Saturday, May 12, 2012

Historical fiction picks at BEA 2012

Last updated: Thursday 5/24, 12pm.  Barbara Hoffert of Library Journal has posted their 2012 BEA Galley & Signing Guide, and it's a winner... chock full of galleys worth seeking out.  The Books@BEA site for 2012 is also out, but it lists mostly old titles rather than upcoming ones.

Look for the within this post for recent additions.


This is my annual post on historical fiction picks at BEA.  As I do every year, I debate whether it's worth heading out to NYC on my own dime to spend a few days in the brightly lit, dizzying, exhausting exhibit hall amid huge crowds of people.  But once again, I decided to spring for the trip - it's New York, it's exciting, it's informative, it's time away from my freezing office, and it's book heaven.  Unlike the past two BEAs, I won't be attending the book blogger con, but I'll be there all three days of the show.  Who else is going?

This post will be updated if/when the BEA preview from Kirkus appears, and new signings are posted all the time at BEA's site, so watch this space.  For now, I'm basing my picks on BEA's list of autographing sessions, on Publishers Weekly's "Galleys to Grab" focus (with a special thanks to my library for their institutional subscription), and on LJ's BEA guide.  All of which is to say, what's listed below isn't all... there will be more.  Updates and corrections welcome.

For bloggers who are BEA newbies: if a fall book you're interested in reviewing isn't included below, it's still appropriate to ask a publicist at the publisher's booth about obtaining a copy.  They may have ARCs stashed away at the booth, or they may be able to mail you one after you get home.  Have business cards made up and bring them along (I recommend Vistaprint) to hand out - people will ask for them! - and feel free to take one of their cards in return.  Both politeness and specific knowledge/interest about a particular title can go a long way.

These listings were correct when I wrote them, though please cross-check these dates/times with the BEA site or program book to avoid possible disappointment.  Also note - the BEA site is listing the locales for traditional autographing (big separate section toward the back of the exhibit hall) as Booths rather than Tables, which is what they'd used to be called, and what I've listed them as, below, to make the difference clearer.

~Galleys to Grab~

Hachette/Little, Brown (Booth 3627)
Liza Klaussmann, Tigers in Red Weather - family drama on Martha's Vineyard in the post-WWII period and the 1960s.  [see on Goodreads]

Libba Bray, The Diviners - YA historical paranormal centering on occult murders in Jazz Age New York; first in a four-book series.

Doubleday/Random House (Booth 3940)
Chris Bohjalian, The Sandcastle Girls - a literary love story moving from Aleppo, Syria, in 1915 to modern New York.  [see on Goodreads]

Vincent Lam, The Headmaster's Wager - love, betrayal and sacrifice during the Vietnam War.  Lam is a past Giller Prize winner.  [see on Goodreads]

Michelle Paver, Gods and Warriors - Bronze Age YA adventure, first in a new series, from an author who's well-versed in both YA (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series) and adult fiction.

Bloomsbury USA (Booth 3458)
Lance Weller, Wilderness - an old man traveling through Washington State's Olympic Mountains revisits his haunted past during the Civil War; literary fiction in the Cold Mountain tradition. Giveaway times:  9:30am Tuesday, 2pm Wednesday.

Hyperion/Voice (Meeting Rm 7243)
J.R. Moehringer, Sutton - from this Pulitzer-winning journalist, his fiction debut, biographical fiction about Willie Sutton, "the most beloved bank robber in American history" (per publisher).  [see on Goodreads; not much there yet as far as a listing].

Hachette/Grand Central (Booth 3621-22)
Hallie Rubenhold, Mistress of My Fate - a romp through late 18th-century England and France with title character Henrietta Lightfoot, described as "courtesan, adventuress, spy and erstwhile murderess" by the original UK press release.  This is its US debut. [see on Goodreads]

Grove/Atlantic (Booth 4139)
Robert Olen Butler, The Hot Country - intrigue and espionage in this high-powered thriller set during Mexico's civil war in 1914.  [see on Goodreads]

HarperCollins (Booth 3339)
Amanda Coplin, The Orchardist - in Washington State's Cascades region in the early 20th century, a solitary orchardist's life changes when two scared, pregnant girls turn up on his land.  It's a real treat for literary fiction readers who love strongly evoked settings.  [see on Goodreads]

