Wednesday, June 22, 2022

What’s Jane Up To? A Recommendation for JACKIE & ME from Jane (event is June 27)

Many of you have worked for years with Jane Glaser, the award-winning* bookseller from Harry W. Schwartz and Next Chapter, and a long stint at Boswell. Though she may have retired, she hasn’t left the world of books behind; she’s currently organizing a library for St. Ann’s Center and recently did a presentation for a local book club that started at the old Mequon Schwartz store and now meets at Fiddleheads in Thiensville.

Needless to say, Jane and I continue to talk about books. Last year her top three titles were Lauren Fox’s Send for Me, Nancy Johnson’s The Kindest Lie, and Swimming Back to Trout River, by Linda Rui Feng. But this year, there hasn’t been anything that’s really stood out for her – until today’s conversation, where she waxed enthusiastically about Louis Bayard’s Jackie & Me. This gave me a particular thrill because when I finished the book, I immediately thought, "I have to get this to Jane."

Jane read Bayard’s Courting Mr. Lincoln when she was working at Boswell and liked that as well. She enjoyed the way Bayard imagined what was happening in the margins of the story. But if she liked Courting, her enthusiasm for Jackie & Me has jumped to another level. It’s historical fiction, and like much historical fiction, Bayard has clearly done his research on Kirk LeMoyne Billings, the one-time Kennedy confidant. But what made Jackie & Me so enjoyable was Bayard’s tone. Jane has always liked to call this kind of book 'light with a bite.' There are serious issues to discuss here, but told in an effortless way, often amusing, sometimes poignant. Like if Elinor Lipman was writing historical fiction. Or Steven Rowley.

Wait a minute! Steven Rowley did write historical fiction about Jackie Kennedy, The Editor, which was his book prior to The Guncle. Rowley enjoyed this one too: "A loving and romantic look at an unlikely friendship told with a playful command of language that feels as effortless as it is exciting. Bayard possesses a singular wit and deftly uses it to give fresh insight into even his best-known characters. I never wanted it to end."

It's the kind of book I think a lot of our customers would like, but right now, I didn’t have an obvious Boswellian to pass it to. No Sharon, no Nancy, no Anne. Don’t worry, my Boswell colleagues are reading plenty! I just don’t think this immediately calls their name, though I’ll bet if a few of them tried it, they might be pleasantly surprised.

Jane and I brainstormed on who you might be able to recommend Jackie & Me too. I thought of one book that’s done very well for us – The Paris Hours. Like Bayard’s book, Alex George’s novel takes a what-if tone to historical fiction, and I think there’s some overlap in tone too - sometimes playful, sometimes wistful, with an edge of sadness. Hundreds of you took our suggestion to read The Paris Hours, and a good number of you came back to tell us how much you liked it.

I’m thrilled that we have Christina Clancy doing the conversation for our event with Bayard on June 27, 6:30 pm Central for two reasons - I think her readers will enjoy this book, plus she's such a great conversation partner. I recommended this book to Clancy because several of her writer friends, the aforementioned Steven Rowley and Julia Claiborne Johnson, gave it a plus. And she recommended a book to me too – Jean Thompson’s The Poet’s House, and we’ll be hosting an in-person program with Thompson, also in conversation with Christina Clancy, on July 20, also at 6:30 pm Central. But that’s for another blog.

Join us for this event on June 27. Can’t make it to the store? We’re broadcasting this one too. And that means we’ll have a recording afterwards.

Register for Louis Bayard's event on June 27 here.

Pre-order the paperback edition of Shoulder Season here - out July 12.  
Photo credit: Anna Carson DeWitt

*It's true. Farrar Straus gave a bookseller award to Jane.

No comments: