It’s a game of “Is this one better than that one” for critics this week, as they look forward to two big launches on Tuesday. We’ve already looked at the earliest reviews of The Girl in the Spider’s Web (RH/Knopf; RH and BOT Audio; RH Large Print). People magazine adds theirs online today (the review is not in the new print issue; usually it is the other way around), judging it a worthy successor. That makes the Washington Post the only holdout so far
The other title is Jonathan’s third book, Purity. (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio). It’s also had several early reviews, which we summarized. Many more have been added since.
Going beyond the cliched adjective “highly anticipated,” Entertainment Weekly ‘s Leah Greenblatt writes, “A new Jonathan Franzen novel arrives only every five or 10 years, and when it does, it feels like a banquet. His books are almost always centered on familial entanglements and identity, but they’re never just that: There are brilliant stand-alone chapters to devour, detours to savor, bitter little scraps to nibble and spit out.” This one is no exception, says Greenblatt, Objecting to Franzen’s “often shockingly ugly take on women” (although she says he is an equal opportunity insulter, since his “male characters hardly come out unscathed”) and to the novel’s abrupt ending which seems to indicate Franzen tired of his characters, she gives it a B.
The daily NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani, whom Franzen referred to in 2008 as “the stupidest person in New York City,” calls this a “dynamic new novel,” which, “After its somewhat stilted start …kicks into gear, with Mr. Franzen writing with gathering assurance and verve.” Addressing Franzen famous misanthropy, she says he “has added a new octave to his voice … [the] ability here to not just satirize the darkest and pettiest of human impulses but to also capture his characters’ yearnings for connection and fresh starts — and to acknowledge the possibility of those hopes.”
LA Times chief critic David L. Ulin’s is more qualified, saying “The novel is a bit of a mixed bag, largely because of all the plotting, which has never been the author’s strong suit; both The Corrections and Freedom succeed despite, not because of, their narrative contrivances. All the same, it remains compelling to read Franzen confront his demons, which are not just his but everyone’s.”
People magazine makes it their “Pick of the Week,” [not online yet] calling it “Wickedly smart and funny about power and desire, sometimes flabby and contrived yet still irresistible: pure Franzen.”
The titles covered here, and several more notable titles arriving next week, are listed with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet,EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of Aug. 31, 2015
Consumer Media Picks
The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante, (Europa Editions)
The cult Italian author‘s final book in her Neapolitan Novels series is featured on the cover of this week’a NYT Book Review.
The writer explains in a Vanity Fair interview that “You Don’t Need to Know Her Name.”
Did You Ever Have A Family, Bill Clegg, (S&S/Gallery/Scout Press)
There’s a pile-up of excitement for this book, featured at BEA, with stars from all four pre-pub journals, plus picks by Indie Next as well as LibraryReads:
“Clegg’s devastatingly beautiful fiction debut is the portrait of a community in the aftermath of a tragedy. June Reid, the broken woman at the epicenter of the novel, is struggling with a loss so profound that she is unable to see beyond her grief, unaware that it has touched many people. Clegg tells their stories with heartbreaking sensitivity and insight.” — Mary Coe, Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Fairfield, CT
Girl Waits with Gun, Amy Stewart, (HMH)
Also arriving with four prepub stars and picks by Indie Next and LibraryReads:
“When the Kopp sisters and their buggy are injured by Henry Kaufman’s car, Constance Kopp at first just wants him to pay the damages. As she pursues justice, she meets another of Kaufman’s victims, the young woman Lucy. Stewart creates fully developed characters, including the heroine, Constance, who is fiercely independent as she faces down her fears. The time period and setting are important parts of the story as well, providing a glimpse of 1914 New Jersey.” — Maggie Holmes, Richards Memorial Library, North Attleboro, MA
It is also reviewed in the week’s New York Times Sunday Book Review and author Stewart answers the burning question from the L.A Times, “What made Amy Stewart leave garden bestsellers behind for the novel Girl Waits with Gun?” She reveals she has and answer to reviewers’ hopes and is working on anther novel featuring Constance Kopp.
The Gates of Evangeline, Hester Young, (Penguin/Putnam)
Indie Next and LibraryReads
“Journalist Charlie Cates goes to gloomy, swampy Louisiana to write a book about the disappearance of a young child. Her research uncovers family secrets, lies, and clandestine affairs. This first book in a new series is incredibly suspenseful, with a vivid setting, a supernatural tinge, and an intricate plot that keeps you guessing until the end.” — Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ
Jade Dragon Mountain, Elsa Hart, (Macmillan/Minotaur)
“Hart has written an excellent historical whodunit set in a remote province of Imperial China in 1708. Li Du, a librarian in exile, investigates the murder of an old Jesuit priest a few days before the arrival of the emperor. Full of mythological, cultural, and historical details, Jade Dragon Mountain also offers a fascinating analysis of the period when foreign businessmen began coveting China’s riches, in particular its tea. The plot is tight, the characters and suspects are fully developed, and the story keeps readers guessing with a few extra surprises at the end. I highly recommend this book and I am looking forward to reading more adventures featuring Li Du.” —Pierre Camy, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI
At BEA Shout ‘n’ Share, Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Library System said, “The language, the prose is so beautiful it takes you into the story and keeps you going page after page.”
Hitting theaters today is the movie adaptation of Robert C. O’Brien, Z For Zachariah (S&S/Atheneum, 1975; tie-in edition, Simon Pulse, 8/18/15), reviewed in the NYT today. Concluding on HBO this Sunday is the series Show Me A Hero, based on the book by Lisa Belkin.
Scheduled for publication this week are new trade paperback editions of the six titles in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series and the three in the prequel, The Infernal Devices. ABC Family is adapting the series. It is expected to being in early 2016. To fuel fan interest, the official site ShadowHuntersTV.com was launched recently.
For our full list of upcoming adaptations, download our Books to Movies and TV. For tie-ins, link to our catalog on Edelweiss.