Also published on this date: Thursday, May 5, 2016: Dedicated Issue: Abrams Rebranding

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 5, 2016


St. Martin's Press: The Vengeance of Mothers by Jim Fergus / St. Martin's Griffin: One Thousand White Women  (20th Anniversary Edition): The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

Chicken House: The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: New York City

Timber Press: The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired the Little House Books by Marta McDowell

Algonquin Young Readers: All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry

Quotation of the Day

Bookseller as 'Therapist of Inspiration'

"Booksellers do not deal with the emergencies of emergency room nurses, doctors and EMTs. Booksellers do not provide the therapy of speech pathologists or psychologists, and we definitely do not give massages. Booksellers do not go home with the existential exhaustion of school teachers, police officers, lawyers, and policy makers.

"Instead, we are here seven days a week for all of your happy emergencies of inspiration. When you are not arguing legislation, testing water samples, planning units and climbing scaffolding, we will ride with you through your exhilaration about discovering Greg Iles for the first time. We will guide you towards private forays in the foreign fiction section with writers like Roberto Bolaño and Elena Ferrante."

--Lemuria Books, Jackson, Miss., in a blog post headlined "Whitney Gilchrist on being a therapist of inspiration (a.k.a. a bookseller)"

Grand Central Publishing: The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen by Hendrik Groen, translated by Hester Velmans


News

Laren's Books and Gifts Opens in Buffalo, Wyo.

Laren and Janet Hansen have opened Laren's Books and Gifts in Buffalo, Wyo., according to the Buffalo Bulletin. The store sells books and feature chocolates made by Jennie Zee's Handmade gourmet, which specializes in homemade, all-natural confections. A grand opening event is planned for later this month.

The store is focusing, Laren Hansen said, "on trying to provide an experience. You know, people come in and they want to come back." Its books include Wyoming-related books as well as titles popular in the Buffalo area--"science-based outdoor books, including hiking guides; gardening books; cookbooks and rock hounding guides." There is also a sizable children's and teen section.

Janet Hansen added: "We want this place to be very, very friendly. This is the kind of place where someone would be comfortable to come in, sit down and read their book, have a cup of coffee. We want it to be the kind of place that people are like, 'I've got a few minutes to kill. I'll just stop by the bookstore.' "


City Monsters Search-And-Find Books from Chouette Editions


New Owners Introduced at Viewpoint Books, Columbus, Ind.

Introduced to customers on Independent Bookstore Day, John and Beth Stroh are, effective July 1, the new owners of Viewpoint Books, Columbus, Ind., the Republic reported. John Stroh is a lawyer; Beth Stroh, formerly a teacher and education director for United Way of Central Indiana, will work fulltime in the store.

Beth Stroh said, "We haven't lived in Columbus without a Viewpoint bookstore, and it is such a valuable asset to the community. We read that Terry and Susan were interested in retiring, and felt like it was a legacy worth continuing." She and her husband first visited the store in 1981, just before moving to the city. She added, "Education, reading and the pure joy of books that are shared by families and groups of kids, adult reading groups--I can't imagine a world without books, and you need a book store for people to be able to have access to them."

Terry and Susan Whittaker, who have owned the store since 1979, had announced the sale last month but kept the identities of the new owners secret until last Saturday's celebration.

Speaking of the new owners, Terry Whittaker said, "They just kind of fit the perfect idea of who we would like to take over. They've been in this community for a very long time, they're very well known, they're very community oriented, they want to be involved in more than just retail, they want to be involved in downtown and have a broader impact on the community."

To learn more about bookselling and be better prepared for becoming bookstore owners, the Strohs attended Winter Institute in Denver in January, and Beth Stroh went to a Paz & Associates booksellers "boot camp."


Oxford University Press: The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 by Richard White


Billings Bookstore Cooperative Buys Red Lodge Books & Tea

The Billings Bookstore Cooperative, Billings, Mont., which plans to open by the end of the summer, has bought the assets of Red Lodge Books & Tea in Red Lodge and hired its owner, Gary Robson, to be the future store's general manager, the Billings Gazette reported.

