Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

THE LAST KINGDOM BBC Series

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

A BBC TV series based on Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Tales, titled The Last Kingdom, after the first book in the series, is to premiere on BBC America on Oct. 10.

No full trailer yet, the following is just a teaser:

The Last Kingdom tie-in
Bernard Cornwell
Harper Papberbacks: September 22, 2015
9780062438621, 006243862X
Paperback; $15.99 USD

The ninth book in the series Warriors of the Storm, is coming in January (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe).

Closer to Screen: CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

9780609610978The  pilot for a Lifetime series, The Clan Of The Cave Bear, based on Jean M. Auel’s 1980’s books, has behind it high-profile executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. The cast is now taking shape, indicating that filming may begin soon.

Set 25,000 years ago, Auel’s Earth Children series, the first of which is The Clan Of The Cave Bear (RH/Crown), imagines a clan of Neanderthals adopting an orphaned Cro-Magnon girl Ayla, who, as she grows up, demonstrates superior intellect and eventually breaks free of the restrictions imposed on the female members of  the Clan. The book was a New York Times best seller for five months.

The lead role of the adult Ayla went to British actress-model Millie Brady in January. Since then, other major roles have been filled. Johnny Ward will play Broud, the future clan leader. Hal Ozsan will play Brun, the current Clan leader. Charlene McKenna has just joined the cast in the role of  Brun’s sister Iza, the Clan’s medicine woman and Ayla’s mentor.

The book was made into a disastrous movie in 1986, starring Daryl Hannah as Ayla.

Nancy Pearl Loves Historical Mysteries

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 10.38.21 AMLibrarian Nancy Pearl picks a title from one her favorite genres, historical mysteries, for her weekly radio show.

The Strangler Vine (Penguin/Putnam; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample, 3/31/15) by M.J. Carter is a debut set in 1837 India. Nancy calls it “an old-fashioned adventure novel.”

Carter is the author of two nonfiction works and uses her skills in research to create a vividly set historical thriller tracing the adventures of William Avery, a newly arrived British solider, and Jeremiah Blake, a seasoned spy gone native.

In praise any publisher would kill for, Nancy says it is “wonderful reading, I just couldn’t put it down.”

The New York Post agrees, making it one of their “This week’s must-read books” and calling it a “yarn reminiscent of adventures by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Nancy appears every Tuesday on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW and an archive of her appearances is also available.

Crystal Ball:
AT THE WATER’S EDGE

Friday, March 27th, 2015

At the Water's Edge  9781565124998_36937  book_AH

Will word of mouth sink or buoy up Sara Gruen’s At The Water’s Edge (RH/Spiegel & Grau; RH Audio; RH Large Print; Overdrive Sample), arriving next week?

Early reactions are sharply divided. It’s the #1 LibraryReads pick for April but both Kirkus and Booklist were less than enthusiastic, with Kirkus calling it plain “silly” and complaining that the main characters came across as “spoiled brats.” Past history is also divided. The author has published one blockbuster, Water for Elephants, the basis for a successful movie (which may even become a Broadway musical), followed by the less successful Ape House.

We checked in with several collection development librarians to get their take. All of them expect At The Water’s Edge to hit best seller lists based on the author’s name recognition and to continue due to word of mouth. Several took a strong position early and others have gone back to order more copies.

Below are their major points (sorry, quotes had to be anonymous).

Setting:

  • “The World War II setting will definitely be a bigger attraction than that of Ape House (a research center dedicated to studying bonobo apes).”
  • Set in Scotland, it includes fascinating details about the Loch Ness monster

Comparison to previous titles:

  • Most said that Ape House had not done well at all in their libraries, but one librarian cautions, “Underperformance is relative. We might have considered Ape House a success if we didn’t have Water for Elephants as a comparison.”

Characters:

  • “Unlikeable characters have held back some titles from star writers for us before.”
  • “Some people complain about the characters in GOTT, but that hasn’t killed word of mouth.”
  • The main character shows emotional development and don’t forget, there’s a romance involved.

