This book’s set to sell

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS - Re­view by KARYN ANNE KRISHNAN star2@thes­tar.com.my

HERE’S some­thing to pre­order for the hol­i­days: Oprah Win­frey’s new book club pick.

Win­frey has cho­sen Sue Monk Kidd’s The In­ven­tion Of Wings, com­ing out Jan 7 in the United States. Kidd’s novel, a 19th­cen­tury nar­ra­tive fea­tur­ing real and fic­tional char­ac­ters, weaves to­gether the sto­ries of a slave girl and a slave owner’s daugh­ter. Like Kidd’s mil­lion-sell­ing The Se­cret Life Of Bees, the book is set in South Carolina in Amer­ica, where the 65-year-old au­thor lived for many years.

“The mo­ment I fin­ished The In­ven­tion Of Wings, I knew this had to be the next book club se­lec­tion,” Win­frey said in a state­ment re­leased on Tues­day. “Th­ese strong fe­male char­ac­ters rep­re­sent the women that have shaped our his­tory and, through Sue’s imag­i­na­tive sto­ry­telling, give us a new per­spec­tive on slav­ery, in­jus­tice and the search for free­dom.”

Win­frey founded her book club in 1996 and quickly es­tab­lished her­self as a re­li­able hit maker, whether choos­ing de­but works such as Lalita Tademy’s Cane River or old favourites such as John Stein­beck’s East Of Eden. She sus­pended her club in 2011, af­ter end­ing her syn­di­cated TV pro­gramme, but re­launched it in 2012 as Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, with a stronger em­pha­sis on dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy.

The In­ven­tion Of Wings is Win­frey’s third choice for the 2.0 club, and her first since se­lect­ing Ayana Mathis’ The Twelve Tribes Of Hat­tie al­most ex­actly a year ago. She had been ex­pected to make picks more fre­quently, but she also seeks the “per­fect fit”, ac­cord­ing to the books ed­i­tor for O: The Oprah Mag­a­zine, Leigh Haber.

“She’s look­ing for some­thing she can gen­uinely fall in love with, en­dorse, that will of­fer a point of con­ver­sa­tion for her read­ers,” Haber said. “And with this book she found it.”

With a best­seller al­most guar­an­teed, publisher Vik­ing has an­nounced a print run of 320,000 copies. The In­ven­tion Of Wings is Kidd’s first novel since The Mer­maid Chair was re­leased in 2009, when the dig­i­tal mar­ket was still tiny. At least half of to­tal sales for pop­u­lar nov­els in the United States nowa­days of­ten come through the ebook edi­tion. – AP THE first few pages had me itch­ing to slam the book shut. It’s a story of a heavy­set woman who seems to be so re­pul­sive that the man sit­ting next to her on the air­plane thinks to him­self: “Why do I al­ways get the old lady, the drunk guy or the fat chick?”

At times, I couldn’t be sure if writer Stephanie Evanovich’s views on size and weight were over­bear­ing or if she was be­ing hon­est. It made me won­der: Is this re­ally how peo­ple think? Even when lead char­ac­ter Holly Bren­nan loses weight and gets fit (though not skinny fit), the body sham­ing con­tin­ues.

Re­cently wid­owed and in her early 30s, Bren­nan has filled the void left by los­ing her hus­band with food – and be­cause she was al­ways on the heavy side, her in­sa­tiable ap­petite now makes things worse. Then she meets celebrity fit­ness trainer Lo­gan Mont­gomery who thinks he is a god­send to women – and the women in this book con­cur, in­clud­ing Bren­nan, which, quite frankly, ir­ri­tated me.

Lo­gan, the man re­pulsed by Bren­nan on the plane, de­cides to of­fer his ser­vices as a per­sonal trainer, think­ing she would never be able to af­ford his nor­mal rate. Boy, is he wrong! Bren­nan, you see, mar­ried into money, and not be­cause she was look­ing for it. It was just her luck that her late hus­band was the first per­son

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