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  • Tara Sonin 5:00 pm on 2018/02/09 Permalink
    Tags: 11/22/63, abraham lincoln vampire hunter, all american girl, american queen, american wife, , , , , curtis sittenfeld, , dolley, eighteen acres, ellen feldman, eugene burdock, executive orders, failsafe, frost/nixon, , harvey wheeler, , it can’t happen here, jailbird, , jenn marie thorne, joe klein, , , leader of the free world, , lucy, , , mount vernon love story, mrs. President, nicole wallace, peter morgan, , primary colors, , seth grahams-smith, sierra simone, sinclair lewis, stephen carter, , , the impeachment of abraham lincoln, , the plot against america, , the wrong side of right, , wide awake   

    25 Fictional Presidents 

    President’s Day is around the corner, so we compiled a list of 25 fictional presidents for you to read about! If watching the news bums you out, but political intrigue does not, these books are for you.

    Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
    This haunting novel centers around the true story of Lincoln’s son, who died during his Presidency. While President Lincoln visits the gravesite of his son, the ghosts who have clung to life narrate a deeply moving, complex thread of tales.

    11/22/63, by Stephen King
    This political sci-fi is about a man who travels back in time with one goal—to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. While the President does not “officially” appear in the story, the entire plot centers around Jake Epping managing to stop Lee Harvey Oswald…but will his actions have the opposite impact on American history than he hopes?

    American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    Loosely based on Laura Bush, this novel stars Alice, a small-town girl who grows up to marry a future President. Follow Alice in her courtship by a dazzling Republican man she finds herself unable to stay away from…but once they enter the White House, she realizes she disagrees with in ways they may be unable to reconcile.

    Jailbird, by Kurt Vonnegut
    Watergate gets even more insidious in this story, told from the perspective of a fictional co-conspirator in the Nixon Administration cover-up. Wry and humorous, but also dark and revealing of the jagged edges of human nature, Vonnegut’s anti-hero shares the story from his perspective years later, after serving his time for the crime.

    Dolley, by Rita Mae Brown
    Dolley Madison was the fourth first lady in American history, and this novel explores her fictional diary. Being the wife of one of America’s founders was both glamorous, full of fashion and parties…and horrendous, as her husband ushers the country into war.

    Primary Colors, by Joe Klein
    Originally published anonymously, this novel takes readers behind the political curtain of presidential campaigns. Based on Bill Clinton’s rise to the presidency, told from the perspective of a lower-level aide, every moment is rife with drama on the verge of scandal.

    Eighteen Acres, by Nicolle Wallace
    Nicole Wallace is a former Communications Director of the White House (and current political pundit) and wrote a novel imagining the first woman president as she weathers a re-election campaign, an infidelity scandal, and an international blunder.

    American Queen, by Sierra Simone
    Now for a very different kind of novel, this erotic romance imagines a completely fictional scenario in which a girl finds herself in love with two men: they just happen to be the President of the United States…and the Vice President of the United States. Confused? Once you meet Greer, Embry and Maxen in this reimagining of Camelot, you’ll be in love.

    The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
    This book isn’t even available yet, but it’s totally pre-order worthy…because it’s the first novel written by a former President! Bill Clinton teamed up with James Patterson to write a political thriller about what happens when a President vanishes without a trace.

    Failsafe, by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler
    Published in 1962, when tensions between Russia and the US were at an all-time high, this speculative novel imagines a scenario in which American bombers take control of the nuclear weapons and decide to put an end to the conflict once and for all…and the President must act before Russia engages them in all-out war.

    The Dead Zone, by Stephen King
    Stephen King returns to the list with this bestselling speculative novel about a man who wakes up from a coma with the mysterious ability to see people’s futures. But this becomes a problem when he has a vision of a man running for President…and it’s disastrous. Does he intervene to prevent it from coming true?

    Executive Orders, by Tom Clancy
    The worst has occurred: the President, the cabinet, and most of congress is dead. That leaves the VP, Jack Ryan, in charge. President Ryan must govern without a government all the while trying to figure out who is responsible. Riveting and with twists that will leave you breathless, fans of Designated Survivor will love this novel.

    The Inner Circle, by Brad Meltzer
    An adventure of presidential proportions begins when an archivist and his one-time crush find a mysterious dictionary that belonged to the first president, George Washington. They must race against the clock to decipher the meaning of the dictionary, and, once a man ends up dead, hope they don’t end up suffering the same fate.

