Under the Reader’s Radar – celebrating the quiet novel

There are thousands upon thousands of books published each year. Only a small percentage of those make it to the best-seller list. That doesn’t mean that the rest aren’t worthy of reading. It may be that they are written by self-published authors who don’t have the marketing knowledge or a small independent publisher who doesn’t have the marketing budget to spread the word. Even the larger publishing houses have a limited marketing and publicity budget so can’t promote all the novels they publish to an equal degree.

I’m part of a wonderful online community called Book Connectors where bloggers, reviewers and authors can discuss all things book related. During one of the threads there was mention of ‘quiet’ books, the ones that miss out on the big publicity push. It was agreed that it was such a shame that certain books weren’t as widely read, as the reading public were missing out on hidden gems. So that sparked a germ of an idea and I decided to do a series of posts to highlight titles that myself and other bloggers and authors feel may have gone under the reader’s radar. (That’s was the working title for this series of posts and as inspiration hasn’t struck me with anything better, its the one I’m going with for now).

So in each post I’ll aim to highlight a couple of titles that may have been missed from your reading awareness. Hopefully you’ll discover a treat or two. And please do let me know if you have any books you’d like to suggest.

The first book in today’s post is The Rose Garden by Maeve Brennan, published by Counterpoint suggested by Cathy who blogs at 746Books.


“A literary event—twenty short stories by the late Maeve Brennan, one of The new Yorker‘s most admired writers. Five are set in the author’s native Dublin, a city, like Joyce’s, of paralyzed souls and unexpressed love. the others are set in and around her adopted Manhattan, which she once called “the capsized city—half-capsized, anyway, with the inhabitants hanging on, most of them still able to laugh as they cling to the island that is their life’s predicament.” Some of the stories are quietly tender, some ferociously satirical, some unique in their chilly emotional weather. All are Maeve Brennan at her incomparable best.” (Synopsis and cover picture from Amazon)

Here’s what Cathy had to say:

“Many of the stories are of a domestic nature, but Brennan turns a scathing wit on her characters to skewer their pretensions and self-belief…Brennan is an acute observer of human nature, and seems to be able to pin point the very centre of human weakness. There is a cold detachment to these stories though, a loose cruelty that suggests that her characters are bringing their downfall upon themselves, hoist by their own pretension….Brennan gives the readers stories with ambiguous endings, which explore lives of quiet desperation, where the surface sheen is all important but can be easily cracked by outside forces or by ourselves.”

You can read Cathy’s full review here.

If that doesn’t sway you then you might like to know that The Rose Garden has only 5 star reviews on Amazon.

Barbara Copperthwaite suggests that A Line of Blood by Ben McPhearson, published by Harper has not received the attention it deserves.  Barbara is the author of the best-selling novels Invisible and Flowers for the Dead.


“A chilling psychological thriller about family – the ties that bind us, and the lies that destroy us. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and I Let You Go.

You find your neighbour dead in his bath.
Your son is with you. He sees everything.
You discover your wife has been in the man’s house.
It seems she knew him.
Now the police need to speak to you.
One night turns Alex Mercer’s life upside down. He loves his family and he wants to protect them, but there is too much he doesn’t know.
He doesn’t know how the cracks in his and Millicent’s marriage have affected their son, Max. Or how Millicent’s bracelet came to be under the neighbour’s bed. He doesn’t know how to be a father to Max when his own world is shattering into pieces.
Then the murder investigation begins…”

Barbara had this to say about A Line of Blood:

“Spine-tingling, human, twisted, yet realistic, this is a masterclass of writing about an ordinary life that suddenly finds itself in extraordinary times….It is a tense read, and the twists and turns had me doubting myself and often changing my mind about what had happened and why.”

You can read Barbara’s full review and find out more about her novels on her website.

A Line of Blood has numerous ratings on Amazon with 32 5 stars and 18 4 star reviews.

So there we have it. Two more titles that may have passed you by but have hopefully peeked your interest. Do let me know if your thoughts on either of them if you’ve happened to have already read them. And let me know if you have a book you’d encourage more people to read.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for including my suggestion Janet. There have been some great recommendations in this blog series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, it’s a book I’d not heard of but I like the sound of it. There have been some great recommendations so far, I can’t claim credit for any of them though, I’ve had lots of help from fabulous bloggers and authors like you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good to see ‘quiet books’ getting some recognition. It’s almost alchemical trying to work out why some stories cause a storm of world domination while other, equally good, tales create barely a ripple. Thanks for including my suggestion x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      It is, sometimes I’m baffled by how the publishing houses decide to put a big marketing budget behind one or two titles, I’d be really interested to see their rationale. There are so many great novels published some are bound to get missed. Hopefully this redresses the balance, albeit on a minute scale. Thanks again for your great suggestion 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. MarinaSofia says:

    I’m loving this series – well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Marina, I’m so glad you are enjoying it. I’m loving finding out about loads of books that have passed me by but which sound so appealing 🙂


  4. Two books going straight on my wishlist… I’very already bought Brennan’s biography & a novella following Cathy’s review during Reading Ireland … love the sound of her short story collection too.

    Great series Janet😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      The short story collection does sound appealing, and I always love a good thriller. Glad you liked the suggestions. Let me know what you make of them when you get to read them 🙂


  5. Jackie says:

    What a great idea! WIll check out A Line of Blood.


    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks :-). I do hope you like A Line of Blood 🙂


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