Barbara’s Picks, December 2013, Pt. 1: Diana Gabaldon, Mireille Guiliano, Jim Harrison, & Donna Leon

Gabaldon, Diana. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. Delacorte. Dec. 2013. 1008p. ISBN 9780385344432. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780440246442. TIME TRAVEL
In the latest in Gabaldon’s relentlessly seductive series, readers get to time-travel to revolutionary Philadelphia, where Jamie Fraser joins wife Claire Randall as the redcoats march into town—a doubtless unnerving sight for our Scottish hero. Going strong after 20 years—Outlander, the initial title, still sells more than 4100 copies a month—this series is getting a big boost this year with ongoing backlist promotion, the development of a television series for Starz, and the fall release of an ebook bundle featuring the seven previous Outlander novels. Intense blogosphere buzz and 3,000 fans lined up so far on Goodreads.

Guiliano, Mireille. French Women Don’t Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style and Attitude. Grand Central. Dec. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781455524112. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781455524129; lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455524129. LIFESTYLE
Guiliano, a former chief executive with LVMH (Veuve Cliquot), made publishing history with the million-copy best seller French Women Don’t Get Fat—which launched not just a concept but a catchphrase (see Esther Blum’s Cave Women Don’t Get Fat in Nonfiction). Though she’s written lifestyle books since, this book parallels Fat in terms of focused advice related in classically sharp-witted Gallic style. It’s aimed at women in their fifties and sixties—a big audience, 37 million strong, all eager to stay painlessly in style. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Harrison, Jim. Brown Dog: Novellas. Grove Atlantic. Dec. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9780802120113. $27. NOVELLAS
Harrison’s first Brown Dog novella appeared in 1990, and readers have been enchanted ever since. Now the author has collected all the Brown Dog novellas in one volume and added a new piece to round out our perception of Harrison’s extraordinary ordinary guy. Here we see Brown Dog pulling the preserved body of an Indian from Lake Superior’s chill waters and recrossing the border in an Indian rock band’s tour bus after having fled to Canada. In the new piece, “He Dog,” our hero travels from Michigan to Montana and back, with love and redemption becoming a distinct possibility. Harrison excels in the long short form, as evidenced by his recently published The River Swimmer, a novella collection as pure, lovely, and arresting as they come. So this will be a treat for fans and newbies alike.

Leon, Donna. My Venice and Other Essays. Atlantic Monthly. Dec. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9780802120366. $26. TRAVEL/ESSAYS
Readers of the engrossing and culturally astute Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series won’t be surprised by the topics Venice-based author Leon covers in this essay collection, which ranges from the garbage in the canals to the travails of Venetian real estate to the glories of opera. Leon writes frequently for various European publications, but American readers haven’t had the pleasure of encountering much of her nonfiction until now. Lots of appealing miniatures of Venice, but Leon also discusses growing up in New Jersey and how she finds inspiration for her wonderful novels.

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.


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