make his fortune in the gold fields. At his hotel, he happens upon a meeting of 12 men nervously discussing a rash of mysterious local occurrences. A prostitute has been arrested after overdosing on opium. A wealthy man has disappeared. A recluse was discovered dead in his isolated
Q: What do you fear the most?
Q: If you could choose someone to haunt, who would it be?
Q: Words to live by?
BELLMAN & BLACK A former professor of French literature who left academia to become a writer, Diane Setterfield found international success with her first novel, The Thirteenth Tale (2006), a Gothic mystery that reached the number-one spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Her second novel, Bellman & Black (Emily Bestler/ Atria, $26.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9781476711959), traces the lifelong consequences of one cruel childhood act. Setterfield lives in Yorkshire, England.
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Seven years after her mesmerizing first novel, The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield returns with Bellman & Black, a ghost story that’s both terrifyingly familiar and unlike any such tale you’ve ever read. As in her previous novel, Setterfield once again transports us into a world of irresistible Gothic suspense, this time weaving in unsettling ruminations on mortality, nature and how far a man will go to save what he loves. As a young boy, William Bellman kills a rook with his catapult. It’s an act of boyhood curiosity and playfulness, but it will alter his en-
Q: What’s the title of your new book?
By Diane Setterfield
Emily Bestler / Atria $26.99, 336 pages ISBN 9781476711959 Audio, eBook available
meet DIANE SETTERFIELD
reviews cabin. Moody is drawn into the intrigue, though he initially keeps his own secrets about the strange events that occurred on his voyage from England. Several period devices help tease out the threads of this complex story: multiple narrators; 19thcentury slang and circumlocutions such as “d-mned”; and chapter introductions that set the stage for the action to follow. Intriguingly, Catton uses astrology as an organizing device, with star charts at the start of each chapter—which grow shorter and shorter as the book progresses, to imitate the waning of the moon—and the circling of 12 “stellar” characters around eight “planetary” ones. Like many long novels, The Luminaries lags at times; in some ways, the action concludes long before the novel does, and the wealth of characters and overlapping action make it occasionally difficult to keep track of who did what when. But Catton, whose debut novel, The Rehearsals, was written when she was just 22,
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Four Delightful Novellas in One Volume
Four members of the Christmas Cookie Club are searching for love. Can the legendary kismet cookies bring them happiness? www.LoriWilde.com
FICTION balances this with accomplished writing that shows an engaging flair and a real gift for characterization. This multilayered and complex second novel is as much about the sheer enjoyment of reading as it is about solving the crime. —lAuREn BuffERd
THE CARTOGRAPHER OF NO MAN’S LAND By P.S. Duffy
Liveright $25.95, 384 pages ISBN 9780871403766 eBook available
In the dispiriting list of pointless wars, few were more pointless than the one associated with the Somme or Passchendaele. The Great War saw tens of thousands die in an inglorious miasma of gas and mud. Yet the contribution made by Canadians to this carnage is seldom highlighted—that is, until P.S. Duffy’s first novel, The Cartography of No Man’s Land. The novel is divided between Nova Scotia, where Angus MacGrath lived, and France, where he fights. Angus joins the war to find his brother-in-law Ebbin, who is missing and presumed dead. A talented artist raised by a pacifist, Angus had hoped to be a peaceable cartographer, but finds himself instead amid the barbed wire and vast graveyards. Meanwhile, the Nova Scotians worry about local Germans whose loyalties are suspect, like Mr. Heist, a teacher. When Heist builds an observatory, the authorities decide he’s crossed a line. The contrasts between the home and war fronts are stark. At home is buttered rum, while on the battlefield, soldiers obsess about squares of chocolate. Home represents the freedom of the ubiquitous sea, while the soldiers suffer the trenches’ claustrophobia. Still, the wounded Angus resists being invalided out. Despite the war’s futility, he remains committed to his troops. Duffy writes well—if occasionally sentimentally—about war’s privations. Her heroes are not reticent Hemingway types, and her descriptions, especially those of battle, are rich. The novel succeeds most in
evoking the Canadian maritimes, whose resilient seafaring ways Duffy, a native whose family has lived in Nova Scotia for generations, is amply qualified to address. Duffy says of Angus on his return home, “He would not talk about the war. He barely talked at all.” Yet to him and his unsung Canadian comrades Duffy has given a memorable voice. —KEnnETH cHAmPEOn
your first Trigiani, it probably won’t be your last. —mAudE mcDANIEL
STELLA BAIN By Anita Shreve
Little, Brown $28, 272 pages ISBN 9780316098861 Audio, eBook available
THE SUPREME MACARONI COMPANY By Adriana Trigiani
Harper $25.99, 352 pages ISBN 9780062136589 Audio, eBook available
