Monday, April 5, 2021

Boswell virtual events - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, Michael Lowenthal, Middle Grade authors Sara Allen, Lisa Fipps, Tanya Guerrero, Joy McCullough, plus next week previews for Andrew J Graff and Stephanie Dray

We're going a bit out of order this week!

Thursday, April 8, 6:30 pm
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of Good Company
in Conversation with Kate Flannery for a Virtual Event
Tickets for this event include the book and are available at

Boswell Book Company presents a ticketed virtual event with the bestselling author of The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney in conversation with actor, singer, and writer Kate Flannery, best known for her nine seasons as Meredith on NBC's The Office. Good Company was just named the Today Show Read with Jenna Book Club April selection.

Much of what made The Nest so beloved is back in play with Good Company, including Sweeney’s distinctive wit and her incisive examination of the way people and their relationships - with others and themselves - evolve over decades. The novel follows two couples entering the midpoint of their lives against the backdrop of the New York theater scene and Hollywood. The novel tells a story of what it means to “truly love but never truly know another person,” as Sweeney says in her own words.

Ron Charles is a fan of Good Company. From his Washington Post review: "Sweeney’s effectiveness as a novelist stems from her protean sympathy, her ability to move among these characters and capture each one’s feelings without judgment. As we see some of the same events from various points of view, we don’t learn who was right - who could ever be right, after all? - but we get a poignant, sometimes comic sense of the way we each experience the same events, the same decisions, the same mistakes. In Sweeney’s hands, that’s not a recipe for endless conflict, but a road to understanding and - maybe - forgiveness."    

Bethanne Patrick talked to D'Aprix Sweeney about her book for the Los Angeles Times: "The strife and self-doubt of middle age - that went into the book. “I don’t think it’s any surprise that shortly after I did something in midlife that changed my life - getting my MFA, moving across the country - that I found myself writing a novel about hitting a moment in life when not everything is possible anymore.”

Hosted in collaboration with Boswell Book Company is working with Books Are Magic, Book Passage, Book Revue, The Briar Patch, The Book Stall, Chevalier's Books, Fiction Addiction, Oblong Books & Music, Politics & Prose, Porter Square, and The Strand.

Tuesday, April 6, 7 pm 
Michael Lowenthal, author of Sex with Strangers
In conversation with Stephen McCauley for a virtual event

Boswell presents an evening with writer Michael Lowenthal, author of  The Same Embrace, Avoidance, and The Paternity Test, for a conversation with Stephen McCauley, author of  seven novels, including his most recent, My Ex-Life 

Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men, says “In this pitch-perfect collection of sly, shapely stories, Michael Lowenthal turns his discerning eye on relationships up and down the Kinsey scale. What a tremendous gift to read such wise insights into the various ways people seduce, betray, surprise, and ultimately transform each other.”

Recognizing that any partner is unknowable on some level, Lowenthal writes about how intimacy can make strangers of us all. A newly ordained priest struggles with guilt and longing when he runs into his ex-girlfriend. A woman weighs the cost of protecting her daughter from a man they both adore. A young man tries to salvage a long-distance relationship while caring for his mentor, an erotic writer dying of AIDS. In edgy, disquieting stories, Lowenthal traces the paths that attraction and erotic encounters take, baffling and rueful as often as electrifying. This fraught and funny collection forces us to grapple with our own subconscious desires and question how well we can ever really know ourselves.

From Brandon Taylor in The New York Times Book Review: "The stories are studded with memorable flashes of brilliant writing and stunning details. A scene of a character’s night out, for instance, offers this meditation on the nature of club culture: 'The generations of club kids succeeded themselves as rapidly as lab mice.' There are also moments of genuine human connection, such as when Father Tim wrestles with his responsibility to a new charge: 'Can he condemn her thrill in a change he, too, has felt? She’s just described - better than he’s ever managed to - the centripetal force of opening himself to God, when suddenly he started living at life’s hub.'"

Wednesday, April 7, 7 pm
Middle Grade Educator night!
Sarah Allen, author of Breathing Underwater,
Lisa Fipps, author of Starfish
Tanya Guerrero, author of All You Knead Is Love
Joy McCullough, author of Across the Pond

Boswell celebrates the release of four new books for middle graders with an educator night for teachers, librarians, and children's book lovers. Hosted by Boswellian Jenny Chou, this evening will feature lively conversation about new middle grade books plus giveaways for virtual attendees.

Manila-based writer Tana Guerrero is the author of All You Knead Is Love. This story features twelve-year-old Alba, who feels hope and love while exploring a newly discovered passion for bread baking after being sent to her abuela’s in Barcelona. Guerrero's previous novel is How to Make Friends with the Sea.