    The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, by Stephen L. Carter
    This fascinating novel imagines a world where Lincoln did not die, and instead lived to face the consequences of the Civil War…namely, an impeachment trial for a breach of executive powers. When one of Lincoln’s lawyers is murdered, a young black woman working for his defense team must unravel the mystery.

    Mount Vernon Love Story, by Mary Higgins Clark
    Mystery master Mary Higgins Clark wrote an historical novel about George Washington! Did you know that many people believe Washington, despite being married to Martha, was in love with someone else? Higgins Clark is not one of them; she writes the love story between America’s FIRST first-couple as one of mutual respect, admiration, and affection.

    Lucy, by Ellen Feldman
    In contrast, this novel is about a president who was in love with someone who wasn’t his wife. Before he was President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt loved Lucy Mercer…Eleanor’s social secretary. Through polio, a world war, and two presidential terms, despite his promises to Eleanor, Franklin and Lucy remain connected. Heartbreaking, romantic, and beautiful.

    Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, by Seth Grahame-Smith
    Presidents go paranormal in this fun novel that reveals the true story behind our 16th President. Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter, hell-bent on vengeance against the creatures responsible for his mother’s death.

    Mr. President, by Katy Evans
    Matt and Charlotte have known one another since they were kids. He was the son of a President, and vowed never to follow in his father’s footsteps…except now he has, bringing Charlotte along for the ride. The problem? Charlotte loves him, but knows she can never love a President. This erotic romance novel sizzles with political steam.

    The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth
    An Alternative history where FDR loses the 1940 election to isolationist Charles Lindbergh…who strikes a deal with Hitler to stay out of his way. But tensions rise, along with anti-Semintism, and the consequences are seen through the eyes of one boy.

    It Can’t Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis
    This book was written during the Great Depression, but the subject matter is still relevant today. Featuring another character who unseats Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the Presidency, this novel details the dangers of populist rhetoric with a President who halts progress on all fronts and holds his enemies captive.

    Frost/Nixon, by Peter Morgan
    This play dramatizes the epic showdown between journalist David Frost and President Nixon, in which the former tries to get the latter to confess to his crimes. (You can watch the movie, too!)

    Crooked, by Austin Grossman
    Grossman’s reinvention of Tricky Dick as the inheritor of a presidency imbued with magical powers—a man consistently distrusted and marginalized by the people who could have prepared him for the battles to come—is thoroughly enjoyable. Most importantly, it offers up an idea of a president who has more than a veto up his or her sleeves. Certainly a little black magic would be very welcome in today’s unsettled world.

    All American Girl, by Meg Cabot
    One of my favorite YA novels featuring regular-girl Sam Madison, who saves the president from an assassination attempt. Sam is in love with her older sister’s boyfriend, but as she spends more time with the President’s son—the only person who seems to understand the downsides to her newfound fame—she starts to question both her choice, and whether she could love the kid who lives in the White House.

    The Wrong Side of Right, by Jenn Marie Thorne
    Kate has never known her father, but when her mother dies, he reveals himself: a powerful politician vying for the White House. Suddenly, Kate is embroiled in the world of politics, a new family, and a dangerous first-love…all the while grieving for her mom, and the life she once loved.

    Wide Awake, by David Levithan
    This speculative novel stars the first gay, Jewish President…whose election is promptly declared invalid by a governor of a crucial state. Jimmy and Duncan, a teen couple, decide to lend their support by joining the protests to support him.

    What novels featuring fictionalized presidents do you love?

    The post 25 Fictional Presidents appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Kat Rosenfield 4:45 pm on 2016/07/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , curtis sittenfeld, ,   

    Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep Will Be the HBO Prestige Comedy We Need and Deserve 

    Between True Blood, Game of Thrones, and The Leftovers, HBO has officially established itself as the network where good books go to become great television—even if (as with George R.R. Martin’s series) it takes them a decade or two to get there. And now, a hit novel from the early aughts is headed to the premium cable channel: Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep is officially in development as an HBO comedy series, according to Deadline.

    Released in 2005, Prep tells the story of Lee Fiora, an observant and self-conscious 14-year-old from the midwest who struggles with issues of class, identity, and adolescent embarrassment at an elite New England boarding school. Ten years ago, it was hailed as a painfully accurate and intimate portrait of teen angst (and was the subject of endless speculation as to which IRL school might have inspired its setting. Groton, perhaps?). Here’s why it should be at the top of your most-anticipated literary adaptations list.

