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october 2013

25

discover your next great book

years

from

america’s book review

INSIDE: Elizabeth Gilbert • Stephen King • Bill Bryson • Malcolm Gladwell


paperback picks PENGUIN.COM

Fool Me Twice

Lover At Last

Mad River

MacNamara’s Woman

One girl is a teenage dose of pretty poison. The other is a movie starlet on the run from a violent past. These two cases collide in Paradise and Jesse Stone is trapped between them.

Qhuinn has finally found an identity as one of the most brutal fighters in the war against the Lessening Society. But as the battle over the race’s throne intensifies, he finally learns the true definition of courage, and two hearts who are meant to be together...finally become one.

A modern-day Bonnie and Clyde are on the run through rural Minnesota—victim by victim they’re having the time of their lives. But when Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers joins the hunt for the thrill-hungry kids, things take a shocking detour.

C. J. MacNamara knows that keeping Tamara Allistair safe is no easy task, but getting her to trust him is an entirely different challenge. As Tamara attempts to right a wrong ten years in the making, C.J. puts his own life on the line to protect the woman who is more worthy of love than anyone he’s ever known.

9780451418807 • $7.99

9780425261316 • $9.99

9780451465559 • $7.99

9780425261286 • $9.99

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist Aftermath

Autum Whispers

Mirror, Mirror

Lost City of the Templars

Sam Fisher and Fourth Echelon are charged with finding eccentric billionaire Igor Kasperov and presenting the American president’s offer for political asylum. Because there are others looking for Kasperov. And the only thing they will offer him is a swift death…

The D’Artigo sisters’ simple missing persons case rapidly devolves into a nightmare of debauchery, slavery, and corporate greed. Now, they must infiltrate and destroy an underground organization of influential men, led by the mysterious Lowestar Radcliff. But one misstep puts their whole operation and lives in peril.

Five bestselling authors spin versions of classic fairy tales that take them into a new dimension. You’ll recognize Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and other enduring characters, but they exist in realms where the familiar is transformed into the extraordinary and otherworldly.

Retired Army Ranger John Holliday and his crew uncover a 500-year-old society hidden in the cauldron of the Amazon. Descendants of the Templar Knights, they exist for one reason: to hide and protect the holy artifact taken from the original Temple of Jerusalem by the first Templars: the legendary Ark of the Covenant.

9780425266304 • $9.99

9780515152821 • $7.99

9780515154078 • $7.99

9780451238917 • $9.99

“An utterly compelling thriller…an absolutely riveting, absorbing read not to be missed.” —Lisa Unger, New York Times Bestselling Author of Heartbroken Elizabeth Hampton is consumed by grief when her mother dies unexpectedly. Leslie Hampton cared for Elizabeth’s troubled brother Ronnie’s special needs, assuming Elizabeth would take him in when the time came. But Leslie’s sudden death propels Elizabeth into a world of danger and double lives that undoes everything she thought she knew.... When police discover that Leslie was strangled, they immediately suspect that one of Ronnie’s outbursts took a tragic turn. Elizabeth can’t believe that her brother is capable of murder, but who else could have had a motive to kill their quiet, retired mother? NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY A Penguin Group (USA) Company

9780451417510 • $15


contents

October 2013 B o o k Pa g e . c o m

features

14

25 years of books

13 jennifer Dubois Celebrate the 25th anniversary of BookPage by looking back at some of our favorite moments.

The power of perception reigns in Cartwheel, inspired by Amanda Knox

16 Jill Lepore The untold story of Benjamin Franklin’s forgotten little sister

17 Alice Hoffman Meet the author of Survival Lessons

27 Nick Lake A quest for family in Hostage Three

28 Teen Read Week Tales to engage young adult readers

31 Dan Santat Meet the illustrator of Crankenstein

columns 04 04 05 06 08 10 10 11 12

Lifestyles Well read library reads Whodunit Romance Cooking The AUthor Enabler book clubs Audio

Find it on BookPage.com Visit our website for more on this year’s most engrossing fall fiction

Elizabeth Gilbert

reviews 18 Fiction

24 NonFiction

top pick:

top pick:

also reviewed:

also reviewed:

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

One Summer by Bill Bryson

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan Identical by Scott Turow Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen Half the Kingdom by Lore Segal The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt Doctor Sleep by Stephen King Longbourn by Jo Baker Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna Local Souls by Allan Gurganus

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell Jim Henson by Brian Jay Jones The Family by David Laskin Focus by Daniel Goleman Countdown by Alan Weisman The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester Levels of Life by Julian Barnes Keeping It Civil by Margaret Klaw

30 CHILDREN’S top pick:

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

also reviewed:

Flo & Wendell by William Wegman How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton The Real Boy by Anne Ursu The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes Atlantis Rising by T.A. Barron

“Now that, thankfully, my life has an even keel again, it really felt like it was time to go back to fiction, back to my heritage.”

Jo Baker

“I think Elizabeth probably had the best talent for friendship—but Lydia would be best for staggering home at 3 a.m. with. I do have a sneaking sympathy for Mary.”

Koren Zailckas

“It took me a long time (and a lot of therapy) to realize I wasn’t my mother, but at the end of the day, I still felt like I was missing the maternal handbook.”

Plus reviews of •

10

13

16

22

24

27

31

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• a m e r i c a’ s b o o k r e v i e w

And more! PUBLISHER

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

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 uiet Dell Q by Jayne Anne Phillips The Lion Seeker by Kenneth Bonert Actors Anonymous by James Franco The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon

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columns

lifestyles

well read

by joanna brichetto

by robert Weibezahl

A foodie A-to-Z guide If we told you that this book contains everything from “aamsul” to “zwieback,” with “kway teow” at the exact midpoint, would you be able to guess what it is about? Give up? Are you subliminally feeling your mouth start to water? Once you crack open the Fifth Edition of The New Food Lover’s Companion (Barron’s, $16.99, 928 pages, ISBN 9781438001630), you’ll be dashing to your nearest grocery store or international market to seek out that aamsul (a kiwi-size fruit used in curries) or find zwieback, a bread that is baked and then toasted until it gets just the right crispiness and palatability. Compilers Sharon Tyler

morale? How—for the sake of goodness, sanity and your family—will you ever learn to leave your work at the office? If the Martins had been around dispensing their wisdom in Slough or Scranton, there never would have been the dysfunctional workplaces we see in either uncomfortably hilarious version of “The Office.” As the 21st century accelerates through its first quarter, the personal and the professional have become more intertwined than ever before. Miss Manners is still there, right when we need her most, to help us negotiate a peaceable truce.

Top Pick in Lifestyles

Herbst and Ron Herbst have fulfilled the mission of Barron’s Educational Series, of which this volume is the latest addition. Beyond the comprehensive A-to-Z listings extends a 60page appendix filled with everything any foodie would ever need to know, from the “Boiling Point of Water at Various Altitudes” to two-page spreads explaining the retail cuts of beef, lamb, pork and veal. Buy the book and cross the bridge over the noodle kway teow.

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Office wisdom

4

The workplace is becoming a place where it’s taking more and more work just to make it through the day, to survive without making some possibly job-threatening faux pas. Miss Manners (aka Judith Martin) comes to the rescue! In Miss Manners Minds Your Business (Norton, $25.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9780393081367), Judith and her son Nicholas Ivor Martin—a successful business executive—painstakingly traverse 15 chapters of potential nightmares at the office, sharing and brilliantly answering hundreds of letters from perplexed workers at every level of the professional spectrum. How can you tell off your unreasonable boss without getting fired? How should you critique your employees without destroying their

The publisher Lonely Planet has a long track record of informing and enchanting travelers with guides that make it almost impossible to wait for the flight date. Now, the company has pulled out all the stops with 1000 Ultimate Adventures, a book that challenges the fundamentally fearless traveler to go that extra frequent-flyer mile, live the dream, take the risk and finally do that extremely exciting thing in that wildly remote place. The thematic organization of the book (ranging from “Scariest Animal Encounters” to “Hair-Raising Road Trips”) will appeal to the growing audience for those TV shows that reveal the natural world to be a place for bottomless danger, endless surprise and just the right backpack. Don’t want to drive down the narrow Troll’s Road in Norway, every moment inches away from toppling over the cliff? Well, the magnificent photograph of it (among dozens of such glories in the book) is the next best—and much safer—option for armchair travelers.

1000 Ultimate adventures Lonely Planet $22.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781743217191

travel

The adventures of Mark Twain, continued Is Mark Twain the most beloved of all American writers? It would be hard to say for sure, but one measure of readers’ abiding affection for Samuel L. Clemens is the astounding success of the first volume of his autobiography. Published in 2010, 100 years after his death as he stipulated, it leapt immediately onto bestseller lists—an impressive achievement for a weighty tome from a university press with nearly as many pages of explanatory notes as primary source material. Now, volume two of “The Complete and Authoritative Edition” of the Autobiography of Mark Twain has been compiled by the Mark Twain Project of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, the world’s largest archive of materials by the iconic writer. While the first covered a broader range of years—1870 to 1905—this book is more narrowly circumscribed between April 1906 and February 1907. Clemens had made many false starts at an autobiography through the years, but in January of ’06 he began almost daily dictations to stenographer Josephine S. Hobby with an eye toward preserving his story for posterity. As one might expect, these dictations do not comprise a straightforward, chronological account of the writer’s life, but are marked by the circuitous digressions, laced with sardonic humor, that make Clemens, well, Twain. There is plenty of reminiscence, to be sure, but there is an equal amount of commentary about political and social trends of the day. News events, such as the San Francisco earthquake, spark memories of Clemens’ colorful past (he was in the City by the Bay during an earlier trembler in 1865), and he writes of encounters with famous contemporaries from Bret Harte (“Harte owed me fifteen hundred dollars at that time; later he owed me three thousand. He offered me his note, but I was not keeping a museum, and did not take it.”) to Helen Keller (“the eighth wonder of the world”). He delights in knowing that a letter of General Grant’s sold at auction for “something short of eighteen dollars,” while one of his own sold for $43.

The riches are manifold. Who but Twain, for instance, could write a few thousand words on the supremacy of the housefly? On reporting an outbreak of simplified spelling in ancient Egypt, he claims, “The Simplifiers had risen in revolt against the hieroglyphics.” He spoofs such fads as phrenology and palm reading, and discourses on more serious subjects, too, such as the need for international copyright. In an entry near the close of this volume he declares, “Last week I started a club. The membership is limited to four men; its name is The Human Race. . . . Whenever the human race assembles to a number exceeding four, it cannot stand free speech.” This is vintage Twain—timeless, and still germane. And here he is “uncensored,” too, for he withheld the right to publish this material for a century precisely so that he could write unfettered. He was confident enough in his own genius (or at least his own opinions) to know that people would still want to read him 100 years on. (How many writers can hope for that?) Perhaps Mr. Clemens was being a bit disingenuous when he wrote, “From the beginning of time, philosophers of all breeds and shades have been beguiled by the persuasions of man’s bulkiest attribute, vanity, into believing that a human being can originate a thought in his own head. I suppose I am the only person who knows he can’t.” For there is no arguing that this American master originated many a thought that still reverberates today. And that’s why we still find him on the bestseller lists.

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2 By Mark Twain

Edited by Benjamin Griffin, Harriet Elinor Smith, et al. University of California Press $45, 776 pages ISBN 9780520272781

AUTOBIOGRAPHY


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 October.

#1

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion Simon & Schuster, $24, ISBN 9781476729084

When a regimented genetics professor gets involved with a free-spirited waitress, he learns that there’s no formula for love. BookPage review on page 18.

A Gift From One of Our Most Beloved Authors

ALICE HOFFMAN

2. Longbourn by Jo Baker

Knopf, $25.95, ISBN 9780385351232 Who knows the real Elizabeth Bennet? Her servants. In an inventive new novel, British writer Jo Baker offers a downstairs perspective on Pride and Prejudice. BookPage review on page 22.

“My hope is that Survival Lessons will reach the readers who need this book most, along with their friends and loved ones. It’s the book that I would have wanted to read during my most difficult times, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously while taking the need for hope and joy very seriously indeed.”

3. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Knopf, $27.95, ISBN 9780307265746 Two very different brothers face a turbulent era in a new novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Namesake. BookPage review on page 18.

4. Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois

Random House, $26, ISBN 9780812995862 The riveting second novel from a promising literary talent tells the story of an American exchange student accused of her roommate’s brutal murder. BookPage interview on page 13.

5. Hawthorn & child by Keith Ridgway

New Directions, $15.95, ISBN 9780811221665 This literary noir novel set in London—starring two unconventional detectives—will send readers to the furthest reaches of the imagination.

—ALICE HOFFMAN

6. The Stop by Nick Saul & Andrea Curtis

Melville House, $19.95, ISBN 9781612193496 Can changing attitudes toward food make lasting changes to a community? This provocative memoir says yes.

7. We Are Water by Wally Lamb

Harper, $29.99, ISBN 9780061941023 Wally Lamb returns with the story of two women whose marriage shakes the foundations of their respective families—and their small Connecticut town. On sale October 22.

8. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

9. The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly

Morrow, $25.99, ISBN 9780062069184 Husband and wife Franklin and Fennelly, both best-selling writers in their own right, team up for a compelling novel set in the aftermath of the epic 1927 Mississippi River flood.

—WILL SCHWALBE,

author of The End of Your Life Book Club

10. Hunting Season by Mirta Ojito

Beacon Press, $26.95, ISBN 9780807001813 After an undocumented Ecuadorean immigrant was shot in cold blood on a Long Island street, Ojito launched an exploration of the town’s attitudes toward race and the true effects of anti-immigration efforts. LibraryReads is a recommendation program that highlights librarians’ favorite books published this month. For more information, visit libraryreads.org.

Also available in audio and e-book formats.

A L G O N Q U I N

B O O K S

algonquin.com

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Little, Brown, $30, ISBN 9780316055437 The brilliant author of The Secret History and The Little Friend returns with an atmospheric story set in Manhattan’s legendary art world. On sale October 22.

“Survival Lessons is filled with love, insight, and lots of practical advice. I’ll be sharing this book widely, but keeping one copy permanently on my nightstand for all the times I’ll need its wisdom and warmth.”

