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  • Sarah Skilton 5:00 pm on 2017/12/26 Permalink
    Tags: , blood sisters, , , dara horn, , eternal life, fall from grace, , fools and mortals, it occurs to me that i am america: new stories and art, , jojo moyes, jonathan santlofer, melanie benjamin, munich, robert harris, still me, the girls in the picture, , ,   

    The Best New Fiction of January 2018 

    January brings us several irresistible pairings: Two historical novels about the acting and writing life, one set during the glitz and glamour of early Hollywood, the other set on the Shakespearean stage of 1595;  Jojo Moyes and Danielle Steel’s latest works both concern the pitfalls and triumphs of starting over and taking charge of one’s life under difficult circumstances; and the final pairing depicts immortality in various forms, with Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists and Dora Horn’s Eternal Life. Rounding out the new year is a thriller from Robert Harris, the late great Denis Johnson’s final short story collection, and an anthology about democracy timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Women’s March.

    Still Me, by Jojo Moyes
    Coming off the worldwide success of Me Before You (also a movie starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin), Moyes’ latest continues the uplifting adventures of Louisa (“Lou”) Clark, now living in New York City. Her journey of self-discovery includes choosing between her old life—in England with Sam—and her new one, as a household assistant for the powerful Gopnik family. As Lou becomes enmeshed in the ritzy, wealthy lives around her, she does her best to honor Will Traynor’s wish that she “live boldly.”

    Fall from Grace, by Danielle Steel
    When Sydney Wells’s husband dies, leaving Sydney with nothing, her luxurious existence comes to an abrupt end. With no place to call home, no source of income, and no help from her family, Sydney (who is pushing 50) is forced to start to over. Her new job in the cutthroat fashion industry finds her framed for a crime, but without anyone to rely on but herself, she must tap into reserves of strength she didn’t know she had in order to survive.

    Munich, by Robert Harris
    A master of historical fiction (Fatherland; Pompeii), Harris has earned fans the world over for his thrilling stories and complex characters. In depicting the run-up to Britain’s involvement in World War II, Harris focuses on the fateful Conference of Munich. Hugh Legat, private secretary to Prime Minister Chamberlain, and Paul von Hartmann, a member of the German diplomatic corps, are former friends who studied together at Oxford. Six years after their last meeting, they now find themselves on opposite sides of the looming war—or do they? Hartmann’s loyalties may not be as clear-cut as they first appear. 

    Fools and Mortals, by Bernard Cornwell
    Imagine watching the first stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1595 through the eyes of Shakespeare’s brother Richard, a handsome albeit grifting actor without a penny to his name. Jealous of William’s domination of the London stage, and bitter that William barely lifts a finger to help him, Richard is accused of a crime whose punishment is death. While showcasing the art of stagecraft in the Elizabethan era, Fools and Mortals also invites viewers to visit the darker underbelly of London as Richard tries desperately to clear his name.

    The Girls in the Picture, by Melanie Benjamin
    The bestselling author of Swans of Fifth Avenue sets her sights on the West Coast in a story about the friendship between two Hollywood legends at the dawn of Hollywood: “America’s Sweetheart” herself, Mary Pickford, and award-winning screenwriter (“scenarist”) extraordinaire Frances Marion. The year is 1914, the U.S. has not yet entered The Great War, and the silent film industry is thriving. Despite their financial and creative successes, both women find their ambitions curtailed to a degree, and the introduction of “talkies” may very well end Mary’s career, just as Marion’s is picking up steam. Perfect for fans of A Touch of Stardust, by Kate Alcott, and Silent Murders, by Mary Miley.

    Blood Sisters, by Jane Corry
    As a follow-up to My Husband’s Wife, Sisters provides even more twists and turns than Corry’s debut thriller. In 2001, a car crash claimed three victims. Although two of the girls survived the ordeal, fifteen years later their lives remain damaged. Kitty resides in an institution, unable to remember or communicate about her past, while Alison’s new job teaching art at a men’s prison puts her in more danger than she realizes. Dual POVs add to the rising tension throughout.