    It’s a character-driven drama.
    Like Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers, Prep seems at first glance like a surprising choice for a TV series: a loosely plotted story that’s much more driven by interpersonal relationships and a sense of place than by heavy, screen-ready action. But if The Leftovers taught us anything, it’s that a novel like this makes for a great adaptation precisely because there’s room to play with the plot, even to a wildly inventive degree, without changing the fundamental feel of the source material.

    There’s a comedy veteran in charge.
    In charge of Prep‘s development at HBO is Colleen McGuinness, who won an Emmy for her work on 30 Rock. In other words, the experts on all things awkward and hilarious are in the house, on the case, and ready to make Prep the best and cringiest comedy it can be.

    …Not to mention a Game of Thrones alum to bring its politics to life.
    Sittenfeld’s novel isn’t just a coming-of-age story; it also examines complicated issues of race and class, not to mention the social minefield of being a less wealthy, less worldly kid at a school full of privileged teens and their adult enablers. Fortunately, producer Carolyn Strauss—whose last task was adapting Game of Thrones and its complex web of intrigue for the small screen—is the other half of the development team, which means that all the power-grabbing, money-grubbing, long-simmering tensions that plague Sittenfeld’s Ault School are in highly capable hands.

    Best setting ever, or best setting ever?
    From Dead Poets Society to Vampire Academy, it’s plain that every drama is more dramatic when it plays out within the ivy-covered walls of a mega-classy boarding school.

    And all hail the difficult heroine.
    In a world full of Strong Female Characters™ who are defined as such primarily by their ability to kick butt a la dude, Lee is the real deal: complex, multidimensional, and flawed in ways that made her deeply polarizing on the page. Much like the girls of another critically acclaimed HBO series, viewers may not necessarily like Lee, but they’ll be fascinated watching her grow up.

     
  • Sona Charaipotra 3:30 pm on 2016/04/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , , curtis sittenfeld, , , ,   

    Curtis Sittenfeld’s Austen Update Eligible Explores Modern Pride and Prejudices 

    And now for something completely different. Well, sort of. Fans of Curtis Sittenfeld have come to expect her deceptively lighthearted skewerings of American culture, from the boarding school drama of Prep, to the Washington elite in American Wife (with a heroine modeled on Laura Bush). Her latest should seem like a divergence—she takes on Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice in modern American retelling Eligible. And while she remains relatively faithful to Austen’s much respun plot (see also: Clueless, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the Bollywood-ified Bride & Prejudice), Eligible stays true, too, to Sittenfeld’s signature subtly snarky take-down of tired American mores.

    In Eligible, our dear Lizzy Bennet, 38, is a New York City magazine writer—a freelancer suffering all that state’s presumed indignities while penning feminist-ish stories for the fictional Mascara magazine—who’s having a not-quite-affair with a sort-of married man named Jasper Wick (shades of Mr. Wickham). Her older sister Jane, a nearly 40-year-old yoga instructor making peace with modern spinsterhood, has just started experimenting with IVF treatments, in preparation for becoming a single mother.

    The pair return to their family’s crumbling Cincinnati, Ohio, Tudor house after their beleaguered, wisecracking father suffers a heart attack, and their opinionated, utterly marriage-obsessed mother is too busy chairing the next big charity shindig to look after him. There are three other Bennet girls still living at home who could manage the task—antisocial Mary, who locks herself in her room while working on her third online degree, and CrossFit-obsessed, unemployed millennials Kitty and Lydia—but none of them can be bothered.

    Finding themselves back home, Jane and Lizzie quickly become their mother’s next project, especially when she discovers that former reality TV bachelor Chip Bingley—a hot doctor, naturally—has landed a gig at their local ER. He brings with him a high-end “manager” sister and cranky neurosurgeon pal Fitzwilliam Darcy. Meanwhile, tech genius step-cousin Willie Collins pays a visit, and might just be a great catch for Lizzie—at least according to her mom. You see where this is all headed, of course.

    But let’s be clear: this ain’t your mama’s Austen. Sittenfeld’s version infuses the classic with modern-day pitfalls and pratfalls: Tinder hookups and sexting, online shopping addiction (Mrs. Bennet’s, of course), country club culture and big city snobbery, feminism and fertility. (At one point, step-cousin Willie says to our feisty heroine—after confessing an encounter with a prostitute, no less—“For someone like you, with your quality of genes, not to have kids would be a real waste.” Sigh.)

    Things come to a head when hate leads to hookups, and the charming Chip leaves Jane hanging. Meanwhile, the girls discover there’s a reason the Tudor is crumbling. Their parents are broke, and the lifestyle to which they’ve all become very accustomed will soon be obsolete if they don’t do something about it—and fast.