5


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columns

Whodunit by Bruce Tierney

Leaphorn and Chee return Big shoes! Those are what Anne Hillerman has to fill in taking over for her father, the late best-selling writer Tony Hillerman, beloved by critics and readers alike for his iconic Navajo mysteries, which spanned a whopping 36 years. Longtime Hillerman (père) protagonists Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee are both on hand for Anne Hillerman’s debut novel, Spider Woman’s Daughter (Harper, $26.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780062270481), but the spotlight falls on Bernie Manuelito, Chee’s policewoman wife. Manuelito is at the scene when Leaphorn is shot in the head in the parking lot of a local restaurant. As she leans over the flagging Leaphorn, she makes him a promise: She will find the shooter and bring him to justice. As a witness to the shooting, she is immediately relieved of duty pending further notice. This will not stop her from keeping her promise, however—although she will have to stay under the radar to achieve that end. So seamless is the writing transition from father to daughter, it is easy to forget that one is reading Anne, not Tony. That said, Anne brings a welcome female perspective to the table, fleshing out several of the female supporting characters but never forgetting the importance of the two main players who define the series. Nicely done on every level.

007 is forever Big shoes, redux! Certainly the premier espionage franchise, either in book form or on the silver screen, has to be James Bond. For years, moviegoers have squabbled over the relative merits of Connery, Moore, Craig, et al., regarding their portrayals of the suave 007. Several luminaries have penned “continuation works” to Ian Fleming’s series— Robert Markham (a pseudonym for Kingsley Amis), Jeffery Deaver and John Gardner are just a few—some hewing closer to the original than others. The latest writer to take on this daunting task is William Boyd, the Whitbread Award-winning author of A Good Man in Africa. Solo (Harper, $26.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780062223128) is set in 1969 on the eve of Bond’s 45th birthday. The title

refers to Bond’s going off the radar on a mission of his own choosing, a deadly tri-continental undertaking, consequences be damned. Naturally, given Bond’s reputation, there is a woman at hand, and then another, although perhaps not the sort of overwrought creations one might have expected from Fleming. Boyd’s Bond is altogether darker and more introspective than Fleming’s, and more cerebral than physical. There are no Aston Martins with flamethrowers, no rocket trips to the farthest reaches of Earth’s atmosphere, just a straight-up spy story that brings new maturity to an old favorite.

AN ABSENCE IN ICELAND Arnaldur Indridason’s Black Skies (Minotaur, $25.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9781250000392) may well be the most complicated book I have ever tried to review. For starters, Inspector Erlendur is still on hiatus—never mind that he was the main character in the first six books in this series—and his presence hovers over the story like some brooding ghost. He was also M.I.A. in the previous installment, Outrage, in which the investigation was led by his colleague, Detective Elínborg, and I’m sure many devoted readers assumed she was being groomed by Indridason as Erlendur’s replacement. Not so fast, though: This time out, the spotlight is on Sigurdur Óli, who is at a parallel level to Elínborg, although by no means her equal. To further complicate matters, the timeframe of Outrage is the same as that of Black Skies, so there is inevitably some narrative overlap between the two, not the least of which concerns Erlendur’s curious absence from center stage. Then there is the storyline, which morphs from a sex scandal to a murder to the high-level (and highly questionable) banking practices that precipitated Iceland’s financial debacle a few years back.

Complex? Yes, indeed. Confusing? Not at all. Indridason weaves an intricate tapestry and demands attention from the reader, but the payoff is well worth the effort.

TOP PICK IN MYSTERY It’s 1915. World War I has been under way since the previous year, but America has thus far avoided the fray. As Robert Olen Butler’s The Star of Istanbul opens, war-correspondent-turned-spy Christopher Marlowe Cobb boards an ocean liner in New York, bound for Liverpool. The name of the ship: ­Lusitania. History buffs know the ship never made it to its destination; it was torpedoed by German U-boats off the coast of Ireland, and some 1,200 lives were lost. The incident is credited with hastening America’s entrance into the war. Cobb has been tasked with shadowing Walter Brauer, a suspected German spy. Complicating matters is Cobb’s intense attraction to another fellow passenger, actress Selene Bourgani, who may be a German agent, too. The action finds the three main players dancing their way across the vast European stage from London to Istanbul. This will be no simple matter for Cobb, as the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey) has taken up with the Germans, and there is no safe haven to be found there for Allied spies. The Star of Istanbul has it all: history galore, exotic foreign settings, a world-weary yet engaging protagonist, villains in abundance and a romance worthy of Bogart and Bergman.

THE STAR OF ISTANBUL By Robert Olen Butler

Mysterious Press $25, 368 pages ISBN 9780802121554 Audio, eBook available

THRILLER


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columns

From Simply Irresistible New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

RACHEL GIBSON Rachel Gibson returns to Texas with a tale of what happens when a tough guy meets his match…RUN TO YOU

NEW in the Military Men Series!

“Sexual tension so hot your palms will sweat.”

Shannon McKenna pairs gripping action with sizzling romance in Fatal Strike (Kensington, $15, 400 pages, ISBN 9780758273499). Following a run-in with an evil man, former computer geek Miles Davenport possesses new physical and psychic abilities that he finds torturous—especially the one that has him dreaming of Lara Kirk in such vivid detail. Lara—held by a twisted group who’ve poisoned her in an attempt to enhance her paranormal abilities—finds comfort in this virile man of her dreams, who may or may not be real. Though Miles thought

A red-hot new romance between a reluctant vampire and the beauty who needs his help…

ONE LUCKY VAMPIRE

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AN

8

ARGENEAU

NOVEL

LUCK BE A VAMPIRE TONIGHT. . . AND EVERY NIGHT! “A wickedly delicious romp— inventive, sexy, and fun.” —Angela Knight, USA Today bestselling author

W W W. LY N S A Y S A N D S . N E T

Visit us on Facebook and Twitter Also available as eBooks. Check out AvonImpulse.com for exciting digital-first publications.

Win free prizes, get exclusive content, and more — scan with a QR App now! Or text AVON to READIT (732348)

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been good to her. But Jake is driven to convince her he’s different. After confiding in Nicole about his immortality and his certainty about the passion they can share, Jake begins to rethink what makes a “monster.” When things get even more dangerous, Jake’s family rallies to the couple’s defense, offering the perfect opportunity for reconciliation. But what about the murderer, who’s watching and waiting? A paranormal pleaser.

Top pick in romance

www.RachelGibson.com

LYNSAY SANDS

b y c h r i s t i e r i d g way

Passion on the run

—Booklist

F R O M N E W YO R K T I M E S A N D U S A TO DAY B E S T S E L L I N G AU T H O R

romance

Lara was dead, new evidence sends him out to find the beautiful woman. Using his newfound mental and physical strengths, Miles rescues Lara, and they discover that their connection while awake is just as heated as the one they experienced in their dreams. With powerful enemies in pursuit, Miles and Lara must save themselves and their burgeoning love. A steamy, suspenseful story with an unexpected alpha hero who’ll melt readers’ hearts.

Lucky in love A man reunites with his estranged family and finds forever love in One Lucky Vampire (Avon, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780062078148) by Lynsay Sands. On his 18th birthday, Jake Colson got the shock of his life when he learned that his family members are blood-sucking immortals. Despite his love for them, Jake can’t help but see them as monsters—and himself as one when, years later, he is involuntarily turned. Jake retreats from his relatives to come to grips with his new identity, but responds to an old friend’s request when dire accidents befall artist Nicole Phillips. Undercover as her cook/ housekeeper, Jake moves into Nicole’s house to act as her bodyguard. Though attracted to the hunky guy in her kitchen, almost-divorced Nicole is wary—men have never

Duke of Midnight—the latest in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Georgian-era Maiden Lane series—is a sensual tale of forbidden love. Artemis Greaves is a lady’s companion, staying in the background while her cousin is courted by the powerful Maximus Batten, Duke of Wakefield. Artemis discovers another side of the autocratic man when she recognizes him as the legendary Ghost of St. Giles, who saves her from harm. After the rescue, the duke is drawn to Artemis, and suddenly he sees beneath her drab clothes to the vibrant woman beneath—vibrant enough to blackmail him! Desperate to save her twin brother—committed to Bedlam for madness and murders he claims he didn’t do—Artemis threatens to reveal the duke’s secret identity unless he sets her brother free. Fascinated by her boldness, Maximus finds himself in love with her—and she with him—though her family’s rumored mental instability precludes him from making her his wife. When they encounter mortal danger, priorities shift—but will they stay alive to savor their love? Plenty of action and intriguing mystery make this a page-turner.

Duke of Midnight By Elizabeth Hoyt

Grand Central $8, 400 pages ISBN 9781455508341 Audio, eBook available

HISTORICAL ROMANCE


TEATIME for the FIREFLY SHONA PATE L

delivers a poignant debut that book clubs will be discussing long after the last page is turned.

Despite being born under an unlucky star, Layla Roy manipulates the hand fortune dealt her and finds love with Manik Deb. But their colonial society is at a tipping point, and even Layla’s remote home is not safe from the incendiary change sweeping India on the heels of the Second World War.

“With lyrical prose and exquisite detail, Shona Patel’s novel brings to life the rich and rugged landscape of India’s tea plantations, harboring a sweet love story at its core.”

—Shilpi Somaya Gowda, New York Times bestselling author of Secret Daughter

Available now.


columns A venerable vegetarian Mollie Katzen is not only the High Priestess of plant-based cuisine, she’s also an early pioneer, proud proponent, practitioner and author of a dozen cookbooks that provide appealing alternatives to traditional meat and potatoes, including her trailblazing, mind-changing Moosewood Cookbook (1977). Her latest, The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation (Rux Martin/HMH, $34.99, 464 pages, ISBN 9780547571591), is a latterday Moosewood, livelier and lighter, sharper and spicier, showcasing her expanded repertoire and simplified approach. In addition to the usual course categories, there’s a brilliant array of “burgers,” like crunchy Mushroom-Barley-Cashew Burgers, and savory “cozy mashes”—think

beets, celery root, peas and more— that can stand alone or ornament other creations. Try custardy Mushroom Popover Pie for a weekday dinner, or Curried Cauliflower Stew with crisp Onion Pakoras for a party. Every recipe is introduced with Mollie’s infectious enthusiasm and followed by “Optional Enhancements” that offer intriguing improv options.

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Pasta—the real deal

10

There’s never been a shortage of cookbooks claiming to unlock the secrets of real Italian cooking. Most don’t, and anyone who’s savored a plate of pasta in Italy knows that what we make here, in restaurants and at home, just doesn’t taste as good. With the publication of Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way (Norton, $35, 400 pages, ISBN 9780393082432) that sad state of affairs has been remedied. Oretta Zanini De Vita, a renowned Italian food historian and pasta authority, and Maureen B. Fant, an American who’s lived and cooked in Rome for more than 30 years, have teamed up to give us 150 recipes written by and for Italians but adapted for American expectations (more measurements, more detailed instructions). There’s a glorious selection of

THE author enabler

cooking

b y s y b i l P RATT

sauces and soups with suggestions for the pasta shapes— some familiar, some not—that go best with them, recipes for making pasta from scratch and, most importantly, advice on approaching pasta as Italians approach this most-loved food that is “synonymous with family, hearth and home.”

Top pick in cookbooks Ottolenghi: The Cookbook is gorgeous, fabulous and filled with recipes that will make even the most jaded cook jump for culinary joy. Acclaimed London restaurateurs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem won this year’s coveted IACP award for Cookbook of the Year, causing an outbreak of “Jerusalem fever”—people compulsively, and happily, cooking dish after dish and throwing lots of Jerusalem dinners. So I predict that Ottolenghi —actually their first book, never before published in the U.S.—will stir up another rapturous feeding frenzy. Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s unique realm of flavor is sunny, colorful, zesty and bold, appreciably Middle Eastern, with Mediterranean and Californian influences and universal appeal. They keep prep unfussy and simple. They want you to have fun with their food and, most of all, they want you to say “wow!” And it’s hard not to when you taste something as simple and exciting as Grilled Broccoli with Chile and Garlic, as satisfying as Beef and Lamb Meatballs Baked in Tahini, as heady as Harissa-Marinated Chicken with Red Grapefruit Salad, as decadently rich as Khalid’s Chocolate and Chestnut Bars. “Wow!” is the best description of the whole book.

Ottolenghi By Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Ten Speed $35, 304 pages ISBN 9781607744184 eBook available

MIDDLE EASTERN

by Sam Barry

Practical advice on writing & publishing for aspiring authors

Self-Publishing Options Dear Author Enabler, What is your opinion of selfpublishing through Amazon.com? I have heard good things about it and really nothing bad, but few things in life are all good. What do you think? I have never written or published a book before, but I am ready to give it a try. Joyce Panucci Charleston, West Virginia Self-publishing is somewhat complicated. There are several models, and the one you choose depends on your goals for the book, your energy and your finances. One upside to Amazon’s selfpublishing program, CreateSpace, is that books are printed only when they are ordered; this is called print on demand (POD), and it means you are not required to buy a truckload of books up front that might wind up filling your garage. Keep in mind, though, that CreateSpace is a subsidy press, which means that they will take a cut. There are other choices, of course. Lightning Source is one that many experienced self-publishers use, and a newer entry is IngramSpark. Both are reputable and produce quality books. There are similarities and differences between them, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Don’t jump on the CreateSpace bandwagon until you have taken the time to compare at least these three choices side by side. You might also consider going the traditional route—which means first getting an agent (a task in itself) who will find a publisher for your book, or approaching a publisher directly with your work. It is no small feat to successfully publish your own book. Much of the hardest work comes after the book is written, designed and printed (or available as an eBook): including marketing, publicity, distribution and sales. It’s a ton of work, and you need to think about whether self-publishing is the best way to go. Publishers have systems in place and experienced professionals for all of these tasks. And although publishing with Amazon would mean that you are with the biggest book retailer out there, millions of books are currently available

on Amazon— with more added every day. What will make yours stand out? And how will your book get into bookstores or other retailers who may not be very fond of Amazon? I strongly recommend doing a significant amount of research before settling on a plan. Good luck.

