If last week's Early Word highlighted good fiction from some new writers, this week's Early Word is all about established writers. There are a decent number of new fiction books out this week (more than last week, it appears) and they run the gamut between chick lit, mystery, children's fantasy, and satire.
Currently working their way up most bestseller lists this week are two books that sound intiguing, especially for their use of characters. The first, This Charming Man by Marian Keyes, has been out for a couple weeks in the UK/European market but is available in North America for the first time this week. This Charming Man revolves around a fictional Irish politician (Paddy de Courcy) whose charm has taken over an entire nation. He's known as the "John F. Kennedy of Dublin," and his style has left many feeling, apparently, that Dublin is about to change. Sounds kind of familiar.
The heart of the novel, however, revolves around four female narrators - Lola, Gracie, Marnie, and Alicia - who give a completely different perspective on de Courcy's wit and smile. Keyes' novel focuses on these four narrators, who present a man with a much more complex background. And even though the novel ultimately revolves around the very public figure who has affected so many people, Keyes makes sure to include the very real and hearbreaking private lives of her four narrators, ultimately presenting a complex character-based work of fiction. One reviewer at Trashionista said that Keyes' characters reveal "that chick lit is far from light weight fluffy nonsense." Indeed, this book sounds like it's more weighty than a lot of chick lit out there.
An equally complex novel from the "chick lit" faction is Jane Green's latest The Beach House, which is currently sitting in the cushy top 10 of fiction sales at Barnes & Noble's Web site. The Beach House follows an old, lonely, and wealthy widow (Nan Everett) as she tries to make sense of her life in Nantucket before she becomes another Miss Havisham, alone with her wealth and her bitterness. Of course, she also finds herself with a need: she is suddenly in need of money, and opens up her old beach house to bring in some extra cash. In the process, things start to improve, and of course, there's a twist of some type, but I'm not sure what it might be.