    Fast-paced, frothy, and fun, Sittenfeld’s story offers a strong commentary on the failings (including classism, racism, and homophobia) of the formerly upper-middle class in Middle America (without sparing the coasts, either). And while this Darcy might not have you swooning a la Colin Firth, Sittenfeld does pull off a charming modernization that can stand on its own stilettos.

    Eligible is on sale today.

     
  • Diana Biller 6:53 pm on 2016/04/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , books for her, curtis sittenfeld, , miller's valley,   

    More Books Your Mom Will Love 

    This year, Mother’s Day will be celebrated on Sunday, May 8th. Gifts we do not recommend: soap sets purchased from the bargain bin at the drugstore; magnets your mother gave you last Christmas; a lovingly curated album of cat photos. Gifts we strongly recommend: the books listed below (flowers never hurt, either).

    Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
    The story of three women living worlds apart in World War II Europe, Lilac Girls—Kelly’s debut novel—has received widespread critical acclaim. Following a New York socialite working at the French consulate, a young Polish woman drawn into the resistance, and an ambitious German doctor who sees the concentration camps—and the executions and medical experimentation they involve—as an opportunity to get ahead, Lilac Girls is the painful and moving story of how three lives become intertwined.

    Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
    Milk and Honey is a meditation on women and survival, a stunningly raw collection of poetry and prose illustrated with Kaur’s spare, evocative sketches. Divided into four parts—the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing—Kaur’s book blends pain with sweetness, looking for joy in some of life’s hardest moments. A beautiful gift for the women in your life, and accessible enough to appeal to long-time poetry readers and newcomers alike.

    It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook, by Gwyneth Paltrow
    Following her success with cookbooks It’s All Good and My Father’s Daughter, actress and lifestyle guru Paltrow is back with over a hundred healthy recipes that can be prepared in less than the time it takes to order takeout. Light on sugar, fat, and gluten, the recipes range from fast breakfast ideas to on-the-go meals. Standout recipes include Soft Polenta with Cherry Tomatoes, Chocolate Cinnamon Overnight Oats, and one I’d like to be eating right now, a Moroccan Chicken Salad Wrap.

    Miller’s Valley, by Anna Quindlen
    The latest from bestselling novelist Quindlen (Still Life with Breadcrumbs), Miller’s Valley follows Mimi Miller, a young woman in the 1960s whose family has lived in the same small Pennsylvania town for generations. When the townspeople are told the town is likely to be submerged by flooding, they’re pressured to sell, but Mimi’s father refuses to relocate. As her family and the community wrestle with their future, Mimi tries to create her own. An intense, empathetic story about family, place, and growing up.

    Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    Curtis Sittenfeld has a knack for taking slightly far-out story ideas and transforming them into tremendously entertaining and engrossing novels—previously twisting bits of Laura Bush’s life into the delicious American Wife—and now she’s doing the same thing with a charming twenty-first century retelling of Pride and Prejudice. In this modernized version, Liz is a magazine writer, Darcy is a neurosurgeon, and Kitty and Lydia are on the Crossfit/Paleo life plan. A delightful romp perfect for a warm spring afternoon.

    The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
    A funny, vibrant story about a young Wisconsin girl who never wants to leave her family’s beloved orchard behind, The Excellent Lombards has accumulated a mountain of praise from authors like Ann Patchett, Gail Tsukiyama, and Margot Livesey. Mary Frances Lombard clings tight to a rural childhood spent surrounded by friends and relatives in her family’s struggling apple orchard, even as she knows that change may come and take it all away. A lovely coming-of-age story that effortlessly weaves together humor, hope, and pathos.

    Miss Julia Inherits a Mess, by Ann B. Ross (Miss Julia Series #17)
    Ross’s charming and amusing Miss Julia series, about a strong-minded Southern widow with a sharp tongue and an iron backbone, has spawned 17 books in as many years. The latest in the series, Miss Julia Inherits a Messfollows Miss Julia as she’s made executor of a large, disorganized estate and falls farther and farther into the web of complications it causes, from good-looking next-door-neighbors to shady great-nephews.

    The Railwayman’s Wife, by Ashley Hay
    Set in a coastal Australian town in the aftermath of World War II, The Railwayman’s Wife is about a young widow, Anikka, who is trying to put her life back together in the wake of her husband’s death, and a town trying to put itself back together in the wake of the war. When Roy, a poet struggling with writer’s block, finds his new muse in Anikka, he leaves her an unsigned poem, drawing her in even as he can’t acknowledge its existence. A moving novel about leaving people behind, and how to keep on loving.

