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Books | The five best-selling hardback novels as measured by placement on four leading lists as of April 22

Issue: "The trouble with Tommy," May 4, 2002
Scoring system: 10 points for first place, 9 for second, down to 1 for 10th, on the lists of the American Booksellers Association (independent, sometimes highbrow stores), The New York Times (4,000 bookstores, plus wholesalers), Publishers Weekly (general bookstores), and Amazon.com (internet purchases).
1
THE NANNY DIARIES
Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus 35 points [NYT: 3rd; ABA: 2nd; PW: 2nd; Amazon: 3rd]
PLOT
An NYU student is nanny for a Park Avenue couple's 4-year-old son. Even in "Mommy and Me" class, the nanny stands in for mommy, whose demands are ever-increasing. But the nanny can't quit because who will hug the 4-year-old if she does?
GIST
This very funny novel skewers the self-consumed lifestyle of those wealthy parents who have children and don't know what to do with them.
CAUTION
Language and sex.
2
ATONEMENT
Ian McEwan 27 points [nyt: 7th; aba: 1st; pw: 5th; amazon: 4th]
PLOT
Thirteen-year-old Briony misunderstands something she spies from her window, taking her to a disturbing conclusion that changes her life and the lives of those she loves.
GIST
Briony's immaturity and self-absorption, an obscene letter, and her tragic misunderstanding set in motion a chain of events for which she spends the rest of her life trying to atone.
CAUTION
Language and sex.
3
EVERYTHING'S EVENTUAL
Stephen King 26 points [nyt: 2nd; aba: 7th; pw: 3rd; amazon: 6th]
PLOT
A collection of short stories ranging from campfire ghost stories to several more "literary" tales that first appeared in The New Yorker.
GIST
If you like Stephen King's horror stories, you'll appreciate this collection of short tales of hauntings and encounters with the dead and the devil. The volume contains several award winners and an introduction by King about the art of the short story.
CAUTION
Language.
4
THE SUMMONS
John Grisham 25 points [nyt: 4th; aba: 3rd; pw: 4th; amazon: 8th]
PLOT
Law professor Ray Atlee and his prodigal brother are summoned home to Clanton, Miss., by their dying father, a retired judge and community benefactor.
GIST
When Ray Atlee arrives he finds his father already dead and a small fortune in hidden cash. While he tries to figure out the source of the money-Was his father's piety a sham?-and what to do with it, he finds himself being twisted out of shape by greed and lust for wealth.
CAUTION
N/A
5
THE THREE FATES
Nora Roberts 23 points [nyt: 1st; aba: 8th; pw: 1st; amazon: not listed]
PLOT
Three Irish siblings search the world for three valuable statues, one of which had been acquired by their thieving father during the Lusitania's last voyage.
GIST
The recipe for a Nora Roberts novel is adventure, romance, graphic sex, and foul language. Roberts's gourmands will find all four here, although they may feel they've met her stock characters many times before.
CAUTION
See above.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

The name "William Wilberforce" comes up a lot in evangelical circles these days, and David Vaughan's Statesman and Saint: The Principled Politics of Wilberforce (Highland Books) is a quick way for Americans to learn about the British evangelical member of Parliament whose courage and fortitude led to an end of the slave trade and slavery in the British Empire. In brief, Wilberforce gave up a life of personal peace and affluence upon his conversion to the Christian faith at 25. Some historians think he also gave up a clear shot at becoming prime minister to devote his attention to freeing the slaves. Loosely affiliated with the Tory Party, Wilberforce functioned as an independent and-because he offered a voice of conscience in Parliament-became more influential than prime ministers. Wilberforce persevered on behalf of the slaves until they gained their freedom just as he was dying in 1833. A cynical age that does not appreciate heroes could have a hard time understanding Wilberforce; Mr. Vaughan's book will help.

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