Joy McCullough’s debut novel, Blood Water Paint, was shortlisted for the National Book Award. Her latest, Across the Pond, is about seventh-grader Callie, who hopes to escape friendship problems in San Diego when they move to a Scottish castle, only to find making new friends a challenge. McCullough is also the author of the current bestselling picture book, Champ and Major: First Dogs.

Lisa Fipps, a library marketing manager based in Indiana, presents her debut novel, Starfish. Ellie, a twelve-year-old girl who has been bullied and shamed for being fat her whole life, finally gains the confidence to stand up for herself, with the help of some wonderful new allies.

Sarah Allen is the author of Breathing Underwater. In this novel, thirteen-year-old Olivia, a budding photographer, tries to recreate a Treasure Hunt she once shared with her sixteen-year-old sister, Ruth, while watching for signs that Ruth's depression is back. Allen is also the author of Where Stars Are Made, and like the protagonist in that novel, she lives with Turner Syndrome.

Coming next week...  

Monday, April 12, 7 pm
Andrew J Graff, author of Raft of Stars
in conversation with J Ryan Stradal for a virtual event
Resister for this free event here.

Boswell welcomes back to Wisconsin (virtually) Lawrence graduate Andrew J Graff for a conversation about his debut novel set in 1990s rural Wisconsin with J Ryan Stradal, author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota. Pulitzer-winner Richard Russo calls Graff’s novel “a rousing adventure yarn full of danger and heart and humor.”

It’s summer in Claypot, Wisconsin, and the lives of ten-year-old Fischer “Fish” Branson and Dale “Bread” Breadwin are shaped by the two fathers they don’t talk about. One night, tired of seeing his best friend bruised and terrorized by his no-good dad, Fish takes action. A gunshot rings out and the two boys flee the scene, believing themselves murderers. They head for the woods, where they find their way onto a raft, but the natural terrors of Ironsforge gorge threaten to overwhelm them. Adults track the boys toward the novel’s heart-pounding climax on the edge of the gorge and a conclusion that beautifully makes manifest the grace these characters find in the wilderness and one another.

From Sam Graham-Felsen in The New York Times Book Review: "Andrew J Graff’s engrossing, largehearted debut novel, Raft of Stars, is a book with a distinctly Rousseauian vibe. It is the story of what happens when two 10-year-old boys flee into the northern Wisconsin woods and how they, and their various adult pursuers, don’t merely survive, but shed their landlocked inhibitions and become better, bigger versions of themselves.

From Dale Singer in the St Louis Post-Dispatch:"After Dale Breadwin’s long-abusive father is found lying on the floor in a pool of blood, four residents of Claypot, Wisconsin, set out to find Dale and his best friend, Fischer Branson, a pair of 10-year-olds who have fled the scene. All four have their own reasons for being involved in the hunt, and novelist Andrew J. Graff sets them out clearly in the impressive Raft of Stars, mixing personal profiles with a steady parceling out of plot points to keep the story moving." 

Also on Monday, April 12, 7 pm
Stephanie Dray, author of The Women of Chateau Lafayette
Cohosted by the Lynden Sculpture Garden and Milwaukee Reads

You loved Laura Kamoie at the Lynden when she visited the Lynden with two of her collaborators for Ribbons of Scarlet. Now you can virtually visit with her sometime writing partner (My Dear Hamilton) Stephanie Dray, whose latest novel, The Women of Chateau Lafayette, was the subject of a heated auction among publishers. This novel is based on the true story of a castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy in some of humanity's darkest hours.

Dray brings to vibrant life the story of Chateau de Chavaniac and the Lafayette Preventorium, where socialite Beatrice Chanler cared for 25,000 children between 1917 and 1960 and hid Jewish children during WWII. Intricately woven and beautifully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we find from standing together on the shoulders of those who came before us.

Here's Amy Scribner in Bookpage, raving about Dray's latest: "Dray is a bestselling historical novelist who has previously written about Eliza Hamilton and Patsy Randolph, Thomas Jefferson’s daughter. Her ability to create engaging narratives from history, incorporating rich details and fully drawn characters, is downright magical. Adrienne and Beatrice are both based on real women whose stories come vividly to life here, while Marthe is a composite character inspired by the manor’s female resistance fighters, an artist-in-residence and other figures from the château’s history."

Photo credits
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney by Bader Howar
Michael Lowenthal by Michael Salerno
Stephanie Dray by Kate Bailey

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