Monday, April 20, 2015

Fascinating World War-era historical novels for your spring reading pleasure

March brought the release of two fascinating World War-era historical novels that have received stellar praise: The Empire of the Senses by Alexis Landau, a novel about passion and family in volatile Berlin, and Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner, chronicling the turbulent life of the iconic fashion designer.

The Empire of the Senses (Pantheon) was one of Booklist's Top 10 Historical Fiction titles for 2015. In a starred review, Booklist called the novel a "top-notch literary saga with a gripping plotline" and wrote, "the characters’ actions and thoughts are so three-dimensionally human that readers may forget they’re reading fiction and not experiencing their real lives alongside them."

The book also received a full-page feature spread in Jewish Book World, complete with an interview with Landau and a glowing review.  Reviewer Becca Kantor called The Empire of the Senses a “riveting debut,” a “sweeping yet intimate portrait of pre-World War II Berlin,” full of “evocative prose, attention to detail, and meticulous research." She ended with the assertion, “The Empire of the Senses is sure to establish Alexis Landau as a masterful new literary voice.”

In her interview with Jewish Book World, Landau discusses the influence of art and Jewish identity on the book. She also offers some writerly tips. Below is a brief excerpt of Landau discussing how she honed the time period details so they were just right; read the full interview here.

One of my best friends, who is an editor, told me, "The most important thing is tone, and getting the tone right, and not having your contemporary voice barge in." When I was writing, especially in the beginning, I was really conscious of that. I can't write well unless I understand every aspect of a person. Not just what they're experiencing psychologically, but also their body in time and space."

Internationally bestselling author C.W. Gortner's Mademoiselle Chanel (William Morrow) recently made the ABA National Indie Bestseller list!

Gortner was also featured in Glamour as a Best New Novel out in March. The Glamour book editor offered glowing praise, saying, “Mademoiselle Chanel sucked me in by the pearls and never let go. Gortner’s imagining of the ultimate fashion icon is equal parts grit and glamour, painting a portrait of a woman who was hugely inspiring but by no means perfect. Oh, and if you can’t afford to visit Paris in peak springtime season, reading this book with a glass of wine is a decent substitute.”

Mademoiselle Chanel was also...

...featured in USA Today (#1 under “New and Noteworthy”)...

...named a March Book Club pick in Style Bistro (the editors paired the book with a little black dress as an inspired fashion find, and they assert that “Mademoiselle Chanel isn't like other things you've read” about Chanel; it “tell[s] Gabrielle Chanel's history in her own imagined voice and perspective”)...

...and chosen as the Editor's Choice Title from the Historical Novel Society (their review is brimming with praise: “Gortner giv[es] us a complex story in which Chanel shines through as human, understandably prideful, blind when it served her purpose, vulnerable, and always chic and elegant. Beyond the effortless and easy flow of the narrative, there's a lot to love about this story...This novel...breathes Chanel's style and panache in every sentence”).

Don't miss these amazing books for your spring reading!

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