Adriana Trigiani returns with the final novel of her Valentine trilogy, starring the Italian-American shoemaker Valentine Roncalli. Sometimes hilarious (as when the extended family takes over the pages), sometimes too poignant to read without a tear or two, The Supreme Macaroni Company will inspire most readers to stay up all night if necessary to finish it. On the eve of her marriage to tanner Gianluca, Valentine is concerned about their long-term prospects. Valentine’s family line sports “diabetes, heart disease, and dyspepsia,” not to mention “the onset of eye tics in the late thirties.” Bitterness is chronic and accompanied by cold sores and occasional jaundice. Not to mention “a glandular predisposition that prevents true happiness.” After the wedding, Valentine struggles to balance her roles as an Italian man’s wife and an Italian-American woman. It becomes clear that differences abound between the two, and as she and Gianluca learn more about each other—and face business challenges—Valentine begins to wonder if she can be a success as a wife and as a shoe designer. Trigiani has a long list of novels to her credit, including nonfiction and young adult fiction. She’s supremely capable when it comes to creating warm characters that readers will want to befriend, and communities that they’ll want to join. If The Supreme Macaroni Company is
Anita Shreve’s latest characterdriven novel is both a historical glimpse into the side effects of war and a mystery centered on a young woman’s search for her lost identity. Stella Bain opens as a young nurse’s aide regains consciousness in a hospital camp on a French battlefield in the winter of 1916. She’s been hit by shrapnel in her legs and can’t remember any details of her life before she came to France. She has an American accent and gives her name as Stella Bain—though not really knowing why. Stella harbors a vague sense that the key to her identity may be found at the Admiralty, the headquarters of the British Royal Navy, so when she is granted leave, she gradually makes her way to London. There she is found, dazed and wandering, by Lily Bridge, a young mother married to a cranial surgeon who takes an interest in Stella’s case. It is at this point that the novel takes on an element of mystery, as Stella begins to put together pieces of her past—initiated just as she imagined by a visit to the Admiralty, where a Canadian officer recognizes her as Etna Bliss. Hearing her name instantly sparks memories of Stella/ Etna’s past, and by means of a series of flashbacks, Shreve transports the reader to New Hampshire at the turn of the century, where Etna’s tumultuous, transfixing story began. We discover why Etna was drawn to the battlefield even as we see her current-day struggles to heal and to move past her mistakes in a world where women’s roles—and rights— are limited. Her story is sure to appeal to readers of Shreve’s earlier novels, including The Pilot’s Wife and The Weight of Water. —dEBORAH dOnOvAn
Author photo by Sue Courtney © Cornwell Entertainment, Inc.
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NONFICTION THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE By Ann Patchett
Where past and present meet REVIEW BY AMY SCRIBNER
Unfair as it may be, when most Americans think of Amsterdam, we think of drugs and the red light district. Yet in Amsterdam, Russell Shorto’s deeply fascinating history of what he calls “the world’s most liberal city,” we learn that this place steeped in history, art and philosophy is so much more. Amsterdam began as a soggy little fishing village where herring was about the best thing going. Then, in 1345, a dying man threw up a Eucharist. The host was still whole, and would not burn. Clearly this was a divine act—Catholics believe the Eucharist is the body of Christ. Thousands made pilgrimages to Amsterdam, the first time most people on the continent paid attention to it. The street through which the pilgrims streamed into town was called the Holy Way and today is called Overtoom, which Shorto describes as “a gritty, Broadway-like stretch of drab shops and rental car outlets . . . chockablock with an unholy assembly of By Russell Shorto jewelry stores and designer shoe shops.” Doubleday, $28.95, 368 pages Therein lies the best thing about this truly nifty book: Shorto zooms ISBN 9780385534574, audio, eBook available back and forth from medieval times to modern life, boggling the reader’s mind with how much things change and yet stay the same. HISTORY The café where Shorto wrote much of the book? Used to be the house where Rembrandt lived with his wife before she died and he took up with the maid. That bridge he’s standing on? The site of the world’s first true stock market, where residents gathered to buy shares in the United East India Company (which, by the way, was the world’s first multinational corporation). By retelling the stories of the city’s residents—some famous, some forgotten—Shorto shows how the Dutch came to value personal liberty while sharing a sense of responsibility: That man-made system keeping the city from being flooded with seawater wasn’t going to pump itself. “That is the story that Amsterdam tells,” writes Shorto. “Working together, we win land from the sea. Individually, we own it; individually, we prosper, so that collectively we do. Together, we maintain a society of individuals. For an American, raised on a diet of raw individualism, it remains a bit of a challenge to parse that logic.” Shorto does so, beautifully, in this examination of what society can—and perhaps should—be.
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By Richard Holmes
Pantheon $35, 416 pages ISBN 9780307379665 Audio, eBook available
Biographer Richard Holmes (The Age of Wonder) has long been fascinated by the Romantics and science, and Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air blends his two lifelong passions with a third: ballooning. In some ways his most personal book, Falling Upwards documents more than two centuries of experiments and explorations in aeronautics, anchored with a dash of autobiography.