Reading Group Appeal:

  • “Reading groups who will have a great time dissecting this book and parsing the characters.”

Reviews:

  • The LJExpress review, posted after the less appreciative Kirkus and Booklist reviews, has it right. “Get past [some issues with believability], and you’ll find yourself skimming along entertainingly with Maddie as she grows up, asserts herself, and gets the right man.”
  • “One of my very best ARC readers raved about it, and she’s never wrong.”
  • The consumer press will have an effect, especially if Entertainment Weekly and/or People are enthusiastic. It will get media attention of course. The  author is scheduled to appear on the upcoming NPR Weekend Edition Saturday and next week on the Diane Rehm Show.

Summary:

  • “My best guess (educated, of course ) is this book will circulate briskly for most of the summer into the fall and be a book club favorite. It’s success will be closer to Water for Elephants and much better than Ape House, which was a bust for us. It has a lot of hooks going for it: Scotland, World War II, romance, Loch Ness monster, a Downtown Abbey vibe (few seem to be bothered that Lord Grantham and family continue going to balls and teas in the midst of war).”

Place your bets in the comments section, below!

THE DANISH GIRL Gets
Release Date

Friday, March 6th, 2015

9780140298482_581f7Eddie Redmayne already has one Oscar for his startling physical transformation as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Another may be in the works.

In the upcoming film adaptation of  David Ebershoff’s first novel, The Danish Girl, (Penguin/Viking, 2000; NYT review), he will play a man who in the 1930’s had one of the earliest transgender surgeries.

The release date has just been announced for Thanksgiving weekend, making it Oscar bait.

A first look at Eddie Redmayne in the role was released on Twitter last week:

B-129lAWwAABGYF

Indie Favorite for April

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 8.31.58 AMA debut novel that is an in-house favorite at Algonquin, strongly promoted by Workman’s library marketer Mike Rockliff, tops the just-released April Indie Next List. Orhan’s Inheritance (Algonquin Books, 4/7) by Aline Ohanesian which takes place in both the Ottoman Empire and the 1990s, centers upon a dark segment of Turkish history as explored through two characters, an elderly woman living in an Armenian-American nursing home and a Turkish man learning about his family’s past.

In his recent library newsletter (download it here), Rockliff extols Ohanesian’s prose, sharing an excerpt to prove his point:

Seda takes a deep breath and picks up the embroidery in her lap. She hunches over her hands, letting her fingers work the delicate stitching. Three rows of red and yellow diamonds mark the pattern as Anatolian in origin. Despite her resolve, the past is bleeding out of her fingers, staining everything it touches.

The Indie Next annotation is equally compelling:

Debut author Ohanesian’s historical novel relives the nearly forgotten tragedy of the Armenian Genocide during and after WWI. Through deportations, massacres, and executions of Christian and Jewish Armenians, the Ottoman Empire and its successors eliminated 1.5 million citizens. Ohanesian’s beautifully written book shares a tale of passionate love, unspeakable horror, incredible strength, and the hidden stories that haunt a family. Highly recommended. — Doug Robinson, Eagle Eye Book Shop, Decatur, GA

Orders are light at many libraries we checked.

In the newsletter, Mike also announces he will retire in June after ALA Annual in San Francisco, which gives us one final chance to thank him for many years of unflagging enthusiasm for both books and libraries.

BOOK OF NEGROES On BET

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Lawrence Hill’s novel Someone Knows My Name, (Norton, 2008) has been adapted as a 6-part TV series, using the book’s original Canadian title, The Book of Negroes. Debuting last night, it will continue over the next two nights.

Critics are mostly favorable, with some predicting that this puts BET in line for its first Emmy nomination.

The following is from our December story about the series:

The novel, a fictional slave narrative, is based on the stories of American slaves who escaped to Canada after the Revolutionary War and were then recruited by British abolitionists to settle in Sierra Leone. The Washington Post praised its “heart-stopping prose” and noted that “Hill balances his graphic depictions of the horrors of enslavement with meticulously researched portrayals of plantation life.”

