It's been nearly six years since Janice Y.K. Lee made her fiction debut with The Piano Teacher, an "exceptional first novel" set in postwar Hong Kong where Allied occupiers and the native people negotiate an uneasy peace and a brittle, stratified society (read our review). The novel was favorably reviewed and a national bestseller, so we're pleased to hear that a follow up, The Expatriates, will be coming in January from Viking.
Also set in Hong Kong and featuring a cast of expatriates, this novel is set in the modern day, and "explores with devastating poignancy the emotions, identities, and relationships of three very different American women living in the same small expat community in Hong Kong," according to the publisher.
Will you read it?
Here's an after-hours summer reading plan—open a bottle of wine and curl up with one of these new paperbacks, on sale today:
By Elizabeth Little
Penguin • $16 • ISBN 9780143127369
Little made a big splash—and earned (inevitable) comparisons to Gone Girl—with this debut mystery narrated by a sassy socialite convicted of killing her mother. When her conviction is overturned 10 years later, Jane leaves prison with one goal: finding the real killer.
The Long Way Home
By Louise Penny
Minotaur • $15.99 • ISBN 9781250022059
The 10th entry in Penny's acclaimed series finds Chief Inspector Gamache happily retired in the Québec village of Seven Pines—until a neighbor solicits his help in solving the mystery of her husband's disappearance.
The Story Hour
By Thrity Umrigar
Harper Perennial • $15.99 • ISBN 9780062259318
In her sixth novel, the author of The World We Found captures the emotional turmoil of two very different women—African-American psychologist Maggie and her patient Lakshmi, an Indian immigrant—and the crisis that ensues when their friendship crosses professional lines.
Shadows in the Vineyard
By Maximillian Potter
Twelve • $16 • ISBN 9781455516094
Expanding on a story he first reported for Vanity Fair, Potter travels to a legendary vineyard in Burgundy to ferret out the intriguing details of a plot to poison some of the region's most valuable grapevines. For oenophiles, Francophiles and true crime fans, this suspenseful story is a well-balanced summer diversion.
Mary Gaitskill returns to fiction with a long-awaited third novel, The Mare, on November 3.
Her two earlier novels (Two Girls, Fat and Thin and Veronica) were edgy explorations of the challenges women face in the world—and this time, she's turning her focus to cultural differences and the complicated bonds that can arise when a childless couple tries to mentor a teen from a different background. Comfortable in their Upstate New York suburb, Ginger and Paul never had children. But when they agree to sponsor the horse-riding lessons of an underprivileged young girl, a life-changing relationship begins to unfold.
Will you read it?
RELATED CONTENT: Read more about this year's fall fiction releases.
A highly anticipated sequel and two promising debut novels are on sale in paperback today:
The Rosie Effect
By Graeme Simsion
Simon & Schuster • $15.95 • ISBN 9781476767321
This sequel to Simsion's 2013 hit The Rosie Project (which is set to be adapted to film with Jennifer Lawrence in the starring role) follows odd couple Rosie and Don to New York City as they begin married life—and await the birth of their first child. This winning look at the anxieties of fatherhood was the BookPage Top Pick in fiction in January when it was released in hardcover.
The Story of Land and Sea
By Katy Simpson Smith
Harper Perennial • $15.99 • ISBN 9780062335951
Smith's powerful and poetic debut, set in the South during the Revolutionary War era, drew considerable critical acclaim when it was published in hardcover last year. The paperback includes an essay by the author about the novel's origins and her research into 18th-century events and figures.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
By Amy E. Reichert
Gallery • $16 • ISBN 9781501100710
What happens when a talented Milwaukee chef finds herself falling for the very reviewer who skewered her restaurant? In this paperback original, Reichert cooks up a tasty mix of comedy and romance as the two take the first steps toward an unlikely relationshlp. The book includes a readers group guide—and a recipe for coconut cake.
There are few things that cause as much excitement and trepidation as a beloved book making its way to the big screen. Whether you're usually inspired to see the screen adaptation after reading the book, or are compelled to go to your favorite library or bookstore after seeing the film, we've rounded up the biggest releases to look forward to through the end of this year.
