The ever-vigilant OWL (omnipresent Wisconsin librarian), also known as Dave Lull, alerts me to a special issue of Kirkus Reviews called First Fiction Spotlight: Promising debuts from important new voices. The magazine highlights first novels by talented authors including The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, set in seventeenth century Iran and on Cathy’s book pile waiting for the end of GCSEs; The Extra Large Medium by Helen Slavin; Consumption by Kevin Patterson; The Midnight Choir by the excellent writer Gene Kerrigan (which isn’t a first novel but is a "US debut" – I highly recommend reading it on the basis of his actual first novel, Little Criminals); and "a character-driven two family saga, Keeping the House by Ellen Baker" (page 4). From the review:
Keeping the House is the story of two women, separated by generations, who are bound to each other by a single house in Pine Rapids, Wisc. Dolly Magnuson, a 1950s housewife who’s new to town, finds solace in the old Mickelson house on top of the hill, while struggling to adjust to her new role as wife and homemaker. As she’s drawn into the history of the town, she learns about the turn-of-the-century saga of the once-powerful Mickelson family– in particular the first female inhabitant of the house, Wilma– and the story of their downfall.
Congratulations to Ellen Baker (whose website is here) for having her novel featured — US publication is on 10 July. You can follow Ellen’s blog (Keeping the House) here, and apparently, says Ellen, you can now find Dolly Magnuson on MySpace.