The Second Step Dear Author Enabler, I have a question about publishing a book. I wrote a novel, but I have no clue of what to do next. Please, I need help. Mila Soucy Mayfield, New York Congratulations on your manuscript! Take yourself to dinner! In Paris! Or closer to home. I don’t think that you should immediately start submitting your work to agents, though; you and your novel are not ready for that step. The best thing you can do is to find a writing colleague or get into a writing group with some other aspiring writers who will give you positive, truthful feedback. Another option is to attend a creative writing class and share your work there. A first draft is just that—it needs shaping and editing, which should be your next step.

NaNoWriMo Get ready because November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, in which thousands of people will produce a novel in one month’s time. Some people will band together and write with other NaNoWriMo participants. Some will write alone. But everyone will write their brains out, and there will be a fabulous online community offering support along the way. The goal is to write at least 50,000 words of fiction by midnight, November 30. Participants can upload their novel for official verification, get added to the NaNoWriMo Winner’s Page and receive a certificate. But the main thing is to have participated in a wild and zany creative adventure—and to have completed a novel. Visit nanowrimo.org to learn more. Send your questions about writing and publishing to authorenablers@gmail.com.


book clubs by julie hale

New paperback releases for reading groups

ONE boy’s revenge Set on a fictional Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, Louise Erdrich’s chilling novel, The Round House (Harper Perennial, $15.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9780062065254), focuses on a Native American boy’s efforts to make sense of the world after a brutal crime. Joe is 13 when his mother, Geraldine, is raped near a sacred structure—the round house of the book’s title. The main suspect is white. When questions involving tribal courts and the prosecution of non-Natives complicate the legal proceedings, Joe seeks justice himself. Now an adult, he recounts this remarkable story after the fact,

ties and little victories that come with raising an outsidethe-norm kid. Further enriching the narrative is the author’s own story. Solomon, who is dyslexic, says his condition posed no problems for his openminded parents. It was his gayness that proved a challenge—for them and for him. This is a big-hearted book about the process of parenting, the meaning of personal identity and the nature of love. Because of the narrative’s length and complexity, reading groups should consider extending their reading and/or discussion time for the book.

Top pick for book clubs

revisiting a turning point in his adolescence. With his girl-obsessed buddies, Joe goes on adventurous bike rides, plays the sleuth in hopes of finding his mother’s attacker and spends time with eccentric Ojibwe elders. Native American traditions contrast sharply with contemporary events, just one of many contradictions Joe struggles to reconcile. Winner of the National Book Award, this tightly plotted novel offers numerous discussion topics, including questions about gender, race and justice. Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (Scribner, $21.50, 976 pages, ISBN 9780743236720), by National Book Award-winning author Andrew Solomon, is a groundbreaking exploration of parenthood and its attendant complexities. Solomon put 10 years of work into this expansive book, focusing on families with children who are “exceptional”—who suffer from autism, Down syndrome or schizophrenia, who are transgender or child prodigies, or even criminals. The results make for fascinating reading, as Solomon shares their experiences—the day-to-day difficul-

This Is How You Lose Her By Junot Díaz

Riverhead $16, 240 pages ISBN 9781594631771

SHORT STORIES

New in New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells Series “Bestseller Cabot neatly blends crime, humor, and a touch of romance in her fifth Heather Wells whodunit...” —Publishers Weekly

An exploration of the intricacies of love, friendship, and parenthood by Kathleen McCleary, author of A Simple Thing “This tangled web of deception in marriage and friendship will haunt readers.” —Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Comfort of Lies and The Murderer’s Daughters

The heartwarming and provocative sequel to Diane Hammond’s Hannah’s Dream “Diane Hammond writes with heart, compassion, and humor.” —Terry Gamble, author of Good Family

A giddy adventure for grown-ups, from the New York Times bestselling author of the Fancy Nancy series   “O’Connor, a veteran children’s book author…proves she can also please adults with a fresh, grammatically correct crime solver equally adept at deleting dangling participles and exposing psychotic killers.” —Publishers Weekly

PERFECT FOR BOOK CLUBS @WilliamMorrowPB

@bookclubgirl

William Morrow Paperbacks

Book Club Girl

r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m

Branching out

Acclaimed author Junot Díaz returns with This Is How You Lose Her, a terrific short story collection that focuses on an inexhaustible topic: love. Featuring Yunior, an über-dude from the Dominican Republic, whom fans will recognize from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the collection explores the ways in which love influences the contemporary male. In “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars,” Yunior’s girlfriend, Magda, leaves him after she learns of his unfaithfulness through a letter. “Miss Lora” features a teenage Yunior who’s awakening to sex and who reflects on his difficult father and macho brother and the ways in which he resembles both. “The Cheater’s Guide to Love” finds Yunior settled in Boston, writing books and recovering from yet another breakup. In these electrifying stories, Díaz also explores the immigrant experience with spot-on insight. This exhilarating collection was nominated for the National Book Award, and it’s easy to see why.

New in Paperback

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A gripping new Forensic Instincts novel from New York Times bestselling author

columns

audio by sukey howard

Louise at her best IT BEGINS WITH A CHILLING PHONE CALL… AND ENDS WITH ANOTHER GIRL DEAD. “Andrea Kane burst onto the thriller scene with the force of a wrecking ball. The Stranger You Know now establishes her as one of the very best.” —Michael Palmer, New York Times bestselling author

“Old sins cast long shadows,” but Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté de Québec knows how to cut through the darkness and he does just that in How the Light Gets In (Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 15 hours, ISBN 9781427233011), Louise Penny’s satisfying, suspenseful ninth Gamache novel. I’m hooked on this series and on the wise, intrepid Inspector, the agents he works with and the wonderfully conceived oddball inhabitants of Three Pines, the secluded village that has featured so prominently in most of these novels. Life has become grim for Gamache; his highly-thought-of homicide department has been wrecked by

shapely Girl Friday. Cormoran Strike, said P.I., who lost a leg in Afghanistan, is down on his luck when the brother of an old schoolmate asks him to investigate the death of his sister, Lula, a gorgeous supermodel high atop the celebrity hierarchy and plagued by paparazzi. Suicide or murder? By the time you find out, you’ll be as involved with Cormoran as he is with Lula and her possible killers. And Robert Glenister’s virtuoso performance gives Rowling’s players an extra dimension. Sequel, please!

Top pick in audio

his Chief Superintendent, who wants him out, and his beloved second-in-command has turned on him, succumbing to drug abuse. But Gamache soldiers on, battling deepseated corruption in the highest echelons of Québec’s government and solving the strange murder of the last of the famed Ouellet quintuplets (think of the Dionnes). Ralph Cosham narrates again, his voice now truly Gamache’s and his pace perfectly matched to Penny’s graceful prose.

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A new gumshoe

12

On sale now! Also available for the first time in paperback!

The cat’s out of the bag and won’t go back in—Robert Galbraith, whose debut mystery, The Cuckoo’s Calling (Hachette Audio, $40, 16 hours, ISBN 9781478980827), got excellent reviews when it came out this spring, is not a promising new kid on the block: “He” is J.K. Rowling, the mega-selling author of the Harry Potter books. So it’s hard to listen to this well-written, tautly plotted crime novel, full of vivid characters with great backstories, set in posh, moneyed London, without looking for hints of Harry and Hogwarts. But, aside from the hero’s vague resemblance to the powerfully built Hagrid, Rowling proves herself a master of a new genre, creating a tough-tender, viscerally smart, Chandler/Hammett-esque private eye with a seedy office and a clever,

Anapestic tetrameter is not a rare disease. It’s that cozy, singsong verse form we all know from “The Night Before Christmas.” David Rakoff’s posthumously published novel (both his first and his last), Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, written in anapestic tetrameter, will alter that “cozy” perception forever. If you were reading the book, you’d find yourself reading aloud to get the meter right and to revel in Rakoff’s slyly brilliant rhymes—but in this amazing audio, the author reads himself. His voice is scratchy and illness-worn (he succumbed to cancer days after he finished recording), but his expressive, wryly humorous style, so familiar to his “This American Life” audience, is as wonderful as always. Starting in the 1920s and hopscotching through time to the present, Rakoff creates vignettes of oddly linked characters drawn in the quick, vibrant strokes that poetry allows. He’s witty, smart, an extraordinary dissector of the human condition in all its refracted angles and a bittersweet joy to listen to. This is an audiobook to savor and to share.

LOVE, DISHONOR, MARRY, DIE, CHERISH, PERISH By David Rakoff

Random House Audio $20, 2.5 hours ISBN 9780385392907

VERSE NOVEL


interviews

jENNIFER DUBOIS by alden mudge

J

© laurence kim

Lost innocence, abroad ennifer duBois is concerned that some readers of her stunning new novel, Cartwheel, might think the book is somehow factual since the themes of the novel were “loosely inspired” by the Amanda Knox story. gion and, I think, a kind of cultural misapprehension as well.” So Cartwheel is at least in part an exploration of how the stories we tell ourselves to explain the world are shaped. The novel unfolds through multiple, shifting points of view. At one extreme is Lily’s father, who, duBois observes, “has this image of Lily as one in a long line of innocent, persecuted young women, the next victim of a witch hunt-like hysteria.” And at the other extreme is Eduardo Campos, the emotionally and morally complex prosecutor, who “sees Lily in the context of a long line of murderous American arrogance.” And of course Lily, a mixture of naive confidence and insecurity, has her own story about what motivates her. “Lily believes her “People motivations seemed to be good,” duBois explains. to look at “She looks at this young her behavior as woman and the tip of this ulthis case and timately benign iceberg that see very, very means well and different wishes no harm and can’t quite things.” grasp that other people don’t see this. I think that’s something everybody always struggles with. We’re always the most sympathetic audience for ourselves because we know all the mitigating variables.��� What makes Cartwheel so psychologically fraught—a reader will not want to put the book down because the story is so gripping, but will find it necessary to put it down because the interactions among the characters are often so intense—is that duBois leaves enough room for doubt that, she reports, early readers are divided in their beliefs about Lily’s innocence or guilt. “One thing I wanted to gesture toward,” duBois says, “is that each individual contains, certainly not the capacity for murder, but a capacity for some kind of callousness or brutality. Even if she were innocent that doesn’t mean Lily doesn’t contain any capacity for wrongdoing. Something I always think about

when somebody commits a crime and they go back into their past and find some small brutality or something is that only in retrospect would this appear to be a horrifying prophecy or omen. It’s interesting to me how people read reality into things.” One of the most interesting readers of the novel’s reality, a character who demonstrates both how far the novel is from the Amanda Knox case and duBois’ enviable capacity for insight, invention and wit, is Lily’s almost-boyfriend Sebastien LeCompte. A brilliant 20-something who has come home to live as a recluse in the house next to Lily’s host family after his wealthy parents die under mysterious circumstances, Sebastien is preposterous, sardonic, funny and sad, and he embodies a kind of critique of how we talk meaningfully about important things. “I think Sebastien was the emotional access point to the novel for me because he was the character I came to be most fond of,” duBois says. “Obviously he is a very wounded and a very lonely, lonely person. And obviously the incredibly maddening half-ambiguity in everything he says is a defense against that. “One reason I was interested in him is that I think somewhere along the line we have become uncomfortable with sincerity. My generation—Millennials—are very comfortable with our vernacular: sarcasm, verbal irony, always saying sort of the opposite of what we mean, which ultimately translates as sincerity because it’s just the inverse. I liked the idea of a character who occupies this hazy middle ground, where people can’t quite take what he says seriously but also can’t just reverse it. I liked the comic

potential of that and also, ultimately, the tragic potential.” DuBois says she thinks her two novels are similar only in that “both books have intellectual and philosophical questions at their center, and I hope those questions are instantiated in characters that feel alive and real and the questions feel not just abstract or silly or cerebral but urgent.” Cartwheel does indeed move with a sense of urgency. It’s a novel that a reader will be eager, perhaps even desperate, to discuss with other readers.

Cartwheel

By Jennifer duBois

r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m

“I’ve noticed that people are sometimes very suspicious of the notion of fiction,” duBois says during a call that reaches her in Orem, Utah, where she is visiting her husband’s family. DuBois, who is 29, and her husband, novelist Justin Perry, met in a writing workshop at Stanford, where both were Stegner Fellows, married almost exactly one year ago, and recently moved to Austin, where she teaches creative writing. “With my first novel [the widely and deservedly praised A Partial History of Lost Causes], because of its female first-person narrator, the first question I was always asked was how much of it is autobiographical. In this case, it’s a famous news story, so there are a lot of questions.” But in fact, Cartwheel shares only the most basic outline with the story of Amanda Knox, the real-life American student who was tried in Italy for the murder of her roommate. In duBois’ novel, Lily Hayes comes to Buenos Aires for a semester abroad and little more than a month later is arrested for the brutal murder of her roommate Katy Kellers, a college student from Los Angeles. “I wanted to explore some of the broad issues I saw in the Amanda Knox case,” duBois says, “so Lily Hayes is indeed a conventionally attractive, privileged young woman in a country that she sort of understands but maybe doesn’t totally understand. Beyond that, in all the dialogue, in every scene, nothing at all corresponds to the reality.” What most interested duBois about the case was that “people seemed to look at this young woman and this case and see very, very different things—but with similar levels of intensity. So some would say, oh, absolutely that girl did it, there’s something really wrong with her, you can just tell. Then you’d hear others say she was railroaded, it’s ridiculous, there’s no way she did it. And I realized that these reactions and the certainty with which people were feeling them were influenced and inflected by broader issues. This case unfolded at the nexus of a lot of countervailing factors, in terms of class and race and gender and reli-

literary fiction

13

Random House, $26, 384 pages ISBN 9780812995862, audio, eBook available


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1988

BookPage is founded in Nashville by book industry veteran Michael Zibart. The first subscribers are 100 independent bookstores, located mainly in the Southeast, and Books-A-Million (still our largest subscriber). The inaugural issue in October features an interview with author Ferrol Sams and reviews of The Floatplane Notebooks by Clyde Edgerton, The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez.

London, 1867 I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.

1994

The first-ever hand­ written Meet the Author Q&A appears in the February issue, featuring Benjamin Cheever, author of The Partisan. Asked to name his most aggravating habit, Cheever replies, “Apologizing. I’m so, so sorry.”

