Monday, August 26, 2013

Book News

September is the month of so many sweet beginnings and fresh arrivals. Fall and new books just seem to go together. The fall season is always a happy time for those who love to read. With September right around the corner, there are some exciting things happening in the book world.  Here are some upcoming books and book-related news that are making my pulse quicken:

Author Jhumpa Lahiri in her apartment in Rome
Photo via here

A new book by Jhumpa Lahiri is truly an occasion and she has a new one coming in September. The Lowland is the second novel by Lahiri and is being called a riveting and sweeping book by those who have read it. The book is about two brothers who are born in Calcutta in the years just before the Partition of India. They become separated by geography and ideology. I am a big fan of Lahiri's books, having loved Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake, and cannot wait to read this new one. It is being called one of the best new books of the fall.

Samantha Shannon, the author of The Bone Season
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The "Today" show is starting an Oprah-like Book Club. The first book they are featuring is The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. Book publishers are understandably ecstatic about this new Book Club since it has the potential to turn books into instant best-sellers. I was fascinated to read about Samantha Shannon, the 21-year old author of the first book. She is just completing her degree at Oxford University and wrote "The Bone Season" between classes and a publishing internship. Shannon showed the work to writer Ali Smith, also in Oxford, who advised her to send it to an agent.

The book is a fantasy novel set in a dystopian future world, London in 2059. Shannon cites characters such as Lucy Snowe from Charlotte Bronte's Villette as inspiration for her main character Paige Mahoney, a 19-year-old clairvoyant. The book is being compared to "The Hunger Games" as well as  the books by J.K. Rowling.  Hopefully this new book club segment on the "Today" show will do for the book industry what the "Oprah" Book Club did years ago.

1953 photo of J.D. Salinger and Emily Maxwell
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J.D. Salinger's life and what he has been writing in the half-century since he wrote The Catcher in the Rye has been a mystery. Until now. A new documentary and book, both titled "Salinger," are being released the first week of September. They claim that Salinger had been writing a lot of material during those 50 years and instructed his estate to publish at least five additional books as early as 2015. It will be fascinating to see a film on the life of this famously private author. And the prospect of more books about Holden Caulfield and the Glass family of Franny and Zooey is very exciting. My book club is going to see the movie after reading "The Catcher in the Rye" for our September book. I haven't read this classic since I was a teenager and am looking forward to reading it again.

Oh, I can't wait for this one. I was a big fan of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This new novel by Gilbert is set in the 18th and 19th centuries and follows a gifted and complicated family around the globe.

Flying home from New York this summer, I watched the film "Bridget Jones" on the plane and should have apologized to those around me because I was laughing the entire time. I have never actually read the "Bridget Jones" books, but loved the Jane Austen parallels in the film I saw. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth's fist fight in the snow over Bridget was hilarious! It will be interesting to see what Bridget is up to in this latest installment.

Ann Patchett is such a good writer. Her book Bel Canto is one of my favorite books of recent years. This new one is a personal memoir about the milestones in her life. Looking forward to anything by Ann Patchett. Three years ago, when Nashville lost its only in-town bookstore, Ann Patchett stepped in and opened her own. Apparently it is thriving!

Good books and Masterpiece Theatre just go together. After all, the show has turned some of the most beloved books into great television. This new book about Rebecca Eaton, who helped bring "Upstairs, Downstairs," "Inspector Morse," and "Downton Abbey" to PBS, is a must anyone who loves this television show. I don't want to admit how many years I have been watching it! Rebecca Eaton has been at the center of things for more than 25 years. Her most recent triumph is "Downton Abbey," the most popular show ever aired on PBS. We have the fourth season to look forward to in January, 2014. Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery will be on my coffee table soon.

Anna Maxwell Martin stars in a dramatization of the book "Death Comes to Pemberley"
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And speaking of "Masterpiece Theatre," Anna Maxwell Martin will play Elizabeth Bennett in a new mini-series "Death Comes to Pemberley," based on the Austen-inspired book by P.D. James. It has been filming in York, England and will air on PBS sometime next year. James' novel picks up the story of "Pride and Prejudice" six years after Elizabeth marries Mr. Darcy. Everything has been going well for the couple until a corpse turns up in the garden. I haven't read the book, but hope this new show is good.

You may remember Anna Maxwell Martin from the recent Masterpiece Theatre mini-series "The Bletchley Circle." It was about four women living in London in the 1950's who get involved in solving a murder mystery. They turn out to be quite good at it since during the war they all worked at cracking codes in the espionage department of the government.   

Barbara Pym
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And don't forget that this year is the centenary of Barbara Pym's birth. It is a year for discovering and rediscovering her wonderful books. Are you a fan?  This summer I have been rereading her novels. I have gone through three so far: Excellent Women, A Glass of Blessings, and Some Tame Gazelle. If you see me with my nose in a book and a smile on my face, chances are good that I am reading one of Barbara Pym's books. They are gems!

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  1. Oooh... I had no idea about Death Comes to Pemberley. Something to look forward to, indeed!

  2. Everything looks wonderful! I am hoping to bury myself between the covers of a book this weekend. Have a wonderful week. Hugs, Bonnie

  3. Much to look forward to, Sunday. I'm particularly interested in Ann Patchett's new book. Bell Canto remains one of my favorite books.

  4. Having been inspired to read Barbara Pym by you ~ I can happily report that I'm adoring each and every book. The other books here look wonderful as well. Very happy about the Today show or anything that focuses on book and promotes more reading.

  5. Thank you for the great reading suggestions. September always begins a new learning year for children and adults. I really enjoy your blog!

  6. Great choices Sunday! I too am especially interested in Ann Patchett's new book. I loved Bel Canto also. Doesn't she sound wonderful for opening her own bookstore!?

  7. All I want to do is read! (about cults ;)

    1. You are so funny. I know you mean communes. "Arcadia" is all about that. You will love it.

  8. Love your posts on books. Will be definitely reading Rebecca Eaton's book and will watch for "Death Comes to Pemberly", although I did not love the book. PD James says in the intro that Austen would have written it much better, and she's right. Still, Anna Maxwell Martin is great in whatever she's in so it will be a must-see for me. Can't wait to read and see the Salinger pieces and a big thanks to you for always keeping us readers so well informed.