“Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams
The perfect summer romantic read comes courtesy of Tia Williams, a former beauty editor at the likes of Glamour and Elle turned editorial director at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. — and novelist. A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, “Seven Days in June” came to Williams one Saturday night while watching “Romeo and Juliet” and she wondered what might’ve happened if the “wild, lovesick teens went their separate ways, and then ran into each other as grown-ups?” Enter Eva and Shane, both successful writers in their own orbits who come across each other one June day in New York — and are forced to reconcile with their past connection some 15 years prior. — Leigh Nordstrom
Where did the inspiration for these characters and this story come from?
My protagonists are usually inspired by some dimension of my personality, so Eva and I have a lot in common. (Full disclosure: I’m a writer and mom of a 12-year-old living in Park Slope, Brooklyn with lifelong, debilitating migraines and a mother who is Black Creole. But she’s nothing like Lizette!). Shane is pure fiction, however. I loved dreaming up a man who carefully constructs his life so that he has no ties, whatsoever — and watching it all unravel as love creeps in.
In what ways was writing this book different from your previous ones?
I wrote my first novel, “The Accidental Diva,” when 24 — and I finished “Seven Days in June” at 44. The differences between my writing then and now is so striking. Since then, I’ve been married, got divorced, navigated single mom-hood, met and married my soulmate (at 42!), moved all over Brooklyn — and underwent a total career reinvention, from magazine editor to beauty brand copywriter. I’ve tried to pour this experience into my latest novel, so I think it’s more layered and real than anything I’ve ever written.
In what ways has your career in beauty impacted your fiction writing?
I always infuse my fiction with beauty and fashion cues. I can’t help it! I’ve spent my entire life beauty-writing, and even before that, as a kid and teenager I was crazy about fashion magazines. I still have boxes in my parents’ house of Vogue, Bazaar and Elle issues from the ’80s and ’90s (March and September issues, mostly — for fashion week posterity). In my first novel, the protagonist was a beauty editor. In my fourth novel, the protagonist was a fashion editor. “Seven Days in June” doesn’t take place in the beauty/fashion world, but I’m super-specific about my characters’ outfits and aesthetics.
What is on your summer reading list?
“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
I practically memorized “Daisy Jones and the Six,” so I can’t wait to dive into her latest delicious read. I’m saving it for vacation.
“The Other Black Girl” by Zakiya Dalila Harris.
I just started this utterly compelling novel about two Black women working in the very white publishing industry. It straddles the line between thriller and social commentary — I cannot put it down.
“The View Was Exhausting” by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta.
It combines two of my favorite things: the “fake lovers” romance trope, and glitzy Hollywood couples.
“Animal” by Lisa Taddeo
“Three Women” was one of the most popular books of late 2019 and into 2020, and fans of Lisa Taddeo’s writing didn’t have to wait long for a follow-up. The writer returned this summer with “Animal,” her first novel, which was her thesis statement for her MFA in fiction from Boston University. The book explores female rage and anger as we follow Joan who, after enduring treatment from bad men throughout her life, leaves New York and heads west in search of the woman she hopes will give her answers.
“I suffered a lot of grief in my young adulthood and I never really found a way to process it. And I think a lot of times grief gives way to anger,” Taddeo says. “It’s sort of if you lose someone, why you lost that person, why wasn’t it you and not them, and all that kind of stuff. That combined with the treatment of women by men that I saw from researching ‘Three Women,’ those two things together kind of gave birth to the idea of a main character who was going to strike back.”
Of her desire to explore anger in women, Taddeo says, “there is this need for anger out in the world for women to be able to be honest about their feelings and to not hide it. And I’ve seen a lot of people be really grateful for explaining that type of struggle and how it’s OK for men to be angry. It’s in fact attractive in certain instances, but for women, the narrative has long been that it’s the opposite.” — L.N.
“The Maidens” by Alex Michaelides
“The Maidens” is the follow-up to Alex Michaelides’ debut bestseller “The Silent Patient.” The author’s new thriller is set on campus at Cambridge University, where a college professor is suspected of murdering a young female student — who’s also the member of a cultish secret society. As with Michaelides’ first book, the protagonist is a therapist-detective. The story has already been optioned, with a series adaptation in the works.
“Afterparties” by Anthony Veasna So
Anthony Veasna So, a young writer on the brink of literary stardom, passed away last year at the age of 28. His debut collection of short stories, “Afterparties” — the first of a two-book deal for the recent MFA grad — arrived this month. It remains one of summer’s most anticipated releases, with critics and author peers including Mary Karr and George Saunders, praising his depiction of the queer and Cambodian-American experience. The layered characters who populate the nine stories shoulder the burden of generational trauma, but humor and joy permeate through So’s writing.
“The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laura Dave
A new woman’s husband goes missing, and with her teen stepdaughter in tow she quickly discovers that her husband wasn’t who she thought he was. Set in the Bay area (the husband is a coder for a start-up, naturally), this thriller received a cosign from Reese’s Book Club — and Witherspoon is already adapting the book for Apple TV+ through her Hello Sunshine production arm. Julia Roberts is currently slated to star. — Kristen Tauer
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