Also published on this date: Thursday, March 16, 2017: Dedicated Issue: Reading Without Walls Month

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 16, 2017

Yen Press: The God of Nishi-Yuigahama Station by Takeshi Murase, Translated by Guiseppe Di Martino

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

St. Martin's Press: Sacrificial Animals by Kailee Pedersen


Bookstore Sales Down 3.7% in January

January bookstore sales fell 3.7%, to $1.5 billion, compared to January 2016, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau.

Total retail sales in January rose 5.4%, to $422.7 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing a general line of new books. These establishments may also sell stationery and related items, second-hand books, and magazines."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Poetry Sales Jump 79% in Canada in 2016

Last year, sales of English-language print books in Canada were C$984 million (about US$731 million) and amounted to 50 million units, according to BookNet Canada's annual sales report, The Canadian Book Market 2016.

A striking trend was the rapid growth of poetry books, which grew 79% last year, "largely due to the success of Canadian poet Rupi Kaur's debut collection, Milk and Honey," which was published by Andrews McMeel last year. Poetry had grown 10% in 2015, 8% in 2014 and 5% in 2013. Poetry accounts now accounts for 0.37% of the print book market in Canada.

Other categories that grew significantly in 2016 were transportation, up 28%; literary collections, 14%; thrillers, 9%; comics and graphic novels, 7%; and cooking, 6%.

Children's books account for 39% of the market, a share that was boost by the popularity of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the bestselling book of 2016 in Canada.

For more information and to buy the report, click here.

GLOW: Torrey House Press: Life After Dead Pool: Lake Powell's Last Days and the Rebirth of the Colorado River by Zak Podmore

Bookseller Sparks Is Editor of Ingram's New Poetry Newsletter

Stephen Sparks

Ingram Content Group has launched Little Infinite, a poetry-focused newsletter, and named writer and bookseller Stephen Sparks editor. Sparks, co-owner of Point Reyes Books in Point Reyes, Calif., and formerly a bookseller at Green Apple Books in San Francisco, has contributed to numerous literary publications, including the Paris Review Daily, Tin House, Music & Literature magazine, BOMB and Lithub.

A quarterly publication, Little Infinite showcases poetry titles, excerpts, publisher profiles and the success poetry is having across the publisher spectrum, from university presses to independent publishers.

Sparks said Little Infinite "aims to be a tool for discovery; to facilitate conversations between booksellers, librarians and readers; and to bring into focus poetry that speaks to the essential truth of the human condition. Like many, I have found myself drawn more insistently to poetry in 2016."

Julie Schaper, v-p, Ingram Publisher Services-Consortium, added: "I am gratified to see Ingram staking a claim to poetry. It's a bold move and it speaks to Ingram's long-term commitment to independent publishers and their passion for publishing books of quality that may fall outside the mainstream."

Phil Ollila, chief content officer at Ingram, noted that "after we acquired Perseus's distribution businesses, we had new connections with some of the best and most notable poetry available due to our new independent publisher clients, such as Grove, Coach House Books and others who publish poetry. We saw an opportunity to shine a light on poetry and start conversations about how poetry remains an important part of our industry and our culture through Little Infinite."

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

LBF 2017: Brexit and the Publishing Industry

This year's London Book Fair opened Tuesday morning with a look at Brexit and its implications for the future of the U.K. publishing industry. Moderated by Publishers Association CEO Stephen Lotinga, the panel featured Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute; Ian Hudson, CEO of DK Publishing; and Rosa Wilkinson, director of stakeholder engagement for trade policy at the Department for International Trade.

The biggest concerns raised by both panelists and audience members related to freedom of movement and the "right to remain" for international staff. Hudson reported that among DK Publishing's 500 or so London employees, 81 do not have British passports. Hudson said he wants an "immediate commitment" from the British government guaranteeing European Union citizens currently living in the U.K. the right to continue to live and work following the implementation of Brexit, and a similar guarantee for anyone arriving in the U.K. to work between now and then. Without such guarantees, he explained, it will be difficult both to retain and recruit international staff. He said that the "diversity and internationality" of staff has been crucial to the success of DK, and added that the reluctance of Prime Minister Theresa May to make any such guarantees about a right to remain was nothing short of "inhuman."