Dennis Lehane, Live By Night - epic of Prohibition-era America, a sequel to The Given Day.  Galley giveaway Tuesday 6/5 at 9am. [see on Goodreads]

Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Prisoner of Heaven - a return to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in this 3rd in a series after The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game; begins in 1957 Barcelona.  Giveaway on Wednesday 6/6 at 3:30pm. [see on Goodreads]

Patricia Harman's The Midwife of Hope River - fiction debut about an Appalachian-area midwife in the '30s, described as classic Americana.  Giveaway Thursday 6/7 at 1:30pm.  [see on Goodreads]

Riverhead/Penguin Group (Booth 4028)
Emma Straub, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures - a Midwestern girl becomes a film star during Hollywood's Golden Age.  [see on Goodreads]

David R. Gillham, City of Women - in 1942, the men of Berlin are off to war, and a supposedly perfect soldier's wife takes a Jewish lover.  From Amy Einhorn Books. [see on Goodreads]

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Booth 3447)
Mark Helprin, In Sunlight and In Shadow - a huge, sweeping love story set in 1947 New York.  Looks like the type of epic you'll want to sink into.  [see on Goodreads]

Sourcebooks (Booth 4112)
Iris Anthony, The Ruins of Lace - the mad passion for forbidden Flemish lace will be either the salvation or ruin of two women in 17th-century France.  You'll have heard of Tulipmania... this is Lacemania.  Anthony is a pseudonym for a widely-selling historical novelist.  [see on Goodreads]

Simon & Schuster (Booth 3657)
M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans - in 1918, on a remote island off Australia, a lighthouse keeper and his wife discover a dead man and living baby in a boat washed up upon the shore, and make a life-altering decision.

~Author signings~

Tuesday, June 5th

10:30-11:30am (Table 16)
Elizabeth Cunningham, Red-Robed Priestess - spiritual, irreverent, earthy historical fiction about Maeve, the Celtic Mary Magdalene, and her life in the British Isles after the death of Jesus.  Fourth in series, though readers say it can stand alone.  [see on Goodreads]

10:30am (Booth 3940)
Vincent Lam, The Headmaster's Wager - see above under Galleys to Grab.

11am-12pm (Booth 4139)
Lawrence Norfolk, John Saturnall's Feast - food, religious fanaticism, ancient magic, and one man's intriguing life during the English Civil War.  Per what I've read, it's accessible literary fiction. [see on Goodreads]

11:30am-12:30pm (Table 17)
Debra Dean, The Mirrored World - literary biographical fiction about Russia's legendary St. Xenia.  I wrote about this earlier in my bibliography on Russian historical settings.  [see on Goodreads]

11:30am-12:30pm (Table 19)
James R. Benn, Death's Door - the 7th and latest entry in his Billy Boyle WWII mystery series.  In this excursion, Boyle's girlfriend Diana goes missing during an undercover mission at the Vatican. [see on Goodreads]

12pm-12:30pm (Table 22)
Selden Edwards, The Lost Prince - a companion novel to Edwards' imaginative and time-bending The Little Book, which I loved, and I enjoyed this one just as much. The story of a courageous woman, a prophetic journal, and how they affect major 20th-century events.  [see on Goodreads]

1:30pm-2pm (Table 20)
Cynthia Drew, City of Slaughter - the lives of two Russian Jewish immigrant young women on New York's Lower East Side in the early 1900s.  The infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Fire plays a role in the story, which may explain the title.  [see on Goodreads]

2pm (Booth 3940)
Chris Bohjalian, The Sandcastle Girls - see above under Galleys to Grab.  I have a meeting at this time; anyone want to grab me one?!

3pm-4pm (Table 16)
Adriana Trigiani, The Shoemaker's Wife - an epic of the Italian immigrant experience, based on her grandparents' personal history.  I have a copy and will read/review when my schedule lets up a bit. [see on Goodreads]

3pm (Booth 3847)
John Boyne, The Absolutist - literary fiction about the bond between two British soldiers in France during WWI, called reminiscent of Atonement.