“Show me a balloon and I’ll tell you a story,” Holmes says, and what stories! There’s John Money, who in 1785 piloted a hydrogen balloon over England to raise money for a hospital, only to be blown out to sea and miraculously rescued. There’s Thomas Harris, who in 1824 died in a balloon crash, but managed to save the life of one “Miss Stocks,” the pretty girl who was with him in the basket. There are the military reconnaissance balloons of the American Civil War, and the balloon postal service deployed by the French during the siege of 1870. Pretty Edwardian girls in balloons, brash showmen in balloons and tourists in balloons: all seekers of the “angel’s eye view” of the Earth. In the past 200 years, balloons have evolved from the early hydrogen balloons of the inventive Montgolfier brothers, to the coal gas balloons of the Victorians, and onward to the relatively safer hot
air balloons of today. But the human desire for flight has remained consistent throughout. Ballooning, Holmes tells us, concerns our desire for liberation (as in the thrilling story of the East German family who escaped to West Germany in a homemade balloon in 1978), and is emblematic of a romantic longing to fly and look at humanity from a bird’s-eye view. How fitting then that Holmes includes—among the many engaging illustrations accompanying his text—the famous “Earthrise” photo taken by Apollo 11 from the moon in 1969. That haunting image of our blue planet emblematizes the collective desire of each of the aeronauts documented here; as Holmes puts it, “the dream of flight is to see the world differently.” Erudite and chatty, this is a book for everyone who has ever dreamed of flying. —cATHERinE HOlliS
Harper $27.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780062236678 Audio, eBook available
Perhaps you love Ann Patchett’s novels, like State of Wonder and Bel Canto. Truth & Beauty, her standout memoir about her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy, might have a special spot on your shelf. Or maybe you heard how she co-founded Parnassus, an indie bookstore in Nashville that opened its doors after two other local bookstores closed. She’s something of an all-star, and however you arrived at Patchett fandom, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage has something for you. Fans of Patchett’s fiction will be fascinated by her views on writing nonfiction, which she says is a great way for a novelist to make a living—much better than waiting tables or teaching college kids. She’d much prefer to “knock off an essay” than do the grueling work of “facing down” the next chapter of her novel-in-progress. And as the book shows, Patchett has knocked off quite a few essays over the years, about experiences ranging from driving an RV across the American West (“My Road to Hell Was Paved”) to the title story’s tale of how she fell in love with her husband, by way of an ill-fated first marriage and her subsequent rejection of the very idea of matrimony. This collection gathers writing across 20 years of Patchett’s life and lets readers in on her best personal stories. Did you know, for instance, that she once seriously trained to enter the L.A. Police Academy? That she considers her grandmother to be one of the great loves of her life? That she still has relationships with some of the nuns who taught her in grammar school? These stories and more are told in simple, appealing prose that feels like a phone conversation with a good friend. And the book is a great read. Essays are artfully selected and arranged—certain pieces read backto-back provide a fuller, more interesting story than one would alone.
NONFICTION Patchett tells us that early in life she knew she had “a knack for content” when it came to writing. This collection is evidence of that knack, across many different contexts and over many years. It will be a welcome addition to many bookshelves, including my own. — K E l ly B l E w E T T
PROVENCE, 1970 By Luke Barr
Clarkson Potter $26, 320 pages ISBN 9780307718341 Audio, eBook available
—J u l i E H A l E
EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI By Jung Chang
Knopf $30, 464 pages ISBN 9780307271600 eBook available
History has not been kind to China’s Empress Dowager Cixi. Credit for her numerous achievements is generally given to the men who served her. She’s been called a ruthless tyrant and murderer, and those in power after her claimed to be cleaning up yet another of her unforgivable messes. Were any of this true, the criticism might be forgivable. However, author Jung Chang (Wild Swans) has uncovered new research and debunked the myth-makers to bring us Empress Dowager Cixi in all her complexity. To call this a rags-to-riches story would be a gross understatement. At age 16, Cixi was chosen as one of the Emperor’s concubines, albeit a low-ranking one. By remaining friends with the Empress, avoiding competition with the other women in the harem and, most significantly, producing the first male heir to the throne, she secured a foothold from which she climbed steadily into power. When the Emperor died in
1861, Cixi’s 5-year-old son succeeded him, and Cixi orchestrated a palace coup (at age 25!) that made her the true leader of the country. She led from behind the throne— behind a screen, in fact, to separate her from male officials. Cixi steered the country toward modernity and greater prosperity. The railroad, electricity, telegraph and telephone lines, Western medicine, foreign trade and a modern military were all brought about under her reign. She slowly ended the brutal practice of female foot-binding and vastly expanded opportunities for women. And while her legacy is not without significant missteps and errors, she notably made public apologies upon seeing the error of her ways, and ruled in a relatively bloodless manner. This biography is engaging especially for the contrasts Chang finds between old and new ways: Cixi pushed for China to accept a degree of Westernization as necessary to its prosperity, but took her tea with human breast milk on the advice of a doctor. She built the railroads, but ensured work was begun on an astrologically “auspicious” day and sent envoys out to assure the locals that the remains of their buried ancestors would not be disturbed by the noise. Empress Dowager Cixi corrects a longstanding misconception about a woman whose impact on China can’t be overstated. It’s a fascinating look at power, politics and the gender divide. —HEATHER SEggEl
THE LETTERS OF ARTHUR SCHLESINGER, JR. By Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
Random House $35, 672 pages ISBN 9780812993097 eBook available
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. carved out a unique role for himself in American life. The author of acclaimed works of award-winning American history and biography (including two Pulitzer Prizes and two National Book Awards), he also enthusiastically embraced the role of friend and confidant to significant movers