Robson and his wife, Kathy, bought the Red Lodge bookstore in 2001 and expanded it, adding the tea shop. That store will close next month, but some of its staff, including the tea shop manager, will be hired for the Billings Bookstore Cooperative, which plans to renovate a former Wendy's restaurant location.

"We've been working on the bookstore co-op for over a year, and all the pieces are falling into place," co-op board president Carrie La Seur told the paper. "Hiring Gary and buying the assets of Red Lodge Books & Tea significantly reduces the time it will take to get the Billings bookstore up and running."

Robson added: "Being a part of a larger community--and being located just down the street from [Montana State University Billings], Rocky and the Billings Library--gives us a whole new set of opportunities that don't exist in a small town like Red Lodge." He said the Billings Bookstore Cooperative may eventually open a branch in his old store's location.

Robson described the new store as "a full-service bookstore [with] a little of everything, but the focus will be on regional authors and topics, educational books, nature and science, classics, and a strong children's section." The store will also offer author appearances, poetry readings and game nights.

Robson is also a writer whose Who Pooped in the Park children's series has sold 400,000 copies. The latest in the series, Who Pooped in Central Park?: Scat and Track for Kids, is coming out from Farcountry Press in late May.


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Deadly Game (Robert Finlay #2) by Matt Johnson


Mills College Closing Its Bricks-and-Mortar Bookstore

Mills College, Oakland, Calif., is closing its bricks-and-mortar bookstore, which is operated by Follett, after "declining sales for more than eight years now," according to the Campanil, the student newspaper. The store's online replacement, run by eCampus, has gone live in time for Mills College's summer semester.

Textbook prices are expected to decrease and "new perks will also be offered to make purchasing books more affordable."


Shambhala Buying Rodmell Press

Shambhala Publications is acquiring Rodmell Press, Berkeley, Calif., which publishes books on yoga, Buddhism, Taoism and aikido and whose titles include Judith Lasater's Living Your Yoga and A Year of Living Your Yoga and Mary Pullig Schatz's Back Care Basics: A Doctor's Gentle Yoga Program for Back and Neck Pain Relief. The press has a list of 40 titles. Rodmell was founded in 1988 by Linda Cogozzo and Donald Moyer, who, with the sale, are retiring. Currently distributed by PGW, Rodmell titles will be distributed by Penguin Random House under the Shambhala logo beginning August 1.

Shambhala president Nikko Odiseos said that Rodmell and Shambhala's visions are "perfectly complementary. With our dynamic direct-to-consumer outreach, as well as our global distribution through Penguin Random House, we are excited to introduce these incredible books and authors to a whole new set of readers." Odiseos also praised "the care with which each Rodmell book was chosen, and their obvious commitment to genuine, authentic teachings that help readers live better lives physically, emotionally, and spiritually."

Shambhala has a strong yoga list, which includes titles by Sarah Powers, Richard Rosen, Anne Cushman, Rusty Wells, Linda Sparrowe and Ashtanga teacher Kino McGregor. Shambhala's imprints include Roost Books, Snow Lion, Trumpeter and Weatherhill.

In the transaction, Rodmell Press was represented by Susan Reich and David Lamb of Book Advisors.


#BEA2016 Buzz Books: Fiction, Part 2

Here Shelf Awareness continues to look at highly anticipated, upcoming books for the summer and fall, based on the recommendations of more than a dozen independent booksellers from around the country. Today's titles are the second part of the two-part fiction focus. Installments on nonfiction, YA and children's will run over the next few days.

Another debut novel in addition to the two mentioned yesterday is Nathan Hill's The Nix. Coming from Knopf on August 30, The Nix is the story of Samuel Andresen-Anderson, a bored teacher at a small college who published a short story in the New Yorker at a young age. The exposure from that story led him to signing a book deal, which years later he has still not delivered on. As his publisher becomes increasingly determined to collect, one way or another, Samuel's long-estranged mother suddenly becomes an internet celebrity after throwing rocks at a presidential candidate, and soon he sets out to track down his mother and deliver a book about her. Mark Laframboise of Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., said the book felt prescient: "It's just a very smart comic novel."