    The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
    When the Gold siblings (Simon, Klara, Daniel, Varya), growing up in New York City in 1969, hear rumors that a mystic fortune teller is in town revealing people’s death dates, they line up to have their fates revealed. Through the next fifty years, we learn how the answer to that question has informed and perhaps guaranteed the course of their very different lives. A story about family, faith, and the power of illusion to overtake reality, The Immortalists promises to be literary fiction of the highest caliber.

    The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, by Denis Johnson
    The great Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son became a film starring Billy Crudup and Samantha Morton; Tree of Smoke won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize) passed away last May, but his final publication revives his trademark empathy for the downtrodden—the “losers” and “failures” of the world. This collection of short stories concerns alcoholics, criminals, advertising execs, and even a couple of writers, all of whom grapple for understanding in a tough world. In Johnson’s hands, the result will be pure poetry.

    Eternal Life, by Dara Horn
    Rachel made a bargain 2,000 years ago to spare the life of her son, and it worked. What did she give up in return? Her own death. In other words, she’s been forced to live forever but at this point—dozens of husbands and hundreds of children later—she desperately wishes to shuffle off this mortal coil. Her fellow traveler in the realm of immortality is a man she once loved, Elezar, who’s determined to keep her in his sights. Salvation may arrive in the form of Rachel’s latest granddaughter, who’s studying DNA and anti-aging and growing closer to discovering Rachel’s secret.

    It Occurs to Me That I Am America: New Stories and Art, edited by Jonathan Santlofer
    Some of the world’s finest and most beloved artists and writers have come together for this anthology of fiction and artwork dedicated to understanding, reaffirming, and celebrating democracy. Contributors include Mary Higgins Clark, Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Russo, Alice Hoffman, Elizabeth Strout, Louise Erdrich, Walter Mosley, Julia Alvarez, Art Spiegelman, Sara Paretsky, Alice Walker, Paul Theroux, Susan Isaacs, Ha Jin, Roz Chast, and Joyce Maynard, among others. Its publication couldn’t be more timely or important. As the Executive Director of the ACLU, Anthony D. Romero puts it, “History has shown the crucial role artists play in challenging injustice during times of crisis.”

    What are you excited to read in January?

    The post The Best New Fiction of January 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Danielle Herzog 4:00 pm on 2016/10/19 Permalink
    Tags: , jojo moyes, ,   

    Jojo Moyes Gets to the Heart of the Matter in Paris for One and Other Stories 

    Who doesn’t dream of jetting off to Paris for a romantic couples weekend? Wine, cheese, the Eiffel tower—all in one beautiful place that simply oozes romance. This is exactly what Nell, the lead character in the title story of Jojo Moyes’ latest collection of short stories, Paris for One and Other Stories, can’t wait to experience. But in this charming novella, Nell’s dreams don’t exactly become reality. When her poor excuse for a boyfriend backs out of the trip just as Nell drops her bags in the City of Lights, she finds herself on an unexpected adventure that changes the course of her life.

    Like many of the stories in this collection, “Paris for One” is a sweet, fun read that will fly by. It’ll also have you cheering for an appealing character to learn to trust love again and open her heart to new experiences. (And, naturally, salivating at all the culinary loveliness that comes from dining in Paris.) Nell has always taken the safe road in life, and to see her hop on the back of a stranger’s scooter and hold on tight, takes the reader on an exciting journey along with her. It’s delightful to watch as she begins to come out of her shell, living life the way she’s always wanted to live it; finding her strength, along with her voice.

    The discovery of a hidden strength of character is also woven throughout the other stories in this collection. “Between the Tweets” features Bella, a female detective hired to figure out who is behind defamatory tweets about a television host. Not only is Bella a force to be reckoned with during her investigation, but so is the person secretly sending those tweets. And let me tell you, this story has one of those powerful endings that makes your jaw drop, and leaves you looking around for someone you can immediately tell about it.

