Fiction Previews, Apr. 2013, Pt. 5: Big Debut Novels, Some with 100,000-Copy First Printing

Greenberg, Mike. All You Could Ask For. Morrow. Apr. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780062220752. $25.99; eISBN 9780062220776. POP FICTION
Greenberg is cohost of ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning, the highest rated sports talk program in the United States. He’s also author of the best-selling Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot and has been dubbed the King of Guytalk. So what’s he doing writing a debut novel about three women—joyously married Brooke; newlywed Samantha, who’s just discovered that her soon-to-be-ex has been cheating on her; and Katherine, made rich beyond imagining working long hours for the man who broke her heart. The confluence of author and subject alone should make you curious; with a 100,000-copy first printing and huge publicity.

McCreight, Kimberly. Reconstructing Amelia. Harper: HarperCollins. Apr. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780062225436. $25.99; ISBN 9780062225450. lrg. prnt. POP FICTION
It’s not every first novel that gets a 100,000-copy first printing (though see the Greenberg and Rhonda Riley titles), and McCreight combines a poignant, pulled-from-the-headlines story with writing sanctified by Antietam Review and Oxford magazine. Her protagonist is Kate Baron, a litigation lawyer and single mother who has just found out from daughter Amelia’s private, Park Slope, Brooklyn, high school that Amelia has been suspended for cheating. Then she learns that Amelia has jumped from the school’s roof. And then she gets an anonymous text message saying “Amelia didn’t jump.” Now Kate’s sorting through Amelia’s texts, posts, and cell phone log to figure out what was really going on at her daughter’s school. With comparisons to Jodi Picoult and Tana French; I’m betting that this one will get big attention.

McVeigh, Jennifer. The Fever Tree. Amy Einhorn Bks: Putnam. Apr. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9780399158247. $25.95. HISTORICAL
Set in 1880s South Africa and already a hit in the U.K., this first novel stars Frances Irvine, suddenly broke when her father dies, who must migrate from London to the Southern Cape of Africa. There she becomes involved with two men (of course), one principled and one out for himself. Rumors of smallpox send her to diamond-mine country, where she makes a choice with some deeply unfortunate consequences. Love in a dark and beautiful country, with historical resonance; a great book club read drawing comparisons to Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa.

Ridgway, Bee. The River of No Return. Dutton. Apr. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780525953869. $27.95. TIME TRAVEL
He’s about to be slaughtered on a Napoleonic battlefield when something happens to aristocrat Nick Falcott; he wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London and finds that he’s a member of the Guild, which controls time travel. He’s also rich and powerful beyond imagining but is still missing home when he’s asked to return to the early 1800s and retrieve an artifact called the Talisman for the Guild. There, he re-encounters Julia, whose deceased grandfather could also master time, and together they travel the centuries in an adventure that might determine the fate of the future. In-house enthusiasm, with rights to six countries.

Riley, Peggy. Amity & Sorrow. Little, Brown. Apr. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780316220880. $25.99. POP FICTION
The author of award-winning short fiction and a playwright whose works have been produced off–West End, Riley writes about a woman named Amaranth, who’s escaping with daughters Amity and Sorrow from her husband’s polygamous cult. Their car having crashed in rural Oklahoma, they are rescued by a farmer named Bradley who’s mourning the death of his wife. Clearly, new bonds will be formed and new understanding emerge; watch it.

Riley, Rhonda. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope. Ecco: HarperCollins. Apr. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780062099440. pap. $15.99. LITERARY
Here’s another debut novel with a 100,000-copy first printing, and at first glance it’s lyric and mesmerizing. As World War II comes to an end, Evelyn Roe finds a horribly burned soldier half-buried in mud on her family’s North Carolina farm. But this is not man, it’s a mysterious creature that heals quickly, turns into a woman identical to Evelyn, and then becomes Adam. Adam and Evelyn marry, have children, but don’t quite live happily ever after; Adam’s mysterious origins cause complications that drive this imaginative novel.

van Praag, Menna. The House at the End of Hope Street. Pamela Dorman: Viking. Apr. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780670784639. $25.95. CONTEMPORARY WOMEN’S FICTION
Van Praag’s fairytale first novel features a house that can change one’s life. It’s at 11 Hope Street in Cambridge, England, and Alba passes it while she’s wandering and pondering her trudging academic career. An old woman at the doorstep invites her to stay, with the standard proviso: she has 99 nights to change her life. Portraits of George Eliot and Beatrix Potter, who once stayed there, give advice. Fans of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen should like.


Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.


  1. Gordon Kaplan says:

    To be precise, Mike Greenberg is not the host, but the co-host with Mike Golic, of Mike and Mike in the Morning. (Otherwise, it probably would be called Mike in the Morning.)