Next on today's list is Mischling by Affinity Konar. Due out from Lee Boudreaux Books on September 6, Mischling begins with twin sisters Pearl and Stasha Zagorski arriving at Auschwitz in 1944. Because they are twins, the girls are intercepted on arrival to become part of Josef Mengele's "zoo" of experimental subjects. Kept apart from the other prisoners in Auschwitz, the girls experience better living conditions but are subject to horrifying experiments. As the end of the war approaches, the girls must rely on each other to survive. Mark Laframboise of Politics & Prose chose Mischling as an "unforgettable" upcoming novel. Despite the bleak environment and depressing circumstances, he said, Konar "fuses so much life into these characters."

The next book from Man Booker International Prize winner László Krasznahorkai is The Last Wolf. The book's haunted narrator has been hired to write the story of the last wolf to live in Spain's barren Extremadura region. While drinking alone in a Berlin bar, the narrator recounts the whole miserable experience to a bored bartender, all in a single sentence. The Last Wolf was picked by both Stephanie Valdez of Community Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Geoff Nichols, a buyer at University Book Store, Seattle, Wash. Nichols called The Last Wolf an opportunity "to approach Krasznahorkai in a shorter work, sort of--96 pages, one sentence." Translated by George Szirtes, this "obsessive, intense, beautiful" book will be available from New Directions on September 6.

In Colson Whitehead's new novel The Underground Railroad, Cora is a slave on a Georgia cotton plantation. Ostracized by the other slaves, Cora finds herself in an especially difficult position as she begins to blossom into adulthood. But then a recently arrived slave named Caesar tells Cora about the Underground Railroad, and the two begin plotting an escape. In this novel, Whitehead has reimagined the Underground Railroad as an actual, secret, subterranean train system built beneath the South. Cora flees North state by state, stop by stop, frantically trying to elude the slave-catcher on her trail. Jason Kennedy of Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis., and Anna Macklin, the trade book buyer at University Book Store in Seattle, Wash., both highlighted The Underground Railroad as an upcoming release to watch for. It will be out on September 13 from Doubleday.

Nell Zink, the author of The Wallcreeper and Mislaid, returns on October 4 with Nicotine (Ecco). As the normal, straight-laced child in an extremely unconventional family, Penny Baker has always somehow been the rebellious one. Not long after graduating from business school, Penny learns that her father, an aged hippie who ran a psychedelic healing center, has died and she's inherited his childhood home in New Jersey. Upon visiting the property, Penny discovers that it is not in fact abandoned but inhabited by a group of friendly anarchists who have nicknamed the place "Nicotine" and passionately fight for smokers' rights. As Penny begins to bond with the Nicotine community, her past life and her present one increasingly come into conflict. John Cleary, bookseller at Papercuts J.P., Boston, Mass., picked Nicotine as a major fall release, and said Zink has "an exceptional talent for saturating a novel with wit and humor without sacrificing the depth need to throw a genuine, emotional punch."

The Angel of History is the next book from Rabih Alameddine, whose last novel, An Unnecessary Woman, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Coming on October 4 from Atlantic Monthly Press, The Angel of History is set over the course of one night as Jacob, an Arab-American poet, sits in the waiting room of a pysch clinic. He recalls his early upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse, his life as a gay Arab man during the height of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, and his travels around the world. All the while he is taunted and hovered over by visions of Satan and Death and attended to by 14 saints. Stephanie Valdez of Community Bookstore pointed to The Angel of History as a major fall release.

Last but certainly not least on today's list is Thus Bad Begins, the 14th novel from Spanish author Javier Marías. Set in Madrid in the early 1980s, Thus Bad Begins is the story of a university student named Juan de Vere. Juan becomes the personal assistant to his idol, an older film director named Eduardo Muriel. Though seemingly perfect, Muriel has a complicated, dark relationship with his wife and a family friend accused of sinister things. Muriel asks Juan to investigate that family friend, and soon Juan is caught in a web of suspicion and intrigue. Community Bookstore's Stephanie Valdez called Thus Bad Begins perhaps the most anticipated fall title of her whole staff. Said Valdez: "We are all big fans of his here." Caitlin Baker, bookseller at University Book Store, also chose Marías' newest as one of her most anticipated books. Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa, Thus Bad Begins will be available from Knopf on November 1. --Alex Mutter



Notes

Image of the Day: Mini Mystery Fans

As part of the launch of The Nocturnals: The Mysterious Abductions (Fabled Films Press), the first in a middle-grade series, author Tracey Hecht appeared Tuesday night at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square, New York City, an event that included a reading/signing, a coloring station, animated short viewing--and a face painting station. Here are two young fans, one painted as Bismark the Sugar Glider.