    My personal favorite of all the gems in this collection was the very last one, “The Christmas List.” It isn’t so much of a story, as much as an opportunity to be an extra passenger in a taxi cab that currently holds an anxiety-ridden woman desperate to please all of the people around her. It’s through the kindness of a stranger, her driver, that she awakens to just how unhappy she is and what the true spirit of Christmas is really all about. The story is a wonderful reminder of how giving happiness doesn’t have to be at the expense of your own.

    Just as she did in her enormously popular and resonant New York Times bestsellers, Me Before You, and After You, Moyes mixes a potent cocktail of humor, irony, and strong female protagonists and then shakes things up in this heady collection that fans—as well as new readers—will love.

    Paris for One and Other Stories is available now!

    The post Jojo Moyes Gets to the Heart of the Matter in Paris for One and Other Stories appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Danielle Herzog 4:00 pm on 2016/10/19 Permalink
    Tags: , jojo moyes, ,   

    Jojo Moyes Gets to the Heart of the Matter in Paris for One and Other Stories 

    Who doesn’t dream of jetting off to Paris for a romantic couples weekend? Wine, cheese, the Eiffel tower—all in one beautiful place that simply oozes romance. This is exactly what Nell, the lead character in the title story of Jojo Moyes’ latest collection of short stories, Paris for One and Other Stories, can’t wait to experience. But in this charming novella, Nell’s dreams don’t exactly become reality. When her poor excuse for a boyfriend backs out of the trip just as Nell drops her bags in the City of Lights, she finds herself on an unexpected adventure that changes the course of her life.

    Like many of the stories in this collection, “Paris for One” is a sweet, fun read that will fly by. It’ll also have you cheering for an appealing character to learn to trust love again and open her heart to new experiences. (And, naturally, salivating at all the culinary loveliness that comes from dining in Paris.) Nell has always taken the safe road in life, and to see her hop on the back of a stranger’s scooter and hold on tight, takes the reader on an exciting journey along with her. It’s delightful to watch as she begins to come out of her shell, living life the way she’s always wanted to live it; finding her strength, along with her voice.

    The discovery of a hidden strength of character is also woven throughout the other stories in this collection. “Between the Tweets” features Bella, a female detective hired to figure out who is behind defamatory tweets about a television host. Not only is Bella a force to be reckoned with during her investigation, but so is the person secretly sending those tweets. And let me tell you, this story has one of those powerful endings that makes your jaw drop, and leaves you looking around for someone you can immediately tell about it.

    My personal favorite of all the gems in this collection was the very last one, “The Christmas List.” It isn’t so much of a story, as much as an opportunity to be an extra passenger in a taxi cab that currently holds an anxiety-ridden woman desperate to please all of the people around her. It’s through the kindness of a stranger, her driver, that she awakens to just how unhappy she is and what the true spirit of Christmas is really all about. The story is a wonderful reminder of how giving happiness doesn’t have to be at the expense of your own.

    Just as she did in her enormously popular and resonant New York Times bestsellers, Me Before You, and After You, Moyes mixes a potent cocktail of humor, irony, and strong female protagonists and then shakes things up in this heady collection that fans—as well as new readers—will love.

    Paris for One and Other Stories is available now!

    The post Jojo Moyes Gets to the Heart of the Matter in Paris for One and Other Stories appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Joel Cunningham 3:32 pm on 2016/05/19 Permalink
    Tags: alice through the looking glass, ben-hur, , jojo moyes, me before you, , , tarzan,   

    Summer Adaptations We Can’t Wait to See 

    There’s nothing better than grabbing a book and wiling away a lazy summer afternoon reading under a tree—but for those days when it gets so hot your sunglasses are slipping off of your nose and you can no longer focus on the pages in front of you, perhaps a trip to the cineplex is in order. You’ll cool off in the frigid A/C, and as long as you see one of the season’s much-anticipated book adaptations, you can kind of, sort of count your expedition as reading.

