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.”
“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.
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.
This Indie Next pick from bestseller Grant is quite a departure from recent series like Gone and Messenger of Fear. But fans will recognize familiar themes in the story of an alternate U.S. in WWII–one with women fighting alongside men on the front lines. It is an epic story has war, action, adventure, romance and friendship. And it feels very fresh beside the many Hunger Games and Game of Thrones clones in the teen market. Grant’s meticulous research gives the story a “you are there” feel that I don’t often see in teen fiction.
The advance reviews have been superb–even Michael Cart has weighed in. Booksellers, you want this on the display tables.
This intense, marvelously plotted, paced, and characterized story will immediately garner comparisons to Lord of the Flies or even the long-playing world shifts of Stephen King, with just a dash of X-Men for good measure. A potent mix of action and thoughtfulness-centered around good and evil, courage and cowardice-renders this tour de force that will leave readers dazed, disturbed, and utterly breathless.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“All of the protagonists are well-developed individuals, but also represent ‘every soldier girl who carried a rifle, dug a hole, slogged through mud, steamed or froze, prayed or cursed, raged or feared, ran away or ran toward.’ A gripping and heart-wrenching tale.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Vivid and visceral, Michael Grant’s remarkable work of alternate history brings World War II to breathtaking life. With its cast of memorable and appealing characters, Front Lines is irresistibly readable and absolutely unforgettable.
— Michael Cart, Past YALSA President and Booklist columnist and reviewer
Front Lines (9780062342157) by Michael Grant. $18.99 hardcover. 1/26/16 on sale.
A great video that really lays out why this should be one of the biggest history books of the holiday season.
PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy (9780062346582) by William Doyle. $27.99 hardcover. 10/6/15 one day laydown.
This lovely novel was both a favorite of mine and a bookseller favorite in hardcover earlier this year. It arrives in paperback with a new cover treatment that emphasizes the love story. Not a bad choice. It’s an epic story of one couple trying to survive WWII, beautifully told and raising many questions about the choices we make. A smart, moving choice for the kinds of book clubs that have embraced recent historically-based novels like Loving Frank, The Chaperone and Orphan Train.
“A haunting love story wrapped in an engaging and unsettling history lesson… Readers will be propelled by a desire to find out what happens to John and Helen. Be prepared for an unexpected twist. Along the way, readers will learn not just about a fascinating and largely forgotten slice of American history, but what it felt like to live through it.”
— USA Today
“We need impeccably researched and sensitively written historical fiction that unpacks the war one single person at a time….[This] is a welcome addition to an honorable genre. It is also a surprise – a novel that explores a chapter in WWII history that rarely surfaces in history books and on TV channels – the part of the campaign fought on U.S. soil”
— Chicago Tribune
The Wind Is Not a River (9780062279989) by Brian Payton. $15.99 trade paper. 9/2/14 on sale.
Lawrenson’s debut novel, The Lantern (9780062192974), was an Indie Next pick and a Costco Pennie’s Pick. This new book is a trilogy of novellas in which Lawrenson returns to the same time and place as The Lantern–even integrating some of the same characters. It makes for another lush, suspenseful period read.
I am an admirer and handseller of The Lantern and I shall be even more so of The Sea Garden. You may feel almost as though you have sipped a little too much of Madame de Fayols’ homemade myrtle infused liqueur as you read this book. A startling suicide in the opening scene presages further unexplained events to come. Curiously connected, three intriguing narratives are braided into one unforgettable story of love, betrayal, memory and murder. World War II French resistance fighters and their convoluted connections to British Intelligence leave a legacy unknown to Ellie Brooke, a young award winning garden designer. When she is awarded the contract to come and restore a memorial garden on the island of Porquerolles, she has no idea that it is not merely her growing reputation in horticultural circles that has made her the designer of choice. Her unease with the situation is mitigated in part by her connection to the enigmatic man she first saw on the ferry over to the island. A masterfully devised conclusion leaves just enough tantalizing questions to intrigue the reader without being too frustrating!”
— Nicola Rooney, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI
“Lawrenson’s settings are spellbinding and all three stories move along at a languid pace, allowing the reader to absorb the sumptuous historic detail.”
The Sea Garden (9780062279668) by Deborah Lawrenson. $26.99 hardcover. 6/24/14 on sale.
50 Children grew out of a one-hour documentary of the same name that aired on HBO in April last year. This book is illustrated throughout and expands on the story told in the documentary. It chronicles a Philadelphia couple who resolves to do something to save Jews and travels to Nazi-controlled Vienna and Berlin in spring 1939 to save fifty Jewish children from what would soon become the terrible fate of millions.
The inspiring story of two average people who resolved to do what they could stands in stark contrast to America’s failure to act to save Jewish lives. Approximately 1200 children made it to America of the 1.5 million who died in the Holocaust, making the story of the Krauses and the children they saved all the more impressive.
“Drawing from interviews, historical documents, and Eleanor’s private writings, Pressman reconstructs the chain of events, adding background and context. His flowing narrative breathes life into the America and Europe of 1938–1939, placing a spotlight on the impossible circumstances and contradictions of Nazi Germany’s anti-Jewish pogroms, as Jews were encouraged to leave yet hindered at every turn. He looks at the obstacles thrown up by American attitudes and policies: isolationism, rigid immigration laws and quotas, and rampant anti-Semitism made it unlikely that the Krauses’ plan would ever work… a story as troubling as it is inspirational.”
50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany (9780062237477) by Steven Pressman. $26.99 hardcover. 4/22/14 on sale.