Sleeper Debut of the Week

Of the books being published next week, the likely sleeper is the debut novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. It’s the #1 Indie Next Pick for March. The NYT‘s Janet Maslin was charmed; she already jumped the gun with a review on Monday, and compared it to Alexander McCall Smith.  Following in the tradition of British novels about village life, this book has a modern twist. The gentlemanly Major Pettigrew falls for a lovely Pakistani widow who runs the local tea shop. All four prepub reviews were equally smitten.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Helen Simonson
Retail Price: $25.00
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Random House – (2010-03-02)
ISBN / EAN: 1400068932 / 9781400068937

Random House Audio; UNABR; 9780307712844; $40
Audio downloadable from OverDrive

Other Fiction with Buzz Coming Next Week

Hardly a sleeper Jodi Picoult’s House Rules is showing it has the highest number of holds of titles coming next week. Libraries have anticipated the demand, so average ratios are less than 2:1. The new issue of People magazine gives it their highest rating, 4 out of a possible 4 stars. Entertainment Weekly is more luke warm, giving it a B. They describe the plot this way,

Emma, a single mother, copes just fine with her teenage sons — until the day Jacob is arrested for the murder of his tutor. Jacob has Asperger’s, and the cops confuse his symptoms — such as avoiding eye contact — with guilt.

They say the book “loses points for ruining what could have been a riveting mystery by establishing Jacob’s innocence at the outset.” However, People says, “Picoult weaves a provocative story in which she explores the painn of trying to comprehend the people we love.”

Entertainment Weekly reserves their highest rating this week, an A-, for Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask, a black comedy about a middle aged man who is fired from his job as a college fund raiser. What resonates is a “dazzling prose style that doesn’t so much run across the page as pick it up and throttle it.” Prepub reviews were mixed; LJ thinks its brilliant writing never comes together as a coherent novel, while Kirkus calls it the author’s most brillant work to date and Booklist starred it.

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