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Francine Mathews. Death on a Winter Stroll (Soho Press, $27.95 Signed).
No-nonsense Nantucket detective Merry Folger grapples with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and two murders as the island is overtaken by Hollywood stars and DC suits.
Nantucket Police Chief Meredith Folger is acutely conscious of the stress COVID-19 has placed on the community she loves. Although the island has proved a refuge for many during the pandemic, the cost to Nantucket has been high. Merry hopes that the Christmas Stroll, one of Nantucket’s favorite traditions, in which Main Street is transformed into a winter wonderland, will lift the island’s spirits. But the arrival of a large-scale TV production, and the Secretary of State and her family, complicates matters significantly.
The TV shoot is plagued with problems from within, as a shady, power-hungry producer clashes with strong-willed actors. Across Nantucket, the Secretary’s troubled stepson keeps shaking off his security detail to visit a dilapidated house near conservation land, where an intriguing recluse guards secrets of her own. With all parties overly conscious of spending too much time in the public eye and secrets swirling around both camps, it is difficult to parse what behavior is suspicious or not—until the bodies turn up.
Now, it’s up to Merry and Detective Howie Seitz to find a connection between two seemingly unconnected murders and catch the killer. But when everyone has a motive, and half of the suspects are politicians and actors, how can Merry and Howie tell fact from fiction?
This latest installment in critically acclaimed author Francine Mathews’s Merry Folger series is an immersive escape to festive Nantucket, a poignant exploration of grief as a result of parental absence, and a delicious new mystery to keep you guessing.
Francine Mathews was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written twenty-five books. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado.
Devoney Looser. Sister Novelists: The Trailblazing Porter Sisters, Who Paved the Way for Austen and the Brontes (Bloomsbury, $30.00 Signed).
For readers of Prairie Fires and The Peabody Sisters, a fascinating, insightful biography of the most famous sister novelists before the Brontës.
Before the Brontë sisters picked up their pens, or Jane Austen's heroines Elizabeth and Jane Bennet became household names, the literary world was celebrating a different pair of sisters: Jane and Anna Maria Porter. The Porters-exact contemporaries of Jane Austen-were brilliant, attractive, self-made single women of polite reputation who between them published 26 books and achieved global fame. They socialized among the rich and famous, tried to hide their family's considerable debt, and fell dramatically in and out of love. Their moving letters to each other confess every detail. Because the celebrity sisters expected their renown to live on, they preserved their papers, and the secrets they contained, for any biographers to come.
But history hasn't been kind to the Porters. Credit for their literary invention was given to their childhood friend, Sir Walter Scott, who never publicly acknowledged the sisters' works as his inspiration. With Scott's more prolific publication and even greater fame, the Porter sisters gradually fell from the pinnacle of celebrity to eventual obscurity. Now, Professor Devoney Looser, a Guggenheim fellow in English Literature, sets out to re-introduce the world to the authors who cleared the way for Austen, Mary Shelley, and the Brontë sisters. Capturing the Porter sisters' incredible rise, from when Anna Maria published her first book at age 14 in 1793, through to Jane's fall from the pinnacle of fame in the Victorian era, and then to the auctioning off for a pittance of the family's massive archive, Sister Novelists is a groundbreaking and enthralling biography of two pioneering geniuses in historical fiction.
Devoney Looser is Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University. (Her name is pronounced DEV-oh-nee LOE-sir.). She is the author or editor of nine books on literature by women, a Guggenheim Fellow, and an NEH Public Scholar. Her next book, Sister Novelists: Jane and Anna Maria Porter in the Age of Austen, will be published October 25, 2022 from Bloomsbury USA.
Her book The Making of Jane Austen (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017) was named a Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book (Nonfiction). She's the editor of The Daily Jane Austen: A Year of Quotes (University of Chicago Press, 2019). Looser’s essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Salon, Slate, and the TLS. She's written on professional issues for The Chronicle of Higher Education and has been interviewed about Austen on CNN.
She teaches ASU undergraduate and graduate courses (in person and online) in British literature, the history of the novel, and women’s writings. She's played roller derby as Stone Cold Jane Austen and serves as faculty adviser to the ASU Derby Devils.
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