After the blockbuster success of the 2014 screen adaptation of Green's The Fault in Our Stars, it's safe to bet that Paper Towns will be a huge hit with teens and adults alike. In theaters July 24, this story follows Quentin "Q" Jacobsen as he finds a series of clues that lead him to take a winding road trip that hopefully ends wherever the love of his life, Margo Roth Spiegelman, has run off to.
If the critically-acclaimed adaptation of Flynn's best-selling Gone Girl is any indicator, then Dark Places—starring Charlize Theron—is sure to boast some shocking twists along with scenes you'll want to watch through your fingers. This time, the mystery surrounds a 25-year-old case involving a family murder and a Satanic cult in rural Kansas. Catch it in theaters on August 20, before someone spoils it for you.
Bryson, beloved nonfiction author, travel humorist and memoirist, chronicled his hilarious and inspiring journey along the Appalachian Trail in 1998. After years of script and production delays, Robert Redford is finally making good on his promise to star as Bryson in the long-awaited film adaptation, which arrives in theaters September 2.
The second book in Dashner's dystopian Maze Runner series hits theaters September 18, and it's sure to continue delivering huge doses of edge-of-your-seat action as 16-year-old Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and the rest of the Gladers discover that their escape from the maze was just the beginning. A menacing group of adults sends them running for their lives yet again, and this time they must band together to survive the desolate site of the apocalypse—the "Scorch."
Krakauer's firsthand account of the disastrous 1996 "rogue storm" that caused the death of nine climbers on Mount Everest is a heart-wrenching, yet incredibly detailed story of bravery and the unimaginably difficult choices that sherpas, guides and climbers were faced with during that second week in May. The film version is called Everest, and the star-studded cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley and Josh Brolin.
Colm Tóibín is the consummate Irish author, and his book about about Ellis, a young Irish woman who leaves behind her family for the promise of finding work in Brooklyn, New York, is a moving tale of immigration in the 1950s. Although Ellis quickly settles in to life in New York and even finds love, news of tragedy in Ireland forces her to choose between her past and a promising future. Starring Saoirse Ronan and with a screenplay written by best-selling author Nick Hornby, this is sure to be a heartbreaking but powerful film.
Following in the grand tradition of chopping the final installment of a book’s movie franchise two parts, Mockingjay Part II, the last movie in the Hunger Games series, will be coming to theaters on November 20. The Katniss Everdeen led coup against the Capital has finally turned into a full-blown revolution, and by the looks of the teaser trailer, things are about to get (even more) deadly during the final showdown.
Self-described "space nerd" Andy Weir's debut novel was the breakout hit of 2014. A little over a year after its first publication, this story of a completely stranded member of a NASA crew's struggle for survival on Mars is already making its way to the big screen. Masterful sci-fi director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) takes the reins with Matt Damon starring as Astronaut Mark Watney.
Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea is a terrifying and true account of the sinking of a New England whaling ship in 1820. But the ship didn't go down due to pirates or a perfect storm: The ship's attacker was an enraged sperm whale, and the aftermath later served as inspiration for Herman Melville's classic novel, Moby Dick. The film version is directed by Ron Howard and sports an all-star cast that includes Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw. After being pushed back earlier this year, the release date is now scheduled for December 11.
Did you know that a revenant is "one that returns after death or a long absence?" Well, now you have some idea of what you can expect from Punke's chilling historical novel. While mountain man and fur trapper Hugh Glass is out on a hunt in 1823, his two partners set him up for certain death. But after surviving a brutal grizzly bear attack, Glass sets his sights on exacting revenge, and he must survive a journey through unforgiving, uncharted and dangerous Western territory in order to do so. Directed by Academy Award winner Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman) and starring Hollywood heavyweight Leonardo DiCaprio, this film will be in theaters December 25—just in time for the next award season.
Which adaptations are you most excited to watch this year?