and shakers on the national political stage. He was one of the founders of Americans for Democratic Action and a speechwriter and advisor to presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, but he is probably best known for his role as a special assistant to President John F. Kennedy. Schlesinger was also a prolific writer of letters—around 35,000— whose extraordinarily wide range of correspondents included fellow intellectuals, literary figures and many high government officials, such as his longtime friends Hubert Humphrey and Henry Kissinger. On the lighter side, he was glad to answer the questioner who wanted to know why he preferred bow ties and to oblige another who wanted him to draw a sketch of himself. His sons, Andrew and Stephen, have gone through this treasure trove to select the letters that best articulated his essential beliefs and captured the movement of his times. The result is the thoroughly engaging and enlightening The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., most of which have never before been seen by the public. It is fascinating to read of Schlesinger’s relationships and perceptions. In 1946, at a dinner at influential columnist Joseph Alsop’s home, he met John F. Kennedy, then a member of the House of Representatives. “Kennedy seemed sincere and not unintelligent, but kind of on the conservative side,” he reported to his parents. By 1955, when Kennedy was in the Senate, he and Schlesinger had become friends, and Kennedy asked the historian to read his rough manuscript for Profiles in Courage and be “ruthlessly frank in giving me your criticism, comments and suggestions”—which Schlesinger was. Politicians occasionally asked for his advice, and he would help if he could. At the same time he would often presumptuously send them unsolicited suggestions, sometimes at great length. He was especially concerned, for example, with the way Kennedy and Stevenson dealt with the issue of civil rights, a subject he felt passionately about. Schlesinger did not shy away from disagreement with his correspondents. He and close friend John Kenneth Galbraith parted ways on the presidential race in 1980. Galbraith supported President Carter, while Schlesinger, who was disappointed with Carter’s first-term
R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
Provence, 1970, Luke Barr’s irresistible new slice of food-culture history, couldn’t have appeared at a more promising moment. Cooking is something of a craze these days, and food is very much in fashion. Perfectly aligned with the times, Provence, 1970 features a cast of cooks, writers and critics with personalities as volatile and opinions as ironclad as those of the slightly unhinged chefs we see on TV today. The book’s central character is acclaimed food writer M.F.K. Fisher, Barr’s great-aunt. Drawing on Fisher’s journals and letters, Barr has written a skillfully crafted narrative about the remarkable trip Fisher made to southern France at the age of 62 and the great convergence of culinary minds that occurred there. In December of 1970, Fisher embarked on a holiday tour of Provence and its environs, where she had long before experienced the “first epiphany of taste” that inspired her writing career. As it happened, a few of her fellow foodies were passing the holiday there, too—a group that included the always-genial Julia Child; Simone Beck, Child’s demanding, French-tothe-max cookbook co-author; and beloved chef James Beard. Also on the scene: Richard Olney, a Frenchcuisine genius and relative newcomer to the food world, who was contemptuous of his colleagues— Child especially—and whose snarky, behind-the-back remarks show just how combative the culinary world, at its upper echelons, could be. La Pitchoune, Child’s majestic vacation house, served as HQ for
the gourmands. There, they cooked, dined, shared gossip and debated America’s evolving culinary culture. Barr’s fluid, elegant recreations of the intimate meals and earnest discussions deliver a sense of each character’s temperament. (Over dinner one night, Fisher, tired of high-toned food talk, raised the topic of American politics. Olney’s response was a yawn.) Barr seamlessly shifts points of view, and the result is a marvelously detailed mosaic of clashing ideas, personalities and attitudes regarding food. He finds a point of focus for the story in Fisher. An eminently likable character whose modesty and introspective nature set her apart from her colleagues, she is the calm, still center of the book. Provence, 1970 is a narrative that bons vivants will tuck into with relish, but it wasn’t written for epicures alone. You needn’t be a foodie to enjoy Barr’s beautifully written book.
reviews performance, backed independent John Anderson. Schlesinger wrote to Galbraith: “I really don’t understand why you are so agitated about Reagan. . . . He served two terms as governor of California and, as far as I know, did nothing very much except to flow with the tide. He is an accommodator, not an ideologue.” I enthusiastically recommend this window into the world of a prominent historian who was also, in more than one way, a man of letters. —ROgER BiSHOP
VANISHED By Wil S. Hylton
Riverhead $27.95, 288 pages ISBN 9781594487279 eBook available
R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
Award-winning journalist Wil S. Hylton has contributed stories to the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire, Rolling Stone and other national periodicals. His previous assignments involved some interesting physical challenges, but his new book, Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II, offered him the storyteller’s task of rigorously and accurately bringing to life the exploits of a team of modern-day sleuths hell-bent on tracking down the remains of World War II MIAs from the Pacific Ocean theater. The story begins with an old trunk passed down to a Texan named Tommy Doyle, whose father Jimmie was reported missing in the South Pacific when the B-24 bomber on which he served was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire. Doyle senior, it turns out, was but one of many Navy fliers whose whereabouts—and ultimate fate—remained unaccounted for. Enter Pat Scannon, a medical doctor but also a man of varied other talents and with a dogged curiosity about the events of WWII. In the early ’90s, Scannon and other researchers gained notoriety when they located a sunken Japanese trawler downed by Navy flier George H.W. Bush in July 1944. Scannon’s subsequent research into military records and his investigations into the fighting
NONFICTION around the Palau barrier reef have led to the salvaging of many downed U.S. warplanes, not to mention the physical remains of MIAs whose families had grieved uncertainly for decades. Much of this volume concerns itself with the underwater archaeology relevant to a bomber, the 453, that disappeared over Palau carrying 11 men on September 1, 1944. While Scannon is the story’s major player, there are other amazingly determined and dedicated men and women—scientists, military personnel, divers, archivists, historians, plus local island inhabitants drawing from their eyewitness memories of actual events—without whom the many clues might never have been precisely collected. Besides the many-angled aspects of the seemingly impossible search and recovery missions, Hylton’s narrative covers the broader historical perspective via useful material concerning the military background to the war in the Pacific. He also gives poignant insights into the families of the missing men, some of whom ultimately found a certain closure that had once seemed unattainable. —mARTin BRAdy
FURIOUS COOL By David Henry and Joe Henry
Algonquin $25.95, 400 pages ISBN 9781616200787 Audio, eBook available
roles and his television parts. The result is Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him, an intimate and riveting tribute. One Friday night in 1973, the Henry brothers learned that Pryor would be hosting ABC’s “The Midnight Special,” so they taped his performance on a reel-to-reel player. Looking back, they wonder why two white teenagers raised in the South were so intent on listening to a black comedian who would have been making fun of them and their race. That night they discovered that Pryor was a “beacon that said, Take heart. Stay human. You are not alone.” Following Pryor’s death, the Henrys set out to make sense of his contributions to comedy and our culture. With energetic storytelling, they chronicle Pryor’s life from his early childhood, when he was abandoned at 10 by his mother and raised by his grandmother, to his discovery of his talent after he dropped out of high school, to his difficult stint in the Army, the development of his gift on the Chitlin’ Circuit and his meteoric rise and tragic fall. Because of his upbringing, Pryor remained emotionally distant and insecure all his life, often pushing away those who loved him most, even his children. While the Henrys celebrate Pryor’s comic genius in their page-turning tribute, they also reveal a sad and lonely clown always looking for his next routine and never happy with his success or his place in the world. —HEnRy l. cARRigAn JR.
