Fondly remembered by critics and booksellers for her 2003 debut hit I Don’t Know How She Does It, Allison Pearson returns next week with I Think I Love You, a wistful novel about a grown woman who looks back on her dream of becoming Mrs. David Cassidy in 1970s Wales, and winds up heading to Las Vegas to meet him in mid-life.
People gives it four stars and designates it a People Pick. Even the New York Times‘ Michiko Kakutani is wooed:
[Pearson] shows how Petra’s crush on David Cassidy is really a kind of rehearsal for the love and passion she wants to one day lavish on a real boy in real life, and how those youthful emotions both endure — and are transformed — as the years and decades tick by. . . . [A] groovy little novel whose charms easily erase any objections the reader might have to the prepackaged and heavily borrowed plot.
CD: Random House Audio, $40, ISBN 9780307747525
Check Your Holds
A Discovery of Witches: A Novel by Deborah E. Harkness (Viking), a debut is the first in a planned trilogy, about witches and vampires that is rising fast on Amazon (now at #3), with growing holds in libraries. Part of the story is based on real events; like her main character, Harkness discovered a manuscript, missing since the 1600’s, that was once owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer. Entertainment Weekly gives it a B+, complaining of some bloat, but summing up, “as the mysteries started to unravel, the pages turned faster, almost as if on their own.” Parade Magazine was unequivocal on Sunday, making it a Pick of the Week and calling it “580 pages of sheer pleasure.” Harkness spoke at the AAP Trade Libraries Breakfast at ALA MidWinter. It will be available in large type from Thorndike in March (9781410436337).
The Secret Soldier by Alex Berenson (Putnam) is the fifth thriller featuring ex-CIA man John Wells, by the winner of the 2007 first novel Edgar for The Faithful Spy. Kirkus says, “the plot unfolds along predictable lines in a story arc that Tom Clancy readers or viewers of TV’s 24 will find old hat.”
A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Bradley Alan (Delacorte) is Ms. Flavia de Luce’s third outing, after her bestselling debut in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and return in The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag. Here, she demonstrates a firm knowledge of poisons while saving a gypsy from accusations of child abduction. PW calls it, “a splendid romp through 1950s England led by the world’s smartest and most incorrigible preteen.”
The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney (Random) is the sequel to Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, in which matchmaker Kate Begley plies her profession in neutral WWII Ireland. Booklist says, it “combines the charm of an Irish yarn with the excitement of a political thriller and the romance of a 1940s war movie.”
Heartwood: A Novel by Belva Plain (Delacorte) explores the inevitable endings of romantic relationships through the experiences of a mother and daughter.
Also worth watching:
The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French (Doubleday) is the tale of a once unwitting subject of an experiment in radioactivity, who sets out to avenge the dire consequences of that same study. It follows the author’s much praised 2002 debut novel, Mermaid on the Moon. LJ says, “mixing the suburban angst of Tom Perrotta with the snarky humor of Carl Hiaasen, Stuckey-French has written a page-turner that is thoughtful, amusing, and nearly impossible to put down.”
No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko (Dial) is a children’s fantasy about three siblings whose plane lands in a mysterious world, by an author best known for her Newbery Award-winning historical fiction. Kirkus calls it, “convoluted” with “a confusing host of secondary characters. Fascinating, if not entirely successful.”