"Our economy is going to hurt badly unless we can find a way to retain the free movement of labor," Hudson emphasized. This applies not just to someone in a senior position in the banking sector but also to a "graduate from Romania" who wants to work for DK in London.

During the q&a portion, Charlie Redmayne, CEO of HarperCollins UK, also spoke about freedom of movement and said he supported Hudson. Though Article 50 has not yet been implemented, Redmayne said Brexit has already affected business: HarperCollins has a distribution center in Scotland and a significant portion of the staff there is from Eastern Europe. Between the uncertainty regarding their future immigration status and the weak British pound, people are already "going back home." Not giving that guarantee of security to foreign nationals, Redmayne continued, is already impacting the viability of the business as a whole and will negatively impact British jobs going forward.

Wilkinson replied that "nobody has ever said everyone is going to be kicked out," adding that it is understood that the ability to retain and recruit international talent in both the short and long term is at the "very top of the tree" of business concerns about Brexit. She also acknowledged that the combination of the weak pound and uncertainty about the future is proving to be something of a "perfect storm" for convincing some foreign workers to leave.

Other concerns about Brexit were raised. Hudson said the weak pound has led to significant cost increases for printing outside the U.K. and for maintaining international offices, though he did acknowledge that weaker currency has meant that foreign revenue is now worth more when converted to pounds. Hudson called for the government to commit to the principles of free trade, fighting piracy and building a "robust" intellectual property framework, and both he and Hillman expressed concern over the likelihood that E.U. grants and funding for things like academic research and publishing books in translation will dry up. Hillman reminded the audience that in the first official "vote leave" video, it was promised that science and research would get at least as much money post-Brexit as it does now. He suggested that everyone "hold the government's feet to the fire on that issue." Hudson, meanwhile, worried that if the U.K. government does not adequately replace publishing grants, it will especially hurt small and academic publishers.

Just before the session ended, Lotinga asked for a show of hands of who thought Brexit would be a good thing for the industry and who thought the opposite. There were no hands raised in support of Brexit, while the show of hands for Brexit having a negative impact was nearly unanimous. Wilkinson admitted that she was "not entirely surprised" by the informal vote and confessed that she was actually in the Remain camp leading up to the referendum. But, she said, the more she sees and hears from other governments and colleagues outside the U.K., the more confident she becomes that the future could be "brighter than what you might imagine." --Alex Mutter

Cathy Langer to Retire from Tattered Cover

Cathy Langer and Stephanie Coleman at MPIBA last year.

Cathy Langer, director of buying at the Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo., will retire in March 2018, after 40 years with the company. Langer is one of the preeminent book buyers in the country and has served as president of the Colorado Center for the Book and president of the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association, and been a member of the American Booksellers Association board of directors.

"Since joining Tattered Cover straight out of Colorado College, Cathy has unfailingly demonstrated her knowledge of the readers' potential interest and her ability to be in touch with it," said owner Joyce Meskis, who originally hired Langer four decades ago. "That speaks to her abilities as a bookseller and buyer, but Cathy's contribution has extended well beyond that special talent. She has worn many hats in her service to the community, the book industry, and Tattered Cover. Her strong work ethic, humanity to those in personal need, and her organizational leadership have served as an inspiration to others. And her dedication to the work of the Tattered Cover, through years of challenges and change, has been invaluable in marking a place for our stores in the years to come." 

Len Vlahos, Tattered Cover CEO and incoming co-owner with his wife, Kristen Gilligan, recalled that the two "first got to know Cathy during her tenure on the ABA board. It was clear to us right away what a special person and special bookselling talent Cathy was. Everyone at Tattered Cover owes a debt of gratitude to Cathy for helping to make this business into the iconic institution it is today, and Kristen and I owe Cathy a debt for helping make our transition into the Tattered Cover family so seamless."