THE HEART OF EVERYTHING THAT IS When he died in 2005—his body weakened by years of freebasing cocaine, as well as heart disease, multiple sclerosis and a freak accident with a cigarette lighter that had set him ablaze in 1990—Richard Pryor had already won one Emmy and five Grammys. Yet his position at number one on Comedy Central’s list of the all-time greatest comedians defines his enduring legacy more than any other award. In this set of fans’ notes to Pryor, David Henry and Joe Henry—who talked with Pryor several times before his death—draw on conversations with his inner circle as well as their own and others’ memories of Pryor’s stand-up routines, his film
By Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
Simon & Schuster $30, 432 pages ISBN 9781451654660 eBook available
While Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and Geronimo are embedded far more solidly in American folklore, Bob Drury and Tom Clavin contend that Red Cloud, the relatively obscure Oglala Sioux chief, was the most cunning and effective Indian general to confront the U.S. Army
during the stampede of Western expansion that followed the Civil War. Prolonged war, with specific territorial aims, had not been an Indian concept until Red Cloud united the tribes with the goal of driving out the white invaders and reclaiming native hunting grounds and sacred sites, particularly the Black Hills in what is now South Dakota. Born in 1821, Red Cloud was the son of an alcoholic who died young, which perhaps led him to become something of an overachiever, both in the hunt for and later The authors game on the battlecontend that field. He learned early that AmerRed Cloud ica’s treaties was the most with the Indians were empty cunning and effective promises, and armed resisIndian tance seemed to him the only general to sane recourse. confront the The resistance U.S. Army. was widespread, fierce and bloody. Although both sides engaged in torture and mutilation, the Indians elevated these practices to an excruciating art—in part to ensure that their luckless victims never made it into the afterlife with their bodies intact. In The Heart of Everything That Is, the authors focus on the series of Sioux victories between 1866 and 1868 that culminated in a treaty that closed the heavily traveled Bozeman Trail, allowed for the destruction of Army forts and ceded vast swaths of territory—including the cherished Black Hills—to Red Cloud and his people. These triumphs were pitifully short-lived, of course, but they were resounding enough to earn Red Cloud the respect of his adversaries. President Grant received him at the White House; he spoke at the Cooper Institute in Manhattan after parading down Fifth Avenue; and the New York Times lauded his intelligence and eloquence. These virtues notwithstanding, Red Cloud’s forays into the “civilized” East effectively sapped his warring spirit. Completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 and the discovery of gold in the Black Hills a few years later ended any Indian hopes of sovereignty. Red Cloud died in his sleep at the age of 88—on a reservation. —EdwARd mORRiS
reviews KETCHUP CLOUDS
Confessions to a murderer REVIEW BY NORAH PIEHL
By Annabel Pitcher
Little, Brown, $18, 272 pages ISBN 9780316246767, audio, eBook available Ages 12 and up
SON OF FORTUNE By Victoria McKernan
Knopf $16.99, 400 pages ISBN 9780375864568 eBook available Ages 12 and up
ships, as the competing ship owners vie for the favor of the island’s manager and while away the days until their ships can be loaded. But as each day goes by, Aiden’s horror increases as he learns more about the Chinese laborers and the appalling mining conditions on the island. Using her prodigious research skills, McKernan paints a vivid picture of 19th-century life without shying away from complex subjects like race relations. Readers will find Aiden to be an engaging hero, struggling to make sense of the world and to find a code to live by. —dEBORAH HOPKinSOn
UNCRASHABLE DAKOTA By Andy Marino
Holt $17.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780805096309 eBook available Ages 12 and up
Imagine a past where the tragic Titanic never sank, but instead
flew across the Atlantic Ocean. For 13-year-old Hollis Dakota, the wealthy heir to an incredible fleet of airships, this is his reality. When his grandfather, Samuel Dakota, was an infantryman in the Civil War, he discovered an unusual biochemical process for flight, a process that swiftly ended the war when the Union Army decimated the Confederates from the air. Fast-forward to 1912, when Hollis and his family board the Wendell Dakota. It’s the largest airship ever built and is named after Hollis’ late father, whose death weighs heavily on Hollis’ heart. Hollis has been groomed to take over the company, but he fears he does not have his father’s ingenuity and confidence to successfully take the helm. But then the Wendell Dakota is hijacked and his mother is kidnapped. To save the lives of everyone on board, Hollis needs to muster his courage, lead a motley crew of friends and reconcile his grandfather’s unfortunate past—all while trying to evade the hijackers. Andy Marino’s latest novel is a genre mash-up of alternate history and steampunk fiction that touches on very real class inequalities. The Wendell Dakota, inspired by the
— K i m B E R ly g i A R R A T A n O
REALITY BOY By A.S. King
Little, Brown $18, 368 pages ISBN 9780316222709 Audio, eBook available Ages 15 and up