Road Trip: 'Book Lover's Guide to Chicago'

The Culture Trip featured a "Book Lover's Guide to Chicago," noting that as "there is something about wandering around a bookstore and flipping through the pages of a book and smelling that 'bookstore' smell that can't be beat. Get ready to grab a warm cup of coffee, cozy up in the corner, and forget the world at the best literary spots in Chicago."


Pennie Picks LaRose

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen LaRose: A Novel by Louise Erdrich (Harper, $27.99, 9780062277022) as her pick of the month for May. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"If you ever begin to doubt the power of a good story, this month's book buyer's pick, Louise Erdrich's novel LaRose, is for you.

"In North Dakota in 1999, Landreaux Iron accidentally shoots his neighbor's young son, Dusty, in a hunting accident. The incident rocks the two families, and Landreaux and his wife do their best to make amends by sending their young son, LaRose, to replace Dusty. A surprising new normal develops, revealing how interconnected we all are.

"Moving back and forth in time and giving readers a glimpse into the lives of many characters, Erdrich weaves a story filled with sadness, love, jealousy, acceptance and so much more."


Personnel Changes at Rodale, S&S Children's

Angie Giammarino has joined Rodale Books as senior marketing manager. She formerly worked at Macmillan, most recently as a marketing manager and earlier as associate marketing and digital strategy manager.

---

Diego Molano Rodriguez joins Simon & Schuster Children's Sales as sales assistant.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Frank Dikotter on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Frank Dikotter, author of The Cultural Revolution: A People's History, 1962-1976 (Bloomsbury Press, $32, 9781632864215).

Tomorrow:
Fox & Friends: Pete Hegseth, author of In the Arena: Good Citizens, a Great Republic, and How One Speech Can Reinvigorate America (Threshold Editions, $28, 9781476749341).

Science Friday: Roland Kays, author of Candid Creatures: How Camera Traps Reveal the Mysteries of Nature (Johns Hopkins University Press, $39.95, 9781421418889).

On Point: Lesley Stahl, author of Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Sorrows of the New Grandparenting (Blue Rider Press, $27, 9780399168154).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens: A Novel (Morrow, $14.99, 9780062399106).


This Weekend on Book TV: National Black Writers Conference

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, May 7
1:30 p.m. Coverage from the 13th National Black Writers Conference hosted by the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

6 p.m. Randy Barnett, author of Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People (Broadside, $26.99, 9780062412287). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 a.m.)

7:30 p.m. Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf, authors of "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs": Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (Liveright, $27.95, 9780871404428). (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

9 p.m. John Perkins, author of The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, $17.95, 9781626566743), at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, Calif.

10 p.m. Peter Marks, contributor to Good for the Money: My Fight to Pay Back America by Bob Benmosche  (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250072184). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Adina Hoffman, author of Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New City (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28, 9780374289102), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)


Sunday, May 8
1:30 p.m. Continuing coverage from the National Black Writers Conference. (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

6:30 p.m. Dana Gioia, poet laureate of California and author of 99 Poems: New & Selected (Graywolf, $24, 9781555977320).

10 p.m. Stephen Coss, author of The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476783086).


Books & Authors

Awards: Branford Boase Shortlist

A shortlist has been released for the 2016 Branford Boase Award, which "celebrates the most promising book for seven year-olds and upwards written by a first-time novelist and also highlights the importance of the editor in the development of new authors." The winning author, who will be announced July 7 in London, is awarded £1,000 (about $1,465), and both author and editor receive a hand-crafted silver-inlaid box. The shortlisted titles are:

Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare, edited by Penny Thomas (illustrations by Jane Matthews)
Stone Rider by David Hofmeyr, edited by Ben Horslen and Tig Wallace
The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt, edited by Ben Horsle (illustrations by Ross Collins)
My Brother Is a Superhero by David Solomons, edited by Kirsty Stansfield
Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford, edited by Nicholas Lake
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, edited by Bella Pearson


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 10:

Speaking Freely: My Life in Publishing and Human Rights by Robert L. Bernstein (New Press, $27.95, 9781620971710) is the memoir of the former longtime head of Random House, with a foreword by Toni Morrison.

