Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Historical fiction at ALA Midwinter: galleys, authors, signings

I've been an American Library Association member for 20 years, but this year will be the first time I'll be attending ALA Midwinter.  The conference will be held in Chicago on January 30 - February 3, so it's relatively close by.  I'm looking forward to catching up with other librarians, cruising the exhibit hall, and reviewing job seekers' resumes in the Placement Center.  Needless to say I'm hoping for decent weather.

Here's what I've managed to gather together as far as historical novels and novelists present at the show.  Sources include Library Journal, publisher announcements, and the ALA Midwinter site.

~Galleys available~

Barbara Hoffert of Library Journal has already put together an amazing galley guide for Midwinter, so I'm not going to copy over all of the relevant HF info; just click on over to visit the LJ site.  The guide is very detailed and lists settings for most of the historical novels being given away at publishers' booths, so you should be able to pick them out easily.

I have a number of galleys already thanks to publishers, Booklist, and Edelweiss, but just a few of the others I'm particularly eager about are:  Shona Patel's Flame Tree Road (MIRA, June), set in late 19th-century India, which she says on her FB page is about Dadamoshai, Layla's grandfather from Teatime for the Firefly; Jami Attenberg's Saint Mazie (Grand Central, June), set in NYC's Lower East Side during the Jazz Age; Anna Freeman's The Fair Fight (Riverhead, April), female boxers in 18th-c England (have heard great reports about it); and Susanna Kearsley's A Desperate Fortune (Sourcebooks, April), another Scottish-set romantic timeslip.

~Author appearances and signings~

Elizabeth Berg, The Dream Lover
French novelist George Sand looks back on her long, eventful, controversial life.
Monday 2/2, United for Libraries Gala Author Tea, 2-4pm, Hilton Chicago, Williford Room.  Tickets required; check for prices and details.

Elizabeth Blackwell, While Beauty Slept
A retelling of "Sleeping Beauty" set in a kingdom based on medieval Europe.
Saturday 1/31, author appearance 11:00 am–12:00 pm, Pop Top Science Fiction/Fantasy Panel, McCormick Place West; signing 2:00-3:00 pm, Penguin booth 4823.

C. W. Gortner, Mademoiselle Chanel
Imagines the life of iconic 20th-century designer Coco Chanel.
Sunday 2/1, signing 9-10am, HarperCollins booth 4526; also 2/1, author appearance 10-11am, "stories of women pursuing their destiny," Pop Top Stage, McCormick Place West.

Marci Jefferson, Enchantress of Paris
Fiction about Marie Mancini in the court of the Sun King.
Friday 1/30, signing 5:30-7pm, Macmillan booth 4613.

Renee Rosen, What the Lady Wants
Subtitled "a novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age."
Saturday 1/31, signing 1-2pm, Penguin booth 2823; Monday 2/2, 10-11am, author appearance at Pop Top Local Author Panel, McCormick Place West.

Mary Doria Russell, Epitaph
Novel of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in the Old West.
Monday 2/2, signing 11am-noon, HarperCollins booth 4526.

What galleys are you looking forward to the most, and what else am I missing?  I know Chicago's not known as a hot spot in January, but even so, this seems like a short list.  Please leave a comment if you know of other signings or author appearances. The list is correct as far as I'm aware, but suggestions for corrections/changes are very welcome. 


  1. Yup, The Fair Fight - it's a good 'un! Quite a page-turner.

    1. Glad to hear it. From the bare-bones description, it didn't sound like something I'd go for (boxing has never interested me), but I've heard enough positive feedback to make me want to investigate.

  2. I already have a copy of The Dream Lover, While Beauty Slept , and Mademoiselle Chanel (I'm actually organizing a virtual book tour for this one and have a few spots available:, and I really want to read also the next 3! I love all books by Mary Doria! Great season for histfic! I'm going to an author event tomorrow in Chicago, but that's nonfiction (Marcia DeSanctis)

    1. It is a great season for HF! I've read The Dream Lover (review to come) and Mlle Chanel, and have a copy of While Beauty Slept and What a Lady Wants on the pile. The others I hope to acquire at ALA. There are times when I wish I lived closer to Chicago because author events are pretty rare downstate.

  3. Probably Flood of Fire, the final installment in Amitav Ghosh's trilogy doesn't have an ARC as it's not published in the UK until May?

    I've been so looking forward to reading this one. :)

    Love, C,

    1. ARCs should be available later in the spring or early summer. Looks like it will be out in the US on August 4th. I've been meaning to read the trilogy!

  4. Looking forward to Shona's next novel. I loved the first one!

    1. Same here. I'm looking forward to meeting Layla's grandfather (who was a great character) as a young man.