When Gerald was 5 years old, he was the star of a reality television show that chronicled his family’s domestic affairs. The cameras showed a defiant little boy but never the reasons behind his rage. Now 17, Gerald spends his school days in a special education class where he doesn’t belong but is afraid to leave. His home life has never fully recovered from the aftereffects of stardom: His oldest sister lives in the basement with her boyfriend, and his middle sister hasn’t been in touch since she left for college. Gerald employs several defense mechanisms, all designed to insulate himself from those who continue to judge him by his childhood misbehavior. When he first meets Hannah, Gerald won’t let himself get attached because he can’t believe that she might actually care for him. But Hannah has family issues of her own, and the two gradually let down their guards for one another. Together, they find a way toward a present—and a future—that’s more than either of their pasts. In Reality Boy, author A.S. King once again displays the range of her writing talent. Gerald’s voice is authentic, and his anger is palpable. In the end, his story is as much about the lack of reality in “reality” TV as it is about how a teen can choose to define his own identity rather than letting others define it for him. —J i l l R A T z A n
R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
Victoria McKernan’s The Devil’s Paintbox told the gripping tale of 16-year-old Aiden Lynch and his struggle to survive in the post-Civil War Pacific Northwest. The sequel, Son of Fortune, carries the young hero into new territory. Fleeing Seattle after a vicious encounter that left his opponent dead, Aiden earns passage to San Francisco by caring for polar bears bound for a zoo. Aiden then lands a job as a tutor, but adventure is always right around the corner. With a ship won in a card game, he is soon heading to an island off the coast of Peru, from where guano is exported to the U.S. as highly prized fertilizer. On his ship, Aiden finds himself part of a complex web of relation-
In Ketchup Clouds, Annabel Pitcher introduces what must be one of the more unusual pen-pal relationships ever set to paper. Zoe is a teenage girl living in Bath, England, and the recipient of her letters is Mr. Stuart Harris, an inmate on Texas’ death row. At first glance, the two seem to have nothing in common, but as Zoe begins to reveal her story through her letters to Stuart, readers start to understand why Zoe feels an affinity for this doomed man half a world away. Zoe is consumed with guilt over events that happened a year ago. What should have been a fun and exciting experience—her very first time falling in love—instead resulted in heartbreak, betrayal and death. In addition to concealing her own role in this tragedy, she’s still secretly grieving and nursing a broken heart—things she imagines that Stuart, who’s been sentenced to death for murdering his wife, also must feel. Zoe’s letters alternate between telling Stuart about her life as it is right now—complete with family dramas and ongoing attempts to avoid the dead boy’s mother—and gradually recounting the events from the year before. Throughout the novel, Pitcher delays revealing not only Zoe’s role in the death, but also the identity of the dead boy, skillfully building suspense while inciting sympathy. Ketchup Clouds is alternately romantic, sad and even surprisingly funny, as readers come to know this quirky character through her most unconventional confession.
Titanic, is a behemoth of luxury and indulgence, with America’s wealthiest families booking first-class accommodations while the poorest live in tent cities in steerage. With smart and savvy female characters, anachronistic technology and a hero with gumption, Uncrashable Dakota is an adventure tale for even the most reluctant reader.
reviews BATTLE BUNNY
Man your battle stations! REVIEW BY ANGELA LEEPER
Books about bunnies are sweet, right? Not one that’s created by the imaginative team of Jon Scieszka (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales), Mac Barnett (Extra Yarn) and illustrator Matthew Myers (Clink). Their irreverent picture book, originally titled Birthday Bunny, starts out harmlessly enough with an inscription from Gran Gran to Alex, wishing her “little birthday bunny” a special day. But in this testament to daydreaming kids everywhere, Alex has another story to tell. The boy scratches through the printed type of grandma’s gift book and fills in his own words, turning Birthday Bunny into Battle Bunny! With his super birthday powers, Battle Bunny will put his Evil Plan into action. Where once an adorable cotton-tailed bunny was hopping through the forest, now an eye-patch-wearing bunny with a saw in hand—thanks to Alex’s improvised pencil sketches—makes his way, chopping through the trees. And instead of meeting his woodland friends, Badger, Squirrel, Bear and Turtle, he battles the president’s special forces: El Tejon, the By Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett great wrestler, Sgt. Squirrel, Shaolin Bear and Ninja Turtle. Illustrated by Matthew Myers The animals are not the only characters fighting to determine the Simon & Schuster, $14.99, 32 pages world’s fate, however. Alex draws himself into the story, working alongISBN 9781442446748, eBook available side the president to help stop Battle Bunny. As Alex’s imagination goes Ages 5 to 9 into full force, his edits and drawings become bigger and bolder. When PICTURE BOOK the defeated woodland animals gather for Bunny’s birthday . . . err, world domination, Alex remembers that he has special birthday powers, too. Celebrating a birthday or saving the world—both give reasons to cheer. After cheering, readers will want to reread this clever retelling to savor the meticulous attention given to both text and illustration, from menacing eyebrows to megatron bombs. Parents, on the other hand, will rethink keeping any art supplies near beloved books. Illustration © 2013 by Matthew Myers. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster.