Directed by Clement Virgo, the movie stars Aunjanue Ellis, Louis Gossett Jr., Cuba Gooding Jr., and Lyriq Bent.

Gossett was interviewed about the series during its premiere at the  Toronto International Film Festival in November. He compares it to another TV mini-series he starred in, Roots.

Learn more at the Official Web Site.

Trailer:

Tie-in:

9780393351392_5e574

Lawrence Hill
W.W. Norton; January 12, 2015
9780393351392, 0393351394
Paperback
$15.95 USD

DOVEKEEPERS Trailer Debuts

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

The trailer for four-hour mini-series adaptation of The Dovekeepers, (S&S/Scribner, 2012), Alice Hoffman’s historical novel about the Siege of Masada has just debuted online. The series will air in two parts on CBS, March 31 and April 1, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT.

Produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, dubbed by Deadline, “Hollywood’s It Couple when it comes to religious programming,” it stars Cote de Pablo, with Rachel Brosnahan, Kathryn Prescott, Diego Boneta and Sam Neill.

Speaking to TV critics on Monday during the Winter TV Press Tour, Downey explained why she wanted to adapt the novel, “What attracted me is it had these amazingly powerful and courageous women. For many years as an actress myself I was always looking for the story or scripts that really put women out front and center. This does that. It’s profoundly moving.”

Tie-ins (for tie-ins to all upcoming movies and TV see our catalog on Edelweiss):

9781476790381_e6b30

The DovekeepersAlice Hoffman
S&S/Scribners, March 17, 2015
Trade Paperback

Mass Market, S&S/Pocket Book

Simon & Schuster Audio

OUTLANDER Returns

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

The first full trailer has landed for the second half of Starz adaptation of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, which begins on April 4.

Helping to promote it, Diana Gabaldon spoke to the Television Critics Assn. last week. Noting that the TV version’s audience  is 47% male, she said, “I mean no disrespect to the hordes of female readers whom I value immensely, but the TV show has brought me a lot more male readers.”

She also said she is at work the ninth book in the series, which brings the characters into their early sixties (the most recent, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, RH/Delacorte, came out in June, 2014).

Starz has renewed Outlander for a second season, based on the second book in the series, Dragonfly In Amber (RH/Delacorte, 1992). Company CEO Chris Albrecht said he is hopeful they will “get through every book,” which may be a challenge, since the series includes at least 9 books, as well as several novellas and “bridge books” (see Gabaldon’s web site for a full chronology).

RA Alert: An Old-Fashioned Western
Rides Into THE NEW YORK TIMES

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 11.59.40 AM

Readers advisors struggling to help readers find new “old fashioned” Westerns will be pleased to see one covered in this week’s New York Times Book Review. Unfortunately, however, the review of Robert Bausch’s eighth novel,  Far as the Eye Can See (Macmillan/Bloomsbury, Nov. 2014; OverDrive Sample), is pretty mixed, even harsh in some spots. While praising the novel as an “entertaining old-school western,” that is more “True Grit than Blood Meridian,” he accuses the author of stereotyping, “I know Bausch is writing historical fiction, but enough already. Read some Sherman Alexie. Bring something fresh.”

Booklist, on the other hand, credits the main character for showing “more sympathy for the natives than do many lead characters in traditional westerns.”  Kirkus gives it a star and LJ says it is “not to be missed by historical fiction fans.”

Upcoming Westerns to note include two recently featured in GalleyChat, Mary Doria Russell’s Epitaph (HarperCollins/Ecco, March) and Black River by S. M. Hulse (HMH, January).

WOLF HALL, Trailer

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

The trailer for BBC’s adaptation of the first two books in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall series was just released.

The six-part series will air as part of “Masterpiece,” beginning April 5 (it begins in the U.K. next month). It stars Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and Damian Lewis, known to many American primarily as Brody in the first three seasons of Showtime’s Homeland, as Henry VIII.

