Fans of historical fiction will be drawn to The Miniaturist, a fantastical tale from British debut novelist Jessie Burton that takes place in 17th-century Amsterdam. The story begins as 18-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at the home of her wealthy merchant husband, Johannes Brandt. Surprisingly, though, he is nowhere to be found. In his stead is his strictly religious sister, Marin; housemaid Cornelia; and his manservant, a former slave named Otto. Nella, a country girl, is forced to forge her way alone as head of the household.
British author Jessie Burton's first published book, The Miniaturist, has been building buzz in publishing circles since 2013, when it was one of the most sought-after books at the London Book Fair. Now this historical novel, set in a 17th-century Amsterdam that Burton evokes with great skill, is poised to win over readers.
We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas’ epic first novel, was 10 years in the making and, upon completion, the subject of a vigorous publishers’ bidding war. Readers will understand why.
Three acclaimed novels focused on history and family dynamics are sure to spark discussion in your reading groups this month.
Readers of Amy Bloom’s riotous new novel, Lucky Us, might want to pack a few snacks and buckle their seatbelts for this highly entertaining ride, which kicks off when half-sisters Eva and Iris hightail it from small-town Ohio to pursue their dreams in Hollywood.
It’s been quite a run lately for Civil War-era African Americans. Not only was Solomon Northrup’s 1853 memoir, Twelve Years a Slave, adapted into a triple Academy Award winner (including Best Picture), but now author Jeffery Renard Allen has resurrected the career—if perhaps not quite the true life story—of Thomas Greene Wiggins, also known as Blind Tom, in his second novel, Song of the Shank. Wiggins was perhaps the most unlikely of stars ever thrust on the international stage; sightless, probably autistic, heavyset (though somewhat handsome in a rough-hewn way) and, for the first 16 years of his life, a slave.
World War II-era nurse Claire Randall stumbled through a stone circle into the 18th century—and straight into the hearts of readers, who have gobbled up Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series since its 1991 debut. Gabaldon returned this summer with Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, the eighth book in the series—and this month the first book, Outlander, has been turned into a TV series that will air on Starz. We asked Gabaldon a few questions about the series and the new book.
Three of the most highly anticipated novels from 2013 are now available in paperback, and they're sure to spark discussion in your reading group.
Warning to the reader: It is impossible for this review to proceed without a number of spoilers. In case anyone still holds the charming belief (as I do) that the mechanics of plot have a bearing on our enjoyment of a novel, the reviewer feels obliged to perform his task up front. I shall do it The Quick (pardon the pun) way: If you are a fan of literary Gothic—think Susanna Clarke or John Harwood—buy this book. You won’t regret it.
With The Quick, Lauren Owen has created a brilliant literary debut to rival the work of classic Gothic authors like Radcliffe and Brontë.