Bridget Jones Bereft, Donna Tartt’s Met Explosion: Books
Scott Turow, Donna Tartt and Helen Fielding return to bookstores this month. Here are some October highlights:
“Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin” by Jill Lepore (Knopf, Oct. 1). Benjamin Franklin’s youngest sister, Jane, was the mother of 12 children and never learned to spell. Her famous brother wrote more letters to her than to anyone else. Lepore, a history professor at Harvard and New Yorker staff writer, brings her to life in this fascinating portrait.
“Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy” by Helen Fielding (Knopf, Oct. 15). The world has changed since our last peek into Bridget’s diary. Now she’s using Twitter and texting and raising two kids as a single mother -- yes, dear reader, Mark Darcy is no more.
“Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House” by Robert Dallek (Harper, Oct. 9). As the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination approaches, presidential biographer Dallek examines his administration.
“The Circle” by Dave Eggers (Knopf/McSweeney’s, Oct. 8). The time is the near future. Facebook, Twitter and Google have been subsumed by the Circle, a company that combines your social-media accounts, banking, shopping and e-mail into one easily accessible profile.
The Circle seems like a great place to work -- with endless parties and the motto “Anything that makes our Circlers’ lives better instantly becomes possible.” But new hire Mae finds out it isn’t the paradise it seems.
“Daniel: My French Cuisine” by Daniel Boulud (Grand Central, Oct. 15) and “Roberta’s Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter, Oct. 29). Two cookbooks from New York City restaurants that couldn’t be more different. Boulud presents lavishly illustrated recipes for dishes like frog leg fricassee, while the team from Roberta’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn, features its famous pizza dough.
“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown, Oct. 22). This is Tartt’s second book in 21 years since the publication of her modern classic, “The Secret History,” and it was worth the wait. After 13-year-old Theo Decker’s mother is killed in an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he claws his way out of the building -- along with a famous Dutch painting, “The Goldfinch,” which he slips into his bag. The painting, his mother’s favorite, provides solace and terror as Theo moves from a friend’s apartment on Park Avenue to his father’s tract house in Las Vegas to an antiques shop in Greenwich Village.
“Heart: An American Medical Odyssey” by Dick Cheney and Jonathan Reiner with Liz Cheney (Scribner, Oct. 22). The former vice president and his cardiologist have collaborated on a book about Cheney’s 35-year struggle with heart disease -- and the changes in coronary care during that time.
“Identical” by Scott Turow (Grand Central, Oct. 15). Turow doesn’t crank out a thriller every year, which gives him time to write complex, thoughtful books. The new one has an intriguing premise: One identical twin brother is running for mayor of Kindle County while the other is getting out of jail after 25 years for murdering his girlfriend. What really happened back then?
“Johnny Carson” by Henry Bushkin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Oct 15). An inside look at the charming (in public) Carson, written by his longtime lawyer.
“Provence, 1970” by Luke Barr (Clarkson Potter, Oct. 22). M.F.K. Fisher’s great-nephew has written a delightful account of the summer when Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard and other influential food writers found themselves in the south of France at the same time, cooking and talking.
“The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking, Oct. 1). This fat historical novel is quite a departure for Gilbert -- not only from “Eat, Pray, Love” but from her previous fiction about cowboys and lobstermen. It tells the engaging story of Alma Whittaker, daughter of the richest man in early 19th-century Philadelphia, who turns herself into a respected botanist while not ignoring the pleasures of the flesh.
“Thank You for Your Service” by David Finkel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Oct. 1). In 2009, Finkel published “The Good Soldiers,” in which he followed the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion in Iraq through the surge. Now he follows some of them home, as they struggle to adjust to civilian life.
“Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’” by Alisa Solomon (Metropolitan Books, Oct. 22). Theater critic Solomon explores how Tevye the Milkman became a phenomenon with audiences around the world.
(Laurie Muchnick is the book editor for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Ryan Sutton on dining, Mark Beech on pop music.