The novel Wolf Hall has gotten more than its fair share of press this fall and winter—Booker Prize notwithstanding, it also earned a place on our top 10 fiction list and a glowing review from contributor Lauren Bufferd—but I couldn't resist adding one more blog post to the load. I finished the novel last week. Contrary to what the paragraph in your high school history book might imply, it took years of plotting and scheming for Henry VIII to get his marriage annulled and marry Anne Boylen, and Mantel's brilliant, meticulous recreation of these events is a remarkable achievement, if occasionally overwhelming to those unfamiliar with the 16th-century mindset. (However, corporate types and frequent "Survivor" viewers will probably identify easily with the cutthroat atmosphere and clandestine alliances.) Equally impressive is her reinvention of Thomas Cromwell, a man she sees quite differently from most historians.
Wolf Hall is first in a trilogy, and during a recent interview at Daunt Books in London, Mantel revealed a bit more about the second installment, The Mirror and the Light. "It picks up in the autumn of 1535, when the holiday makers at Wolf Hall in Wiltshire take Cromwell through his further rise and his abrupt fall in 1540," says Mantel toward the end of this clip (part 3 of 3 of the interview):
We are thrilled to announce the launch of BookPage Book of the Day – our first-ever daily e-newsletter!
This idea has been in the works for a while. We figure that many of you don’t have time to read BookPage cover-to-cover, and it might be easier to take a little bite of it every day.
With BookPage Book of the Day, you’ll receive a brand new review every weekday in your inbox. We’ll cover fiction on Mondays and Thursdays, nonfiction on Tuesdays and Fridays, and mystery or romance on Wednesdays. We’re only covering the newest books, so in January you can look forward to recent (or coming) releases from Tracy Chevalier, Elizabeth Gilbert, Beth Hoffman, J.M. Coetzee, Jude Deveraux and more.
(As a personal note, I’ve already read the books featured on Monday and Thursday in the first week in January, and they were both excellent. Seriously: There are some great books coming out in 2010.)
Now that we've shared our best books of 2009 with you, it's time to let loose the snark. The Guardian went first with an article about the worst books of the decade earlier this month, which made me think: what was the worst book I read all year? Like many of the Guardian commenters, I found Vernon God Little (which won the Booker in 2003) completely and utterly horrible, so that might be my worst book of the decade. But 2009 was actually a pretty good year for me, with no wallbangers that I can remember. A moment while I pat myself on the back for having excellent literary taste this year . . .
Were you equally lucky? Or was there a book you loved to hate in 2009? Share your thoughts in the comments!
OK, he's not exactly "live," but Victorian novelist Wilkie Collins is making a splash on the web these days. The occasion is the 150th anniversary of the serialization of his best-known work, The Woman in White. Fans can now read the story as it was originally published—in weekly installments. Collins enthusiast Paul Lewis is emailing PDFs of the text to subscribers around the world, on the same calendar date that readers of Dickens' popular paper All the Year Round read the story 150 years ago.
These PDF reproductions are authentic down to the errors, which Paul documents in each weekly email.
Readers can also view the John McLenan illustrations that accompanied the story when it was published Stateside, in Harper's Weekly.
The fourth installment will be released December 14, with the final section appearing on August 22. I'm signed up and pretty excited about experiencing the novel this way, since there's no way I could otherwise justify squeezing in a re-read of anything! If your "to-be-read" stack is similarly daunting, it might be a refreshing alternative. Want to read along? Email Paul, or visit the site to download the PDFs.
Via Entertainment Weekly’s Shelf Life blog, we learned yesterday that Queen of Romance Nora Roberts is expanding into the computer game market. Vision in White, her novel about four friends who run a wedding-planning business, will turn interactive as gamers play “nuptial-themed mini-games” and perform “hidden-object tasks” in its computer game equivalent.
Agatha Christie, James Patterson and Dan Brown have already inspired games, and Roberts – herself a gamer – is pleased to join their ranks. “I think it’s great that there are so many kinds of media to play with,” said Roberts in a press release. “And to have a story translated into a game like this, it’s tremendous fun for me.”
