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New In Paperback: Dec. 20-26

The Lady In The Tower

The Fall of Anne Boleyn

by Alison Weir

It was in part the inexorability of the judgment against Anne Boleyn that made historian Alison Weir want to take a closer look at the story of Henry VIII's second wife. A history book written with all the intrigue and tension of a novel, Weir's The Lady in the Tower is what the author calls "a forensic investigation" of the queen's last four months. "I was quite astonished," Weir tells NPR's Guy Raz. "She wasn't executed where people think she was; she wasn't imprisoned where people think she was; she's not buried where people think she was." At times, The Lady in the Tower reads almost like it was written by a private investigator or a lawyer trying to build a case on Boleyn's behalf. "I've made a better case than ever before for Thomas Cromwell -- Henry VIII's principal secretary -- being the prime mover in the case against Anne Boleyn," Weir says.

464 pages, $17, Ballantine


One Amazing Thing

by Chitra Divakaruni

Poet, short-story writer and novelist Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni cut her teeth listening to her grandfather tell tales from the ancient Indian epics -- the Ramayana and Mahabharata -- by lantern light in his Bengali village. This storytelling legacy shines brightly in her entrancing new novel, One Amazing Thing, in which nine people in the passport office in the basement of the Indian Consulate in San Francisco are yoked together by fate when an earthquakes hits. Uma, a sharply observant graduate student awaiting a visa to India, notes the sour-faced young Indian woman at the reception desk, and the others in the waiting room: a Caucasian couple in their 60s; a young Muslim-American man; a Chinese woman with her teenage granddaughter. As the quake hits with full force, Divakaruni moves effortlessly from one character to another, and across a spectrum of raw feeling so vividly you feel as if you're with each of them in the room.

240 pages, $13.99, Voice


Alice I Have Been

A Novel

by Melanie Benjamin

Like most preteen heroines of classic children's literature, Alice (of Alice in Wonderland, of course) is a mistress of misrule: bossy, resourceful and a bit of a tomboy. No wonder the first words that Alice utters in the opening lines of Melanie Benjamin's haunting new novel about the "real" Alice -- Alice Liddell, the inspiration for the character in the Lewis Carroll novel -- are words of soft rebellion: "But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful? It is. Only I do get tired." The year is 1932 and Alice Liddell is 80 years old. Though Alice I Have Been occasionally stumbles into melodrama, most of the time it's a nuanced, moody envisioning of the life of the girl who became the muse for one of the most rollicking children's tales of all time, and who may have also become, to some extent, its prisoner, pressed into the looking glass of its fictions.

400 pages, $15, Bantam

Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, she also leads a weekly chat on books and reading in the digital age every Friday from 4-5p.m. ET on Twitter. Follow her at @charabbott or check out the #followreader hashtag .

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