What is left to say about Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman? In the five months since the “discovery” and planned publication of the manuscript was announced, countless pages and social media streams have been dedicated to debates over the 89-year-old author’s agency in the decision and discussions of what the book, written as an early draft of To Kill a Mockingbird but set some 20 years later, might reveal about some of literature’s most beloved characters.
Well, the book is out now, and it turns out there's still plenty to talk about. Our first reaction, without spoilers: Watchman is a messier and more complicated story than To Kill a Mockingbird, both in its themes and its execution. Which is to be expected for a basically unedited manuscript that Lee herself reportedly described as "a parent" to the classic, and also for a story that took on heavy racial topics as they were unfolding. Readers who pick up Watchman with this in mind will find it a fascinating and thought-provoking look into the development of a modern classic—and the characters it featured.
Watchman has insightful things to say about seeing the places and the people we come from for who they are and not what we want them to be, and though it was written years ago, the debates it frames about race, state's rights and the 10th amendment have resonance today. Though it is marred by some underdeveloped plot lines and occasionally uneven pacing, the characters and subject matter are rich. With the sort of editorial guidance that Mockingbird reportedly received, it might have been an equally enduring classic.
Despite the novel's shortcomings (and potential disappointments for Atticus acolytes) there is plenty to enjoy. The feelings Scout—or Jean Louise, as she's known these days—has upon her return to Maycomb will ring true to anyone who's ever come home after time away and seen it differently. And Lee's talent for capturing the small-town South is on full display in many little moments, like Jean Louise's observation about the "Coffees" given for girls who came home: "Such girls were placed on view at 10:30 am for the express purpose of allowing the women of their age who had remained enisled in Maycomb to examine them. Childhood friendships were rarely renewed under such conditions."
Check out these other early takes from around the web (warning: most include spoilers).
The first look from al.com explores the themes and lessons of Watchman
Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times takes a dim view of the changes to Atticus
The Guardian separates Watchman from Mockingbird for a more even-handed discussion
The Telegraph wonders if the book should have stayed in the deposit box
The Wall Street Journal leads with Atticus' defense of Jim Crow
NPR says it's a mess
Bonus: See the BookPage crew with our copies on Instagram.
Are you reading GSAW today?
We're just five days away from the release of Go Set a Watchman, and even though its strict on-sale date applies (no ARCs here, we're afraid), tantalizing tidbits from early readers are starting to leak out. The rumor that readers of Watchman will see Atticus in a different light has just been confirmed by one of our most trusted literary sources, who went on to say that the novel was much more adult and political than Mockingbird. (This makes sense: It does take place 20 years after the events of Mockingbird, after all.)
Doubtless some Atticus and Mockingbird fans will not be thrilled with these developments, but Watchman being more than a sentimental trip down memory lane makes it far more interesting to me—think Wide Sargasso Sea vs. Scarlett.
HarperCollins will release Chapter One of the novel tomorrow, for fans who just can't wait until Tuesday. Find details on that here.
Will you be reading Watchman next week?
Have you heard the good news, romance lovers? The legendary Lisa Kleypas is returning to her original bread and butter: historical romance.
It's a homecoming for Kleypas, who will be returning to her original publisher, Avon, as well. In a press release, Kleypas says, "As I know from past experience, everyone at Avon Books brings the highest level of passion and commitment to the romance genre, so I'm thankful—and excited!—to be part of Avon's future. Without a doubt, our best work is ahead of us." Kleypas signed a seven-book deal with Avon, so rest assured that you'll get your Kleypas fix.
The romance community is already buzzing about her first new historical, Cold-Hearted Rake, despite the fact that it won't be available until late October. Cold-Hearted Rake is set in Victorian England and follows a devilish man and the young widow who steals his heart. When Devon Ravenel inherits an earldom, he also inherits a few unexpected responsibilities—chief among them is the burden of looking after the late Earl's three sisters. However, the beautiful Lady Kathleen Trenear slowly becomes less of a burden and more of a pleasure.
But don't worry, contemporary lovers! Kleypas will release the fourth novel in her Texas Travis series, Brown-Eyed Girl, in August with St. Martin's.