In tracing the moment

1995

where my life transformed

BookPage.com is launched with this plug in the July issue: “For those of you crazed with World Wide Web fever, don’t miss stopping by BookPage Online Web.” Today, our online archive contains reviews and features of more than 10,000 books.

from serenity to horror, twisting the natural into the unspeakable, I find myself seated in

1999

The first Meet the Illustrator Q&A appears in the May issue, featuring Hilary Knight (The Absolutely Essential Eloise). Knight’s message for children? “Drop that mouse! And open up the pages of a glorious book you love. You can’t love a computer.”

the parlor of our small terraced home near Hyde Park, observing the frayed edges of

2007

2009

Our blog, The Book Case, is launched with a post about Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith. Thousands of readers now view the blog each week for insights on new and upcoming books.

2013

BookPage marks its 25th anniversary with more than 2,600 subscribing libraries and bookstores in 48 states, and a total circulation of more than 400,000 copies.

the hearth rug...

“Great fun...

Boyne keeps up a constant barrage of surprises and the pace is terrific.”

—The Times, UK

“Classic storytelling

“A ripping yarn, very readable and highly entertaining.”

—Irish Times

“A superior ghost story

…A highly original, entertaining journey that, like all great ghost stories, saves its most unexpected twist for the very end.”

…truly spine-tingling.”

—Sunday Independent

—mail on Sunday

other press

otherpress.com

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BookPageXTRA, the first of our four e-newsletters, debuts. More than 30,000 devoted readers currently receive one or more email newsletters from BookPage. (Are you one of these lucky readers? If not, you can sign up on our website.)

15


q&a

Jill lepore by amy scribner

W

e learn about Benjamin Franklin—the very epitome of an American—from kindergarten onward. But history has forgotten the women who shaped his life, including his youngest sister.

In the remarkable Book of Ages, Harvard professor and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore examines the life of Jane Franklin Mecom. Largely uneducated, poor, married to a man who likely suffered from mental illness, “Jenny” nonetheless remained close with her famous brother throughout their lives. “Benjamin Franklin’s life entered the annals of history; lives like his sister’s became the subject of fiction,” Lepore writes. “Histories of great men, novels of little women.” Lepore answered our questions on how she brought to life this unknown but influential woman—and why she wanted to shine a light on what it was like to be a woman in the 18th century. The scant paper trail for Jane Franklin Mecom nearly caused you

to abandon this project. Why did you persevere? I abandoned the book partly because the paper trail was less a trail than a broken twig every 500 yards or so and partly because it always led to a place of misery. There were 17 Franklin children. Benjamin was the youngest of 10 boys, Jane the youngest of seven girls. Benny and Jenny, they were called, when they were little. You want, in a story about people who start life almost like twins, for them to someday trade places. The Prince and the Pauper. A Tale of Two Cities. Jane and Benjamin Franklin never trade places. Narratively, that drove me nuts. But then I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about Jane—it’s called “Poor Jane’s Almanac”—and the response I got from readers knocked me out: They want-

BENEFIT

DETOXED THOUGHT LIFE

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FROM A

16

DARI Michele

In search of Ben Franklin’s forgotten sister

Supported by current scientific and medical research, Dr. Caroline Leaf gives you a prescription for better health and wholeness through correct thinking patterns.

SEE DR. LEAF’S NEW TV SHOW AIRING ON TBN!

Available wherever books and ebooks are sold. FB ReadBakerBooks • TT @ReadBakerBooks

ed to know, they begged, When is the book coming out? And what they loved—what they wanted to read more about—was the sorrow. Who knew. So I trudged back into the woods, and let myself get lost in the misery. The writing in Book of Ages is almost poetic. Which was harder: researching or writing? The writing, because I wanted to do right by her—I wanted the storytelling to be worthy of her story—and that was daunting. Jane Franklin never went to school. She never learned to spell. But she loved reading, and she loved books. I wanted to write something that found the words she fumbled for. Jane was a wife and mother who never had formal schooling. Her brother Benjamin became wealthy and famous, while Jane’s husband was thrown into debtors’ prison. What do you think made these siblings so close despite their very different lives?  She was the anchor to his past. He was her port to the world. Benjamin wrote to his sister when she was 14—and he hadn’t seen her for three years—to say he’d heard she was “a celebrated beauty.” There are no portraits of Jane. What is it like to write about someone whom you can’t picture? Did it matter to you? It killed me. It’s not only that there’s no portrait but also that no one ever describes her, except for this one throwaway “celebrated beauty” business, and it’s hard to know how to take that. (Franklin teased her all the time.) In “The Prodigal Daughter,” a New Yorker article I wrote about the writing of the book, I tell the story about how, when I went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to look at a mourning ring that Jane once owned, I slipped it on, when no one was looking. It was so tiny. It barely fit on my pinky. I thought, “She must have been so small.” You write that Edward Mecom, Jane’s husband, was either a bad man or a mad man. Which do you think he was? I expect he was a lunatic. Two

of their sons went violently mad and Jane makes all kinds of vague remarks that, to me, suggest that whatever was wrong with them was wrong with her husband, too. Madness doesn’t often survive in the archives, though. People will do just about anything to destroy evidence of insanity. Geraldine Brooks has written about your book that Jane “was trapped by gender, starved of education.” What do you think Jane could have been in another era? I am a huge fan of science fiction that involves time travel but, as a scholar of history, I believe that we can never know what people would be like in an era other than their own. We live in a place in time; we can’t be unmade.

Book of Ages

By Jill Lepore

Knopf, $27.95, 464 pages ISBN 9780307958341, eBook available

biography


meet  ALICE HOFFMAN

the title of your new book? Q: What’s 

would you describe the book Q: How  in one sentence?

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

Q: What is the most important piece of advice you wanted to share?

readers to “choose something new.” What one new Q: Ything  ou advise would you most like to learn?

 Q: If you knew this was your last day on Earth, what would you do with it?

Q: W  ords to live by?

Alice Hoffman’s long and successful writing career has produced 21 novels (including Practical Magic, Here on Earth and The Dovekeepers), eight children’s books and three short story collections. Her first work of nonfiction is Survival Lessons (Algonquin, $13.95, 96 pages, ISBN 9781616203146), a guide to finding beauty during difficult times. Hoffman, a breast cancer survivor, describes her latest effort as “the most personal book I’ve ever written.”

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SURVIVAL LESSONS

17


reviews The Lowland

fiction

A tale of two brothers Review By Harvey freedenberg

It’s been five years since the publication of Jhumpa Lahiri’s last short story collection, Unaccustomed Earth, and 10 since the release of her only novel, The Namesake. Thus, it’s understandable that expectations for her second novel are high. The Lowland, an intricately plotted, melancholy family drama that plays out over half a century in India and America, will more than reward readers’ patience. Most of the novel’s Indian action takes place in an enclave of Calcutta called Tollygunge. From the first scene, when adolescent brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra steal onto the grounds of the exclusive Tolly Club, their sharply different personalities emerge. By the time they reach their mid-20s, in the late 1960s, the brothers, separated by only 15 months, are launched irrevocably on divergent paths. Udayan, the younger, joins a Marxist-Leninist political movement called the Naxalites, while Subhash moves to Rhode Island to attend graduate school. By Jhumpa Lahiri When Udayan’s marriage to the alluring and intellectually restless Knopf, $27.95, 352 pages Gauri ends abruptly, the young woman marries Subhash and returns ISBN 9780307265746, audio, eBook available with him to the United States. Though the novel periodically revisits India, both in real time and in memory, much of the drama thereafter LITERARY FICTION focuses on the unremitting tension that surrounds Subhash and Gauri’s attempt to adapt both to a marriage neither ever intended and to life in a foreign land, even as they raise a daughter, Bela, amid the shadows of their past. From her earliest short stories, Lahiri has distinguished herself as a crafter of elegant, gently understated prose, a quality that marks this novel as well. In this work, as in her previous ones, she also displays her mastery of pacing. Whether she’s describing a confrontation between Udayan and the Indian police, or an equally devastating emotional encounter between Gauri and her adult daughter, Lahiri has an unerring knack for meshing dialogue, penetrating glimpses into the consciousness of her characters and precisely observed detail to create scenes of powerful drama. That exquisite control occasionally leaves one wishing for more rather than wondering, as often is the case with lesser writers, why the author has lingered over a scene too long. The Lowland has been longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. It’s a deserving candidate, but in truth no prize is required to validate the achievement of a work whose beauty and pathos will reside in memory long after it has been read.

The Signature of All Things

r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m

By Elizabeth Gilbert

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Viking $28.95, 512 pages ISBN 9780670024858 Audio, eBook available

HISTORICAL FICTION

Before Eat, Pray, Love was an international sensation and a Julia Roberts flick; before Committed was a number-one bestseller; before she was a household name (at least in the literary world), Elizabeth Gilbert was a respected novelist and journalist. Now, it’s next to impossible to discuss her work without mentioning the acclaim that has followed. But with The Signature of All

Things, it’s easy to forget the persona behind the work and focus on a compelling story, impeccably told—which is just what Gilbert has written all along. Curiosity and name recognition may lead many to pick up this novel, but it’s Gilbert’s engaging, thoroughly researched prose that will carry readers through the 500-plus pages of this sprawling story, which covers a century and much of the globe, including Amsterdam, London, Tahiti and Peru. Henry Whittaker isn’t born with much, save for wits. But the wily botanist applies those smarts to develop a business and relationships that make him one of the wealthiest men in his adopted home of Philadelphia. So when his daughter Alma comes along in 1800, she inherits her parents’ brains, her father’s love for botany and all the advantages he never knew.

The family wealth allows Alma the freedom to indulge her curiosity about the natural world without worrying about translating that interest to profit—or about settling into marriage. Alma becomes enthralled by botany—in particular bryology, the study of moss. “Mosses hold their beauty in elegant reserve. By comparison to mosses, everything else in the botanical world can seem so blunt and obvious,” Alma says by way of explaining her fascination. Those words could just as easily be used to describe Gilbert’s unconventional heroine; Alma is so cerebral that her gifts are rarely apparent to the untrained eye, and she struggles to connect with anyone besides her parents. In The Signature of All Things, Gilbert turns her finely trained storytelling skills toward the whole

of Alma’s life, examining the history, quirks and quiet moments that make up a person’s being, even as she traces the trajectory of a century and examines larger themes, like faith vs. science. The attention to detail and imagination Gilbert exhibits in this old-fashioned epic prove that her acclaim is truly deserved. —Carla Jean Whitley

V isit BookPage.com for a Q&A with Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Rosie Project By Graeme Simsion

Simon & Schuster $24, 304 pages ISBN 9781476729084 Audio, eBook available

DEBUT FICTION

Genetics professor Don Tillman is a man of science. His days are meticulously scheduled, his weekly meals pre-planned for maximum nutritional value and his choices made in logical consideration of best possible outcomes. So when he decides it’s time to find a suitable life partner, he does what any rational scientist would do—he creates an extensive dating questionnaire and embarks on “The Wife Project.” The results, of course, are not quite what Don expects, and that’s the fun of reading Australian author Graeme Simsion’s charming debut novel. When Don meets Rosie Jarman, a gorgeous, free-spirited bartender searching for her biological father, he doesn’t need a questionnaire to tell him that they are not a match— she smokes, drinks and has a serious issue with punctuality. But Rosie is intriguing, and despite his better judgment, Don puts “The Wife Project” aside to embark on a quest to find Rosie’s father. As Rosie and Don dig through her mother’s past, Don starts to have a little non-scheduled fun—eating meals outside his weekly menu plans, staying out late and talking over drinks, and even bending university rules to use the genetics lab after hours. Before Rosie, no woman had ever seemed to understand Don or appreciate his unique point of view. But with Rosie, things are just different, and whether it’s fate or


fiction science, Don finds himself falling for the most unlikely of women. With The Rosie Project, Simsion has created a wacky, wonderful love story that is just plain fun to read. The ways in which Don and Rosie challenge and complement each other is downright inspiring—not to mention hilarious. Simsion writes with humor and heart, and his story is both original and endearing. The Rosie Project teaches us that it’s never too late to discover who we are, and empowers us to find the people who will love us—quirks and all. —Abby Plesser

Who Asked You? By Terry McMillan

Viking $27.95, 400 pages ISBN 9780670785698 Audio, eBook available

popular FICTION

— A m y Sc r i b n e r

Identical

the conflict between the Giannis brothers and the Kronons. Many characters hold pieces to the mystery of Dita’s death, but no one has been able to put the whole puzzle together. Scott Turow does a masterful job of blending different narrative points of view, leading readers on a twisting, dizzying ride. Without being heavy-handed, Turow also makes Identical a cautionary tale about how money pumped into elections undermines democracy, and subtly asks what justice is. Few characters find any sense of closure concerning Dita’s murder, but suspense lovers will end up with a rewarding resolution to a complicated mystery. —Dale McGarrigle

Mrs. Poe By Lynn Cullen

By Scott Turow

Grand Central $28, 384 pages ISBN 9781455527205 Audio, eBook available

CHOCOLAT

Gallery $26, 336 pages ISBN 9781476702919 eBook available

HISTORICAL FICTION

Vianne Rocher returns to the beautiful French village of Lansquenet where she discovers that things have changed in unexpected ways.

suspense

The dean of the legal suspense genre returns with his 11th novel, set in Midwestern Kindle County. Inspired by the Greek myth of Castor and Pollux, Identical is the story of twins Paul and Cass Giannis and the event that changed their lives forever: the murder of Cass’ girlfriend Aphrodite “Dita” Kronon. Cass pled guilty to the crime and served time in prison, while Paul rose through the legal ranks to become a popular local politician. Now, 25 years later, Cass is about to be released, while Paul is the favorite to become mayor of Kindle County. Neither fact sits well with real estate magnate Hal Kronon, Dita’s older brother, who feels that the whole truth about her murder has never come out. So he employs his considerable wealth to prove Paul’s complicity in the crime. Identical soon becomes a case of “Be careful what you wish for,” as Hal’s investigative team of security chief Evon Miller, a former FBI agent, and aged P.I. Tim Brodie, who investigated the original crime, soon find themselves sucked into

Often the hardest thing for a historical novel to do—especially one centered on a real and very famous figure—is surprise its reader. After all, we know how the stories of people like Anne Boleyn and Joan of Arc and even Edgar Allan Poe end. With Mrs. Poe, Lynn Cullen weaves a dark, sensuous love triangle between three real people, and in the midst of many real historical details, she creates something truly and wonderfully surprising. Cullen’s narrator is Frances Osgood, a struggling writer separated from her husband and trying to support her two children in 1845 New York City. The whole town is under the spell of Edgar Allan Poe and his poem “The Raven,” and when Osgood gets the opportunity to meet the famous author, she finds herself just as captivated by his personal charms as by his literary ones. Their friendship quickly becomes something more, and the pair begin to trade romantic poems and steal quiet moments together, even as Osgood grows closer to Poe’s wife: his young, sickly cousin, Virginia. As Osgood’s relationship with both Mr. and Mrs. Poe grows more complex,

“Worth immersing yourself in.” —The Washington Post

Also available from Penguin Books:

“Delectable . . . Delicious.” —USA Today

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No one does slice-of-life like Terry McMillan, whose latest novel sets us down in a shabby modern-day Los Angeles neighborhood where Betty Jean Butler struggles to make ends meet and keep her family together. Her daughter, Trinetta, is caught in the clutches of drug addiction. Her son, Dexter, is in prison for a foolish carjacking. And her other son, Quentin, is a successful chiropractor who wants nothing to do with his family. Add to all this a husband succumbing to senility, two busybody sisters and a fulltime job at a local hotel, and Betty Jean’s hands aren’t just full—they’re overflowing. Luckily, Betty Jean has a wisecracking best friend across the street to lean on, and a sassy nurse to help care for her husband—even if that care is delivered in a way found in no medical textbook. When Trinetta leaves her two young sons with Betty Jean before disappearing into the streets, Betty Jean knows something’s got to give. “Even though I haven’t told anybody, I’m scared,” she says. “What if I can’t handle all this responsibility? What if I’ve forgotten how to be a parent? . . . I don’t want them to turn out like mine did. I want them to be proud, honest, dignified, civil, kind and loving. I want them to be strangers to trouble.”

