Fiction Previews, Feb. 2014, Pt. 2: Seven Novels by Best-Selling Authors from Jackie Collins to Matthew Quick

Alcott, Kate. The Daring Ladies of Lowell. Doubleday. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780385536493. $24.95. CD: Random Audio. HISTORICAL
Following up The Dressmaker, which spent four weeks on the New York Times best sellers list in hardcover and has been visiting the extended list in paperback, Alcott tells the story of Alice Barrow, who leaves the family farm to work as a mill girl in 1830s Lowell, MA. She finds herself representing the aggrieved workers to management even as she catches the attention of the mill owner’s serious son. Alas, their romance is waylaid by the strangling of Alice’s free-spirited friend Lovey. Based on a real-life murder case and billed as blending upscale glamour and downhome charm.

Collins, Jackie. Confessions of a Wild Child. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781250050939. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466851924. CD: Macmillan Audio. POP FICTION
Before there was Lucky Santangelo, the tough heroine of several of Collins’s 29 New York Times best sellers, there was Lucky Santangelo, rebellious teenage girl. In this prequel to the Santangelo novels, we see the 15-year-old Lucky test her wings as she runs away from boarding school in search of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. With a one-day laydown on February 4.

Maupin, Armistead. The Days of Anna Madrigal. Harper. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780062196248. $26.99. lrg. prnt. POP FICTION
Maupin wraps up his beloved “Tales of the City” series with a ninth novel that explores the past of Anna Madrigal, the famed transgender landlady of 28 Barbary Lane. Nearing the end at 92, Anna joins several members of her “family”—who include caretaker Jake Greenleaf, former tenant Brian Hawkins, Brian’s daughter Shawna, plus Michael Tolliver and Mary Ann Singleton—as they head to Burning Man, the annual radical-creative event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. But Anna’s real intention is to revisit the Nevada whorehouse she fled from as a 16-year-old boy. With a 75,000-copy first printing and a seven-city tour to Denver, Los Angeles, Portland (OR), San Francisco, Seattle, New Mexico, and New York.

Meacham, Leila. Somerset. Grand Central. Jan. 2014. 624p. ISBN 9781455547388. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455547371. CD: Hachette Audio. HISTORICAL/POP FICTION
This prequel to Meacham’s best-selling debut, Roses, offers 150 years’ worth of Tolivers, Warwicks, and DuMonts. Bereft of his inheritance, Simon Toliver leaves South Carolina’s Plantation Alley and strikes out with friend Jeremy Warwick for a new territory: Texas. With a 100,000-copy first printing; pushed back from November.

Oliveira, Robin. I Always Loved You. Viking. Feb. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780670785797. $27.95. HISTORICAL
Oliveira follows up her debut, the New York Times best seller My Name Is Mary Sutter, with a story inspired by Mary Cassatt. After a decade in Paris, rejected by the Paris Salon and pressured by her family to return to America, Cassatt nearly despairs. Then she meets Edgar Degas (later learning he had begged for the introduction), and her life changes utterly. With an eight-city tour and (helpfully) a reading group guide.

Penman, Sharon Kay. A King’s Ransom. Putnam. Feb. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9780399159220. $28.95. HISTORICAL
Noted for the accuracy of her eight previous historical novels and wildly entertaining to boot, Penman here follows up the New York Times best-selling Lionheart with more on Richard, Coeur de Lion. This volume covers Richard’s imprisonment by the Holy Roman Emperor as he sailed home from the Third Crusade and the efforts of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, to secure his release. Travel lovers, listen up: Penman conducts sold-out book-related tours that follow the paths of Richard III and Eleanor of Aquitaine through France and England.

Quick, Matthew. The Good Luck of Right Now. Harper. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780062285539. $25.95. lrg. prnt. LITERARY/HUMOROUS
You’ll know Quick from his debut novel, The Silver Linings Playbook, which has sold a half million copies in trade paperback and ebook combined and was made into the celebrated film that earned Jennifer Lawrence an Academy Award; this new work has already been optioned for big-screen treatment. Devoted to his mother for his entire 38 years, Bartholomew Neil struggles to find himself when she dies, eventually using a “Free Tibet” letter from the actor Richard Gere he finds in her drawer to reach out to Gere and others in an effort to make a new life. With a 150,000-copy first printing; a five-city tour to Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and a New England locale; and extensive book club outreach.


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.