WIN! By Harlan Coben

He’s incredibly handsome, impeccably dressed, totally urbane, interested only in no-strings relationships, and so amazingly rich that it’s hard to remember when anyone in his family has ever worked besides, that is, practicing their golf swings. Of course, Windsor “Win” Horne Lockwood III is totally obnoxious or would be if he didn’t recognize and make fun of all those traits. He knows he was born into money not for any reason but the wining of the genetic lottery. Ditto for the looks. He doesn’t have to wear—gasp—hoodies but can instead with all that dough attire himself in sartorial splendor. As for the relationships or lack of them, well, Win has issues that started in childhood so you can’t really blame him for that.

CANNES, FRANCE – APRIL 7: Writer Harlan Coben is photographed for Self Assignment, on April, 2018 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Olivier Vigerie/Contour by Getty Images). (EDITOR’S NOTE: Photo has been digitally retouched).

          What he’s never had before is a mystery novel all about him. But now he does in “Win” (Grand Central 2021; $18.98 Amazon price) written by Harlan Coben, the bestselling author who has 75 million books in print in 45 languages as well as multiple number of Netflix series including “The Stranger” and “The Woods” with two more “The Innocent” and “Gone for Good” out soon.

          Up until now, Win has been a sidekick to Coben’s main character, Myron Bolitar, a sports agent who moonlights—often unintentionally—as a private detective.  Coben never intended to make Win the main character in a novel but that changed.

          “I came up with a story idea involving stolen paintings, a kidnapped heiress, and a wealthy family with buried secrets – and then I thought, ‘Wow, this should be Win’s family and his story to tell’,” says Coben.  “Win is, I hope you agree when you read the book, always a surprise.  He thrives on the unexpected.”

          The kidnapped heiress is Win’s cousin Patricia, who was  abducted by her father’s murderers and held prisoner until she managed to escape. She now is devoted to helping women who are being victimized by men. The stolen paintings include a Vermeer that was taken when Patricia was kidnapped. That painting along with another appear to have been stolen by a former 1960s radical turned recluse who was murdered in his apartment after successfully hiding from authorities for more than a half century.

          But keep in mind, that this is a Coben novel, so nothing is ever as it seems. The plots are devious, and the twists and turns are many. As Win goes on the hunt for the painting he has to deal with other difficulties that arise as well. His proclivity for vigilante justice (he knows, he tell us in one of the many asides he makes to readers, that we may not approve) has led to retaliation by the man’s murderous brothers who almost manage to kill him. The hunt for the Vermeer gets him involved with a treacherous mobster who is determined to find the last remaining radical of the group of six who he believes was responsible for his niece’s death.

          “Win has been Myron’s dangerous, perhaps even sociopathic, sidekick and undoubtedly the most popular character I’ve ever written,” says Coben.  “That said, you don’t have to read a single Myron book to read “Win.”  This is the start of a new series with a whole new hero.”  

          Coben decided to write a novel when he was working in Spain as a tour guide. Did he get the job because he’s fluent in Spanish? Not exactly.  

          “My grandfather owned the travel agency,” says Coben. “While I was there, I decided to try to write a novel about the experience.  So I did.  And the novel was pretty terrible as most first novels tend to be – pompous, self-absorbed – but then I got the writing bug and started to write what I love – the novel of immersion, the one that you get so caught up in you can’t sleep or put the book down.”

          With “Win” he has certainly done just that.  

What: Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author, discusses his new book “Win” with moderator and author Shari Lapena.

When: Thursday, March 25 at 7 p.m.

FYI: Hosted by the Book Stall in Chicago, the event is free and open to the public. To register, visit the events page on the store’s website, www.thebookstall.com

Courting Mr. Lincoln

Bestselling novelist Louis Bayard, author of the literary historical novel Courting Mr. Lincoln, has written about a fascinating story about the relationships between the future President and the two people who knew him best: his handsome and charming confidant (and roommate) Joshua Speed , the rich scion of the a wealthy hemp growing family in Louisville and sassy Lexington belle Mary Todd.

Bayard, who will be appearing at the Book Stall, book is reviewed by staffer Kara Gagliardi’s in the bookstore’s May newsletter:

“Louis Bayard’s new novel transports us by wagon to the soul of our country and lays bare the man who would become our 16th president. It is, in fact, the personal history behind our country’s history. The story starts small. In 1839, Mary Todd arrives in Springfield looking for a husband. Her mother is deceased, her father is remarried. She relies on the kindness (and lodging) of her older sister to launch her into society. She is an intellectual with a sharp wit, pleasing-albeit a little too round-an excellent dancer and dinner companion, a lover of politics. She is running out of time.

“Abe Lincoln, on the other hand, is the definition of rough. Tall and gangly, he doesn’t know how to open doors for women, approach a carriage, make small talk, or accept invitations. In other words, society overwhelms him. He knows heartache from the loss of his mother and stepmother, and compares the work his father inflicted upon him to slavery. He’s also a damn good lawyer with a gift for oratory.

