More media and librarian favorites land next week, as the summer reading season swings into gear. Some familiar names deliver new novels with big potential, including Alan Furst, Mark Haddon, Jess Walter, John Lanchester, and Robert Goolrick. There are also debuts to watch from Claire McMillan, Benjamin Wood, Maggie Shipstead. Usual suspects include Robert Dugoni, Dorothea Benton Frank, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. And in nonfiction, there’s an intriguing look at what humans and animals have in common when it comes to health and healing by cardiologist and psychiatrist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and science writer Kathryn Bowers.
Mission to Paris by Alan Furst (Random House; Thorndike Large Print; S&S Audio) is set in Paris in the year leading up to Germany’s 1940 attack, as a Hollywood film star is drawn in to the Nazi propaganda war. It’s on Time magazine’s list of top ten picks for the year so far. In an early New York Times review, Janet Maslin says, “This particular Paris is the spy novelist Alan Furst’s home turf. He has been there many times in the course of 11 soignée, alluring novels. But he has never been there with a Hollywood movie star.”
The Gilded Age by Claire McMillan (S&S) follows a woman who returns to close-knit Shaker Heights, Ohio after a divorce and rehab, to find her next wealthy husband. It led the “women’s fiction” category on USA Today‘s Summer Books preview. Publishers Weekly says that “while the novel tips its hat to House of Mirth, a simple comparison doesn’t do McMillan justice.” More Edith Wharton-inspired novels are out this summer. The Innocents by Francesca Segal (Hyperion/Voice. 6/5/12) recasts Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence in a close-knit North West London Jewish community and BEA Lbirarians Shout ‘n’ Share pick, The Age of Desire by Jenny Fields, Penguin/Pamela Dorman, 8/2/12, is about Edith Wharton’s love affair with a younger man.
The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood (Penguin/Viking; Brilliance Audio) is told by caregiver Oscar Lowe, who becomes entangled with Cambridge students Iris and her brother Eden, who thinks he can heal others through music. It’s the second galley featured in our First Flights program. Booklist says, “this first novel is most notable for its acute characterizations and flowing prose that engrosses the reader as initial foreboding fades only to grow again. Wood is definitely a writer to watch.”
The Red House by Mark Haddon (RH/Doubleday; Random House Audio) is a social novel about a brother who invites his sister, her husband and three children for week’s vacation with his new wife and step-daughter, by the author of the runaway bestseller The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night. Entertainment Weekly gives it a B+, saying in a review that sounds more like an A, “The story unfolds from all eight characters’ points of view, a tricky strategy that pays off, letting Haddon dig convincingly into all of the failures, worries, and weaknesses that they can’t leave behind during this pause in their lives.” It’s a June Indie Next pick.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (HarperCollins) is a bittersweet romance that begins when a starlet pregnant with Richard Burton’s baby is whisked from the set of Cleopatra to a tiny Italian seaside village in 1962, where the innkeeper falls in love with her, and looks her up in Hollywood years later. Reviews have begun already, as we noted earlier.
Capital by John Lanchester (Norton) is set in former a working class London neighborhood where property values have skyrocketed, as the 2008 recession sets in. LJ says it “weaves together multiple stories in an uncanny microcosm of contemporary British life that’s incredibly rich and maybe just a bit heavy, like a pastry. Yet definitely worth a look.” It’s also a June Indie Next pick.
Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick (Workman/Algonquin Books; Highbridge Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the story of a man who returns from WWII to a small Virginia town with a suitcase stuffed with cash and a set of butcher knives. LJ says, “this novel is not a straightforward Southern gothic thriller but primarily a lyrical meditation on the magnified elements of small-town life: friendship, trust, land, lust, and sin.” The author’s previous novel, A Reliable Wife, was a huge seller, especially in paperback. We’re expecting even more from this one. This one is the #2 June Indie Next pick
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (RH/Knopf), a debut novel, is the story of “WASP wedding dysfunction at it’s most hilarious,” as librarian Jennifer Dayton of Darien, CT observed on our GalleyChat. It’s a June Indie Next pick and a B&N Best Book of the Month. Ron Charles in the Washington Post this week calls it “a perfect summer romp” and, “Shipstead’s weave of wit and observation continually delights.”
The Conviction by Robert Dugoni (S&S/Touchstone) is the fifth thriller featuring Seattle lawyer David Sloane, as he tries to spring his adopted son and his friend from a hellish juvenile detention center. Nancy Pearl is a Dugoni fan, as evidenced by this interview from 2011.
Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank (Harper/ Morrow; HarperAudio; Thorndike Large Print) explores how a mother and son rekindle their faith in life after their beloved husband and father is killed in the line of duty as a fireman.
Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (S&S/Atria Books; Wheeler Large Print; S&S/Audio) is the story of a young woman who escaped her unhappy Oklahoma childhood as an adult in New York City, but can’t refuse a request to assist her famous cousin, who proceeds to have a very public unraveling. LJ says, “while attempting to address deeper family bonds, the authors swing wide and miss their mark. The emotional ties never quite shine through.”
Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers (RH/Knopf; RH Audio) brings together cardiologist and psychiatrist Natterson-Horowitz and science writer Bowers to make the case that since animals and humans suffer the same diseases, doctors and veterinarians should work more closely together. Booklist calls it “as clarion and perception-altering as works by Oliver Sacks, Michael Pollan, and E. O. Wilson.”