People in the book world expressed their appreciation. "Cathy is both a colleague and a dear friend," said Gayle Shanks, owner of Changing Hands Bookstores in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz. "Our shared love of books and bookselling brought us together. I cherish her knowledge, her passion, the breadth of her reading and her love for the books we have shared with each other over the years. I'm jealous that she is retiring and know that her legacy at Tattered Cover will live on with her successor and those of us who will still write her and say, 'Have you read the new...?' And she will have."

Bob Miller, president and publisher of Flatiron Books, said: "I'm in utter denial about this news. It's pretty hard to imagine the bookselling community without Cathy's strong, clear voice, her passionate engagement with the business, and above all her deep devotion to books and readers."

Next March, Langer will be succeeded as director of buying by Stephanie Coleman, who is currently buyer of adult frontlist. She has been with Tattered Cover for four years.

Archipelago's Schoolman to Receive WWB's Ottaway Award

Words Without Borders has named Jill Schoolman, founder and publisher of Archipelago Books, as the 2017 recipient of the Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature. The award will be presented November 1, during WWB's annual gala in New York City. Past recipients include editor Drenka Willen, the late editor and translator Carol Brown Janeway, and publishers Sara Bershtel and Barbara Epler.

"Throughout her career as an editor and publisher, Schoolman has been a leading voice for the promotion of international literature," WWB said. "In 2003, she founded Archipelago Books with the mission to publish essential foreign-language texts in outstanding English translations. The list of international writers she has published includes such luminaries as Karl Ove Knausgaard, Elias Khoury, Scholastique Mukasonga, Miljenko Jergovic, Julio Cortázar, Antonio Tabucchi, Magdalena Tulli and Wiesław Myśliwski."

WWB board chair Samantha Schnee commented: "As physical and political borders close in around us, Jill Schoolman's Archipelago Books offers a safe harbor to literary talent from around the world, infusing our bookshelves with vital and original work in translation. We are thrilled to celebrate her heroic efforts with this year's Ottaway Award."


Image of the Day: S&S's SRO Book Club Matinee

Last Saturday afternoon, Simon & Schuster's debut Book Club Matinee played to an SRO audience at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City. The event, geared to book club members, featured conversations with Isabel Allende (The Japanese Lover); Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See); Lisa Genova (Still Alice); Megan Miranda (All the Missing Girls); Lisa See (The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane) and Ruth Ware (The Woman in Cabin 10). Pictured: (l.-r., standing) Ware; Genova; Wendy Sheanin, S&S v-p, director of marketing, adult trade group; Miranda. Seated: Doerr; S&S president and CEO Carolyn Reidy; Allende. Not pictured: Lisa See. Photo courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

Weather Update: Philly Area Bookstore 'Braves the Storm'

This week's epic snow and ice storm "made the streets of suburban Elkins Park look like Ice Station Zebra on Tuesday, but inside the Open Book Bookstore, all was warm and well," the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Owners Lynn Rosen and Evan Schwartz "greeted the cold not by shuttering the door but by inviting all to come gather in light and literature--and to share fresh sugar cookies and steaming cups of hot chocolate."

Business turned out to be as brisk as the weather. "I'm so glad you did this," said author Laurie Halse Anderson, coming in off a snowy sidewalk. "What a great idea."

"I've always loved books, loved publishing,” said Schwartz. "People are so passionate about selling the books, reading the books, writing the books."

Denver's BookBar, BookBed Host Wedding

BookBar in Denver, Colo., hosted its first wedding Tuesday night. Owner Nicole Sullivan said: "We closed early and transformed the store into a beautiful, bookish wedding venue for a couple of book lovers, their friends, and family. BookBar was the setting for the cocktail hour (which we catered), ceremony, and reception. The couple intentionally married on Pi Day and served mini pies for dessert from our partner bakery. The bride wore book page flowers in her hair and carried a book page bouquet. Pie and book theme is our kind of wedding! The newly married couple then enjoyed a complimentary honeymoon stay at BookBed upstairs. We are now looking forward to another small wedding coming up in May and a reception in June. It seems only fitting that people's lives together start in a bookstore."