“Central to the book is the character of Joshua Speed, who enables the courtship between Lincoln and Mary Todd and feels betrayed by it. Speed owns the dry goods store in town and rents a room to Lincoln above it. Good-looking and a bit of a womanizer, he takes it upon himself to teach Lincoln how to dress, behave, and move in polite circles. The two become inseparable. When he learns that Lincoln has met with Mary Todd in secret, he feels an emptiness that he cannot identify. Who is he without his best friend? Where does he belong if not by Lincoln’s side? This book portrays a match of dependency and tenderness, intellect and laughter.  It will also make you remember when you left your peers for a person you set your future upon. The stakes are high. Love wins.”

Bayard, the author of Roosevelt’s Beast, Lucky Strikes, The Pale Blue Eye and The Black Tower, was described by the New York Times, as an author who “reinvigorates historical fiction,” rendering the past “as if he’d witnessed it firsthand.”

Follow him at louisbayard.com

ifyougo:

What: Louis Bayard book signings

When & Where:

The Book Stall
811 Elm St, Winnetka, IL at 1 p.m
847-446-8880; thebookstall.com

Unabridged Books

3251 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL at 7 p.m.

773-883-9119; unabridgedbookstore.com

Park Avenue Summer

              Chicago-based author Renee Rosen typically writes novels about historic periods and people in Chicago such as the age of jazz (Windy City Blues); mid-20th century journalism (White Collar Girl) and the Roaring Twenties (Dollface). But in Park Avenue Summer, her latest novel which she describes as “Mad Men the Devil Wears Prada,” she takes us to New York City during the era of Helen Gurley Brown, first female Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine and the author of the scandalous best seller, Sex and the Single Girl.

              Like many of us, Rosen read Cosmo (as it was known) when young.

              Rosen remembers quickly flipping to “Bedside Astrologer” column.

              “I was looking for guidance on my 16-year-old love life,” she says, noting that all the time she spent poring over the glossy pages of Cosmo essentially shaped my view of female sexuality and female empowerment, too. “She changed the face of women’s magazine.”

              Park Avenue Summer tells the story of Alice (Ali), who moves to New York City after breaking up with her boyfriend and ends up getting her dream job, working for Cosmo.

              Like she does for all her books, Rosen threw herself into full research mode, wanting to convey the story through Alice’s eyes.

              “I even went down to the Port Authority to get the feel of what Alice would have seen and felt when she arrived,” says Rosen.  

              Because Rosen had lived on the Upper West side in New York for a year she knew where Ali, as a single working girl would live—an area in the East 60s called “the girl’s ghetto.” She walked the streets until she found the exact apartment she had envisioned for Ali.

              All in the name of research, she visited Tavern on the Green, 21 Club, St. Regis and the Russian Tearoom, all swank places still in business that were very popular back then. But best of all, a friend introduced her to Lois Cahall who had worked for Brown.

              “Helen Gurley Brown was like a second mother to Lois,” says Rosen. “She and I became good friends and she vetted the book for me. It was like a gift from the gods, because she knew so much about Brown and Cosmo and that time.”

              Rosen is very much an admirer of Brown and what she accomplished.

              “She really wanted to help women be their best,” she says. “She wanted them to know that they could get what they want even in what was then a man’s world.”

Ifyougo:

What: Rene Rosen has several book signing events in the Chicago area.

When & Where: Tuesday, April 30th at 7 p.m.  Launch party at The Book Cellar Launch Party, 4736 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL.

When & Where: Wednesday, May 1 at 11:30 a.m., Luncheon at The Deer Path Inn, 255 East Illinois St., Lake Forest, IL. $55 includes lunch and book. Seating is limited and reservations are required. Sponsored by Lake Forest Bookstore. 847-234-4420; lakeforestbookstore.com

When & Where: Wednesday, May 1 at 6:30 p.m. The Book Stall, 811 Elm St, Winnetka, IL 847-446-8880; thebookstall.com.  In conversation with Susanna Calkins who is celebrating the release of Murder Knocks Twice, the start of a new mystery series set in the world of Chicago speakeasy in the 1920s.

When & Where: Monday, May 13 at 7 p.m. The Book Table’s Authors on Tap series with author Jamie Freveletti. Beer Shop 1026 North Blvd., Chicago, IL. 847- 946-4164; beershophq.com

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

Totally unexpectedly, Lori Gottlieb’s long term boyfriend, the man she thought she’d marry, made a succinct and ultimately devastating statement, saying he didn’t “want to live with a kid in the house for the next ten years” and then he was gone.

Lori Gottlieb

Suddenly, Gottlieb, a psychotherapist who writes the weekly “Dear Therapist” advice column for The Atlantic, had to deal with her own issues as well as those of her clients, a process she chronicles in her very engaging Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2019; $28).

The clients include John, a married man with two children and a very successful career as a television producer who pays Gottlieb in cash because he doesn’t want his wife to know he’s in therapy.

“You’ll be like my mistress,” he tells her at the end of their first therapy session. “Or, actually, more like my hooker. No offense, but you’re not the kind of woman I’d choose as a mistress . . . if you know what I mean.”

Another patient, newly married, had achieved tenure at her university and after years of hard work, was eager to become a parent.

