Hilary Mantel called it a work of "rare individuality and distinction"—and the title, Girl Reading, certainly gets my attention. Between the two, Katie Ward's debut is definitely earning a place on the BookPage shortlist of books to consider for our February 2012 issue (it's being published February 7, 2012 by Scribner).
The book travels through time from the medieval era to the year 2060, and tells seven stories inspired by images of, you guessed it, girls reading. Some are real, and some are imagined; Ward links to images of all the real-life artwork on her site.
(Two of the images mentioned in Girls Reading.)
Many U.K. reviews, including this one by novelist Joanna Briscoe, compare the book to Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. We think it sounds like a killer mashup of People of the Book and A Short History of Women.