    Alice and Oliver, by Charles Bock
    Alice and Oliver seem to have it all: a beautiful new baby, a loft in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, a nurturing marriage. But when Alice is diagnosed with cancer, everything changes. Suddenly their lives are about medical bills, drug side effects, and the American health care system, forcing them to confront the messiness of illness, the strain on their marriage, and the realities of mortality. A searing story from the author of Beautiful Children.

    Need even more ideas? Check out this post.

     
  • BN Editors 8:04 pm on 2016/04/11 Permalink
    Tags: , curtis sittenfeld, , , , , , the austen project, updated classics   

    5 Must-Reads for Jane Austen Fans 

    Jane Austen has been the gift that keeps on giving—for authors, movie producers, and Colin Firth fans—for ages now. From modern day retellings, to spinoff books that focus on her tertiary characters, to mashups featuring zombies, Austen’s novels have been adapted, updated, and otherwise celebrated to within an inch of their robust lives, and fans still can’t get enough of her elegant, incisive, deeply romantic comedies of manners. Below are a few can’t-miss recent favorites for lovers of all things Austen.

    Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    To our delight, bestseller Sittenfeld, best known for Prep and American Wife, has updated Austen’s seminal novel, Pride and Prejudicefor The Austen Project. Her story centers on thirtysomething New York City magazine writer Liz, who returns home to Cincinnati along with her sister, Jane, when their father falls ill. Their sprawling Tudor is a mess, their younger sisters still live at home, and Mama Bennett is bent on marrying off at least some of her five daughters, each a modern disaster in her own way. The distraction and romantic catalyst here is the arrival of hot doctor Chip Bingley, fresh off a Bachelor-esque reality show, dragging his awkward pal, gifted surgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, along for the ride. Sittenfeld’s retell is an utter treat, both for Austen aficionados and fans of a modern love story well told. (Austen Project devotees should also look for Val McDermid’s enchanting Northanger Abbey reboot, and Joanna Trollope’s deft update of Sense and Sensibility.)

    Emma: A Modern Retelling, by Alexander McCall Smith
    Make room on your shelf for another charming entry in The Austen Project. In McCall Smith’s adaptation of Emma (which, if we’re talking successful modern adaptations, already has Clueless‘s strappy platform wedges to fill), Emma Woodhouse is an interior designer, her homebody father is a germaphobe, and protegé Harriet Smith is the naive daughter of a single mother and a sperm donor. McCall Smith brilliantly revives Austen’s talent for smart social commentary and ear for the ridiculous, with fun modern touches that will delight fans of both authors.

    Austenland, by Shannon Hale
    If a Jane Austen theme park sounds like an ideal vacation destination, Austenland should be next on your to-read list. The protagonist, a woman named Jane, is so obsessed with Jane Austen (particularly with one Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; a crush I’m pretty sure she shares with 98% of the natural world, but anyway) that she decides that a trip to The Austenest Place on Earth is her only hope: It will either cure her of her obsession through sheer overkill, or give her a shot at making all her Regency-era dreams come true. Yes, this was also made into a movie, yes, it stars Keri Russell, and yes, it is also amazing.

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
    Just think, a book about our favorite Austen heroine—only this time she has a katana and serious bloodlust! There’s something inherently hilarious about the juxtaposition of the petticoats and fainting couches of 19th-century England with scenes of zombies having their heads chopped off like it’s no big deal. And, of course, there’s the timeless argument of carrying a musket because it’s just plain practical vs. not carrying one in order to appear more ladylike. You’ll find the same characters you loved in the original novel, and the same general story bones, except with zombies and ninjas. You really can’t go wrong here (unless you’re bad with a katana).

    Longbourn, by Jo Baker
    A stunning novel with an irresistible premise, Longbourn takes on the previously invisible “downstairs” half of the Bennet estate, including housemaid Sarah, who yearns for change to come to Longbourn. Beginning, as did Pride and Prejudice, with the arrival of Mr. Bingley, the book’s narrative intersects with Austen’s original in ingenious ways—Sarah glimpses the ball at Netherfield from the chilly yard, where she shares a stolen moment with a handsome footman, and she eventually follows Elizabeth to Pemberley, where P&P fans will thrill at glimpses of her and Darcy’s married life. Though the servants’ story takes center stage (and it’s well worth telling), part of the book’s pleasure is the way that Austen’s original characters are given new depth, when seen from another angle. Good news for fans who can’t help but picture this story on the big screen: the film adaptation has a 2017 release date.

     
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