LaRose: A Novel by Louise Erdrich (Harper, $27.99, 9780062277022) follows two North Dakota families linked by a hunting accident and a shared son.

The Noise of Time: A Novel by Julian Barnes (Knopf, $25.95, 9781101947241) is a novel about Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and his struggles under Soviet rule.

Troublemaker: A Novel by Linda Howard (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062418975) is romantic suspense about a paramilitary group member hiding in a small town.

The Pier Falls: And Other Stories by Mark Haddon (Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385540759) is a collection of nine short stories of various genres.

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544746527) is a debut novel about a man's childhood pilgrimage to a grim stretch of English coast.

How Women Decide: What's True, What's Not, and What Strategies Spark the Best Choices by Therese Huston (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544416093) uses cognitive psychology to explore the female decision-making process.

You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice by Tom Vanderbilt (Knopf, $26.95, 9780307958242) looks at the process of picking a preference.

Betrayal at Little Gibraltar: A German Fortress, a Treacherous American General, and the Battle to End World War I by William Walker (Scribner, $28, 9781501117893) explores how disobedience by an American officer caused unnecessary casualties during a World War I battle.

Braving It: A Father, a Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild by James Campbell (Crown, $27, 9780307461247) chronicles a father-daughter trek through interior Alaska.

Paperback:
The Guest Cottage: A Novel by Nancy Thayer (Ballantine, $16, 9780345545725).

Movies:
High Rise, based on the novel by J.G. Ballard, has a limited release May 13. Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller play residents of a high rise apartment building that descends into class-based, Lord of the Flies-style violence. A movie tie-in (Liveright, $14.95, 9781631492686) is available.

Sunset Song, based on the coming-of-age novel about the daughter of a Scottish farmer by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, opens May 13.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover
Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250010131). "An infertile couple decides to use a sperm donor to create the perfect family they have always wanted. When the wife sees a picture of a man who looks very similar to their donor on the evening news, the story is set in motion. Could their donor be a serial killer? Christine will stop at nothing to find out who the biological father is, even if it means the end of her marriage. This latest novel of suspense from the bestselling Scottoline is fast-paced and will keep readers guessing until the end!" --Sarah Harmuth Letke, Redbery Books, Cable, Wis.

The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781476777832). "What is entailed in living 'a good life?' Using the writings of a succession of Chinese scholars from 2,000 years ago, the authors explain their ancient teachings through contemporary examples and demonstrate how changing our perspective can change our lives. And 'the path' that we are to follow? There is none! Rather, we create the journey moment by moment as we change how we observe and interact with our world and those in it. Challenging and potentially transformative!" --Susan Posch, the Book Shoppe, Boone, Iowa

Paperback
So You've Been Publicly Shamed: A Journey Through the World of Public Shaming by Jon Ronson (Riverhead, $16, 9781594634017). "This book both fascinated and terrified me with its insights into the increasing outrage to be found on social media and how careers and even lives can be quickly ruined by public forums. Ronson takes the concept further, exploring the history of public shaming, the nature of crowd 'madness,' why some people are unaffected by the process while others are devastated, and how Google searches make it hard to recover from the trauma. Not only will I recommend this book, but I will also ask people to come back and tell me what they think about the questions that are raised. This is a dialogue that needs to happen!" --Ann Carlson, Waterfront Books, Georgetown, S.C.  

For Ages 4 to 8: Revisit & Rediscover
Hazel's Amazing Mother by Rosemary Wells (Puffin Books, $5.99, 9780140549119). Originally published in 1985. "A mother's love comes to the rescue when Hazel gets bullied on her way home from purchasing something nice for a picnic. Hazel's mother senses that her child needs her help, and with a freak gust of wind she flies with all of the picnic makings to her daughter's rescue. All is put right, and the bullies are tasked to set things right. With illustrations that only Wells can create, we see the power of a mother's love for her child--a love that is always there, especially when needed most." --Becky Anderson, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill.

