Here is what showed up at my house this week:
Ecco/Harper Collins sent me a hard cover edition of The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann (November 2012). Isn’t that cover spectacular? This is a November Indie Next Pick selection and it has been getting some great buzz. Salon. com calls the book “a bonbon box filled with treats designed to appeal to lovers of literary historical thrillers.” Publisher’s Weekly says The Stockholm Octavo “neatly mix(es) revolutionary politics with the erotic tension and cutthroat rivalry of the female conspirators – whose exquisite, one-of-a-kind fans are both weapons and prizes.” The novel is a history-bound but character driven story which transports readers to a world of intrigue and magic, a dazzling era of fashion and frivolity that marked the pinnacle of a golden age. Set in Stockholm in the 1790s, The Stockhold Octavo uses an authentic deck of historic European playing cards to introduce its characters’ Octavos and predict their futures. As the plot thickens, these 8-card illustrations in the book become increasingly elaborate, adding a wonderfully decorative puzzle-like element to the text.
From the publisher:
Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Excise and Customs in Stockholm of 1791. He is a true man of The Town―drinker, card player, and contented bachelor. Until one evening, when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlor and fortune teller, shares with him a vision she has had —a golden path that will lead to love and connection for Emil. She offers to lay an Octavo for him, a spread of eight cards that augur the eight individuals who can help him realize this vision ―if he can find them.
Once on the colorful cobblestone streets of this charming northern city, as you pass by ladies in extravagant silks and gentlemen in powdered wigs, the real question you must ask is which of these exquisitely costumed individuals will be the one to direct the course of history? To shift the balance in favor of one fate or another? Will it be the stunning Baroness Uzanne with the artful fan? Johanna, the young blossom of an apprentice at her side? Mrs. Sparrow, the woman who runs the house of cards and tells the fortune of the King? Our hero Emil Larsson, the red-cloaked secretaire? Or perhaps the gloved calligrapher Master Fredrik Lind? The Nordén French family of fan makers? The ambitious and beautiful Anna Maria Plomgren? Or will it be King Gustav III or his brother Duke Karl? And, how are they all linked to the tumultuous goings on in France at the same time?
Check out this fabulous interview with the author on CBS Author Talk.
Karen Engelmann is an American writer and designer. She was born and raised in the American Midwest, then moved to Sweden after completing university studies in drawing and design. The city of Malmö was home base for eight years. She is the 2011 winner of the American Scandinavian Society Cultural Award Grant and now lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. The Stockholm Octavo is her first novel. Learn more about Engelmann and her work by visiting the author’s website.
A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee (March 2013) arrived from Random House. Dee’s work has been recommended “for readers of Jonathan Franzen and Richard Russo” and described as “masterful works of literary fiction.” In his newest novel, Dee raises a trenchant question: what do we really want when we ask for forgiveness?
From the publisher:
Once a privileged and loving couple, the Armsteads have now reached a breaking point. Ben, a partner in a prestigious law firm, has become unpredictable at work and withdrawn at home—a change that weighs heavily on his wife, Helen, and their preteen daughter, Sara. Then, in one afternoon, Ben’s recklessness takes an alarming turn, and everything the Armsteads have built together unravels, swiftly and spectacularly.
Thrust back into the working world, Helen finds a job in public relations and relocates with Sara from their home in upstate New York to an apartment in Manhattan. There, Helen discovers she has a rare gift, indispensable in the world of image control: She can convince arrogant men to admit their mistakes, spinning crises into second chances. Yet redemption is more easily granted in her professional life than in her personal one.
As she is confronted with the biggest case of her career, the fallout from her marriage, and Sara’s increasingly distant behavior, Helen must face the limits of accountability and her own capacity for forgiveness.
Jonathan Dee is the author of four novels, most recently Palladio. His novel, The Privileges, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Dee is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, a frequent contributor to Harper’s, and a former senior editor of The Paris Review. He teaches in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University and the New School.
Did any wonderful books arrive at YOUR house this week?