3pm-4pm (Table 12)
Laura Amy Schlitz, Splendors and Glooms - YA fiction.  A Victorian gothic thriller about a wealthy child's disappearance, London's criminal world, and the dark comedy of puppets.  Schlitz is a Newbery medalist... there will be high expectations and long lines.  [See on Goodreads]

3:30pm (Booth 3921-22)
Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night - as readers of the first book will know, the sequel skips back to Elizabethan times.  I'll be there.  [See on Goodreads]

Wednesday, June 6th

11-11:30am (Table 17)
Karen Engelmann, The Stockholm Octavo - I've had my eye on this novel for a while.  A glittering mystery set during Sweden's age of enlightenment in the late 18th century. [see on Goodreads]

11am-12pm (Table 10)
Liza Klaussman, Tigers in Red Weather - see above under Galleys to Grab.

11am (Booth 3940)
Michael Ennis, The Malice of Fortune - from the author of the absolutely fantastic Duchess of Milan, a new novel I've been waiting years to read.  Niccolò Machiavelli teams with Leonardo da Vinci in a high-powered thriller of the Italian Renaissance. [see on Goodreads]

1-1:30pm (Table not given)
Patricia McCormick, Never Fall Down - YA fiction about a boy who survived the Khmer Rouge in 1970s Cambodia.

1pm-2pm (Booth 3339)
Bethany Griffin, Masque of the Red Death - YA novel that reimagines the story of Edgar Allan Poe.

2pm-? (Booth 4258)
Robert Goolrick, Heading Out to Wonderful - from the author of the bestselling A Reliable Wife, a folksy tale of doomed love set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1947.

4-4:30pm (Table 14)
Joseph Kanon, Istanbul Passage - dark espionage fiction set in the unexplored fictional territory of post-WWII Istanbul.  [see on Goodreads]

Thursday, June 7th

10:30am-11:30am (Table 11)
J. R. Moehringer, Sutton - see above under Galleys to Grab.


  1. Look out for mine - Mistress of My Fate (Grand Central) ARCs should be available at BEA but hardback out Jan 2013!

  2. Thank you for the heads-up! I've been waiting for its US release. I'll add it to the list.

  3. This post was bad for my wishlist, all of the titles you highlighted look so good!

  4. I was so hoping to go this year - but i had no option but to schedule our vacation during the same week. So alas I won't be making it to this one. I do plan on making it to HNS next year tho! Have fun!

  5. This post is bad for my wishlist and my suitcase. I have a feeling I'll be mailing a box home from the show.

    Heather, have a great time on your vacation, and see you in Florida next year!

  6. I am coming back to this post to go into it in detail!

  7. As a twentieth (well, I guess twenty-first now) century writer, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of the novels you list set in 1900's.

  8. What a great site. Found you on Facebook with Historical Novel group. I'll be sure to check in to hear about the BEA adventure. All the books look good.

  9. Welcome! I'll definitely be reporting back on my BEA experience and finds. Thanks for linking up my "20 Classic Historical Novels" article from your blog, too.

  10. Holy cow. THANK YOU. I just found some really good books that I can't wait to read. THANKS SO MUCH!!!

  11. Hi Melissa, you're very welcome!

  12. Sadly my Junes are always crazy due to huge work convention, so BEA just will never be (for a time). I'd like to go at least once, if I keep on book blogging, because it just seems heavenly. Enjoy your trip -- and thanks for sharing this fabu picks -- so many delish books to dream about!

  13. Audra, I'm not sure how many books you'll be missing, with the excellent piles of ARCs you've been getting in the mail! Hope you can make it to BEA one day, if only to soak in the book energy and meet up with publishers and other bloggers. June is one of the few times it's easier for me to get away, because we're into summer term by then.

  14. Hi Sarah, I'm attending virtually by way of my book trailer, which will be playing on a loop for four days - I pity the poor person standing at the stall! The Raven's Heart came out in Australia last year and is making its USA/Canada/UK debut this September with Bywater Books.

  15. Hi Jesse, that's super, I didn't know your novel was coming out in the US shortly! I'll stop by and watch the trailer... maybe not for the four days, but once or twice, anyway :)