Publicity: More on The Women in The Castle

It’s been a great first week for Jessica Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle. Initial reviews are raves. (See below.)

Shattuck’s NYT op-ed “I Loved My Grandmother. But She was a Nazi.” went viral over the weekend and was the #1 most-viewed story on the Opinion page

And you can listen to her NPR/Weekend Edition interview Click here.

“Moving… This is definitely not a story of plucky women banding together to fix up a chilly home.  Their recoveries are burdened with unending guilt, and while they’re sharing the deprivations of the present, very often they’re keeping secrets about the traumas of the past, even from one another. Shattuck’s characters represent the range of responses to fascism.  Her achievement – beyond unfolding a plot that surprises and devastates – is in her subtle exploration of what a moral righteousness like Marianne’s looks like in the aftermath of the war, when communities and lives must be rebuilt, together.”
—  The New York Times

“If you love historical fiction, this is your must-read book: It’s captivating, fascinating, and incredibly faithful to the events as they happened, and Jessica Shattuck reveals an entirely new side of what it’s like to be a woman in wartime.”
— Newsweek

“Offers a mesmerizing new look at the aftermath of the war . . . with insight and empathy, The Women in the Castle stands tall among the literature that reveals new truths about one of history’s most tragic eras.”
— USA Today

The Women in the Castle (9780062563668) by Jessica Shattuck. $26.99 hardcover. 3/28/17 on sale.


Fiction Short Take: The Orphan’s Tale – Pam Jenoff

Jenoff is the author of a number of commercial historical novels, including the bestselling WWII novel, The Kommandant’s Girl. Jenoff returns to that territory in this story published under Harlequin’s MIRA imprint. Readers who enjoy the drama of stories like Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants will likely be drawn to this tale of everyday lives lived in Germany under the Nazis.

“Bestselling author Jenoff depicts two disparate women thrown together by destiny, each hiding a secret from the Nazi regime….Despite their different backgrounds, they find comfort and trust in each other’s friendship. Against the backdrop of circus life during the war, the author captures the very real terrors faced by both women as they navigate their working and personal relationships and their complicated love lives while striving for normalcy and keeping their secrets safe.”
Publishers Weekly

“I read this novel in a headlong rush, transported by the relationship between two vastly different women during World War II: a Jewish circus aerialist and a teenage runaway with a baby. Deftly juggling secrets, lies, treachery, and passion, Pam Jenoff vividly brings to life the agonizing choices and life-or-death consequences for a hardy band of travelers under Nazi occupation.”
— Christina Baker Kline

The Orphan’s Tale (9780778319818) By Pam Jenoff.  $15.99 trade paper original. 2/21/17 on sale.


Fiction Short Take: The Fire by Night – Teresa Messineo

Women’s historical fiction covering the war years of the 20th century constitutes a very hot subgenre these days. It’s a territory crowded with releases so I was pleased to see this debut get recognition by booksellers and reviewers alike. A sort of female “Band of Brothers,” The Fire by Night tells the story of women who served as military nurses during WWII.

“Debut novelist Messineo captures the intensity of grimy conditions in field hospitals and internment camps as well as the exhausted yet relentless sense of duty propelling Kay Elliot and Jo McMahon….Alternating between each woman’s perspective, chapter by chapter, Messineo is at her best when describing the squalid environment and psychological mayhem, creating an All Quiet on the Western Front from American women’s perspectives. In the theaters of wars, these nurses practice astonishing acts of mercy—including the embrace of a lover during a soldier’s death throes….A vibrant telling of the nurses’ nightmares during a brutal war.”

Messineo’s writing style, in which scenes often play out without extensive explanation but are later elucidated, adds to the feel of wartime chaos and works well with the story’s disjointed time jumps… The novel’s strength lies in how well it conveys—mostly without sentimentality—the selflessness and bravery of nurses during the darkest hours.”
Publishers Weekly

The Fire by Night was completely stunning. Reading the stories of two military nurses was a heart-wrenching, yet hopeful experience. Both women find truth and fulfillment in their lives even while dealing with gritty reality of PTSD. There were scenes in this book that left me emotionally wrecked, but the beauty of the writing and the characters was astonishing. The research is also very thorough and created a realistic read….[I]t left me in awe at the strength of both women, and their drive to continue after such horrific events. I can easily recommend this book to historical fiction readers.”
— Kate Schreffler, Joseph-Beth, Lexington, KY

The Fire by Night (9780062459107) by Teresa Messineo. $26.99 hardcover. 1/17/17 on sale.

Video: The Women in the Castle – Jessica Shattuck


Just in: This very good author video for one of my favorite books of early 2017. It’s such an important and moving read. I’ll share more about the book before publication. Booksellers, if you have an ARC and haven’t picked it up yet…get on it! You’ll be glad you read this one early.

“Fans of The Nightingale and other classic World War II stories will fall in love with this compelling new perspective on women at war.”
— Helen Simonson, New York Times bestselling author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

The Women in the Castle (9780062563668) by Jessica Shattuck. $26.99 hardcover. 3/28/17 one day laydown.