Personnel Changes at Abrams

At Abrams:

Melanie Chang is joining the company as v-p, children's marketing and publicity. She was formerly v-p of integrated marketing at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, which she joined in 2007.

Liz Fithian is joining the company director, franchise marketing, children's books. She was formerly director of marketing at Macmillan's children's digital and marketing departments. She earlier held marketing and publicity positions at HarperCollins, Scholastic and DK.

Steve Tager, senior v-p, chief marketing officer, is moving from overseeing children's marketing and publicity to focus on marketing and publicity for Abrams's adult businesses, including the Abrams Plus' Noterie gift and stationery line, its calendar program and the new Abrams Press imprint.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Senator Whitehouse on Real Time with Bill Maher

Fresh Air: Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot (Penguin Press, $27, 9781594205613).

NPR's Science Friday: Lawrence M. Krauss, author of The Greatest Story Ever Told--So Far: Why Are We Here? (Atria, $27, 9781476777610).

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, co-author of Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy (New Press, $27.95, 9781620972076).

This Weekend on Book TV: Chelsea Clinton on Governing Global Health

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, March 18
4 p.m. A. Roger Ekirch, author of American Sanctuary: Mutiny, Martyrdom, and National Identity in the Age of Revolution (Pantheon, $30, 9780307379900), at the Regulator Bookshop in Durham, N.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

6 p.m. Doug Wead, author of Game of Thorns: The Inside Story of Hillary Clinton's Failed Campaign and Donald Trump's Winning Strategy (Center Street, $27, 9781478921424). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

7 p.m. David Phillips, author of An Uncertain Ally: Turkey under Erdogan's Dictatorship (Transaction Publishers, $25.95, 9781412865456). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:15 a.m.)

8:15 p.m. Alia Malek, author of The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria (Nation, $27.99, 9781568585321), at WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m.)

9 p.m. Peggy Grande, author of The President Will See You Now: My Stories and Lessons from Ronald Reagan's Final Years (Hachette, $28, 9780316396455). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)

10 p.m. Sylvia Tara, author of The Secret Life of Fat: The Science Behind the Body's Least Understood Organ and What It Means for You (Norton, $26.95, 9780393244830). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Chelsea Clinton and Devi Sridhar, authors of Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why? (Oxford University Press, $24.95, 9780190253271). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

Sunday, March 19
1:45 p.m. Adrian Miller, author of The President's Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas (University of North Carolina Press, $30, 9781469632537). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

5:45 p.m. John Pomfret, author of The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present (Holt, $40, 9780805092509). (Re-airs Monday at 6:15 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Man Booker International; RoNAs

A 13-book longlist has been unveiled for the £50,000 (about $61,020) Man Booker International Prize. The award will be divided equally between the author of the winning book and its translator. A shortlist of six books will be released April 20, and the winner named June 14 in London. This year's longlisted titles are:

Compass by Mathias Enard (France), trans. by Charlotte Mandell
Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg (Poland), trans. by Eliza Marciniak
A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman (Israel), trans. by Jessica Cohen
War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans (Belgium), trans. by David McKay
The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen (Norway), trans. by Don Bartlett & Don Shaw
The Traitor's Niche by Ismail Kadare (Albania), trans. by John Hodgson
Fish Have No Feet by Jon Kalman Stefansson (Iceland), trans. by Phil Roughton
The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke (China), trans. by Carlos Rojas
Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou (France), trans. by Helen Stevenson
Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer (Germany), trans. by Katy Derbyshire
Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors (Denmark), trans. by Misha Hoekstra
Judas by Amos Oz (Israel), trans. by Nicholas de Lange
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (Argentina), trans. by Megan McDowell


Sophia Bennett won the Romantic Novelists' Association's £5,000 (about $6,100) Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year award for Love Song. This is only the second time in the award's 57-year history that the RNA's top prize has been awarded to a YA title. This year's RoNA category winners are:

Contemporary romantic: Summer at the Comfort Food Café by Debbie Johnson
Epic: Little Girl Lost by Janet Gover
Historical: It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan
Paranormal or speculative: Max Seventeen by Kate Johnson
Romantic comedy: Out of Practice by Penny Parkes
RoNA Rose: Christmas in the Boss's Castle by Scarlet Wilson
Young adult: Love Song by Sophia Bennett

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 21:

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (Scribner, $27, 9781501154829) follows a separated mother and daughter who come from a remote tea-producing village in China.