    Alice Through the Looking Glass (May 27), directed by James Bobin, based on the book by Lewis Carroll
    After Tim Burton’s take on Alice in Wonderland grossed over $1 billion wordwide, it wasn’t a question of if, but when we’d see more of the young woman’s journey down the rabbit hole—or through a mirror, as the case may be. The Muppets‘ helmer James Bobin replaces Burton, but most of the original cast (including Mia Wasikowska as Alice and Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen of Hearts) returns for more madcap 3-D adventures in a land where anything can happen, thanks to the unparalleled imagination on display in Lewis Carroll’s original books, and an assist from wall-to-wall CGI. This one looks even nuttier than the last, which is saying something.

    Me Before You (June 3), directed by Thea Sharrock, based on the book by Jojo Moyes
    Load up on extra tissues before you head out to see this year’s contender for the “Fault in Our Stars Memorial Award for the Film Inducing the Most Heaving Sobs in a Single Viewing.” BBC television veteran Thea Sharrock (whose work on Call the Midwife proves she knows from tragedy) directs Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke in this adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ breakout tearjerker about Louisa Clark, a home health aid who gets a job caring for a wealthy, formerly adventurous man recently paralyzed in an accident. After he fails in a suicide attempt, Louisa convinces him to agree to go another six months before he tries to end his life again. She’s determined to prove to him that live is worth living. We’re determined to leave the theater without visible snot dripping from our noses.

    The Free State of Jones (June 24), directed by Gary Ross, based on the book by Victoria E. Bynum
    Director Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit) is at the helm of this period drama inspired by real history, as recounted in the same-titled book by historian Victoria E. Bynum. Matthew McConaughey plays Civil War rebellion leader Newton Wayne, who was injured in the Battle or Corinth in 1862 and went on to assemble a band of fellow disgruntled soldiers to fight against the Confederacy in their hometown of Jones County, Mississippi. The supporting cast includes Keri Russell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Brendan Gleeson.

    The BFG (July 1), directed by Stephen Spielberg, based on the book by Roald Dahl
    The master of fun-for-the-whole-family entertainment looks to be back in top form with this lavish adaptation of one of Roald Dahl’s creepiest, most beloved children’s books. A young girl named Sophie befriends the towering giant (played in a motion-capture performance by recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance) who steals her from her bedroom at night and whisks her off to Giant Country, and on a quest to put a stop to the terrible band of man-eating giants that have been preying on our world (preferring mostly to consume children, naturally). Wait, no, it really is for kids. Early reviews indicate that Spielberg is true to the darkness lurking in Dahl’s beloved original, and Rylance looks like he walked out of one of those dreams the BFG delights in blowing into children’s bedrooms at night.

    The Legend of Tarzan (July 1). directed by David Yates, based on the book by Edgar Rice Burroughs
    book with too many film versions to count, Edgar Rice Burrough’s seminal lord of the jungle is swinging back to theaters. Creators have struggled with Burroughs adaptations in the past (see: the underrated and underperforming John Carter). Tarzan is a character who sounds silly in the blurb, but works best when treated with some (but not too much) seriousness. If they can nail the tone with this one, it should be a lot of fun. Veteran Harry Potter director David Yates directs, and in the title role, True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård absolutely looks the part.

    The Infiltrator (July 13), directed by Brad Furman, based on the book by Robert Mazur
    Bryan Cranston stars in this sure-to-be-harrowing adaptation of former Federal agent Robert Mazur’s memoir of a five-year deep-cover assignment within a money-laundering operation that provided capital to one of the most notorious criminals in modern history: drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Here’s hoping The Lincoln Lawyer director Brad Furman takes as much time exploring the surprisingly mundane world of the corrupt bankers who funneled cash to a murderous cartel with the efficiency of Wall Street wealth managers as he does setting up the tense action set-pieces, including a climactic standoff at a wedding attended by dozens of high-ranking criminals.

