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Penguin: Viking Spring 2019

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A Wonderful Stroke of Luck
A Novel
By (author): Ann Beattie
9780525557340 Hardcover English General Trade FICTION / Literary Apr 02, 2019
$34.00 CAD
Active 5.75 x 8.54 x 0.99 in 288 pages Viking
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2019 by Vulture, The Millions, The Observer, and O, The Oprah Magazine

A razor-sharp, deeply felt new novel—the twenty-first book by Ann Beattie—about the complicated relationship between a charismatic teacher and his students, and the secrets we keep from those we love

At a boarding school in New Hampshire, Ben joins the honor society led by Pierre LaVerdere, an enigmatic, brilliant, yet perverse, teacher who instructs his students not only about how to reason, but how to prevaricate. As the years go by, LaVerdere’s covert and overt instruction lingers in his students’ lives as they seek some sense of purpose or meaning. When Ben feels the pace of his life accelerating and views his intimate relationships as less and less fulfilling, there seems to be a subtext he’s not able to access. And what, really, did Bailey Academy teach him?

While relationships with his stepmother and sister improve, and a move to upstate New York offers respite from his anxiety about love and work, LaVerdere’s reappearance in his life disturbs his equilibrium. Everything he once thought he knew about his teacher—and himself—is called into question. Written by one of our most iconic writers, known for casting a cold eye on her generation’s ambivalence and sometimes mistaken ambition, A Wonderful Stroke of Luck is a keenly observed psychological study of a man who alternates between careful driving and hazardous risk taking, as he struggles to incorporate his past into the vertiginous present.

Story Locale: New Hampshire; New York, NY; Upstate NY

21ST BOOK, FIRST VIKING PUBLICATION: This is Ann Beattie’s 21st book, and her first with Viking. We are thrilled to have a writer of her literary caliber and experience join our list, and we are excited to help bring her work to a new generation of readers, as well as reaching those who have been reading her since the 70s. This novel—its themes and characters—is a glorious return to form for Beattie, recalling some of her most celebrated early novels from the 1980s and 1990s.

MASTERFUL WRITING: Beattie’s iconic style and command of language are revelatory throughout this deeply observed new novel. More than just a new novel, A Wonderful Stroke of Luck sees Beattie approach fiction from a new angle altogether as she turns to the completely fresh subject of campus life. At once lyrical and bitingly funny, her writing is a cause for celebration. She is an American master writing some of her greatest fiction yet.

Ann Beattie has published twenty-one books and lives with her husband, the painter Lincoln Perry, in Maine. She is a recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Author Residence: York, Maine; Staunton, VA; Key West, Florida

Author Hometown: Washington, DC

Marketing: Online advertising

Social media and online promotion

Library promotions

Publicity: Print and online reviews and features

National radio interviews

Praise for A Wonderful Stroke of Luck

“[Beattie’s] elegantly sculpted tale is both wrenchingly sad and ultimately enigmatic: as usual.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Gimlet-eyed Beattie has created a stunningly unnerving and provocative tale spiked with keen cultural allusions and drollery. This jarring dissection of privilege and anxiety, gender expectations, lust, ludicrous predicaments, defensive selfishness, moral confusion, and numbing loneliness projects a matrix of angst somewhat countered by the solace and sustenance found in a quiet life far from the grasping, hurried, hostile world…. Beattie’s literary reign continues apace, thanks to her stealthily eviscerating insights and disquieting wit.”

Booklist (starred review)

“Beattie’s latest novel…is riven with hope and humor…. [A] postmodernist Greek tragedy…. Laugh-out-loud humorous…. Beattie [has] a keen ear for not only what is said but also what is left unsaid, often with tragic consequences.”


“Even if you’re not old enough to remember the thrill of reading Beattie’s first-ever story to be published in The New Yorker, you’ll find that the short fiction master’s latest foray into long form is a marvel of wry wit and wisdom.”

O, The Oprah magazine

Praise for Ann Beattie:

“Unshakably intelligent, deep-hearted…. One feels amazed at the confidence, steadiness, and quality of [Beattie’s] writing.”

—Lorrie Moore, The New York Times Book Review on Park City

“Ann Beattie yet again reveals herself as one of literature’s most liberating figures.”

—Howard Norman, The Washington Post on The Accomplished Guest

“Full of echoes and resonant fractures, and so beguiling in its eerie simplicity, I read it twice.”

—Miranda July on Walks with Men

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