Are you excited about Kleypas' historical romance return?
Today's new paperback releases range from a captivating novel about the recent past to a frightening portrait of our possible future.
By Jane Smiley
Anchor • $15.95 • ISBN 9780307744807
With this volume, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author launches a trilogy that will follow the members of one Iowa family for 100 years, with each chapter covering a single year. Capturing the rhythms of life, the pull of family and the hardships of farming, Smiley's luminous first entry in the series ranked #2 on our list of the Best Books of 2014.
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street
By Susan Jane Gilman
Grand Central • $15 • ISBN 9780446696944
The first work of fiction from the author of Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven (2009) and two other best-selling memoirs is a rich historical novel about a Russian immigrant who uses all her charms (and wiles) to become a successful entrepreneur in America. The paperback includes a reading group guide.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman
By Jill Lepore
Vintage • $16.95 • ISBN 9780804173407
Researching the private papers of Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston, the New Yorker staff writer and Harvard historian uncovered evidence of Marston's highly unusual family life. The paperback includes an afterword with new disclosures.
By Amy Bloom
Random House • $16 • ISBN 9780812978940
A bestseller in hardcover, Bloom's distinctly American story of two half-sisters on a riotous road trip to Hollywood was named one of the best novels of 2014 by the Washington Post. The paperback includes a reader's guide.
Season of the Dragonflies
By Sarah Creech
Morrow • $14.99 • ISBN 9780062307538
Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Creech's enchanting debut follows the fortunes of the Lenore family, known for creating a much sought-after perfume with special powers. The paperback includes a reading group guide.
By Edan Lepucki
Back Bay • $16 • ISBN 9780316250832
Lepucki's post-apocalyptic debut novel became a cause célèbre almost by accident when it happened to hit the market last summer just as Hachette's battle with Amazon was heating up. Used by Stephen Colbert as the centerpiece of a protest against the online bookselling giant, the book drew readers who might otherwise have overlooked this disturbing look at one couple trying to survive in the wilderness after fleeing L.A. The paperback includes a reading group guide.
Searching for something to read during the holiday weekend ahead? Here are our picks of the best new paperbacks on sale this week:
When the United States Spoke French
By François Furstenberg
Penguin • $20 • ISBN 9780143127451
While you're celebrating the U.S.A.'s 239th birthday, take a look back at the early years of the young republic, when five prominent Frenchmen settled in Philadelphia and became active participants in the life of the city and the new nation. Described by Booklist as "a fine combination of social and political history," Furstenberg's narrative was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.
How to Build a Girl
By Caitlin Moran
Harper Perennial • $15.95 • ISBN 9780062335982
The rowdy first novel from the author of the best-selling feminist memoir/manifesto How to Be a Woman borrows events from Moran's own improbable life story, including her experiences as a teen critic for a British music magazine. The novel was a #1 bestseller in the U.K. and is the first in a planned trilogy.
How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky
By Lydia Netzer
St. Martin’s Griffin • $15.99 • ISBN 9781250047465
Is our destiny written in the stars? Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine, creatively explores this question and other conundrums in the touching story of George and Irene, two quirky astronomers in Toledo who were meant to be together.
By David Nicholls
Harper • $15.99 • ISBN 9780062365590
Chosen by BookPage editors as one of the Best Books of 2014, Nicholls' novel captures the plight of a mild-mannered British scientist trying to hold his marriage and his family together with a last-gasp European vacation.
The Book of Strange New Things
By Michel Faber
Hogarth • $17 • ISBN 9780553418866
The author of the best-selling Victorian novel The Crimson Petal and the White explores faith and commitment in this far-future story of a Christian missionary sent to evangelize the residents of a distant planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, his marriage and his planet appear to be falling apart.
The Happiest People in the World
By Brock Clarke
Algonquin • $15.95 • ISBN 9781616204792
Hilarious but urgently topical, Clarke's fourth novel follows the adventures of a bumbling Danish cartoonist forced to assume a new identity as a high school guidance counselor in upstate New York after his drawing of the prophet Muhammad evokes a firestorm.