For Ages 9 to 12
Red's Planet by Eddie Pittman (Amulet, $9.95, 9781419719080). "Red is an orphan, running away from foster care in search of someplace that feels like a real home. Plucked off Earth by an alien spaceship, the plucky Red finds herself on a planet on the other side of the galaxy, surrounded by a hodgepodge of creatures gathered from other planets. With Red as their leader, can this motley crew make a new home for themselves? This is a really funny, adventurous story that will pull kids right in." --Sandy Scott, the Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, Vt.

For Teen Readers
Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99, 9780544602007). "You don't want to miss this time-traveling adventure, thrilling romance, and rich, historical tale. After her mom disappears and is presumed dead, Hope Walton travels to Scotland to stay with her mom's family, whom she's never met. When she discovers their secret--they are time travelers--she journeys to 12th century England, where she encounters Eleanor of Aquitaine, Thomas Becket, and her mom, very much alive. Now she has three days to bring her mom back to the present, or they'll be trapped in the 12th century forever!" --Alyssa Raymond, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Dinner with Edward

Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent (Algonquin, $23.95 hardcover, 9781616204228, May 24, 2016)

Two lost souls bond over gourmet feasts in Dinner with Edward, a memoir by investigative journalist Isabel Vincent (Gilded Lily: Lily Safra). The story begins when Isabel--a middle-aged newspaper reporter transplanted to New York as her marriage comes undone--meets a dear friend for dinner. The friend's 95-year-old mother has recently died, and she fears her father, Edward--a grief-stricken nonagenarian hospitalized after losing his soul mate of 69 years--is giving up on life. When Edward is finally released from the hospital, able to care for himself in his own apartment, Isabel's friend heads back to her home in Canada, and asks Isabel to check in on her father occasionally, touting Edward's culinary prowess. Isabel's loneliness in a new city--coupled with loyalty to her friend, her curiosity and the temptation of a good meal--ultimately propels her to show up at Edward's apartment on Roosevelt Island, armed with a bottle of wine.

One meal turns into a weekly, culinary rendezvous where meticulous and debonair Edward, a self-trained cook, whips up savory and sweet feasts, paired perfectly with cocktails. The meals range from the simple (Grilled Sirloin Steak with New Potatoes) to the elegant (Chicken Paillard, Sauce aux Champignons) to the sublime (Oysters Rockefeller). Desserts such as Tarte Citron, Popover Flambé and Apple and Pear Galette demonstrate the care and perfection that infuses each of Edward's gastronomic masterpieces. "Edward was neither a snob nor an insufferable foodie. He just liked to do things properly. He cared deeply about everything he created--whether it was the furniture in his living room or his writing."

Each chapter opens with a menu specific to the unexpected friendship that blooms between the dining companions over leisurely meals. Edward finds purpose and meaning in planning and preparing their weekly feasts. Over dinner, he conveys heartfelt details of his life, his creative pursuits and his enchanted marriage, ultimately becoming something of a teacher and protective father figure to Isabel. He offers wisdom and perspective as Isabel shares her adventures working for the New York Post, her crumbling marriage, difficulties in raising her daughter and her return to dating. The conversations always circle back to food, but the author admits, "When I asked him for a lesson in deboning a chicken... I knew that what Edward would end up imparting was far weightier than the butchery of poultry... he was forcing me to deconstruct my own life, to cut it back to the bone and examine the entrails, no matter how messy that proved to be."

Dinner with Edward emerges as a beautiful, passionate love story--wholly platonic--about two people whose lives are have undergone change, but who learn how to adapt and truly appreciate and reconnect with life again through the comfort of food, recipes and each other. Isabel Vincent's rich, perfectly paced narrative is served with as much wonder and gratitude as the deliciously conveyed indulgence of each satisfying, lingering meal. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A middle-aged writer and a 93-year-old widower, both facing changes in life, become friends through the satiating comfort of food.


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