Bookstores that is. Before launching into new releases from some of my favorite authors, I want to share a heartening piece in The Wall Street Journal from author Ann Patchett. Four years ago Patchett and Karen Haynes opened Parnassus Books in Nashville. Patchett now reports that the duo are doubling the size of their store this year and they’ve bought a mobile book van! So, let’s keep frequenting our local bookstores to keep any death notices at bay.
So, what’s new on the shelves…
*”There was a time, and it was many years ago now, when I had to stay in a hospital for almost nine weeks.” That’s how Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton, a mother-daughter story, opens. It’s out this month. Patchett calls it “her best novel yet.” And didn’t we love Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge?
So, I wasn’t surprised to see it reviewed ON THE COVER of today’s NYT Book Review. In her review, Claire Messud, she of The Emperor’s Children you may recall, labels Lucy “powerful and melancholy…an exquisite novel.”
Lucy also took up a lot of ink in The Wall Street Journal‘s Review section Saturday. That piece told us that Lucy is “not just about trauma and family; it is also about the difficulties of writing about those things.” So Lucy’s a writer. Another plus.
*Just got word that British author Tessa Hadley’s The Past has arrived at our local bookstore in Sarasota. Hadley tells a tale of siblings returning to the family haunt to decide what its fate will be. Bickering ensues and secrets percolate. I discovered one of Hadley’s short story collections a few years ago at The Boulder Bookstore and have looked for her name ever since. You’ll also find her fiction in The New Yorker.
Interesting that both Strout and Hadley employ gossip as a kind of distracting balm for their characters.
*Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl appears in June. Inspired by The Taming of the Shrew, it’s part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series in which current novelists update the bard.
*And here’s a novel approach from the prolific Julian Fellowes, creator and writer of Downton Abbey. According to The Times, the ever-creative Fellowes will serialize his novel, Belgravia, via an app beginning in April on a website or through e-book retailers. With a nod to Dickens and his ilk, there will be 10 weekly digital installments: $1.99 for each chapter; $13.99 for the lot. Or you can purchase the hardback in July.
But wait, there’s still more! The app will also incorporate an audio version, music, video, character portraits, family trees, images of period fashion and maps of Belgravia. Yikes, dothere’s a lot going on here to distract from the story, no? And what’s that about anyway?
We’re looking at London in the 1840s. Belgravia, perfect for Downton junkies on withdrawal, explores the class divisions between the established aristocracy and newly wealthy families who made their fortunes through the industrial Revolution.
So what think you? A bit much or bring it on?