''The father of his country" is the subject of a new biography -- and so is the ''mother."
''General George Washington: A Military Life" and ''Martha Washington: An American Life" are among the latest hardcover books, which also include novels by Danielle Steel, John Irving and Terry McMillan; and nonfiction books whose subjects include Terri Schiavo, a small-town pub and its regulars, and ''the last word" on Diana, Princess of Wales.
In ''General George Washington" (Random House), Edward G. Lengel, overseer of the University of Virginia's collection of Washington's papers, has written the ''first modern biography" of the general's military career. The book relies largely on Washington's personal papers as it chronicles his wartime experiences, from the French and Indian War to the American Revolution. Lengel also evaluates Washington's performance as leader, strategist and administrator.
In ''Martha Washington" (Viking), Patricia Brady replaces the common image of the first first lady as a plump, frumpy woman with that of someone fashionable, intelligent and pleasant. Brady emphasizes the support and influence Martha gave George and her important role in U.S. history. This biography is based on various artifacts and documents, none of which include Martha's personal correspondence, which she burned soon after George's death.
The prolific Steel offers her 66th book in ''Miracle" (Delacorte Press), a novel about a destructive New Year's Eve storm that strikes San Francisco, bringing together three strangers -- a lonely divorced woman, a wealthy widowed businessman, and an illiterate carpenter -- profoundly affecting their lives.
''Until I Find You" (Random House) is Irving's 800-page biographical novel that traces the life of one Jack Burns, Hollywood actor and Oscar-winning screenwriter. Burns' lifelong quest to find his runaway father, a church organist and tattoo addict, begins when he is 4, accompanying his mother to tattoo parlors and churches in European ports.
In ''The Interruption of Everything" (Viking), McMillan describes the plight of suburbanite Marilyn Grimes, 44, an empty-nester who decides it's time to do something for herself. But before she can enroll in school and join the gym, she learns that she is pregnant. Complicating matters are the reappearance of her ex-husband, her mother's failing health, the needs of her single-parent, drug-addicted sister, and the arrival of two housemates -- her meddling mother-in-law and her elderly poodle.
Former Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman examines the life and death of Terri Schiavo in ''Silent Witness" (Morrow). Schiavo, who suffered brain damage after falling in her home in 1990, died on March 31, 2005, 13 days after her breathing tube was removed. Schiavo was the subject of a long legal battle between her husband, who wanted the tube removed, and her blood family, who wanted her to remain on life support. Fuhrman cites medical, police and legal documents, and interviews with Schiavo's family and friends.
A true romance -- with a place -- is revealed in ''Little Chapel on the River" (Morrow) by Gwendolyn Bounds, columnist for The Wall Street Journal. It begins with the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, when Bounds is forced to leave her downtown Manhattan apartment. She happened upon the northern suburb of Garrison, N.Y., and upon Guinan's, its pub-country store and social hub. Her life and outlook changed as she got to know the owners, the regulars and the townspeople, and her temporary stay became permanent.
The latest book about Diana, Princess of Wales, is ''Diana: The Last Word" (St. Martin's Press) by Simone Simmons, Diana's ''natural healer" and a clairvoyant who claims to have been a close friend and confidant during Diana's last five years. Simmons reveals the good and bad of Diana's relationship with the royal family, her desire to move to the United States, and her feelings for Prince Charles and for her lover, Dodi Fayed, who also died in the car crash that killed Diana in 1997.