FRIENDS By Eric Carle
Philomel $17.99, 32 pages ISBN 9780399165337 Ages 3 to 5
R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
Fans of Eric Carle won’t want to miss his latest offering, a tribute to friendship based on one of the author’s own childhood experiences. As the book opens, we see two friends playing together happily. By the next spread, however, the boy is sad. His friend has moved away. He takes a deep breath, counts to 10 and heads out to find her. He swims a wide, cold river under a starry sky. He scales a steep mountain. He makes his way through the tall, damp grasses of a meadow. On and on he journeys: Rain, fatigue and dark shadows won’t stop him. Even-
tually, he finds her, giving her the same bouquet of flowers featured on the book’s title page. “I knew you would come,” she says. The children are featured only on the first couple of spreads, as well as the last one. All the brightly colored pages in between feature Carle’s signature broad brush strokes, very texturized paper tissue collages and abstract renderings, pared down to their essentials. The meadow is merely a series of thick, green brush strokes. The river is composed of large, wavy lines in various shades of blues and greens, undulating across the page. There’s no boy in sight, as if to emphasize the enormity of the journey—or perhaps to put readers into the boy’s own shoes. On a closing spread, Carle shares a childhood photo of a friend, now lost to him, but on the dust jacket, we read that his wife, Bobbie, was inspiration for the book as well. Friends is a sweet story of devotion for the youngest of readers. —J u l i E d A n i E l S O n
YOU ARE THE PEA, AND I AM THE CARROT By J. Theron Elkins
Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre Abrams $16.95, 32 pages ISBN 9781419708503 eBook available Ages 3 to 7
For parents who can’t get past the saccharine sentiments expressed in some picture books about love, You Are the Pea, and I Am the Carrot offers a refreshing, lighthearted antidote. As a young boy (with a head as round as a pea) and a girl (as slender as a carrot, with orange hair to boot) picnic in the grass, they croon a tune that features classic food pairings. Readers can almost hear the rhyming ode set to music as butter and bread waltz across the page, a biscuit and jam sip coffee at
a Parisian café, a marshmallow and graham cracker huddle by a campfire, and a funnel cake skis downs a powdered sugar mountain. The refrains return to the boy and girl, who sum up the adorable, digitally enhanced food pairings and their own friendship: “We belong together. / We’re such a tasty sweet. / We’re yummy, scrumptious morsels. / We’re the perfect little treat.” This celebration of love makes a soothing bedtime story or a touching gift for children and adults alike. Educators and creative youngsters will see more possibilities as they ponder other famous pairings, edible or not. Simply delicious! —AngElA lEEPER
GOD GOT A DOG By Cynthia Rylant Illustrated by Marla Frazee Beach Lane $17.99, 48 pages ISBN 9781442465183 eBook available Ages 10 and up
Many people believe God is everywhere, and He/She certainly is in this captivating book of verse. In a series of 16 poems, Cynthia Rylant imagines God wondering what it’s like to be human. To find out, God pursues a variety of very human endeavors, such as becoming a beautician, making spaghetti on a lonely night, going to the doctor and watching cable TV. Of course, an irreverent book like this won’t be for everyone, and may offend some. That said, I found it a lovely and thought-provoking look at what it means to be human, and what it means to be godlike. There are many wonderful moments of humor, such as when God goes to the doctor: “And the doctor said, ‘You don’t need me, you’re God.’ And God said, ‘Well, you’re pretty good at playing me, I figured you’d know what the problem was.’” Such interplay between reverence and comedy forms the heart and soul of this unique little volume. When God gets a desk job, She resorts to eating Snickers bars (37!) to get through the day: “She thought that if She had to pick up that phone one more time, She’d just start the whole Armageddon thing people keep talking about.”
trilogy ed R
New York Times Bestselling Author KERSTIN GIER “A PHENOMENON.” —The New York Times
The thrilling conclusion to the internationally beloved bestselling series—ON SALE NOW!
BOOKS 1 and 2 NOW IN PAPERBACK Start Reading Now
Ruby Red Trilogy
H OW W I L L I T A L L E N D ? the Birthright Trilogy Critically Acclaimed Author
H “HIGH-WIRE ROMANCE.” —Booklist, starred review
The gripping finale to the saga of Anya Balanchine— Farrar Straus Giroux
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BOOKS 1 and 2 NOW IN PAPERBACK START READING NOW
GABRIELLE ZEVIN FAN PAGE
WILL GREG HEFFLEY’S LUCK EVER CHANGE?
Only a supremely talented team could pull off a book like this (which includes 26 poems from a collection first published in 2003). Rylant is the Newbery Award-winning author of more than 100 children’s books, including the Henry and Mudge series. Marla Frazee’s illustrations capture the humanity of each poem, along with just the right amount of godlike wonder. This gem of a book is sure to spark spirited discussions. —AlicE cARy
THE MYSTERY OF MEERKAT HILL By Alexander McCall Smith Illustrated by Iain McIntosh Anchor $6.99, 112 pages ISBN 9780345804464 Audio, eBook available Ages 7 and up
the title of your Q: What’s new book?
would you describe Q: How the book?
—BilliE B. liTTlE
FROM NORVELT TO NOWHERE By Jack Gantos
FSG $16.99, 288 pages ISBN 9780374379940 Audio, eBook available Ages 10 to 14
Q: Who has been the biggest influence on your work?