Besides the occasional Mario Kart or Guitar Hero, I’m not much of a gamer myself – but I can see the appeal of bringing a novel to life outside of the page. Do romance fans think Roberts’ stories will translate well in this medium? Will you be downloading the game?
Related in BookPage: Romance columnist and author Christie Ridgeway writes that Vision in White, the first of Roberts’ Bride Quartet, is “romantic and wistful, sexy and stylish...another winner for Roberts.”
This just in via USA Today: Seth Grahame-Smith, the brains behind Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, is writing what is sure to become a classic: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The parody will hit stores on March 2. (For those who believe Honest Abe deserves more respect, the recently-published Lincoln, Life-Size might be more your speed.)
P&P and Zombies has sold over half a million copies, but will this wacky trend of historical figures/classic novels-meets-the-undead stand the test of time?
Tell us what other concepts you’d like to see in the comments. I vote for Romeo & Juliet & Mummies and Shakespeare and Skeletons.
Big news for Suzanne Collins fans: Last night it was announced that the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy will be published on August 24, 2010. In a press release, Ellie Berger, President of the Scholastic Trade Publishing division, commented that over 1.5 million copies of the first two books are in print in North America. No word yet on a title or plot details for book #3.
BookPage reviewer Deborah Hopkinson loved book one, The Hunger Games. She wrote: “Young adults will be riveted by Collins' novel. (It kept this reviewer up until two a.m.) The Hunger Games combines elements of an intense survival adventure with a story of friendship and love. But the book is more than a page-turner with a strong, appealing heroine. The Hunger Games is a powerful and often disturbing story that is sure to spark intense discussion not just about Katniss Everdeen's world—but about our own.”
Read about the author’s decision to write a trilogy; The Hunger Games movie adaptation; and more in this interview with Suzanne Collins.
Are you looking forward to the new book? Do you have any suggestions for the title?
We’ve already blogged quite a bit about Colum McCann and Let the Great World Spin, but I couldn’t resist another mention after hearing some good news: On Dec. 4, Random House will release the paperback version of the book, which will have a first printing of 100,000 copies. The National Book Award-winning novel was originally slated to come out in paperback in the spring.
In a press release, Jane von Mehren, Publisher of Trade Paperbacks for the Random House Publishing Group, said: “Let the Great World Spin is one of the year’s great word of mouth novels. We are moving fast because this is Colum McCann’s moment.”
If you’re still on the fence on this one, Robert Weibezahl’s rave review in BookPage’s Well Read column should convince you to read this book.
On the flip side, the paperback release of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help has been pushed from February to June, since the hardcover is selling so well.
Will you be buying Let the Great World Spin in hardcover or in paperback?
On Friday, we heard that Stephen King's Under the Dome had been optioned by DreamWorks TV as an "event series." I think the new novel is extremely well-suited to a miniseries format and can't wait to see how it turns out (if you haven't seen my review of Under the Dome, it's here).
Of course, this news can only mean one thing—coming up with casting ideas! I could see Elizabeth Mitchell of "Lost" doing a good job as Julia. She's about the right age and could play the role of a relentless reporter without batting an eye.
Actor Cillian Murphy has a talent for being creepy without becoming a caricature (Red Eye, anyone?), so he'd be a great Junior. But at 33, is he too old for the role?
As for Big Jim and Barbie—I'm stumped! And what about the endearing Joe McClatchy and his teen cohorts? Other Under the Dome readers, share your ideas in the comments.
Twlight author Stephenie Meyer appeared on Oprah last Friday, and she answered a question backstage that may leave some fans disappointed. An Oprah Winfrey Show staffer asked if she’d be writing a fifth Twlight book (Oprah didn’t have time to ask the question on air), and Meyer answered:
I am a little burned out on vampires right now. . . I think I need a little break. I might go spend some time with my aliens. I might do something completely different. I’ve got to cleanse the palate. I may come back to it. I did envision it as a longer series. But I wrapped Breaking Dawn in a way that I felt satisfied with, so if that moment didn’t come, I’d be okay.
Will any readers be lining up to see New Moon on Friday? Do you hope that Meyer will change her mind about revisiting Bella and Edward?