Betty Jean has to swallow her pride and ask for help in ways she never imagined. Slowly, in their own ways, friends and family band together to help her raise the boys, who have promising futures despite their troubled past. McMillan will likely always be best known for her runaway bestsellers How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale, both made into movies. But Who Asked You? stands up to any of McMillan’s previous work, with a cast of wholly memorable characters and a plucky heroine you genuinely want to win. Although McMillan writes primarily about African-American families, her ever-present wry humor and keen portrayal of love in all its exasperating imperfection make her work universal.

The tantalizing sequel to the New York Times bestseller

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reviews Cullen weaves a dense, taut web of secrets and schemes that, like so many of Poe’s own tales, leads us into uncanny territory. Perhaps the most striking thing about the novel is Cullen’s ability to take Poe, someone often seen as a figure of absolute mystery even by his fans, and sculpt him into a finely drawn character through historical details and her own deft prose. The effect is heightened by Osgood’s narration. She is an even stronger character than the captivating Poe, and sweeps us along with her in ways both inviting and terrifying. A different historical novelist might have been carried away by the mysterious celebrity of her characters. Cullen is never intimidated, and the result is a novel filled with thrillingly real people. Devotees of dark historical fiction will devour Mrs. Poe, but so too will fans of Gothic romance and forbidden love stories. This is an invigoratingly creepy historical novel propelled by brilliant pacing. If you like books that send a little shiver up your

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fiction spine, don’t miss it. —Matthew Jackson

Half the Kingdom By Lore Segal

Melville House $23.95, 176 pages ISBN 9781612193021 eBook available

LITERARY FICTION

In her slender fifth novel, her first book since the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Shakespeare’s Kitchen in 2007, 85-year-old Lore Segal has written an eccentric and slightly manic parable about one of contemporary America’s last taboos: old age. At the fictional Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in New York City, something is amiss among the “sixty-twopluses,” who appear to be exhibiting inexplicable symptoms of a rapidonset dementia. The rash of admissions of elderly patients, who are told that “all their vitals are good” even as their mental status deteriorates, sparks talk among the medical staff of a “copycat Alzheimer’s.” Into this bizarre environment steps Joe Bernstine, retired head of a respected think-tank who’s now an acolyte of the apocalyptic preacher Harold Camping and who devotes his life to his work on an encyclopedia called The Compendium of End-of-World Scenarios. Joe, only recently recovered himself from a near-fatal illness (when asked by his irascible daughter what he’s smiling about, he replies, “Not being dead yet.”), is recruited by the hospital in something of an undercover operation to seek out the cause of this mini-epidemic. The complex tapestry of relationships into which Segal weaves her characters—spouses, parents and children, siblings, lovers and friends—is reminiscent of a Robert Altman movie. She moves somewhat arbitrarily from one character to another, offering glimpses of each one’s predicament before quickly shifting her focus, creating a novel that’s more a collection of sketches than a conventional narrative. Though their entrances are dramatic and inexplicable, the characters who make their way to the hospital’s Senior Center are no different from the millions of aged

people who find themselves alone and isolated at the end of life. Half the Kingdom is more wistful than didactic in shining the light of satire on that tragic fact. —Harvey Freedenberg

The Two Hotel Francforts By David Leavitt

Bloomsbury $25, 272 pages ISBN 9781596910423 eBook available

HISTORICAL FICTION

ties let loose during the pressures of wartime push people to extremes that they might never have reached otherwise. Leavitt’s setting may be unsavory, but his storytelling is not, with complex characters and rich details that bring the seedy hotels and crowded cafes to life. This is a brittle tale told with an effortless ease. — L a u r e n B u ff e r d

Doctor Sleep By Stephen King

Scribner $30, 544 pages ISBN 9781476727653 Audio, eBook available

thriller

In The Two Hotel Francforts, novelist David Leavitt (The Indian Clerk) takes his readers right to the brink: to the edge of continental Europe and a war that for many seemed like the end of civilization itself. The novel is set in 1940s Lisbon, the last neutral port in Europe, overflowing with refugees of every nationality. Among the crowd are American expatriates Pete and Julia Winters. The Winters have been living in Paris, where Pete is a car salesman, but are planning to return to New York because Julia is Jewish. Neurotic even at the best of times, Julia is adamant about not leaving Europe, despite the danger—and even though everything about Portugal, from the food to the accommodations, makes her desperately unhappy. The Winters meet Edward and Iris Freleng, who are traveling with their elderly fox terrier. The Frelengs write mystery novels published under a single pseudonym, and their lazy, somewhat bohemian spirit and careless debauchery draw the American couple closer. A kind of strange ennui born of waiting amid the life-threatening tension prevails, and when Edward instigates an affair with Pete, everything threatens to unravel, including the sanity of both Julia and Edward. The cobwebbed world of halftruths and lies inhabited by these characters is echoed by the shadowy setting of wartime Lisbon. Portugal’s neutrality masks the unsettling politics of the Salazar government, just as the couples’ untethered lives hide a hollow core at the center of each marriage. Like authors Graham Greene or Ford Madox Ford, Leavitt suggests that the moral ambigui-

In an author’s note at the end of Doctor Sleep, Stephen King explains how the idea of writing a sequel to The Shining—his third novel, published in 1977—was planted by a fan at a book signing back in 1998. King mulled it over for more than 10 years before sitting down to figure out how 5-year-old Danny Torrance fared after his narrow escape from the horrifyingly haunted Overlook Hotel. As one might suspect, Danny didn’t fare very well. Aside from psychological scars, he must contend with the occasional unwelcome visit from Overlook “ghosties”—the pungent bathtub lady, Mrs. Massey, for one—in some of the novel’s more hair-raising scenes. But he also battles demons inherited from his father: namely, a severe alcohol addiction. After hitting rock bottom, Dan winds up in Frazier, New Hampshire, and lands a job at The Helen Rivington hospice, where he uses his telepathic “shining” abilities to comfort dying patients, earning him the moniker of Doctor Sleep. He connects with a young girl named Abra, whose ability to shine is off the charts. It’s so potent, in fact, that it’s attracted the attention of a sinister tribe of drifters called The True Knot. Members of the Knot do their best to blend in with society as they travel the highways in their RVs. The chill-inducing truth, though, is that they are quasi-immortal paranormals who subsist on the “steam” released when children who shine


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reviews are tortured. The leader of the Knot is Rosie, a gorgeous seductress, who is rarely without her jaunty top hat—and who always gets what she wants. And she wants Abra. Needless to say, expectations for a sequel to a beloved book like The Shining are high, and for the most part, Doctor Sleep delivers. Accompanying Dan through the rough years that followed his time at the Overlook—sometimes you wish you could give him a hug, other times, a sense-infusing slap—makes it all the more gratifying to come out the other side with him. Fans will surely forgive a few questionable plot turns and once again marvel at King’s seemingly boundless ability to conjure super-creepy, utterly evil villains like the members of The True Knot. Though it’s sprinkled with King’s tension-relieving, trademark humor throughout, Doctor Sleep still contains plenty of sleep-withthe-lights-on scares that’ll have you looking sideways at the occupants of the next RV you encounter. —J o e l l e H e r r

Longbourn By Jo Baker

Knopf $25.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780385351232 Audio, eBook available

Historical FICTION

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What do you get when you mix “Downton Abbey” and Pride and Prejudice? The answer comes in the form of British novelist Jo Baker’s

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Dutch Schultz and the Gold of Quilalí by Raymond D. Schrab Available at Amazon.com • $14.49 ISBN 9781482520071 He ventured into the mountains of Nicaragua, searching for gold, and so much more.

fiction newest offering, Longbourn, which, perhaps not surprisingly, has already been optioned for film. Spinoffs and sequels to Pride and Prejudice are a dime a dozen, so it takes something quite extraordinary to make readers take note. In 2011, suspense sovereign P.D. James managed it by adding a murder mystery into the mix. Baker’s tack is slightly less gruesome, though perhaps no less grim: Working within the framework of Austen’s novel, Longbourn shifts focus and brings those who toil behind the scenes—the household servants—to the forefront. But this is not a straight retread. Baker does not attempt to emulate Austen’s writing style, and her story fits in the novel’s framework while being completely original. Lizzie, Jane and Lydia (along with many other characters readers know and love) still pop up, but Longbourn is primarily the story of housemaid Sarah, who toils endlessly for the comfort and care of others. Her days are filled with tasks that make her stomach curdle and her joints ache, and though Sarah dreams of one day having something—or someone— to make her life feel full, she fears that all her future holds is the bleak emptiness of servitude. Enter an intriguing, but infuriatingly taciturn, new footman, and suddenly Sarah is left wondering if happiness might be within her grasp. Like the novel that inspired it, Longbourn is a love story, but it is also more than that. Ruthlessly unromantic at times, Baker burrows through the froth and frivolity of upper-class life and grounds her characters in harsh realities, allowing for a powerful exploration of the prevailing social issues of the time as faced by the lower classes. Sarah suffers from chilblains, doesn’t get enough sleep and deals with chamber pots on top of it all. Though this gritty realism may turn off some readers, it elevates the book and sets it apart from its source material. Following in Austen’s footsteps is no small feat, but it is one Baker accomplishes with aplomb. Both Austen devotees and readers unfamiliar with the original will find that Longbourn is a robust, compelling novel that easily stands on its own. —Stephenie Harrison

V isit BookPage.com for a Q&A with Jo Baker.

Mother, Mother By Koren Zailckas

Crown $24, 384 pages ISBN 9780385347235 eBook available

POPULAR FICTION

Is there anything that Koren Zailckas can’t write? The young author first crashed onto the literary scene with her iconic best-selling memoir, Smashed, which chronicled her years of teenage alcoholism. Now, she is making her fiction debut, and it is just as captivating as her memoirs. Mother, Mother introduces the Hurst family, living in upstate New York. There’s William, the 12-yearold autistic (and highly intelligent) son, who spends his days being homeschooled. Violet, his teenaged sister, would rather get high with her friends than spend another minute at home. Their father, Douglas, is an alcoholic programmer who’d prefer to hide behind office doors instead of showing his face at the dinner table. And there’s Josephine, the controlling, manipulative matriarch. But there’s a family member on the periphery of this portrait that the rest are unable to think—let alone talk—about. Rose, a struggling perfectionist, had a budding career as a stage actress. However, when Rose runs away from home with her mysterious boyfriend Dante, breaking all contact with her family, it sets off a chain of events that threatens to tear the Hursts apart. As the novel opens, Violet has been committed to a psychiatric hospital. Josephine claims that Violet stabbed William while high on acid, yet Violet has no recollection of having attacked her brother. Violet and William recount their memories of that chaotic evening in alternating chapters. As they struggle to uncover their family’s darkest secret, the siblings begin to question everything, especially their mother’s motives. Is William as ill as Josephine claims? Is Violet really dangerous? And what was the true impetus for Rose’s escape? Mother, Mother is an exquisitely written psychological thriller. Readers will root for Violet and William as the siblings struggle to escape their

mother’s terrifying clutches. —Megan Fishmann

V isit BookPage.com for a Q&A with Koren Zailckas.