“She was accomplished, generous, and adored by colleagues, friends, and family. She was the kind of person who enjoyed running marathons and climbing mountains and baking silly cakes for her nephew,” writes Gottlieb. 

The client, Julie, overcomes cancer once and then six years later receives the news it has reoccurred, and she has a year or so to live.

“One of the themes of the book is that our stories form the core of our lives and give them deeper meaning,” says Gottlieb, whose book was recently optioned for television by Eva Longoria for 20th TV. “Sharing these stories is essentially about one person saying to another: This is who I am? Can you understand me?”

But even for therapists, it’s scary to reveal ourselves to others and that’s what Gottlieb, who speaks about relationships, parenting, and hot-button mental health topics on such shows as The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Dr. Phil, CNN, and NPR, discovered when she found a professional to talk to about her fractured relationship. Despite her understanding that’s it’s important to be truthful, she, like all of us, edit the truth.

“Clients make a choice about what to leave in, what to leave out as well as how to frame the situation in the way they want me to hear it,” says Gottlieb who found herself doing just the same. “One of the things with my therapist that I did that my clients do to me, is I wanted him to like me, I want him to like me better than others in the waiting room. That’s why we don’t always tell our therapists our secrets. We don’t realize the ways we get in out way in the therapy room is the way we get in the way in our own lives.”

Gottlieb describes people as emotionally hiding out.

“People carry out their pain, they think they can compartmentalize,” she says. “I see so much loneliness in the people who come to see me, people are really stressed out.”

Texting and social media sometimes stop us from being together and communicating. That’s why therapy can help people change largely because as they grow in connection with others in a way often lost in our fast-paced, technology-driven culture.

But change is scary, both for Gottlieb in her personal therapy sessions that she chronicles and for her clients who we follow as they come to grips with their issues in her office.

“I thought it was important to put myself out there with this book,” says Gottlieb, noting that the book was very difficult to write. “Therapists are real people and we have our own struggles. We’re all members of the human race.”

 Ifyougo:

What: Author Lori Gottlieb and Amy Dickinson, who writes the syndicated advice column, Ask Amy, discuss Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

When: Monday, April 8 from 6-7:15pm 

Where: Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St., Chicago IL

Cost: Free

FYI: (312) 747-4300; chipublib.bibliocommons.com

Gottlieb will also be interviewed by Dr. Alexandra Solomon of Northwestern University and author of Loving Bravely on Tuesday, April 9 at 7pm at New Trier High School, Cornog, 7 Happ Road, Winnetka, IL. Cost: Free. Sponsored by The Book Stall. 847-446-8880; thebookstall.com

How the French Saved America

Give credit to France for the forming of our nation because without their help we might still be, as stereotypes go, eating crumpets, drinking tea and speaking with British accents.

That’s the focus of a new book by noted author Tom Shachtman in his latest book How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors, Diplomats, Louis Xvi, and The Success of a Revolution (St. Martin’s Press 2017; $27.99).

While many of us know about the Marquis de Lafayette whose help during the Revolutionary War was so vital that we’ve named cities after him–Lafayette, Indiana and Louisiana come quickly to mind. But the Marquis wasn’t the only Frenchman who risked his life to help America achieve its independence. Indeed, according to Shachtman in his extensively researched and wonderfully written book, almost ten percent of those who perished fighting for our cause were from France.

Those surviving include not only Lafayette but also Admiral François Joseph Paul de Grasse, commander of the French fleet during the Battle of the Chesapeake.  He and his men created a naval blockade of Yorktown thus allowing General George Washington and yet another Frenchman, Comte de Rochambeau, to defeat British Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis in what was a decisive battle. Another, Louis Duportail founded the Army Corps of Engineers.

Even Shachtman, who has written or co-authored more than thirty books as well as documentaries for ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and BBC, taught at New York University and lectured at Harvard, Stanford and the Library of Congress, at first didn’t realize how much the French impacted America’s victory. He first became aware of France’s significance when writing another book Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries: The Founding Fathers in the Age of Enlightenment and decided to pursue the subject. The assistance the French provided included, among a long list, money to pay our troops, weapons, safe harbor for privateers, troops, battlefield leadership and engineering expertise.

So why is France’s contribution not better known?

“We are too invested in our own myths to acknowledge how much we owe our freedom to France,” says Shachtman, noting our belief in our rugged individualism and self-sufficiency could also play a big part. “The war might not have been won at all, or not been won by 1783 if not for the French.”

Ifyougo:

What: Tom Shachtman has three talks and book signings in the Chicago area.

When: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 6 pm

Where: The Newberry, 60 W. Walton St., Chicago, IL

FYI: 312-255-3610; publicprograms@newberry.org

What: Learn & Lunch with Tom Shachtman

When: Wednesday, October 18 at noon

Where: University Club of Chicago, 76 E. Monroe St., Chicago, IL

FYI: 847-446-8880 to make a reservation

What: Tom Shachtman Reading & Signing

When: Thu. October 19 at 7pm

Where: The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL

FYI: (773) 293-2665

 

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