Mississippi Blood: A Novel by Greg Iles (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062311153) concludes the Natchez Burning trilogy, about a prosecutor-turned-writer in Natchez, Miss.

A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes (Norton, $26.95, 9780393254228) explores the unequal and overbearing application of criminal justice in the United States.

The 1997 Masters: My Story by Tiger Woods and Lorne Rubenstein (Grand Central, $30, 9781455543588) is a first-hand account of Woods's historic tournament win.

If Not for You: A Novel by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine, $27, 9780553391961) follows a woman who must choose between love and pleasing her mother.

Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America's Origins to the Twenty-First Century by Geoffrey R. Stone (Liveright, $35, 9780871404695) is a legal and cultural history of sex in America.

Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods by Tania del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle (Quirk, $16.95, 9781594749292) is a middle-grade mystery-adventure sequel to Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye about a walking hotel that gets itself into trouble.

Big and Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd) by Julie Bowe (Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin, $16.99, 9780803736931) is a middle-grade novel about divorce, friendship and the meaning of life.

Wilson, based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, opens March 24. Woody Harrelson stars as a neurotic middle-aged man who meets his teenage daughter for the first time.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The Fifth Petal: A Novel by Brunonia Barry (Crown, $27, 9781101905609). "Brunonia Barry's newest witchy tale, set in Salem, follows the threads of three mysteries that all ended in murder. Callie, who carries the scars of murders past, is joined by detectives Rafferty and Towner from Barry's The Lace Reader in a race to stop yet more killings and collective town wounds. Barry's prose excels at keeping readers chasing threads and second-guessing theories about the crimes depicted. Her research and experience of Salem are evident, and her witches make me want to become one. History and folklore are woven like lace in this mystery as new characters and old favorites attempt to solve puzzles from as far back as the witch trials that made Salem famous." --Jessica Hahl, Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, Mont.

Rise: How a House Built a Family by Cara Brookins (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250095664). "It's been a long time since I've read a book with such a strong female character--and it's not fiction! Cara Brookins has survived three bad marriages. After the abusive third marriage dissolves, Brookins resolves not to be scared anymore and decides with steadfast determination to take charge of her family. She takes her kids on a road trip to a cabin in the Ozarks, where they begin to dream about having a new house that represents their new life. Though it's hard for them not to be scared at every turn, their recovery and growth parallels the structure of their home. As they build, they tear down emotional walls. I kept looking at the photo of that amazing house on the back of the book with wonder that she was able to do this on her own. What an amazingly strong woman! I loved this book." --Marya Johnston, Out West Books, Grand Junction, Colo.

Heat and Light: A Novel by Jennifer Haigh (Ecco, $14.99, 9780061763496). "Haigh has been building a body of work around Bakerton, Pennsylvania, for more than a decade. In this new novel, Haigh once again unleashes the sweep of historical forces as out-of-state companies look to drill for natural gas deposits. There is hope among residents that the future will be brighter, but there is also risk that they will just end up victims of greed and further environmental ruin. This is a big, issue oriented book, but its success is found in the brilliance with which Haigh crafts her characters and makes their lives a vehicle for looking at the moral, political, environmental, and economic questions about fracking. A timely book and perhaps one even worthy of the title 'Great American Novel.' " --Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

For Ages 4 to 8
Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99, 9780553537895). "A nearly wordless picture book laid out like a graphic novel, Little Fox in the Forest is a beautifully illustrated story of friendship, exploration, and discovering the unexpected. The wordless format allows even the littlest littles to enjoy it on their own and tell the story in their own words. And, oh my gracious, the little animals in their people clothes and their little village in the forest are just too danged adorable for words." --Billie Bloebaum, Third Street Books, McMinnville, Ore.

