Debut Novels Getting Attention

As we head into a season studded with even more big names than usual, promising debut novels may get lost in the dust. Libraries play a key role as a showcase for new writers, so, throughout the fall, we will pay special attention to reviews of first-time writers.

Below is a roundup of four titles that have captured reviewers.

The Los Angeles Times calls The Last Ember a “smart, well-paced thriller.” Noting that the Da Vinci Code launched

…a new kind of action man…middle-aged professors more familiar with biblical symbolism than…what to wear for cocktails in South American embassies…their ability to foil evil cults by drawing on a knowledge of dead languages and ancient statuary has undeniably captured readers’ imaginations.

The reviewer and says the hero of The Last Ember is “one of the most capaciously learned of this new breed.”

The Last Ember
Daniel Levin
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover – (2009-08-06)
ISBN / EAN: 159448872X / 9781594488726

Audio from HighBridge:

  • Unabridged; 15 hours edition (August 6, 2009); ISBN-13: 978-1598878912


In the Washington Post, Carolyn See claims that The Wet Nurses’s Tale by Erica Eisdorfer is part of a new sub-genre, ” the mini-saga set in vaguely Napoleonic times about a spirited female living in England, having adventures, making her own was as best she can.”

Unfortunately, See doesn’t give any other examples (Crimson Petal and the White, by Michel Faber, perhaps?) and, worse, doesn’t give it catchy name, but  says,

…the strength of The Wet Nurse’s Tale isn’t in the plot (which gets a little out of control at the end) but in the common-sense character of Susan Rose, who is far from the received notion of bawdy, but nobody’s victim, either. And also for the hundred little details about what it was like to keep a middle-class home going then…it may be a pretty good take on how people actually lived in those days. I liked it very much.

The Wet Nurse’s Tale
Erica Eisdorfer
Retail Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult – (2009-08-06)
ISBN / EAN: 0399155767 / 9780399155765

Available in eBook from OverDrive


Also in the Washington Post, Ron Charles calls The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson an,

…enchanting first novel…full of the mingled affection and tragedy…a strange tour of late 18th-century England, a natural history of elephants and the story of a most unusual friendship.”

He warns, however,

For several chapters, the story doesn’t appear to move at all, but at other times (too late for some readers, I fear) it thunders along with surprising speed. I never found it boring, but it’s easy for me to imagine other zoogoers  would rather move on to the snack pavilion.

The Elephant Keeper
Christopher Nicholson
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: William Morrow – (2009-08-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061651605 / 9780061651601

Available in eBook from OverDrive

And, in large type:

  • Publisher: Harperluxe;
  • Pbk; $ 24.99
  • ISBN: 0061774839   EAN: 9780061774836


The Invisible Mountains by Carolina De Robertis is a tale of three generations in Uruguay and Argentina. The San Francisco Chronicle calls it “the kind of novel you stay up late to finish and lie awake thinking about. It is breathless, full of tenderness; despite its grim political realities, a faint, fairy-tale quality lights it.”

The Invisible Mountain
Carolina De Robertis
Retail Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2009-08-25)
ISBN / EAN: 0307271633 / 9780307271631

Available in audio from Random House:

ISBN: 0739384465   EAN: 9780739384466
Publisher: Random House Audio
US SRP: $ 45.00 US  –  (Discount: 45%)
Binding: Compact Disc – Other Formats
Pub Date: August 01, 2009

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