There are so many books out there that are one hit wonders, in other words, the author has written one sensational novel and no more. I don't assume that it is easy to write a book or that people zip through the writing of them. Some books have taken decades to write while other authors spit books out every other month. I once heard Dorothea Benton Frank say that it is "a lot of work to write a book you read in three days." There are quite a few authors who only wrote one book and that one a smash hit!
Here are some of the best.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - This is is wonderful historical novel of a young Japanese girl sold to a geisha house in the years before and during World War II. The novel is said to be base on the life of a real geisha and it took Arthur Golden over six years to write and spent two years on the best seller list. To date Golden has not written another novel although there are rumors.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett - Another sensation when it was published, The Help stayed on the best seller list for over 100 weeks (NY Times) and took Stockett about five years to write. The story is about a young aspiring reporter in 1960's Mississippi and the story of the black maids and nannies who take care of the town's white people. So far, no mention of another book by Kathryn Stockett.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - Shelley was 18 years old when she started writing the book on a dare and it was published when she was 20. The book is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a hideous, creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. While you might think it has no relevance for today - think boutique babies, clones, and artificial intelligence.
Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak - This beautiful story takes place between the Russian Revolution and World War II. While it is a somewhat complex story, it questions how love can survive in the face of war and revolution. It also questioned socialism and its effect on individuals and was thereby banned in Russia. Although Pasternak had written and published many poems, this was the only novel he wrote.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - This book is a terrific snapshot of the experiences of a young Boston woman in the late 1950's, early 1960's. Esther Greenwood, a 20 something year old, receives an internship in New York to work at a prestigious woman's magazine. She finds the experience to be frightening and confusing. Upon returning home Esther's mental state starts to deteriorate as she realizes that, after leaving college, the choices open to her are limited and empty. While Sylvia Plath is well known for her poetry, this was the only novel she ever wrote.
Do you have any favorite one hit wonders? Please share!