Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back

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Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Eaton, Hubbard, Salesses, and More


Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from Ellie Eaton, Ladee Hubbard, Matthew Salesses, and more—that are publishing this week.

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The Divines by Ellie Eaton

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Divines: “Eaton’s intelligent debut follows freelance writer Josephine as she reflects on her past as a bully at a now-defunct all-girls English boarding school. In flashbacks to the mid-1990s, it’s revealed that Josephine’s lower-class roommate, Gerry Lake, suffered a fall from their dorm window that threatened her figure-skating career and led to a scandal that forced the school to close. Before the fall, Gerry had long been bullied by a group of classmates led by Josephine’s frosty best friend, Skipper. Insecure and lonely, Josephine befriends Lauren McKibbin (whose older brother, Stuart, handles maintenance for the school), despite a prohibition on socializing with ‘townies.’ As the girls grow closer, Josephine develops a crush on Stuart and tries to retain the good graces of her old crew by joining in on their bullying of Gerry, even after Gerry helps her deal with an upsetting incident involving Stuart. The book winds down on a satisfying note as a school reunion and Josephine’s travel for an assignment lead her to catch up with key characters and confront some unflattering things about herself. Eaton does a good job describing class tension and the misery of trying to fit into a social clique as a teenager. Josephine’s steady unraveling of her teenage dramas will keep readers riveted.”

The Doctors Blackwell by Janice P. Nimura

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Doctors Blackwell: “Historian Nimura (Daughters of the Samurai) probes the lives of the pioneering Blackwell sisters, Elizabeth (1821–1910) and Emily (1826–1910), in a captivating biography. The author charts the ambitious Elizabeth’s path, as she became the first woman to receive a medical degree from an American medical college, at Geneva College in 1849, and went on to further study medicine in England and work at a maternity hospital in France, where an infection cost her her left eye and, thus, surgical career. The elder Blackwell sister emerges as an impressive but intimidating figure, a rigid idealist who equated illness with moral weakness and who disdained the suffrage movement even as she did much to advance the state of women. As Emily follows in her sister’s footsteps, she is depicted more endearingly, as having a genuine interest in her patients and the ‘daily, steady effort of medical practice’ that Elizabeth lacked. Though Emily often labored in her strong-willed sister’s shadow, she was instrumental, Nimura argues, in the success of their New York Infirmary, founded in 1857. In recounting the lives of two ambitious figures who opened doors for many who came after them, Nimura casts a thoughtful and revelatory new light onto women’s and medical history.”

The Rib King by Ladee Hubbard

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Rib King: “Hubbard (The Talented Ribkins) delves into issues of race, vengeance, redemption, and rage in this inventive historical. Beginning in 1914, the narrative follows groundskeeper August Sitwell and the other Black servants working for the Barclays, a once affluent Southern white family whose fortune is rapidly dwindling. As labor strikes and racial violence grow in their unnamed city, Sitwell begins to take an interest in the three orphans who have been hired to work as kitchen apprentices for Miss Mamie Price, the house cook. But his relationship to the boys and to the rest of the staff is put to the test when Mr. Barclay agrees to sell the recipe for Mamie’s meat sauce to one of his associates, who plans to market it locally and and use Sitwell’s likeness as the brand’s image—all without Sitwell’s or Mamie’s approval. Haunted by a brutal episode of violence instigated by Sitwell’s mother’s employer in Florida when he was a boy, Sitwell commits a startling act that alters the lives of everyone who works in the Barclay household. Hubbard’s prose brims with unspoken tensions and a prevailing sense of dread as she skillfully explores how the characters are impacted by trauma. Shocking and thought-provoking, Hubbard’s latest cements her status as an American original.”

Also in stores this week: Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing versus Workshopping by Matthew Salesses and Pretty Tripwire by Alessandra Lynch.

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