Q: What was your favorite subject in school? Why? How do Newbery Medalists follow their award-winning novels? If they’re Jack Gantos, they do it with more over-the-top humor and even crazier adventures. Picking up where Dead End in Norvelt left off, the war hysteria of the Cuban Missile Crisis becomes a big threat to a small town in From Norvelt to Nowhere. Although no longer grounded, young Jack Gantos (yes, still named after the author) remains Miss Volker’s assistant in writing obituaries. Both mystery and history endure—and occasionally combine— when Miss Volker becomes the last original Norvelter. The town’s other original inhabitant was poisoned in the same fashion as in the first novel, and the town’s namesake, Eleanor Roosevelt, also passes away. When Jack accompanies Miss Volker to Eleanor’s gravesite to aid in writing a fitting obituary, their trip turns to hijinks. Soon the pair is on a course to Florida, hoping to catch Norvelt’s now infamous old-lady killer. As Jack tries to avoid another one of his nose bleeds and keep Miss Volker from wielding her silver pistol, the latter continues to give the boy history lessons and creates plenty of red herrings along the way. While the mystery drives the plot, the heart of the story is the intergenerational friendship between Jack and Miss Volker. Only Miss Volker would soak her hands in split-pea soup to restore their sensitivity, and only Jack would understand enough to help her. Hold on tight for another wild ride through the mind of Jack Gantos—both of them. —AngElA lEEPER
Q: Who was your childhood hero?
Q: What books did you enjoy as a child?
Q: What one thing would you like to learn to do?
Q: What message would you like to send to children?
TRAIN Elisha Cooper is the award-winning author/ illustrator of many acclaimed picture books, including Farm, Beach and Beaver Is Lost. Cooper says he rode and sketched lots of trains for his latest book, Train (Orchard, $17.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780545384957), which captures the thrill and adventure of traveling by rail. Cooper and his family live in New York City.
R E A D M O R E AT B O O K PA G E . C O M
If you’re lucky, you’ve met sleuth Precious Ramotswe in Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency mysteries for adults. Now in The Mystery of Meerkat Hill, second in Smith’s series for children, young readers get a chance to follow her adventures. Precious, a girl from Botswana, has a mystery on her hands. Her new friends, Teb and Pontsho, walk shoeless all the way home from school, burning their feet on the hot ground. When Precious learns they have never even tasted an apple, she concludes they must be very poor. Then, her friends’ most valuable possession, the family cow, goes missing. Has it been stolen? Precious is determined to find a way to help. This time she calls on their pet meerkat, Kosi, for assistance, and he nearly steals the show! The mystery is peppered with family and friends’ tales about hiding from lions and tricking ostriches. All these stories will engage young readers, as will the author’s asides. For example, when Precious visits Teb and Pontsho’s modest home, she tells them it’s a nice house. “That was not a lie,” the author notes. “It is not a lie to say something nice to somebody.” In some stories, this might come across as moralizing, but here, McCall Smith’s light touch makes it palatable. The action is set against the backdrop of Botswana, with endless skies
where at night “the stars appear— great silver fields of them.” The book is written with the ease of a consummate storyteller, while Iain McInstosh’s woodcuts enliven the text and handsomely depict the terrain, people and animal life of Botswana.
meet ELISHA COOPER CHRISTOPHER SMITH
By THE EdiTORS Of mERRiAm-wEBSTER
SLEEP ON IT Dear Editor: I have always wondered about the word pajamas. What is the history of this word? G. M. Springfield, Massachusetts Pajamas became established around 1800 as an English word. We borrowed it from Hindi, where it was formed from a combination of pa meaning “leg” and jama meaning “garment.” Pajamas originally described loose lightweight trousers worn by both men and women in some countries of Asia. The garment was brought back from India by the British, who popularized the use of pajamas for sleepwear. In England pajamas replaced the nightshirt for men’s sleepwear in the early 1900s, according to fashion historians, but they didn’t catch on in the U.S. until the 1920s. The pajama was to some extent abandoned by men during World War II, when they began to sleep in their undershorts in military barracks. Today we use the word pajamas to
describe comfortable loungewear, even some that is worn during the daytime. One citation in our files describes the arrival of a celebrity at an event wearing “slinky black charmeuse pajamas.”
MONEY MISCHIEF Dear Editor: What can you tell me about the phrase cook the books? I saw it recently in a magazine article about white-collar crime. K. M. Nashville, Tennessee Cook the books is a fairly old phrase meaning “to alter records so as to falsify them.” Books is a common word in business, referring to the ledgers in which financial information is recorded. This sense of cook dates back as far as the 17th century. A somewhat later example dates from 1751, when Tobias Smollett, in his novel The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, spoke of “some falsified printed accounts artfully cooked up, on purpose to mislead and deceive.” With stories about
insider trading and other forms of financial chicanery perennially appearing in the news, cook the books is a phrase that should be with us for a long time to come.
TAKING SIDES Dear Editor: I’m curious about the word sideburns. The side part makes sense, but why burns? S. R. Dunedin, Florida Side-whiskers, sidebars, sideboards or mutton chops, as they were variously called, were not an unusual sight in England or the U.S. in the mid-19th century. Such whiskers had been popularized in America just before the Civil War by the actor playing a character named Lord Dundreary in Our American Cousin (the play that Abraham Lincoln was watching at Ford’s Theater when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth). The facial hair had even begun to be called dundrearies when Ambrose Everett Burnside first appeared in the public eye as
leader of a regiment of Rhode Island Volunteers, sporting a glorious set of side-whiskers that swept downward and outward, flowing from jowl to jowl in a continuous path over his upper lip. As it turned out, it was not Burnside’s career as a Union general, as governor of Rhode Island or as a U.S. senator that was still bringing his name to people’s lips 50 years after his death, but the impression that those side-whiskers had made. Probably at first referred to as Burnside whiskers, then simply burnsides, it may well have been the presence of side in the name which contributed to its longevity. The fashion for conspicuous side-whiskers waned before the turn of the century, and by the time burnsides were considered quaint and old-fashioned, the two parts of the word had been transposed, and sideburns had become the name of choice for facial hair that grew in front of the ears.
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Published on Oct 23, 2013