The Outcasts By Kathleen Kent

Little, Brown $26, 336 pages ISBN 9780316206129 Audio, eBook available

HISTORICAL FICTION

There are two schools of thought when it comes to just how wild the Wild West was back in the post-Civil War days. Some folks claim it wasn’t as lawless as Sam Peckinpah would have it, while others cling to the notion that it really was as bad as folks said it was. In The Outcasts, Kathleen Kent—known previously for historical novels set in colonial New England—chooses the latter point of view, and then some. Nate is a young Texas policeman who’s taken the job to get some money for his hardscrabble farm back in Oklahoma, where he lives with his wife and baby girl. He falls in with two veteran rangers, Deerling and Dr. Tom, who are on the hunt for a serial murderer named McGill. Dr. Tom is a bit older than Nate, and a voluble spinner of yarns. Deerling, on the other hand, is old enough to be the father of both men. Taciturn, with one of those adamantine moral codes, he would have been perfectly played by John Wayne. A parallel story concerns a young woman named Lucinda, whom we first meet escaping a brothel to join up with her lover. He, of course, is the vicious killer the rangers are searching for. Slowly, it dawns on the reader that she’s almost as much of a psychopath as McGill. But the operative word is “almost.” Lucinda is capable of love, even if her love expresses itself in some deeply twisted ways. Will it be her downfall? Will it be McGill’s? Kent’s minor characters are equally memorable, from the people Lucinda lives among while she pretends to be a schoolmarm, to the young boy who facilitates the last showdown. The dialogue, particu-


fiction larly between the rangers, has an almost Biblical cadence. Kent’s descriptions of landscape, weather and rough justice are stunning. Best of all, she keeps you guessing about the fate of these compelling characters. —Arlene McKanic

The Hired Man By Aminatta Forna Grove $24, 304 pages ISBN 9780802121912 eBook available

WORLD FICTION

—Kenneth Champeon

Local Souls By Allan Gurganus Liveright $25.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780871403797 eBook available

SOUTHERN FICTION

Falls, North Carolina, is a mythical, mystical place. On the surface, it seems to be a charming town filled with the sort of “aw shucks” folks you would expect to populate a remote Southern area. But dive in deeper and you’ll find a complex web of lives and relationships. Allan Gurganus returns to this setting, which he established in his 1989 bestseller The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, in Local Souls, a collection of three linked novellas. Though the characters’ paths may lead them away from Falls, they all circle back eventually. In “Fear Not,” a teenage girl earns herself a long-lasting moniker when she bellows out a single line in the town Christmas pageant. The name sticks with her as she witnesses her father’s horrific death and as she sorts through the emotions (or, sometimes, lack thereof) that follow. The second tale, “Saints Have Mothers,” again revolves around fascination with a teen girl. Caitlin is beloved by all in Falls. When she goes missing, the town falls apart—but her doting mother at last finds herself the center of attention. “Decoy” draws parallels between the lives and upbringing of two of Falls’ upstanding men—and there’s more than a competitive spirit at work. These stories are often dark, but they’re rendered with a light hand. Gurganus ably brings out the joy and absurdity in all manner of life’s twists and turns. —Carla Jean Whitley

The New York Times bestselling author of The Last Girls is back with a mesmerizing novel that weaves fact with fiction in a world where artistic genius and madness collide.

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HOSPITAL, ASHEVILLE, NC, 1936. At thirteen, Evalina Toussaint is admitted to the renowned mental institution, where she’s swept into the lives and secrets of the residents and patients—some famous, some forgotten. A witness to the fine line between beauty and chaos, she’s about to discover how tragedy can lead to salvation. IGHLAND

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In the 1990s, a war in Sierra Leone killed tens of thousands of people and shattered the country. Yet writer Aminatta Forna, who is from Sierra Leone, has dedicated her absorbing new novel, The Hired Man, to that other 1990s war-torn region, Yugoslavia, thus subtly illuminating the prolonged aftereffects of all wars. Duro is a Croat living in the ghostly town of Gost. One day, an Englishwoman named Laura arrives with her son and daughter. Laura has purchased an old house, and enlists Duro’s help in refurbishing it—including uncovering an obscured mosaic. The gradual unveiling of its contents mirrors Duro’s gradual revelations about the area’s violent past. At first, that past seems far away. Duro’s present life is unremarkable. He likes his coffee and daily exercise, delights in repairs and ends his days with a beer at the local pub. He becomes fond, even protective, of Laura and her children, and shares with them his country’s natural treasures, including endless fields of wildflowers. But beneath the calm beauty is pain: The wildflowers exist because the fields are mine-strewn and thus off-limits. Eventually we learn that Duro participated in the fighting, that the ownership of Laura’s house is contentious and that she is acutely vulnerable to the area’s lingering animosities. Forna’s decision to write from the perspective of a Croatian man is risky, but Duro is exceedingly convincing: melancholy, not maudlin; stoical, not hard-boiled. He tries to be hospitable and open to Laura while playing down his loss. “Laura,” he muses, “was one of those people who preferred the music of a lie

to the discordance of truth.” His memories of the war are an impressive record of the so-called banality of evil. Nowadays, Croatia’s beaches are as popular as the war was abhorrent, but Forna’s point is taken. Whether you’re gazing at Angkor Wat, dining in once-occupied Paris or having your burek and rakija in Gost, you’re standing on haunted ground.

LEE SMITH

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reviews

NONFICTION Jim Henson By Brian Jay Jones

One Summer

A summer to remember R e v i e w b y K e l ly B l e w e t t

A new book from Bill Bryson is always a cause for excitement, and this beautiful doorstopper truly delivers. Bryson’s wonderfully sly sense of humor and narrative skill are evident in this expansive look at a momentous season in U.S. history: the summer of 1927. We meet “Slim” (Charles Lindbergh), fresh from his transatlantic flight and on the cusp of becoming a national hero, and the irrepressible Babe Ruth, who is about to have the best summer of his career. Loony politicians—William Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover—and unforgettable criminals round out the cast. What the book does best is to take these stories we already know and explain them to us again, with lots of brio and context. Sure, you think you know about Babe Ruth. But have you really considered why his ability to hit a home run was so thrilling, and how the then-established baseball rules shaped his game? You’ve heard of Charles Lindbergh, but have you heard about the dozens By Bill Bryson of others who tried to do what he did and failed miserably? Do you know Doubleday, $28.95, 528 pages why aviation was such a crazy line of work? The stories Bryson tells ISBN 9780767919401, audio, eBook available almost beg to be shared. One Summer is divided into months of the summer—June, July, AuAMERICAN HISTORY gust and September—and each month focuses on a key figure of interest to Bryson. Honestly, I’ve never read a narrative history quite like it. The summer itself—rather than any single person or movement—is the focus of the book, and all sorts of interesting glimpses forward and backward keep the season’s significance clearly at the fore. There’s something refreshing in this approach, like touring Rome for 10 days instead of trying to cram in all of Europe. Beyond learning unusual facts about famous people (like Calvin Coolidge’s bright red hair, or that he wasn’t a favorite with his mother-in-law), readers get something even better: a distinctive taste of the times. I’m sure people well versed in history might note that this “highlight reel” of 1927 excludes the stories of those not blessed with tremendous skill and timing—people more like us. Still, the book is a sprawl of tremendous fun that will satisfy Bryson’s fans and win him many new ones.

David and Goliath

r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m

By Malcolm Gladwell

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Little, Brown $29, 320 pages ISBN 9780316204361 Audio, eBook available

PSYCHOLOGY

From The Tipping Point (2000) onward, Malcolm Gladwell has made a specialty of gathering commonly accessible facts and viewing them from uncommon—and often surprising—perspectives. In David and Goliath, he seizes on the fable of the title to undergird his thesis that “the powerful are not as powerful as they seem—nor the weak as weak.” In his eyes, David had the edge over Goliath from the start,

not just because he possessed a superior weapons system—the farreaching sling vs. the short-range spear and sword—but also because he imposed his own rules of combat instead of conceding to Goliath’s. Gladwell goes on to argue that conditions first seen as adverse or limiting can actually be turned into wellsprings of strength. Thus, large classes may be better for students than small ones; attending a top university may be the worst (or, at least, the most discouraging) educational choice; getting tougher on crime may actually increase crime as well as create other social disorders; being dyslexic or losing a parent at an early age may make one more persistent and intellectually agile than being able to read easily or having the comfort of a twoparent family; kids who don’t grow up playing basketball (for example) may approach the game in such fresh ways that they outscore kids

who do; and people who are confronted en masse by life-threatening dangers—whether it be the bombing of London in World War II, the violent suppression of Civil Rights demonstrations in the U.S. or the brutalizing of Catholics in Northern Ireland by British soldiers—will almost always be strengthened rather than weakened by their shared experience. To support these points, Gladwell intersperses a series of inspiring personal stories with summaries of related scientific studies in education, economics, psychology and sociology. His tone is relentlessly upbeat, but he in no way contends that being poor, dyslexic and downtrodden is the best start in life for anyone. He does make the case, however, for mining the dross of life for those small specks of gold and for looking beyond the obvious to the actual. — Edw a r d M o r r i s

Ballantine $35, 608 pages ISBN 9780345526113 Audio, eBook available

BIOGRAPHY

It’s hard to see Jim Henson’s name in print without immediately thinking of the Muppets, those deceptively simple-looking puppets who seemed to bring forth a full range of human emotions. Two things we learn quickly in Jim Henson: The ­Biography are that the effort involved in bringing the Muppets to life was astronomical, and that Henson chafed at being forever associated with them. Who knew? Author Brian Jay Jones spoke to Henson’s surviving family, along with most of his coworkers and business partners, and the result is a book that offers a multifaceted view of Henson’s home and work lives. His childhood in rural Mississippi revolved around trips to the local movie theater and driving any car he could get his hands on, both interests he would indulge for life. The soft-spoken youth made himself heard when television was invented, insisting the family buy one and realizing immediately it was what he wanted to do with his life. From his very first job at a TV station all the way through fame, fortune and an untimely death at 53, he never stopped studying the medium and expanding its possibilities. There are so many enjoyable aspects to this book that it’s hard to know where to start. Henson himself is a study in contrasts: a devoted family man who was serially unfaithful to his wife; so softspoken he often went unheard, but steadfast in pursuit of his vision (he was described as having a “whim of steel”); unfocused on money when it came to work, yet an extravagant shopper with top-dollar taste. Then there are the Muppets themselves. Henson’s creations were innovative due to their soft, flexible design, which allowed subtle hand movements to offer emotive facial expressions. But finding the character inside the puppet was a challenge for the performers. Miss Piggy started


NONFICTION off as essentially a chorus girl, used in background scenes and bit parts, until one day puppeteer Frank Oz deviated from the script: Instead of slapping Kermit the Frog, he had her karate-chop him with an emphatic “Haii-YA!” . . . and a star was born. Henson’s career was about to take off in new directions via a planned sale of his company to Disney when he died of an aggressive staph infection. After reading about his life and creative passion, we can only imagine what that collaboration might have led to, and hope that some readers are inspired to dream just as big. Jim Henson: The Biography is a fantastic story of a brilliant life cut short, but it can also be read as a blueprint for following your bliss. —Heather Seggel

The Family By David Laskin

Viking $32, 400 pages ISBN 9780670025473 eBook available

faMily memoir

—J o h n T. S l a n i a

today without regard to how we will pay tomorrow.” However, he avoids a simple lecture in favor of an explanation of focus itself. In lively prose, Goleman explores the circuitry of our brains, what happens to us physically when we concentrate and when we become distracted. He investigates the evolutionary roots of focus and asks if we are less focused now than we were decades ago. He also explains how the ability to focus helps us sense our own values, understand and empathize with others, find peace through meditation and even perceive threats. In later chapters, he expands the scope of his discussion to the topic of leadership. How do the best leaders among us pay attention, and what do they see? How do they help their organizations avoid distractions? Goleman’s book is both an explanation of focus as well as a tool for improving it in our daily lives, unleashing creativity, living mindfully and leading strategically. —Marianne Peters

Countdown By Alan Weisman

Little, Brown $28, 528 pages ISBN 9780316097758 eBook available

science

If there’s one thing we humans are good at, it’s surviving. Look at us go: “Over the past two centuries,” writes environmental journalist Alan Weisman in Countdown, “we have become brilliant at beating back diseases or preemptively protecting ourselves from them. . . . Through much of the world, we’ve doubled average human lifespans from under 40 years to nearly 80.” In fact, we’re so good at surviving that we’re about to self-destruct; our planet runneth over. “Saving more lives than anyone in history also

“A searingly honest story of one woman’s awakening from a coma after her baby’s birth— and her long road back. . . . Unforgeable.” —Eric Metaxas, New York Times bestselling author

Focus By Daniel Goleman

Harper $28.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780062114860 eBook available

PSYCHOLOGY

Who doesn’t feel distracted these days? With the vast resources of the Internet in the palms of our hands via our smartphones, it’s so convenient to tune out the real world and tune in to the latest trending topic. What are we missing when our ability to focus becomes compromised? Daniel Goleman asks that question in his new book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. He writes, “Life today seems ruled to a troubling degree by impulse; a flood of ads drives us, bottom-up, to desire a sea of goods and spend

A powerful true story of pain, beauty, and the unsurpassable gift of knowing who you are.

LindseyOConnor.com

n

Lindsey OConnor #LongAwakening AVAILABLE WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD ALSO AVAILABLE IN e BOOK FORMAT

r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m

David Laskin’s family experienced the most important events of the 20th century: the Russian Revolution; World War I; the Great Depression; the Holocaust; World War II. But this Zelig-like existence was unknown to Laskin for years, as he grew up in a bucolic suburb of New York City, graduated from Harvard and went on to become an accomplished author. It wasn’t until he began to probe the history of his family that he discovered its remarkable background. These discoveries became the basis for his fascinating new book, The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century. Early on in The Family, Laskin establishes the premise with this simple, elegant sentence: “History made and broke my family in the twentieth century.” Consider what three separate branches of his mother’s family experienced: One branch emigrated from Russia to the U.S. and went on to build a fortune by creating the Maidenform brassiere. Another branch found its way to the Middle East, where it was part of the establishment of Israel. The

third branch remained in Europe and suffered through two world wars and the Holocaust. Laskin is honest about his place of privilege and how he once ignored his Judaism and his family history: “I forgot the Hebrew that had been drummed into me. I belonged to Greenwich Village, London, Paris, Rome, maybe James Joyce’s Dublin—certainly not to Jerusalem, Vilna, Minsk.” But on a whim he started corresponding with distant relatives and began to learn about the astounding evolution of his family. The success that the American branch experienced in creating the Maidenform bra is poignantly contrasted with the struggles of the Israeli branch in helping to establish a new country. But even more gripping is the pain felt by family members who remained in Russia, enduring the horrors of both Hitler’s Final Solution and Stalin’s purges. The Family is a thoroughly researched, deftly written book that will help readers appreciate the struggles and successes of Jews as they sought safe harbors and places to call home during the 20thcentury diaspora. It is a journey worth taking to see an educated and talented author come to appreciate how his ancestors helped him to find his home in the 21st century.

