Home / The Early Word: New and Notable Fiction for the Week of June 16, 2008

The Early Word: New and Notable Fiction for the Week of June 16, 2008

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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.

Although The Beach House has some worthwhile qualities, including what seems to be a forthright character study of Nan’s loneliness, it does sound as if it may suffer from some of the cliches that usually pop up in books like this, if Publisher’s Weekly‘s assessment of the book is to be believed: “What begins as edgy and smart gets stuck in the sand in popular chick lit author Green’s (Second Chance) soggy beach read.” I’m not sure what to think of that.

In the world of Children’s books, a new fantasy novel by Peter David, called Tigerheart, is out this week. Presenting a revised take on J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan, Tigerheart follows Paul, a young boy raised on the tales of Anyplace (a take on Barrie’s Neverland) who ends up finding his way through and discovers that Anyplace is not what it seems; it harbors a dark side. Blogcritics Magazine’s Richard Marcus reviewed David’s novel recently, explaining the differences between the evil that lurks in Anyplace and Paul’s young idealism: “For The Boy, not growing up means not accepting responsibility for his actions and not caring about the feelings of others. For Paul, growing up doesn’t mean giving up all he loves in the world or his ability to talk to animals and pixies; it means opening up your world to include others in it.”

Here’s a list of other important works of fiction coming out this week:

One In A Million by Kimberla Lawson Roby

Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum Mystery Series #14) by Janet Evanovich

More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss (read an excerpt)

No Choice But Seduction by Johanna Lindsey

The Sister by Poppy Adams

Made In The USA by Billie Letts

The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

DragonLight by Donita K. Paul

Stealing Athena by Karen Essex

The Evil That Men Do – A Jackson Donne Novel by Dave White

The James Boys – A Novel Account of Four Desperate Brothers by Richard Liebmann-Smith

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