For Ages 9 to 12
Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson (Walden Pond Press, $16.99, 9780062306715). "Liam and Phoebe must leave the only home they have ever known, but enemy forces turn their final day on Mars into an adventure that may lead to the end of human civilization. Avid and reluctant readers will flock to this ambitious new saga, which will have them turning pages at breakneck speed and gasping with awe. If you like your science fiction to be based on facts, crafted around well-developed characters, and dished out with stunning excitement, get your hands on a copy of Last Day on Mars. Kevin Emerson's new middle-grade series is an action-packed tour de force that might just overload your brain circuits." --Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, Minn.

For Teen Readers
The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro (Katherine Tegen, $17.99, 9780062398949). "Dark, devious, and delightful! Teenage angst has never led to such fun as Jamie Watson follows Charlotte Holmes down the rabbit hole once more in this exciting sequel to A Study in Charlotte. Between international travel, art forgery, minions, and the most awkward family gathering imaginable, this book is full of adventure, mystery, and great Sherlockian deductions. Readers also get a peek into the Moriarty family, plus there's romance, false identities, and poison. What more could a Sherlock Holmes fan ask for?" --Kate Towery, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Manderley Forever

Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne Du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay, trans. by Sam Taylor (St. Martin's Press, $27.99 hardcover, 352p., 9781250099136, April 18, 2017)

Tatiana de Rosnay is the author of 10 contemporary novels, including A Paris Affair and The Other Story, whose themes often deal with the dark underpinnings of love, romance and secrets. In Manderley Forever, she explores the life of Daphne du Maurier, who made an indelible impression on de Rosnay from the time she was 11 years old, when she read Rebecca, du Maurier's most popular novel. Published in 1938, Rebecca is dark, psychological suspense about secrets, old flames, jealousy and the looming manor Manderley. Like her subject, de Rosnay hails from a British and French bloodline, a factor that contributed to her fascination with du Maurier and ignited her quest to write a comprehensive biography and uncover the secrets of du Maurier's life, work and inspirations.

Du Maurier was a shy, observant, sensitive child who was largely shaped by patriarchal influences. Her enigmatic, deceased grandfather, George du Maurier, also an author, lived in England, but was born in France and held strong emotional ties to the country of his birth. Her father, Sir Gerald, was a lauded actor and shared a soul-mate connection--not without contentions--with his middle daughter, Daphne. And J.M. Barrie, a family friend and the creator of Peter Pan, played an integral part in nurturing the fertile imagination of the burgeoning author.

Young Daphne was further shaped by her two, equally creative sisters, Angela and Jeanne; an often aloof mother who was chronically neglected by her wandering, limelight-seeking husband; a private tutor, Maud Waddell, who instilled in Daphne an enthusiasm for literature; and Fernande Yvon, a sophisticated French boarding school headmistress who engaged du Maurier romantically early on. Du Maurier would later fall in love and marry Major Thomas Browning, 10 years her senior. The demands of his decorated military career--along with the pressures of marriage, motherhood and war--posed significant challenges to her freedom, aspects of which were often reflected in Daphne's work, which included dark, gothic romances as well as biographies.

The narrative is set apart by de Rosnay's esteem and empathy for du Maurier, along with details about the pilgrimages she took from London to France to Cornwall, to follow in du Maurier's footsteps. De Rosnay strongly demonstrates how physical places grounded du Maurier--on the page and off--and fueled her imagination. This deep and thoroughly researched biography reads like fiction, offering riveting drama while presenting compelling reasons as to why du Maurier--whom many claimed was funny and cheerful--might've produced such a dark, gloomy oeuvre, beloved by legions of fans but often scorned by the critics. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A contemporary French novelist explores the fascinating, creative life of one of her favorite literary inspirations, Daphne du Maurier.

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