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reviews means there are more lives, period,” he writes. The dilemma: “how to keep growing . . . in a space that does not grow.” In 2007’s best-selling The World Without Us, Weisman envisioned an Earth free of people, describing in vivid detail the impressive speed with which it might recover. His new book looks at what we must do if we intend to have both a healthy planet and a thriving human race. The problem, in his view, is clear: There are simply too many of us. The solution is a whole lot murkier. Talking about population control is a tricky business, balancing altruism and self-interest. Family planning is OK for “them,” out of the question for “us.” Nobody wants to starve, but nobody wants their line to die out, either; if only half your babies live, you tend to have lots of them, even if more means hungrier. Weisman avoids us-vs.-them generalizations by getting down to a micro level. Shrinking resources are a global emergency, so he goes everywhere: Pakistan, Japan, Uganda, Iran, Costa Rica, Jerusalem, Beijing. In each place he talks with people about their families, how they feel about how many children they have and whether that’s changed since their parents’ generation. Some have managed successfully and happily to reduce their family size, while others believe that big families are their only chance to beat their rivals—a sort of genetic arms race. The stories Weisman tells are equally fascinating and maddening. He knows what’s at stake, but he also understands how people feel. He finds no easy answers, but in most places he finds people willing to take the long view. r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m

—becky ohlsen

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The Men Who United The States By Simon Winchester

Harper $29.99, 496 pages ISBN 9780062079602 eBook available

AMERICAN HISTORY

Some readers may not feel the United States today is quite the unum that Simon Winchester declares it to be in his engaging

NONFICTION and informative The Men Who United the States. But after living in many places around the world and traveling extensively in the United States, the English-born Winchester became a U.S. citizen on Independence Day 2011, so he should be allowed a sparkler-flare or two of unalloyed, optimistic patriotism. Besides, the unity he writes about so well is not political or cultural. Rather, Winchester believes “the ties that bind are most definitely, in their essence, practical and physical things.” He is most interested in the continent-spanning technologies— canals, railroads, highways, electricity, telegraph, radio, telephones and television—that have brought Americans together over vast distances. What makes this book so enjoyable is that he ties the development of these advances to some Winchester brilliant but idiosyncratic tells the personalities. stories of the Clarence King, the first director continentof the U.S. Geospanning logical Survey, technologies exposed the Great Diamond that have Fraud and later brought led a fascinatAmericans ing secret life. The abstemious together. Nikola Tesla may have had a greater impact on modern uses of electricity than Thomas Edison. And who knew that Theodore Judah, the possibly mad son of a Connecticut preacher, successfully promoted a transcontinental railroad route but died before it was completed? Winchester draws, too, from his own travels in the U.S. In one of the book’s best segments, he recounts a cross-country road trip using Dwight David Eisenhower’s 1919 diary from the U.S. Army’s Transcontinental Convoy, sent to assess how quickly troops could be deployed across the country. Not very quickly, it turns out, giving rise to President Eisenhower’s commitment to building the interstate highway system. As a new citizen, Winchester also notes something that is far more controversial than it used to be: the important role of big government in forging e pluribus into unum. Without a lot of fanfare, he reminds us that for all its flaws, American government is not them; it’s us. —Alden Mudge

Levels of Life By Julian Barnes

Knopf $22.95, 144 pages ISBN 9780385350778 Audio, eBook available

memoir

Barnes is at his best in this subtle and intelligent memoir, even as it narrates the worst. —Catherine Hollis

Keeping It Civil By Margaret Klaw

Algonquin $24.95, 272 pages ISBN 9781616202392 eBook available

SOCIETY

A meditation on love and grief, on soaring in hot air balloons and crashing into the Earth, Julian Barnes’ Levels of Life is a memoir occasioned by the death of his wife. But unlike the recent memoirs by Joan Didion and Joyce Carol Oates on the experience of their own bereavements, Barnes waited five years to craft this book, which is marked by a sense of perspective on the tragedy of loss. Beautifully reticent with personal detail, Levels of Life opens from the outlook of a Victorian hot air balloon. The stories of three pioneering aeronauts—Fred Burnaby, Sarah Bernhardt and Félix Tournachon— offer a literally distanced view of humanity. These aeronauts were among the first people to look down at the Earth from the airy freedom of the sky. But that freedom comes at the cost of the inherent dangers of crashing and burning. Which brings us to the love stories of the aeronauts. Burnaby loved Bernhardt, declared his love, and was wounded by her rejection. Tournachon was uxorious (an important word for Barnes): in love with his wife for the 55 years of their marriage until the day she died. We aspire to love like we aspire to the heights, but “every love story is a potential grief story,” says Barnes. The memoir’s third section takes us to Barnes’ own grief story, when 30 years of love are ripped away in an instant by brain cancer. There were only 37 days, Barnes tells us, from his wife’s diagnosis to her death, and the loss forever of her “radiant curiosity.” This is about the only personal detail Barnes tells us, preferring to muse instead upon bigger questions: love, grief, anger, mourning and loneliness—“just the universe doing its stuff, and we are the stuff it is being done to.” Levels of Life tells a universal story, a patterning of human existence best seen from the air. Julian

Margaret Klaw’s Keeping It Civil offers a dishy behind-the-scenes look at family law, which takes place at “the vortex of marriage, divorce, parenthood, sex, money, love, anger, betrayal, sexual orientation, reproductive technology, and the rapidly shifting legal landscape on which it all plays out.” Interested yet? This fascinating book offers readers a front-row seat to all the drama. Klaw, the founder of an all-women law firm in Philadelphia, explores such issues as how divorcing parties divide assets and how the court determines the best interests of the child. In “Anatomy of a Trial”—a string of interconnected chapters so interesting I was tempted to flip straight to them—she provides a fictionalized play-by-play of a custody battle. She often presents a scene to readers, invites them to consider it, and then analyzes it further in a way that seems to change everything. For instance, Klaw describes a young man without legal representation who is trying to duck out of a child support debt. Luckily for him, he represents himself well and manages to “dodge a bullet,” but before the reader can breathe a sigh of relief, Klaw points out that she usually represents the opposing side—the women who need child support from the men who can’t pay it. She pokes holes in the young man’s arguments even as she acknowledges the difficulty of his situation. In short, it is both Klaw’s legal expertise and her warmheartedness that make this book so approachable—and her terrific prose doesn’t hurt, either. I especially recommend this for book groups, where discussions about these ethical and legal dilemmas will no doubt be spirited. — K e l ly B l e w e t t


children’s books

nick lake interview by jill ratzan

© Charlotte M. Wales

A heart held captive

M

ost YA writers wouldn’t describe a story about Somali pirates as a “fairy tale.” But Printz Award-winning author Nick Lake is not most YA writers. Haiti. His first books, the Blood Ninja trilogy, “didn’t come from inspiration”—instead, these tales of vampire ninjas were designed specifically to appeal to boys who wanted books like Twilight, only with more action. While Lake enjoyed this project, he reached a point where he wanted to explore new directions. “I was probably finding my voice,” Lake muses. “The third person [point of view] didn’t quite work for me. As soon as I clicked into doing the first person in In Darkness, I thought, ‘This is what I should be doing.’ ” His agent agreed, saying, “I think you need to stop looking at the market and write something that comes from inside.” Even when he’s actively eschewing a market perspective, Lake—who is also publishing director at Harper­ Collins Children’s Books U.K.— brings considerable knowledge of children’s publishing to his writing. “Helping other people to shape and fashion stories kind of was an intensive creative writing course,” he says. “It did mean I was hugely aware of what’s out there and what other people are writing.” The roles of writer and editor are different in some ways—“If you’re an editor, what you’re trying to do is be a loud hailer [megaphone] for the author’s voice”—but both are, to Lake, “an extension of the same thing, which is tinkering and playing around with stories.” When asked if he ever considers giving up editing to write full time, Lake says absolutely not. “If you’re someone who loves books, I don’t think there’s much that’s more fulfilling and satisfying than working with someone on a story and getting it to where it can be the best expression of what the author really wants it to achieve. And also, you never know what’s going to come across your desk next. You never know when the next amazing thing is going to come in.” Writing and editing young adult literature in particular resonates

deeply with Lake. “So much of YA literature is about going from being one thing to being another. A lot of fiction for younger children is based around a more literal kind of quest narrative, but I think in YA literature the ‘quest’ is more about self-understanding and acceptance.” This quest often comes with a message for teens, and Hostage Three certainly does. “At some point, something is going to come along and break you into pieces. But actually you can put yourself back together,” Lake says. “I’ve always found it interesting when people view In Darkness and Hostage Three as very dark, depressing books, because I very consciously wanted them to have that kind of feeling of hope and redemption and positivity. You’re put through hardship and deprivation, but then in the end, you achieve your quest.”

Hostage Three

By Nick Lake

Bloomsbury, $17.99, 320 pages ISBN 9781619631236, eBook available Ages 12 and up, on sale November 12

TEEN

r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m

In Lake’s new novel, Hostage Three (available November 12), 17-yearold Amy has just failed out of high school when she reluctantly agrees to join her banking executive father and new stepmother on a yacht cruise around the world. Her father plans to use the cruise as a way to break the cycle of bad decisions that have plagued Amy since her mother’s recent suicide. But when the yacht is boarded by Somali pirates—including one young and magnetically attractive boy—their pleasure trip takes an unexpected turn. “I dreamed the plot,” Lake tells BookPage from his home in Oxford, England. “I don’t know why Somali pirates were rattling around in my subconscious.” After listening to a radio documentary about Somali pirates, Lake was struck by the program’s focus on wealthy shipping firms, rather than on what would drive young Somali men into seizing seagoing vessels in the first place. “You’ve got a group of people who live in a place where there’s virtually no government, virtually no law and order, and virtually no other opportunities,” Lake says. “To me it would almost seem surprising if you were an 18-year-old man who lived on the Somali coast and you didn’t get into piracy.” Lake’s long-standing interest in cultural globalization also contributed to his choice of topic. “I think there’s something very interesting about a group of people who are using the tools and the technology of Western business but turning them against Western business,” he says. For example, after boarding the yacht, the pirates in Hostage Three use cell phones to record a video of their conquest, which they then upload via satellite link. So what makes Hostage Three a “fairy tale”? “The stepmother angle,” Lake explains. “In a sense that’s really what the story is about—Amy reconciling herself with a new family.” The pirates and the action are essentially just the means to an end. Hostage Three is Lake’s second literary thriller, after his 2013 Printz winner In Darkness, which is set in

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children’s books

TEEN READ WEEK

Resonant tales for teen readers

W

hether exploring the unknown through unforgettable adventures or telling tales of the heart, these four choices for Teen Read Week (October 13-19) encourage reading just for the fun of it.

This Song Will Save Your Life

r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m

By Leila Sales

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all the truth that’s in me By Julie Berry

FSG $17.99, 288 pages ISBN 9780374351380 eBook available Ages 12 and up

Viking $17.99, 288 pages ISBN 9780670786152 eBook available Ages 12 and up

Teen

Teen

After an unsuccessful suicide attempt, 16-year-old Elise Dembowski realized she never really wanted to die; she just wanted to be noticed. Change seems impossible when the popular kids speak in a code she can’t crack; she’s often a little precocious when the world embraces ordinary; and a bully writes a fake blog in her name, making the school think she is unapproachable and suicidal again. However, when Elise accidentally discovers an underground dance party called Start, big changes happen when she least expects it. In a voice that ranges from honest and heartbreaking to witty and hopeful, Elise relates her weekly secret escapes to Start, where she encounters Vicky and Pippa, her first friends, and DJ Char, who shares her first kiss (and more). Char and Elise also share a passion for music, and with Char’s help, Elise may become Start’s newest and hottest DJ. With song lyrics kicking off each chapter and heart-thumping descriptions, readers can almost hear the music in the background. While being a DJ gives Elise her first sense of power, she uses the opportunity to find self-acceptance, to reconnect with her divorced parents and to look for the positive in her classmates. Her experiences will encourage young adults to find their own power and aspire for the extraordinary. Of course, they’ll also be inspired to download all the classic hits that make this novel rock on. This Song Will Save Your Life is for anyone who’s ever felt alone and just wanted to fit in. And who hasn’t? —Angela Leeper

The short, fragmented chapters in Julie Berry’s YA debut, All the Truth That’s in Me, fall like puzzle pieces, slowly revealing 16-year-old Judith’s difficult, veiled story. It all begins with an early memory of an ocean journey, when Judith and a group of pioneering families traveled far from their homeland, finally landing and forming a small, insular community. Judith’s childhood friend, Lucas, has long been the love of her life, and she relates her story as if speaking to him directly. However, in reality, Judith cannot speak to Lucas at all. When she was 14, Judith was abducted and held captive for two years. The details of her abduction— the man who seized her, the place of her imprisonment and the atrocities performed upon her—are revealed gradually. When Judith finally escaped and staggered back home, she was nearly dead and half her tongue had been carved out. A grim tone persists throughout All the Truth That’s in Me, much like the prolonged hardship Judith and her community face as soldiers attack and secrets poison from within. It becomes increasingly clear that only Judith knows the truth that will bring peace and justice—if only she could speak it. Berry has created something unique in her story of fear and repression set in an unspecified time and place. Although Judith’s loneliness and longing are almost unbearable, readers sense that she has the strength and intelligence to overcome her handicap. The ever-present violence is reminiscent of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking series, but Judith’s uncompromising

love for Lucas will sustain the most romantic of readers. All the Truth That’s in Me is a perfect emotional blend of horror and romance. —Diane Colson

Muckers By Sandra Neil Wallace

Knopf $16.99, 288 pages ISBN 9780375867545 eBook available Ages 12 and up

Teen

Felix’s last season of high school football is all that matters. When he’s out on the field, he can forget about his older brother who never came back from the war, his mother who disappeared inside her own mind after losing her oldest son, and the mining town that seems to be crumbling around him. If he can just lead the Muckers team to victory, he knows everything will be all right. But even as the Muckers win more games, it’s hard to ignore everything that’s going wrong in his small Texas town. The threat of communism has everyone on edge, and race relations in the multiethnic immigrant community are near a boiling point. One of his best friends is heading off to the Korean War to prove himself, and the town will never accept the fact that Felix is white and the only girl he wants to kiss is Mexican. Muckers is a strong piece of young adult historical fiction that manages to touch on many topics without seeming disjointed. The frame of a local newspaper helps to add some extra historical content without forcing it into the dialogue. The novel is strongest when it gets inside Felix’s head off the football field, when he’s forced to think about not only his painful past, but his future. His desire to honor his parents and brother is strong, but what makes him a truly compelling protagonist is his thirst to prove his worth to himself, and his determi-

nation to avoid a life in the mines. Muckers will entertain anyone interested in 1950s America, but it will especially capture the attention of football fans and anyone who’s ever felt hometown pride. — M o l ly H o r a n

the coldest girl in coldtown By Holly Black

Little, Brown $19, 432 pages ISBN 9780316213103 Audio, eBook available Ages 15 and up

Teen

Holly Black’s highly anticipated novel opens with a massacre. Seventeen-year-old Tana Bach wakes up in a bathtub after a night of partying to find all her classmates dead, their bodies strewn about like bloody confetti—the victims of a vampire attack. Tana also discovers her ex-boyfriend, Aidan, tied up in a bedroom. He’s been bitten and is now infected, but he’s alive. And he’s not alone. He’s trapped with a wounded vampire, the enigmatic and dangerous Gavriel. Tana makes a quick decision to save them both, putting her life in danger and risking infection. The three of them drive to Coldtown, an inescapable ghetto for vampires and the humans who venerate them. Once inside the walls of Coldtown, Tana gets mixed up in a centuries-old power struggle that pits her against a celebrity vampire. Tana’s only thought is to stay human and stay alive, but that may not be possible when she has a weakness for saving others. Black treats readers to a richly woven narrative full of flawed characters with unenviable choices. Coldtown is a place of nightmares, but it’s also a place of seduction. Some humans will do anything to get inside, giving up their comfortable homes to live in squalor, all for the chance to become immortal. But Black shows that immortality eventually becomes hellish, even for those who willfully seek it. Rich in imagery and told in Black’s standout, signature prose, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a memorable literary feast. — K i m b e r ly G i a r r a t a n o


5 STAR READS

—USA Today

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling series

October 2013

November 2013

PRAISE FOR KATIE McGARRY'S PREVIOUS TITLES

The hot new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout

“A completely new twist on zombies.”

