Book Buzz: Bollywood-Style Pride and Prejudice, Gritty British Mysteries, and the Rough Riders

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For January, we’re looking at a gender and culture-swapped retelling of Pride and Prejudice, a series of intense crime thrillers, and a history of the Rough Riders, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Spanish-American War.

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Evan S. Connell’s Son of the Morning Star

Son of the Morning Star.jpg

Last year, I was helping a patron with reference request for the Battle of the Little Bighorn. I was a bit surprised we didn’t have the classic Son of the Morning Star. I talked to Julie about it, and she bought it to add to the collection. Thanks so much, Julie!

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Jeff Guinn’s The Vagabonds (2019)

The Vagabonds

In the 1910s and 1920s, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were two of the most famous men in America. They were also friends who regularly vacationed with each other. In his latest book, Jeff Guinn chronicles the quirky friendship between these two prickly historical figures, as well as their numerous road trips across a changing, modernizing America.

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Shawn Levy’s The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont (2019)

The Castle on Sunset

“If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont”–Harry Cohn

“If you want to be seen, go to the Beverly Hills Hotel. If you don’t want to be seen, go to Chateau Marmont.”–pretty much everyone who was anyone in Hollywood since the 1930s

Need a relatively quiet place to write a screenplay or stay while you film a project in town? Check into the Chateau Marmont!

Need a private place to stay after your spouse kicked you out of the marital home? Check into the Chateau Marmont!

Need a discrete place to stay for, ahem, extracurricular activities that could endanger your reputation? Check into the Chateau Marmont!

(Obviously I missed my calling writing ad copy for this place. . . .)

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Nita Gould’s Remembering Ella (2018)

Remembering Ella

One of the more infamous crimes in our local area is the gruesome 1912 murder of Ella Barham in rural Boone County, which is just next door to us here in Berryville. I must confess, I had never actually heard of the crime until I read this book. Author Nita Gould has family ties to the case–Ella is a cousin, though one who died long before Gould was born. As Gould quickly learned when she started researching the case, local oral tradition of the case is unreliable and contradictory, so she instead turned to the extensive news coverage of the crime and court files to detail the murder of the vivacious eighteen-year-old and the subsequent arrest and trial of one of her neighbors. Thank you to Julie for ordering this book for me!

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Deborah Cadbury’s Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking: The Royal Marriages That Shaped Europe (2017)

victoria matchmaking

If you enjoy PBS as much as I do, chances are you’re also spending your Sunday nights watching Victoria. Even if you’re not following the show, if you like historical nonfiction with a hefty dose of fascinating interpersonal relationships, have I got a book for you! Not your typical Valentine’s Day read but full of romance nonetheless.

Deborah Cadbury transitioned to writing historical nonfiction after a long career as a BBC producer. Quite a few of her books have focused on royalty, though this one has a much broader focus and grander ambition.

At its heart is Queen Victoria in her later years and the various schemes she and her extended family concocted to marry off her grandchildren. Her overarching goal was one of balancing power and ensuring peace in Europe, and she firmly believed that marital alliances between her grandchildren scattered across the continent and their respective royal houses was the key to achieving this ambition. However, her interests were not entirely mercenary, as she also plotted to pair up those whom she felt were the most well-suited for each other. But as the old saying about the “best-laid plans of mice and men” acknowledges, nothing actually went according to plan. . . .

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Larry Campbell’s Rollin’ Down The River (2017)

Rollin Down the River

For two months in 2016, Larry Campbell conducted an epic solo road trip, following the Missouri River from Montana down through the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. And in this gorgeous coffee table book, you can follow along, as he recounts the places and faces he met along the way.

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