Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Nov. 2013, Pt. 2: Sebastian Faulks, Fannie Flagg, Richard Kadrey, Wally Lamb, Diane Setterfield, Anita Shreve, Robert Stone

Faulks, Sebastian. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781250047595. $24.99. POP FICTION
What a combination! Faulks, author of absorbingly well-rendered best sellers like Charlotte Gray, as well as the James Bond sequel Devil May Care, here takes on one of his favorite authors with the permission of the estate. Yes, P.G. Wodehouse’s debonair Bertie Wooster and redoubtable butler Jeeves are back, with Bertie downcast because Georgina Meadowes is marrying someone else. His promise to help friend Peregrine “Woody” Beeching with his own star-crossed romance leads to Jeeves’s impersonating a lord and Bertie acting as manservant, all in the vicinity of the doubtless puzzled Georgina. Just announced; this ought to be laugh-out-loud funny.

Flagg, Fannie. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion. Random. Nov. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781400065943. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781400065943. lrg. prnt. POP FICTION
Not surprisingly, the author of Fried Green Tomatoes revisits the South, but her novel takes in a larger swath of territory, ranging from Wisconsin to Texas. Flagg’s heroine, from present-day Alabama, is intrigued by the story of five women working at a Phillips 66 gas station in 1943, just as Flagg was intrigued by the story of women who ran a gas station and flew in the WASPs during the war. Fans will be waiting; Flagg’s latest, I Still Dream About You, sold over 500,000 copies across formats. Billed as a comic mystery, and note the author tour to Fairhope (AL), Mobile, Birmingham, Huntsville, Nashville, Bowling Green, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara.

Kadrey, Richard. Dead Set. Harper Voyager: HarperCollins. Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780062283016. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062283023. FANTASY
New York Times best-selling author Kadrey, soon to be a guest of honor at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2013, takes a break from his Sandman Slim novels with this story of Zoe, bereft after her father’s death and a move to the Big City with her mother. For solace, she escapes to a dreamscape where she can visit her lost brother, though the atmosphere is subtly disturbed by a new, unseen presence. Then, at a used record store, she discovers vinyl discs whose grooves hold not music but lost souls and realizes that she might be able to reach her father. It will cost her, though. Stop by to hear Kadrey speak at a United for Libraries panel at ALA; with a 75,000-copy first printing.

Lamb, Wally. We Are Water. Harper: HarperCollins. Nov. 2013. 576p. ISBN 9780061941023. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062199027. lrg. prnt. CD: HarperAudio. POP FICTION
You can’t get much more affecting than two-time Oprah pick author Lamb, and here he nicely nails the zeitgeist with the story of outsider artist Anna Oh, a long married and the mother of three, who leaves her husband to marry her polished Manhattan art dealer, Vivica. With the approach of the wedding—set in Connecticut, where same-sex marriage has just been legalized—painful family issues boil to the surface. Anna, former husband Orion, and the children tell the story in alternating voices. With a one-day laydown on October 29, a 500,000-copy first printing, and a ten-city tour to Boston, Connecticut, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.

Setterfield, Diane. Bellman & Black. Emily Bestler Bks: Atria. Nov. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9781476711959. $22. LITERARY
As a child, William Bellman nastily kills a bird with a slingshot but doesn’t suffer the consequences until decades later when all his good fortune starts crumbling away. Soon, a black-garbed stranger arrives, and William finds that he can save what little he has left if he agrees to enter into the spooky business concern that becomes Bellman & Black. You expected something lighthearted after the dark and intriguing knottiness of Setterfield’s No. 1 New York Times best seller, The Thirteenth Tale? Lots of anticipation; over 800 folks have already proclaimed their interest on Goodreads.

Shreve, Anita. Stella Bain. Little, Brown. Nov. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780316098861. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316215442. CD: Hachette Audio. HISTORICAL/POPULAR
Shreve, who handles contemporary and historical fiction with equal grace, here takes us to World War I London for a probing psychological drama. An American woman named Stella Bain, found shell-shocked in a garden, is kindly taken in by surgeon August Bridge and his wife. They soon learn that she was working as a nurse’s aide at the front but has no memory of her life before being discovered wounded on the battlefield. Perennial best seller Shreve—more than 12 million copies of her novels have been sold in the United States alone—catches our interest with a story of love, memory, and a war now much on our minds.

Stone, Robert. Death of the Black-Haired Girl. Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780618386239. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780547760384. LITERARY
Stone, who can work on a global scale—think Dog Soldiers or Damascus Gate—here presents a more intimate but still deeply explosive story. Steven Brookman, a married professor at a prestigious New England college, decides to end his risky affair with brilliant, wayward student Maud Stack. Maud will have none of it, however, and the moral issues that arise are less clear-cut than they seem. I’ve just started reading this one, and already I’m hooked; with a 50,000-copy first printing.


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.