From cosy evening reading to gripping intellectual feats, these are the works you don't want to miss this month.
Susan Hill is best known for her ghost story The Woman in Black—adapted into the second longest-running play in West-End history (after The Mousetrap) and a film starring Daniel Radcliffe. But in a 56-year literary career that began when she was a teenager, Hill has also turned her hand to all sorts of fiction—and here shows how good she can be at a tale of ordinary, non-supernatural life.
Olive Piping grows up in 1950s England with a passion for books, but a pretty passive attitude to almost everything else. “You are a looker-on, aren’t you?” her first boyfriend tells her at university. In fact, Olive isn’t a very enthusiastic girlfriend either, but she does whatever’s expected of her—which is why the most gut-wrenching section of the book takes place at a hostel for pregnant unmarried women. And, as it turns out, her misfortunes don’t end there…
The result can’t be called a cheerful read. Nonetheless, the combination of matter-of-fact prose and quietly heartbreaking subject matter—together with the pin-sharp depiction of a long-vanished world—make for an utterly memorable one.
Published by Chatto
Rosie Goodwin, who's been hailed as the new Catherine Cookson, is the author of over 20 bestselling novels. This March, she returns with a moving, heart-warming new saga set in 1884, about 14-year-old Sunday Small—a girl who was abandoned at birth, now living in a cruel workhouse, under the rule of the heartless Miss Frost. She knows she needs to break free and find her long-lost mother, but the workhouse will not let her go without a fight…
Mothering Sunday is an incredibly consuming, uplifting read that will have you rooting for its kind-hearted, good-natured characters within the first couple of pages. Sunday’s life-affirming energy and kindness breathe life and joy into the story, making her splendid company for when you’re feeling down in the dumps.
Published by Zaffre
The charm and sweetness continue over a century later in The Kicking the Bucket List. This warm, funny and uplifting novel tells the story of three sisters coping with the loss of their mother, who leaves them a rather peculiar “bucket list” of activities to complete together as part of her will. After many years of freezing each other out, the perspective of spending time together is not a fun one for Dee, Rose and Fleur—three completely different women who drifted apart after a profound argument.
Cathy Hopkins is a master of soothing fiction, having written the incredibly successful Mates, Dates series for teens and a number of self-help books for adults. The Kicking the Bucket List is a spirited, comforting novel, perfect to read when you’re after something to warm the cockles of your heart.
Published by HarperFiction
This highly provocative, gripping psychological thriller revolves around a 15-year-old rape victim, Jenny. The horrific attack leaves her thoroughly scarred in a hospital. Her parents will do anything to protect her from the memory of what was done to her and so, they have her memories wiped using experimental treatment. Yet the only way Jenny can move on and identify the attacker is to go back into those memories.
Not only does Wendy Walker skilfully build nail-biting suspense that makes All Is Not Forgotten such a page-turner, but she also does so with incredible sensibility and a unique understanding of different types of personalities and how they function. With the film rights already snapped up by Warner Bros. and Reese Witherspoon, this is bound to be one of the most successful thrillers of 2017.
Published by HQ
William Brodrick made his name—and earned comparisons to John le Carré—with a series of page-turning but thoughtful thrillers about Father Anselm, a barrister turned monk. Now, he’s abandoned both that name and Father Anselm to write a new series, as John Fairfax, about a convicted murderer turned barrister. And if Summary Justice is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat.
Having vainly protested his innocence, served his time
and qualified as a lawyer, William Benson has set up a tiny practice to help people whose cases appear hopeless. His first client is Sarah, mother of a disabled child, and the apparently obvious killer of her boss.
What follows works superbly as a classic courtroom drama, in which nothing is as it seems—even though it really does seem it. It also has genuine heart, plenty of interesting things to say about the law and a highly appealing troubled hero.
Published by Little, Brown
There are numerous books on food and ways of consuming it, yet few carry the wit, clarity and insight of Gastrophysics, written by Professor Charles Spence. An Oxford experimental psychologist, Spence is a passionate expert on food perception, examining how our food enjoyment is dependent on a multitude of different factors—some of which we were never even aware of: mood, texture, atmosphere, aroma, preparation, price or even, err, types of cutlery!
It’s an incredibly entertaining, informative read that will enrich your future dining experiences and help you understand many surprising things about your own palate.
Published by Viking
Samantha Shannon returns with the highly anticipated third book in the bestselling "Bone Season" series. Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney rises to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population. But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies at large, the task of stabilising the underworld has never seems so challenging.
Whether you’re a fan of the first two novels or simply love gripping, dystopian fiction, The Song Rising is an unmissable read, with a film adaptation from the makers of The Lord of the Rings and Bridget Jones’s Diary in the works already.
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
George Saunders’ stunning debut novel is an exciting and strange journey of love and loss centred around the death of Willie Lincoln, and his father Abraham’s struggle to come to grips with it. The “bardo” in question is a state between death and rebirth, as found in Tibetan Buddhism and, in this case, Saunders utilises it as a fantasy place in which he mixes historical elements with living and dead fictional characters to craft a thrilling, amusing and at times deeply saddening experience.
Saunders' inventive, exciting prose is a breath of fresh air and an uncompromising announcement of an enormous new talent to watch.
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
Death is an inevitable part of life, so it seems strange to think how frightened we are by it and how difficult it is to talk about it. The consequence of death and the process of grief are still highly misunderstood concepts: many people consider grieving to be a sign of weakness and frequently applaud those who withhold it for “being strong”. Julia Samuel, a grief psychotherapist with 25 years of experience, explains how damaging this thinking pattern can be and how important the process of grieving is.
She discusses different types of loss—that of a partner, child or parent—drawing on her case studies from the past and making death sound less frightening and easier to understand in the process. It’s a clear, meditatively written work and essential reading for anyone who's ever had to cope with grief or doesn’t quite know how to comfort others.
Published by Penguin Life
The award-winning author Emmanuel Carrère established himself as one of France’s most important writers working today with his novels The Adversary, My Life as a Russian Novel, Limonov and many others. Credited with reinventing non-fiction by critics, his genre-bending works are lucid, controversial, addictive and like nothing else out there. His latest bestseller The Kingdom is no exception to this.
It is the story of the founding of Christianity filtered through the candid, sometimes biting personal account of Carrère’s earlier pursuit of Christianity at a time when he was suffering from depression, dealing with a failing marriage and was unable to write. It is a contemplative, honest and elegant work that will trigger many a self-examination.
Published by Allen Lane
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