The clock is ticking down on the release of some of the season’s most highly-anticipated books.

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The launch of Aimée Carter’s highly anticipated dystopian series

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Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Kirkus, starred review

978-0-373-21091-6

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December 2013 978-0-373-21055-8

Get all the details at www.HarlequinTEEN.com

December 2013 978-0-373-21099-2

March 2014

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r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m

Digital prequel on sale Dec. 1

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children’s books Flora & Ulysses

REVIEWS

A furry superhero takes wing Review By alice cary

Writing is best accomplished by paying attention, says Kate DiCamillo, author of such gems as Because of Winn-Dixie. Her new book, Flora & Ulysses, features 10-year-old Flora Belle Buckman, a self-proclaimed cynic who goes by the mantra, “Do not hope; instead, observe.” Flora’s parents have divorced, and her chain-smoking mother is too busy writing romance novels to have time for her daughter. Her mother has also decided that Flora spends too much time reading comic books, which she considers lowly. Flora doesn’t care, because her favorite book in the world is The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto, a comic she and her father have always enjoyed together. Flora is not feeling particularly hopeful, however, until one day, she observes several incredible things. Outside her window, a neighbor is running around the yard with an out-of-control vacuum, and she vacuums up a squirrel. After Flora races outside and administers CPR, the squirrel springs to life with odd new superpowers—it can fly and By Kate DiCamillo even write poetry. Flora names him Ulysses, after the vacuum that nearly Illustrated by K.G. Campbell mowed him down (a Ulysses 2000X). Candlewick, $17.99, 240 pages Lots of things happen quickly in this fast-paced, funny tale. Flora ISBN 9780763660406, audio, eBook available makes a new friend, an 11-year-old brainiac named William Spivey, who Ages 8 to 12 joins her in protecting Ulysses. And protect him they must, because middle grade Flora’s mother wants the little squirrel dead and buried. Flora’s guidebooks in the ensuing adventures are her beloved comics, especially one called Terrible Things Can Happen to You! Many of the illustrations in this comical romp are action-packed comic-book sequences superbly drawn by K.G. Campbell. Like all of DiCamillo’s books, Flora & Ulysses is filled with adventure, but also plenty of humor and soul. By the end, even cynical Flora has softened up. DiCamillo has seamlessly blended comic-book elements and a zany cast of characters into a thoroughly original, heartwarming tale. Illustration © 2013 by K.G. Campbell. Reproduced by permission of Candlewick Press.

Flo & Wendell

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By William Wegman

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Dial $16.99, 32 pages ISBN 9780803739284 eBook available Ages 4 to 8

picture book

William Wegman’s first new book in 10 years comes with an unexpected twist. Once again, Wegman features photographs of his Weimaraners—dogs with piercing blue eyes and personality-plus. But instead of the usual photos depicting the canines in elaborate costumes and settings, he adds paint to the pictures to create the hilarious scenes of Flo & Wendell. This merging of media is a visual treat, and the dogs’ deadpan, all-too-human expressions add to the fun.

The lighthearted and slightly satirical story introduces us to Flo and her little brother Wendell, who are part of a family where everyone is a creative type, but in very different ways. Dad paints large by-thenumbers canvases, while Mom is so crazy about knitting that she even knits a sweater for the family car. Flo, with a pink bow perched atop her head, is never short on drama. She recruits her less-than-enthusiastic brother for all sorts of activities like dress-up and hide-and-seek. Wendell has interests of his own, including soccer and cooking (he even whips up a dish with tuna fish and chocolate syrup). Speckled with a big sister’s teasing and a little brother’s ability to roll with the punches, Flo & Wendell reflects the sibling negotiations that many of us endured while growing up, but in a whimsical, furry new way. — D EE ANN GRAN D

How To Train a Train By Jason Carter Eaton

Illustrated by John Rocco Candlewick $16.99, 48 pages ISBN 9780763663070 Ages 4 to 8

picture book

Who would have ever thought that trains could be pets? It’s just the sort of thing that childhood dreams are made of, and this clever “guidebook” explains everything starryeyed train lovers need to know. Imagine a gentle child’s guidebook on caring for dogs, cats or fish. Now insert the word “train” into the text, and literally tons of fun ensues. A young narrator explains that there are several different types of trains, including monorails, freight trains

(which “live in the countryside and travel in herds”) and early steam trains (which “pretty much just sit in museums”). Jason Carter Eaton, author of The Day My Runny Nose Ran Away, likes to think outside the box, and his latest book is no exception. Before you can train a train, you have to catch one, Eaton notes. Suggested methods include trapping it in a net, running it into quicksand or luring it closer with an offering of coal. Once caught, what next? Having a pet train isn’t easy, so this guidebook suggests that a calming bath (in a swimming pool) can ease a jittery train’s nerves. The author also advises: “Train your train not to leap up on people and to always wipe its wheels before going indoors.” Eaton’s fanciful, funny text is perfectly accompanied by John Rocco’s energetic illustrations. Together, this creative team brings their trains to life with names like Smokey, Pushkin, Picklepuss and Sir Chuggsalot. How to Train a Train is particularly pleasing because it’s never cutesy or cartoonish. Rocco’s trains look real (aside from their subtle eyes and expressions), yet he manages to infuse the hulking locomotives with charm and personality. This book is sure to be a huge hit with young railroad enthusiasts everywhere. — ALI C E C ARY

The Real Boy By Anne Ursu

Walden Pond Press $16.99, 352 pages ISBN 9780062015075 Audio, eBook available Ages 8 to 12

middle grade

Imagine, if you will, a perfect city, filled with perfect, almost glowing people, who lead perfect, happy lives. Now imagine that the magic they need to maintain that perfection is unavailable within their walls. In The Real Boy, by Anne Ursu, Oscar is a shop boy who toils in the cellar preparing herbs for Caleb, a magician who provides magic to the residents of Asteri. The Barrow, where Oscar and Caleb live, is the center of a powerfully magical area. But now, the Barrow is being threatened by something sinister, and children in Asteri are falling ill.


REVIEWS Oscar doesn’t quite fit in this world, and he spends as much time as possible away from other people and their worries. That all changes, though, when Caleb departs for the mainland, leaving Oscar to run the shop. With the help of Callie, the healer’s apprentice, Oscar begins to discover why the children of Asteri are getting sick. And that discovery may teach Oscar more about himself than he anticipates. In the overflowing category of books about magic and wizards, The Real Boy stands apart. Filled with rich characters, a fascinating backstory and an exciting conclusion, Ursu’s latest is a worthy successor to her immensely popular novel Breadcrumbs. It‘s impossible to read The Real Boy and not be captivated by the magical spell of Oscar, Callie and the very special world of the Barrow.

meet  DAN SANTAT

has no underwear jokes, bodily fluids or crime-fighting superheroes, it is solidly a book for boys. Henkes brilliantly captures Billy’s view of the world from a male perspective. With so few books that tackle boys’ true emotions, this rare novel stands out for both its subject matter and its exquisite storytelling. While girls may relate to Ramona, now boys can claim Billy Miller. — ANGELA LEE P ER

Atlantis Rising By T.A. Barron

Philomel $17.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780399257575 eBook available Ages 9 and up

middle grade

—Kevin Delecki

The Year of Billy Miller By Kevin Henkes

Greenwillow $16.99, 240 pages ISBN 9780062268129 Audio, eBook available Ages 7 to 10

middle grade

—Kevin Delecki

CRANKENSTEIN Dan Santat is an author, commercial illustrator and creator of the Disney Channel animated series The ­Replacements. Santat made his picture book debut in 2004 as the author/illustrator of The Guild of Geniuses and has illustrated books by several other authors, including Mac Barnett, K.L. Going and Tammi Sauer. His latest book is Crankenstein (Little, Brown, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780316126564), written by Samantha Berger, in which a grumpy little boy displays some monstrous ­behavior. Santat lives in Southern California with his family.

r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m

On the first day of school, Billy Miller worries that he’s not smart enough for second grade. That’s the first of many trying moments for Billy, all portrayed in the four episodic sections of this charming chapter book. Billy fears that his teacher doesn’t like him, tries to stay up all night for the first time, discovers the value of little sisters and aims to write the perfect poem for his mother. Author Kevin Henkes handles every situation with sensitivity and gentle realism. Pressured by classmates to switch from calling his father “Papa” to “Dad,” Billy finds himself in a difficult stage of childhood. He’s no longer a cute toddler like his younger sister, nor is he old enough to stay home alone. His year becomes, then, a time for growing up. Despite his many worries, Billy also finds joy and comfort as he begins to discover his talents, forge deeper bonds with his family and rely on a quiet resilience. Although The Year of Billy Miller

Promi is a good thief, maybe one of the best. Armed with only a knife (which he usually steals), he squeaks by, stealing pies, cakes and other sweets to survive. But then he makes a big mistake. In Atlantis Rising, the new book by best-selling author T.A. Barron, Promi makes an enemy of Deputy High Priest Grukkar, and then steals a smackberry pie right out from under the Divine Monk. While enjoying the stolen pie, Promi is caught by Grukkar and thrown into the deepest, darkest dungeon in Ellegandia. It is here, however, that his true adventure begins. In the dungeon, Promi meets a dying man, a beaten prisoner and a woman with a strange companion. He escapes from the dungeon through mysterious means and awakes as a Listener. The last of his kind, Promi now can influence the world around him, but only at great personal cost. Atlantis Rising explores a rare mythology—it’s not about the sinking of Atlantis, but instead about the origins of the island. Barron, author of many acclaimed fantasies, creates a story that is thrilling from the opening pages, weaving together magic, prophecy, mythology, selfishness and sacrifice. Readers will be fascinated with the world of Ellegandia, and will want to know more— not only about the mythical island it becomes, but also about those who inhabited this magical place before it sank.

31


WORDNOOK

By the editors of Merriam-Webster

LAYING DOWN THE LAW Dear Editor: I’ve always been curious about what we call Murphy’s Law. Who exactly was Murphy, and what led him to conclude that whatever can go wrong will go wrong? K. C. Scottsdale, Arizona The Murphy of Murphy’s Law fame is believed to be Edward A. Murphy, an American engineer born in 1917. Murphy is credited with originating the famous maxim in 1949, though he probably never said the exact words “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” According to published reports, Murphy was at the time an Air Force captain developing g-force sensors for rocket sleds; after a test failed because all the sensors had been installed the wrong way, he is said to have exclaimed something like, “If there are two or more ways to do something and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it.” The project engineer, George Nichols, allegedly dubbed this

pronouncement Murphy’s Law, and it was so called by a rocket sled pilot, Major John Paul Stapp, at a press conference. The aphorism eventually made its way into the general vocabulary, in a slightly altered form, and it has been embraced as the mantra of pessimists everywhere ever since.

WRITTEN IN THE STARS Dear Editor: Can you tell me anything about the origins of the word disaster? D. J. Hauppauge, New York “We make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars,” observed Edmund in Shakespeare’s King Lear. Shakespeare used the word when it was quite new. It entered English from Middle French or Old Italian in the late 16th century. The connection made by Shakespeare between the stars and disasters is etymologically if not scientifically correct. The word disaster owes its very existence to astrology. Old Italian astro means “star.” A disastro

in Old Italian, the ancestor of our English word disaster, was a calamity resulting from the influence of the stars. The stars were, of course, believed to influence the course of daily events. The stars have produced a number of words in English. Desire comes from the Latin desiderare meaning “to long for or miss.” Desiderare derives from de, meaning “from,” and sidus, meaning “star or constellation.” Thus originally it meant to await what the stars had in store for you. Similarly, consider comes from the Latin considerare, meaning literally “to observe the stars,” from com (meaning “with”) plus sidus. Other “star” words include aster, stellar and astrology.

TALLYING TIME Dear Editor: I am curious about the derivation of the expression in the nick of time, and I wonder if you can enlighten me. I am intrigued by an image of time with little nicks taken out of it. S. B. Decatur, Alabama

The picture in your mind is more accurate than you might think! The expression in the nick of time originates from the practice of recording time, transactions, game scores and other such things by making nicks on wooden sticks known as tallies. This method of record-keeping began centuries ago and was used in Britain as late as 1826. Records were kept of the money loaned to the British government, and notches were cut in the tallies as repayments were made. The expression in the nick of time has been used just as we use it today for more than 400 years. One theory about how it came to mean “at the very last moment” comes from the world of sports. When a game, such as an early form of soccer, was being played, scorekeepers would notch the tally stick each time a point was scored. If a team won the game through a last-minute goal, that nick was known as the nick in time.

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BookPage October 2013