February Mainstream Overview

February is an exciting month in the mainstream fiction. Not only is author Catherine McKenzie leaving her mark with her US-debut, a familiar name in romance, Elizabeth Bevarly, makes a genre jump, to pen a mainstream. But first, let’s take a look at the three novels this month that were rated RT Top Pick!

The Lost Daughter by Lucy Ferriss


Spin by Catherine McKenzie


The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by
Jan-Philipp Sendker


   
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DEBUTING THIS MONTH

Not only was Spin author Catherine McKenzie’s eye-catching U.S. debut, it was also nominated for this month’s Seal of Excellence award. How could we pass up a book that had the reviewer saying, “If Bridget Jones’s Diary and High Fidelity had a literary baby, the result would be Spin”? We simply couldn’t! And we weren’t disappointed; the story was an excellent read and a serious contender for this month’s RT Seal of Excellence.

McKenzie isn’t the only noteworthy genre debut this month. Award-winning contemporary romance author Elizabeth Bevarly is officially testing the waters of mainstream literature with her newly released novel, The House on Butterfly Way. When the recently divorced Eugenie begins a new job at a local dating agency and starts to re-hab the rundown Victorian house where she lives with her family, will all these changes put her back in a positive frame of mind? To get some insight into why the author decided to genre hop, we went straight to the source and Elizabeth Bevarly told us …

"My books have often reflected what's going on in my life. For instance, I wrote a bunch of pregnancy/baby books for Silhouette back when I and my sisters-in-law were all getting pregnant and having babies. I wrote about a family separated as children reuniting as adults when my husband, who was adopted as an infant, took up the search for his biological parents and discovered he had a host of half-siblings.

Now I find my life--and myself--entering a new stage, and I wanted to write about the changes that both are undergoing. I've been the caregiver for my mother since her health started to decline about three years ago, and my son will be graduating from high school this year and heading off to college, leaving me and my husband with an empty nest. Family relationships have just really been shoved into the foreground the last few years, and, inevitably, they found their way into my work.

With The House on Butterfly Way, I was able to channel a lot of my responses to the changes in my life through protagonist Eugenie Dashner, who has taken on the care for her mother, and whose son is starting to pull away from her. Romance isn't the primary focus of her life — family is. So the book couldn't be a romance--it had to be more mainstream. I also turned 50 last year, and that resulted in a lot of contemplation about what the world was like when I was a child, and what it's like now, and how roles for women changed so much from the time I was a child to the time I was an adult. There's a lot in The House on Butterfly Way about how much different my generation of women is from my mother's, and how much my parenting style differed from hers, and how parenting in general can have such an impact on our kids.

Gee, not such a short response, huh? :o) Sorry about that. But, in a nutshell, the change in genre came about because of changes in my life. Although my ongoing romance with my husband of 25 years is still very romantic, other relationships with other family members have begun to play much greater roles in my life. So, inescapably, my work has veered away from romance and more into family ties. :o)”

Elizabeth Bevarly

CATCH UP ON YOUR READING

We are very excited that the extremely talented Kristin Hannah will release Home Front this month. But if you’re a little behind on your mainstream reading, we suggest you check out her two previous novels.

Winter Garden won 2010’s RT’s Reviewers’ Choice Award for Mainstream Fiction, a story about mothers and daughters that had RT Reviewer Sandra Garcia-Myers saying, “Hannah once again mines the emotional landscape between mothers, daughters and sisters that she does so well. She further stretches her range as a storyteller, weaving a heartbreaking World War II tale into a present-day family drama. Readers will be riveted as these women are finally able to connect.”

The author’s April 2011 release, Night Road, is up for this year’s Reviewers’ Choice Award in the same category. This moving tale about one choice that destroys a woman’s perfect life has RT Reviewer Victoria cautioning, “Readers who are parents will come close to an empathetic meltdown.”

TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Another notable book that is likely to please the mainstream fan is this month’s Jane HarrisGillespie and I, a historical novel that sweeps readers back to the Victorian era. In the story Harriet Baxter recounts her life, her friendship with artist Ned Gillespie and what happened when his young daughter was kidnapped just before the turn of the century. (Plus it has one of the month’s best covers.) For those looking for another gripping historical read, we recommend the historical fiction novel The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig. Set in Napoleonic France, Willig continues her Pink Carnation series with book nine. This novel of mystery, romance and intrigue is sure to please even those readers that are new to the series.

LOOKING AHEAD 

Earlier this week, we “Spoiled” readers with information about Susan Mallery’s upcoming Blackberry Island series. The series starter, Barefoot Season, releases in April.

Learn about the series here >>

Speaking of upcoming projects, our weekly column Forewords announced several upcoming projects including these two that we can’t wait to read ...

Janine Boissard’s next novel will probably have you looking at yourself in a whole new light. In the story, an insecure heroine falls in love with a blind opera singer, only to flee right before he gets his sight back, sure he couldn’t love her physical body. Will the couple be reunited? Our fingers are crossed that Love Story will hold the happy ending we crave!

When a woman discovers herself standing knee-deep in a body of water in San Francisco, it’s up to her estranged fiancé to help her discover her past — and hopefully convince her that they have a bright future together in Jennie Shortridge’s tale Love Water Memory.

Want to check out more newly announced deals across the genres? Make sure to join us every Monday on the RT Daily Blog for our column Forewords >>

For more genre coverage be sure to keep your eye on the RT Daily Blog and check out RT’s Everything Mainstream Page!

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