After previewing the full series, author Mantel gave it the thumbs up, saying, “Every face seems to me one that Holbein would recognize,” referring to Henry VIII’s court painter. Earlier, she had warned the BBC against indulging in the kind of historical “nonsense” that marred what she called the “big, all-singing, all-dancing American TV series The Tudors” produced by Showtime in 2010.

It seems there is one deviation from history, however. The Wolf Hall cod pieces may be too small. We’re to be blamed for that as well, since the real size was considered a “little too much for American television viewers.”

Tie-ins:

Wolf Hall: As Seen on PBS Masterpiece : A Novel
Hilary Mantel
Macmillan/ Picador: March 17, 2015
9781250077585, 1250077583
Trade Paperback
$16.00 USD

Bring Up the Bodies: The Conclusion to PBS Masterpiece’s Wolf Hall : A Novel
Hilary Mantel
Macmillan/ Picador: March 17, 2015
9781250077608, 1250077605
Trade Paperback
$16.00 USD

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatrical adaptation opens on Broadway on March 20th, also with a tie-in (note: the Theater Arts Communication tie-in we noted earlier has been cancelled). The Daily Mail quotes Mantel saying that the TV version is very different from the play.

9781250064172_13982Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: The Stage Adaptation
Hilary Mantel, Mike Poulton
Macmillan/Picador: February 24, 2015
9781250064172, 1250064171
Trade Paperback, $16.00 USD

 

 

As to when the third book in the trilogy, The Mirror and The Light will appear, Mantel has said it is “unlikely to be ready until 2016.” She is working under a bit of pressure. The BBC is waiting for its release so they can begin that adaptation.

WOLF HALL Series, U.S. Debut

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

9780312429980   Bring Up the Bodies (Booker Winner)

Hilary Mantel, author of the Wolf Hall series, recently told an audience that she will not appreciate it if the BBC indulges in the kind of “nonsense” that the Americans brought to history in The Tudors TV series on Showtime.

American audiences will be able to judge for themselves this spring. PBS just announced that they will air the series as part of  “Masterpiece,” beginning April 5. The six-part series stars Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and Damian Lewis, known to many American primarily as Brody in the first three seasons of Showtime’s Homeland, as Henry VIII.

In an odd bit of timing, the TV series begins after the Broadway opening on March 20th of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatrical adaptation, which has been a hit in London (view Act 1, Scene 1). The text of the play will be published in two versions:

9780007549894_4b1c7  9781250064172_e247a

Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: (stage version)
Hilary Mantel, Mike Poulton
Theatre Communications Group; December 16, 2014
Ship Date: November 24, 2014
9780007549894, 000754989X
Trade Paperback, $22.95 USD

Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: The Stage Adaptation
Hilary Mantel, Mike Poulton
Picador: February 24, 2015
9781250064172, 1250064171
Trade Paperback, $16.00 USD

As to when the third book in the trilogy, The Mirror and The Light will appear, Mantel said it is “unlikely to be ready until 2016.

Final WOLF HALL Book Not Til 2016

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

9780312429980   Bring Up the Bodies (Booker Winner)

The author of the Wolf Hall series, Hilary Mantel, puts the BBC on notice that she won’t appreciate it if their adaptation of her books, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, indulges in the kind of “nonsense” that the Americans brought to history in The Tudors TV series on Showtime. Speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival over the weekend,  she said, “At some point, someone had decided that it was too complex for Henry VIII to have two sisters, so they rolled them into one. Then they had to find a fictitious king for her to marry, so I think they invented a king from Portugal unknown to history. It’s so shaming, and it stems from not trusting the intelligence of the viewer,”

Reporting on the session, The Telegraph notes that the author dashed hopes that the third in the book trilogy, The Mirror and The Light, will appear next year, saying it is “unlikely to be ready until 2016.

WOLF HALL Coming to Broadway

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

9780312429980   Bring Up the Bodies (Booker Winner)

Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of the first two books in Hilary Mantel’s Tudor trilogy, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, has been a has been a hit in London and is now set to make its American debut on Broadway April 9 next year. The production is over 5 1/2 hours long, which can be viewed in two consecutive parts (with a dinner break), or on separate days.

