Get ready for a blaze of publicity for "I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother" (Knopf), a funny and smart first novel by British journalist Allison Pearson. The book, a diary of the travails of working motherhood, is already being compared to the bestselling "Bridget Jones's Diary." When the Pearson book was published in England last year, the Times of London opined, "This is Bridget Jones five years on." Obviously, this is the kind of talk that thrills authors and publishing houses. Pearson admits, "it is not a comparison I would wish to discourage, because obviously, Bridget Jones reached an awful lot of readers." But, she says, "My own feeling is that if poor Bridget had to live one week of Kate Reddy's life, she would be admitted to the emergency room, in a chronic state of shock." Pearson, the wife of New Yorker writer Anthony Lane and mother of two young children, has sold her novel to 16 other countries. Miramax has bought the film rights. Who would she like to play Kate Reddy? "Maybe Nicole Kidman or Tea Leonie," she confides.
HEARTS FOR TARTT:
PW can't heap enough praise on Donna Tartt and her new book, "The Little Friend" (Knopf; November 1). A two-page feature story about the author and the book calls it "one of the year's most anticipated novels," adding that "this sophisticated sophomore effort is winning early accolades from booksellers." PW also gives the book a starred boxed review, its highest accolade. "Tartt's second novel confirms her talent as a superb storyteller, sophisticated observer of human nature, and keen appraiser of ethics and morality...'The Little Friend' flowers with emotional insight, a gift for comedy and a sure sense of pacing. Wisely, this novel eschews a feel-good resolution. What it does provide is an immensely satisfying reading experience. FORECAST: Bestsellerdom is writ large for this novel, sure to be greeted with rave reviews. The soft-spoken, diminutive Tartt, who looks more like a Southern belle than a writer with a dark imagination, should be an asset on talk shows." 300,000 first printing
LIFE IN LODZ:
Kirkus is deeply moved by "In the Beginning was the Ghetto: 890 Days in Lodz" by Oskar Rosenfeld, translated by Brigitte Goldstein (Northwestern; November), giving it a starred review. "'Who in future times will believe that human beings fought each other over a potato?' So asks this utterly unsentimental, open-eyed, harrowing portrait of ghetto life during the Holocaust...Rosenfeld was a modestly successful writer of novels and novellas when the Nazi Anschluss forced him to flee to Prague. Following the German conquest of Czechoslovakia, he was transported to the ghetto of Lodz, Poland, where he was put to work in the statistics bureau...Officially, and with the knowledge and permission of the Nazi overseers, Rosenfeld recorded such matters as death, food rations, decrees from the ghetto leadership, and reports from the Jewish police; unofficially, and certainly without authorization, Rosenfeld also kept careful notes on daily life....He records the rumors that sweep the community including, ominously, on concerning the extermination in a kind of bathhouse of hundreds of Jews at a time. The rumor was true: Rosenfeld died at Auschwitz in 1944, leaving this extraordinary testimonial. A singular contribution to the literature and history of the Shoah."
JUDGE NOT, LEST YE BE JUDGED:
Take 15 disgruntled lawyers, scholars and journalists, give them a publishing contract, and stir. The results will look something like "The Rehnquist Court: Judicial Activism on the Right," edited by Herman Schwartz (Hill & Wang; November). Kirkus calls the book a "full-bore, peppery assault on the current Supreme Court...That the court put George W. Bush into the White House is, in these contributors' estimation, but one of its manifold sins, though it's a big one...Contributor address the Court's perceived failings, born of the very judicial activism that so many conservatives denounce...Expect worse, the authors warn, should Bush get a shot at appointing another justice. Those inclined to think that the present judiciary is awful enough will find plenty of ammunition in these pages."
MY WAY OR THE SPY WAY:
There's been a brisk trade in books about double agent Robert Hanssen, including "The Spy Next Door: The Extraordinary Secret Life of Robert Philip Hanssen, the Most Damaging FBI Agent in U.S. History" by TIME Washington correspondents Ann Blackman and Elaine Shannon (Little, Brown). On October 29, Random House will publish "Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America" by David Wise. Kirkus is impressed, giving it a starred review. "A solidly paced, richly detailed account, by the intelligence-community insider Wise, of the FBI desk jockey who sold secrets to the Soviet and Russian governments for two decades and came close to getting away with it...A first-rate true-crime story that gets inside the shadowy and astoundingly average world of spooks, moles, and ops."
GOOD MORNING VIETNAM:
"I don't think there's been a time in the last 30 years that has so reproduced the events I was writing about, such as the assertions of presidential power to make war," antiwar activist Daniel Ellsberg tells PW. PW is dazzled by Ellsberg's new book, "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers," giving it a starred review. "Ellsberg's transformation from cold warrior and Defense Department analyst to impassioned antiwar crusader who released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in June 1971 makes a remarkable and riveting story that still shocks 30 years later...FORECAST: Broad and prominent review coverage is guaranteed, and boomers, especially those who opposed the war, will grab this. But it remains to be seen whether a post-Vietnam generation will be similarly moved."
Is former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman a pack rat? The 65-year-old rocker tells PW that he collected a huge amount of memorabilia about the Stones over the years: "three million words on the computer, as well as attics and a barn full of physical stuff. Everybody thought I was mad when I started collecting it but I did it for my kid, who was eight months old when I joined the Stones. I thought I'd better keep a few things just in case we only lasted a year." PW salutes the result, "Rolling with the Stones" by Bill Wyman with Richard Havers (DK; October). "Wyman's obsession makes for a Rolling Stones fans' delight."
I'M THE AUTHOR AND YOU'RE NOT:
PW is titillated by "Live From New York: An Uncensored History of 'Saturday Night Live'" by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller (Little, Brown; October 7). "This oral history of NBC's 'Saturday Night Live' is the juiciest treasure trove of backstage gossip, sex and drugs since 'The Andy Warhol Diaries'...FORECAST: Little, Brown editor Geoff Shandler got the buzz going on this book at BookExpo in May, and a first serial in this month's issue of Vanity Fair has heightened the buzz to a roar. Ubiquitous media coverage and rave reviews should rocket this one onto bestseller lists."