    Ben-Hur (August 19), directed by Timur Bekmambetov, based on the book by Lew Wallace
    If you’re going to remake Ben-Hur, one of the splashiest spectacles of Hollywood’s Golden Age, you need to go big, or go home. That’s probably why MGM picked Timur Bekmambetov, the mad genius behind Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, to take a second stab at adapting Lew Wallace’s classic book, which has been called “the most influential Christian novel of the 19th century.” Who better to tell the story of a man’s rise from slave to celebrated charioteer (not to mention the story of Jesus) than the guy who taught Angelina Jolie to bend bullets?

     
  • Christina Tesoro 5:00 pm on 2015/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: after you, , , jojo moyes, ,   

    After You Asks What Happens To Those Left Behind 

    (Warning: spoilers ahead for those who haven’t yet read Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You.)

    Louisa Clark is back in After You, the long-awaited sequel to Jojo Moyes’ bestselling novel Me Before You. Eighteen months after the death of Will Traynor, Lou is living in London, grieving the sharp-tongued, ornery man she was hired to assist, and came to love. She spent a year of her life caring for Will, severely disabled by an accident and intent on dying via assisted suicide. It was up to Lou, previously directionless Lou, to convince him life was still worth living.

    But no one person can save the life of another, as Lou learned, and Will did die at the end of Me Before You, entreating Lou, to “just live,” because “There is a hunger in you, Clark. A fearlessness. You just buried it, like most people do.”

    Now 28 and mostly alone, Lou is anything but fearless. In fact, readers might not recognize her. Gone are her fabulous, flamboyant clothes. Wallowing in a dead-end job at an airport bar, she spends her days dressed like a “porno pixie leprechaun,” hounded by her uptight middle-management boss. When off the clock, tired of being that girl, the one who helped a man kill himself, Lou dresses in plain jeans and T-shirts and hides away in her undecorated flat.

    Until she falls off a fire escape, shattering her body and putting her, however temporarily, into a situation horrifyingly similar to the one that caused Will to take his life. Her appalled family forces Lou to attend a grief counseling support group before letting her out of their sight.

    There, Moyes introduces another memorable, motley cast of characters. Lou’s fellow mourners all reflect pieces of Lou herself: the guilt over how they acted, or were unable to act, while their loved ones were alive; their hesitance to get out their and live their lives for themselves again. But the two people who have the greatest impact on Lou throughout the course of the novel aren’t in her support group.

    The first is Sam, the paramedic who put Lou back together the night she fell. Sam is sorting through a grief all his own, and this common experience draws them to each other. The second and even greater influence on Lou, however, is Lily, a neglected teenager as lost as Lou is, who wears her loneliness and frustration on her sleeve, and demands care almost as pathologically as Lou seeks to give it.

    On a first read, After You seems as frustrating, as centerless, as grief itself. But it soon becomes clear that the ambling nature of the plot is a deliberate device employed by Moyes. What is there to motivate Lou? Will may have told her to “just live,” but his story has ended. This story is about what happens to those who are left behind.

    Lou, Sam, and Lily have all, in one way or another, been left behind. They struggle, over the course of hundreds of pages and thousands of words, to find a way back to themselves, to build a life worth living. Lou tries to find it caring for others: first Will, then Lily. But what she really needs, having loved and lost, is to truly find herself, perhaps for the first time. Patiently, painstakingly, Moyes takes us on that journey with her. It’s hard, and it’s painful, and at times the drudgery of it—the banal indignities of having to dress like a porno pixie leprechaun in a frizzy plastic wig, for example–are almost too much to bear. But ultimately After You is a story about honoring the lessons we’ve learned from lost love, and learning to be brave enough to move on. To reach for joy. To just live.

     
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