Over a period of a couple of months earlier this year, I received a series of ingriguing postcards in the mail. They were ostensibly sent from Pine Haven Retirement Center, a care home somewhere in the Carolinas. The cards were part of a promotional campaign for Jill McCorkle's latest novel, "Life After Life," which came out at the end of March.
McCorkle is a fine, fine Southern writer, and one whose work I've admired for years. So here's her new book: A novel by a highly regarded writer, bolstered by a quirky and imaginative marketing campaign, released just before the onslaught of the Big April Books. What could go wrong?
And then, the very next week, enter British writer Kate Atkinson. And her new book: "Life After Life."
Atkinson is a great writer as well, both populist and literary, creator of the popular Jackson Brodie mysteries. Her "Life After Life" ended up on several "best-of-the-year" lists and was short-listed for the Costa Novel Award. (It also won the Guardian's "Not the Booker Prize" award, which goes to what readers believe to be the best book of the year.)
So sorry, McCorkle! I worry that every time "Life After Life" showed up on a best-of list, she felt that little spray of hope that it was hers.
Twins like these happen fairly often in the world of publishing--books whose titles, or topics (there were two major biographies of silent film star Gloria Swanson published this year--two!), or jackets are so similar that there is room for confusion.
It is not yet 2014, but already I'm on Twins Watch. In today's mail, Lucie Whitehouse's "Before We Met," which looks so similar to Rachel Joyce's "Perfect" (she's the author of "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry") that there's bound to be confusion. Take a look:
Really, what are the odds?