Editor’s Note: Robin Beerbower is EarlyWord‘s regular “GalleyChatter” columnist. In her day job, Robin is the readers’ advisor and homebound services coordinator for the Salem [OR] Public Library. Enthusiastic about the importance (and fun) of reading books ahead of publication, she tirelessly tracks down galleys, making her an authority on what to read next. She is also very active on the Edelwiss Community Board, using it to spot titles and gauge developing buzz among librarians (you can join in; just register on Edelweiss and “friend” Robin). Below is her latest:
Three titles that garnered rave reviews during past GalleyChats also recently received top accolades from People (Laird’s Neverhome, Hachette/Little, Brown and St. Mandel’s Station Eleven, RH/Knopf) and Entertainment Weekly (Station Eleven and Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests, Penguin/Riverhead). Also, Station Eleven made the National Book Award Longlist! Are there a few crystal balls in library offices? No, we’re just a group of librarians with discerning eyes as to what will popular with readers.
What will the critics and the public be raving about in a few months? To find out, check out the following top titles from the September 9 chat. For a complete Edelweiss list of what was discussed, check here. Many are available in as egalleys; read them and remember to nominate your favorites on LibraryReads.
Storytelling at Its Best
There’s nothing like a good story to keep us reading and three titles stood out for their gripping plots.
A couple of us were so excited to chat about Greer Macallister’s The Magician’s Lie (Sourcebooks Landmark, January), we could hardly wait until the official chat time began. The story of a female illusionist in the early 1900s who flees her show after her husband is found hacked to death and is caught by the local constable kept us enthralled. Sharron Smith said the tale was hypnotic and the eerie dark tone reminded me of Goolrick’s A Reliable Wife.
Judging from the excited responses when I mentioned Fiercombe Manor, Kate Riordan (Harper, February), the gothic novel is alive and well. With its English manor setting, threads of madness, and hints of hauntings, it’s an obvious homage to Kate Morton, Victoria Holt, Sarah Waters, and Daphne du Maurier. Before reading, Google “Owlpen Manor” to see the house that inspired the setting.
Maria Dueñas’s first book, The Time In Between was a beautifully told epic story, and her follow-up, The Heart Has Its Reasons (S&S/Atria, November) is another clear winner. Beth Mills (New Rochelle Public Library) said this story of a female professor moving from Madrid to San Francisco and becoming obsessed with an exiled writer who died years before is “an absorbing read—it ties in academic politics, 20th century Spanish history and early California history.”
It’s unanimous that GalleyChatters love Stewart O’Nan’s ability to build sympathetic characters and his next book, West of Sunset (Penguin/Viking, January) with its focus on F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s last years in Hollywood doesn’t disappoint. In her Edelweiss review Darien Library’s Collection Development manager Jennifer Dayton said “This is a portrait of a man drowning in longing for lost chances, lost loves and lost worlds. I loved it.”
Appearing on the Booker Man 2014 longlist (but alas, not the shortlist), Us, David Nicholls (Harper, October), the witty story of a man trying to save his marriage of 30 years after his wife announces she wants a divorce, was very popular with readers. According to Janet Lockhart (Wake County Libraries, NC), Nicholls “blends humor and sadness with great dialog and engaging characters.”
Virginia Woolf is hot again — in the publishing world anyway. She’s featured in two new novels. Jennifer Winberry (Hunterdon County Library, NJ) is anticipating Vanessa and her Sister, (RH/Ballantine,December), a “biofic” about Virginia Woolf and her sister, saying “I’m very much looking forward to this as I’m addicted to Virginia Woolf & all things Bloomsbury.” Then Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf, Norah Vincent (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April), the imagined story of the events prior to Woolf’s suicide was posted on Edelweiss after our GalleyChat .
The Rest of What We Loved
Back in May Jill LePore impressed the audience with her spirited presentation at the BEA librarians’ breakfast and since then anticipation has been building for The Secret History of Wonder Woman (RH/Knopf, October), the amazing account of how Wonder Woman came into existence along with a crucial bit of feminism history.
I haven’t read many graphic novels but I am now addicted to Lucy Knisley’s series of personal experiences that started with Relish: My Life in the Kitchen and continued with An Age of License. Her latest, Displacement (WW Norton/Fantagraphics, February), received high praise from collection development librarian Janet Lockhart who said “Knisley is single handedly turning me into a graphic novel reader.”
I loved Michael Kardos’s The Three-Day Affair (2012) and was sorry it didn’t get the attention it deserved, so I’m keeping fingers crossed his newest, Before He Finds Her (Grove Atlantic, Mysterious Press) will find a bigger audience of thriller lovers in February. This fast moving plot about a man who murdered his wife and may be looking for his missing daughter is told from multiple viewpoints and is perfect for Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay readers.
Comparisons to Jacqueline Mitchard’s Deep End of the Ocean is enough to make most of us want to read Tim Johnston’s Descent (Workman/Algonquin, January) but Kaite Stover goes further, saying it is “moving, absorbing, and lyrical in telling the story of a family’s anguish at the disappearance of a child.” And nine other Edelweiss users agree giving it “much love.” Oprah, are you paying attention?
So what is destined to become hits with both the critics and the public? We shall see. In the meantime, if you want to test your psychic skills, join our next GalleyChat on October 7 from 4:00-5:00, Eastern, (more details here), and if you want to keep up on what I’m anticipating on Edelweiss, “friend me.”