Publicity: News of the World – Paulette Jiles

In a second NYT review the NYTBR raves about News of the World in advance of this week’s NBAs, concluding:

“…at scarcely 200 pages, this exhilarating novel, a finalist for this year’s National Book Award, travels through its marvelous terrain so quickly that one is shocked, almost stricken, to reach the end. So do what I did: Read it again.”


News of the World (9780062409201) by Paulette Jiles. $22.99 hardcover. On sale now.

Book of the Week: The Bones of Paradise – Jonis Agee

This dark, intricate family saga takes place in the Nebraska Sand Hills ten years after the Wounded Knee massacre of the Lakota Sioux. Like our bestselling novel The Son, Bones of Paradise gives readers a tense, immersive look at frontier history and the often violent interplay of Native and white culture through the story of a murder and one family’s blood soaked sense of destiny.

The book received two starred advance reviews and is an Indie Next pick. It’s ideal for readers looking for a big American novel fueled by passion, loyalty and betrayal–and with a flawless sense for the history of place.

 “Hoping to reunite his family and win back his wife, Dulcinea, rancher J.B. Bennett is on his way to retrieve his older son, Cullen, from his father, Drum, who has raised the 19-year-old for 10 years. When J.B. stops to examine the body of a recently strangled young Lakota Sioux named Star, someone he evidently knows shoots him dead….Agee doesn’t scrimp on gruesome detail in recounting the [Wounded Knee] massacre attended by most of the novel’s male characters…This sexy, violent, intricate Western is ultimately a love letter to the Sand Hills, ‘where all was alive, all living, in one form or another.’”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Agee’s emotionally rich tale is as wild and sprawling as the Midwestern plains….The evolving friendship of Dulcinea and Rose is a poignant counterpoint to the cruelties born of ignorance and greed in the face of cultural difference. The story’s several parts—gritty Western, family saga, mystery—work together for a memorable tale of heartbreak and redemption.”
Publishers Weekly

 “A haunting tale . . . Agee brilliantly interweaves two stories of loss, guilt, and vengeance, which play out against the vivid backdrop of the [Nebraska] Sand Hills . . . Beautifully rendered and thought-provoking.”
Booklist (starred review)

The harsh and unrelenting weather and landscape of northern Nebraska mirrors the hard and desperate lives of its inhabitants in this powerful historical novel set in the aftermath of Wounded Knee.  A murder forces the Bennett family to confront its troubled history which reflects the larger problems of the entire western expansion and society.  The beauty of the language creates a stunning portrait of a momentous and often brutal era.”
— Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS

“A sweeping historical novel set in the raw Nebraska ranch lands during the decade following the massacre at Wounded Knee. Life for ranchers and surviving Indians was riddled with chaos, deceit and violence. In this setting the author serves up a compelling tale of power struggles within the multigenerational Bennett family. While they fight with each other they also struggle to solve a murder and battle outsiders who want to gain oil and mineral rights to their land.  Moving back and forth in time and between characters the story pulls you in as pieces of the mysteries fall into place. Much of the strength of the novel comes from vivid descriptions of the surroundings as well the perfectly tuned internal dialogue of the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed being captivated by the Bennett family saga and the engrossing spell of this masterful blend of history and mystery.”
— Sharon Gambin, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

The Bones of Paradise (9780062413475) by Jonis Agee. $25.99 hardcover. 8/2/16 on sale.

New Fiction: The Muse – Jessie Burton

Burton’s debut, The Miniaturist, was a best seller and favorite of Indie booksellers. While that novel offered a tale of art, intrigue and suspense in 17th century Amsterdam, The Muse picks up these themes in two plot lines set in 1960’s London and pre-Civil War 1930’s Spain. It is again an Indie Next pick with both reviewers and booksellers praising Burton’s sense of suspense, plotting and the rich immediacy of her historical detail.

Burton’s second novel is a complex, vividly drawn tale centering on a mysterious painting from 1930s Spain brought to a London art institute in 1967. The author brings together two striking story lines—one involving Trinidad-born Odelle Bastien, who works in late ’60s London at a posh art institute where she becomes the protégé of an eccentric office manager, Marjorie Quick, while adjusting to life in a new country. The other thread centers on Olive Schloss, a young Viennese woman whose family settles in a mansion in Spain in 1936. Olive’s aspirations to be a painter are quashed by her father’s misogynistic views toward women artists….The intricate way in which Burton pulls the two plots together is unexpected and impressive, a most original story about creative freedom, finding one’s voice, and the quest for artistic redemption.”
Publishers Weekly

“Like her best-selling The Miniaturist, Burton’s second novel is a smart blend of literary and commercial fiction with intriguing characters and a compelling mystery at its center….Burton creatively infuses historical fiction with mystery in her exploration of the far-reaching consequences of deception, the relationship between art and artist, and the complex trajectory of women’s desires.”

“British writer Burton won multiple awards for her first book, an unusual historical novel set in 17th-century Amsterdam, and returns to themes of intrigue, creativity, and female empowerment in her second.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Muse (9780062409928) by Jessie Burton. $27.99 hardcover. 7/26/16 on sale