Perhaps feeling some competition,  the executive producer of the upcoming BBC TV adaptation of Wolf Hall, commented in a recent essay in The Guardian, “I would like to clarify that the BBC commissioned the six-hour mini-series long before it was produced for the stage.” Starring Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and Damian Lewis (Homeland) as Henry VIII, filming was under way in various historic British locations this summer. No release dates have been announced.

The author is at work on third book in the series, The Mirror and The Light, (she and the stage play’s producer both say they hope it will also be adapted). No publication date has been announced, but some sources say it is due next year.

The stage adaptation will be released in book form this coming February. According to the publisher, it  also”contains a substantial set of notes by Hilary Mantel on each of the principal characters, offering a unique insight into the plays and an invaluable resource to any reader looking for an even deeper understanding of Mantel’s historical creations.”

9781250064172_e247aWolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: The Stage Adaptation,  (Macmillan/Picador)
Hilary Mantel, Mike Poulton (adapted by)
Macmillan/Picador: February 24, 2015
9781250064172, 1250064171
Trade Paperback
$16.00 USD

Readers Advisory: Historical Fiction and the “Ick” Factor

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

9780062335944_2516fKaty Simpson Smith has received enviable attention for her first novel, The Story of Land and Sea, (Harper; HarperLuxe; HarperAudio, 8/26/14 ). Vogue magazine profiled the author, under the headline, “Katy Simpson Smith’s Luminous Novel Is Set to Be the Debut of the Year.”

The Washington Post saw in the novel echoes of Hilary Mantel‘s Wolf Hall series, in that it “works to breathe life into history using the immediacy of the present tense. Its finely wrought (sometimes overwrought) language blends startling details of the everyday with a dreamy, aphoristic quality. The effect is to root the novel in its historical moment but to reach toward the universal in its exploration of love and grief.”

Wendy Bartlett, head of collection development at Cuyahoga P.L, Ohio, agrees that those details of daily life are “startling,” but not necessarily in a good way. She opened a discussion with branch staff about the book, via the following comments on the staff intranet.

Have you noticed the trend toward Realism with a capital “R” that has been hitting historical fiction? I get that living in 1793 was no picnic, but seriously, leave the ick factor to my imagination, okay?

I first noticed this with last year’s Longbourn by Jo Baker, a book I loved, but if there had been one more paragraph about chamber pots, I swear I’d have pitched it across the room. And Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Great book as a long as you aren’t depressed when you start it, because trust me, you will be when you finish it. Did I really need to know how grungy Iceland was in 1829? I have been blessed with a great imagination. Oh, Writer. Trust your readers. We could have figured it out.

And now along comes The Story of Land and Sea, an excellent historical novel with lots of good historical detail woven in, lots of examination of how people in 1793 North Carolina thought and believed and therefore behaved differently than we do, which is superbly done, but ugh—when you get to the part about yellow fever. Again, Oh, Writer, I can color in those details myself.

I wonder if this is part of a larger cultural change. Are people so accustomed to visual entertainment that writers have to literally give us the gory details to make it real for people used to getting their mental pictures drawn for them on Xbox and HBO?

If your customers like extremely well written historical novels with carefully crafted character development, they’ll love The Story of Land and Sea, but if they are more to the Gentle Reader side of the scale, they’d be happier with Light Between the Oceans or The Invention of Wings.

Several of Cuyahoga staff members responded that they like those details, including Susan Levinsohn, who wrote,

I think we are more tolerant than we were even 10 yrs. ago for the reasons you mentioned above. Senior ladies are not asking for cozies like they used to and don’t mind reading the more graphic fiction. I also think many people that read historical fiction (including myself) like to read background information that does represent the times. I like to get a “feel” for the times and the people of the era as well as the story woven around it. I think if part of the appeal for the reader is the history then the details, however “icky” are more likely taken in as just true to the times. I like Miss Marple but I’ll take Burial Rites too.

As Wendy says, it’s important to understand your customers preferences when making recommendations.

Read the first chapter here.