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 highlight titles that myself and other bloggers and authors feel may have gone under the reader’s radar. (That 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 to be suggested is The Golden Cup by Marcia Willett, published by and was suggested by Sue Featherstone. Sue is the co author of A Falling Friend with Susan Pape, which was published by Lakewater Press on 25 April 2016.


“Paradise has been home to generations of Trevannions: Paradise, the house at the head of a sheltered Cornish valley where Mrs Trevannion lives, surrounded by her family. Frail and elderly Honor Trevannion, bedridden following a nasty fall, is inexplicably anxious and distressed by the arrival of a young American bearing an old black and white photograph of a double wedding and looking for a long-lost relation.

Her children Bruno and Emma, granddaughter Joss and faithful cousin Mousie try to nurse Honor back to health, unaware of the secrets which she keeps from those closest to her. Increasingly troubled and confused, she begs Joss to find a cache of letters which have been hidden for fifty years.

Too late to hear the story from Honor herself, the family are faced with revelations which could destroy the tranquillity of life in their beloved valley. Will they be torn apart or can they unite in admiration for one woman’s courage in standing by the life-changing decision she made so many years ago?”
Read more on the Penguin website.

This is what Susan had to say about The Golden Cup:

“The Golden Cup is a heart-warming, but not soppy, exploration of the consequences of a single, well-intentioned lie.  Author Marica Willett, (Birdcage and The Children’s Hour) explores Honor’s predicament without bias….Willet is a cracking storyteller and I devoured The Golden Cup in a single afternoon.”

You can read Susan’s full opinion on The Golden Cup on her website, Pink Bicycle Books


The next suggestion this week is from Bettina at Tripfiction. This time she has chosen The Guest Cat by Takashi Hirdaide, translated by Eric Selland and published by Picador.


“A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another.

One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby Garden. But then something happens that will change everything again.

The Guest Cat is an exceptionally moving and beautiful novel about the nature of life and the way it feels to live it. The book won Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, and was a bestseller in France and America. – See more at: http://www.picador.com/books/the-guest-cat#sthash.eVOB31BN.dpuf&#8221

Here’s what Bettina had to say:

“The novella is a low key read, by which I mean you can read, and walk into the story, the pace is slow and ruminative…It is written in a precise language, no extra words, it is genuinely beautifully crafted. Is this a story about a cat? In part, but it is also a snapshot of life and space in late 20th century Tokyo, about a marriage, about people interacting and paths crossing.”

You can read Bettina’s full review here.

You can read my review of The Guest Cat here.

So there you have it, two new suggestions for books that may have passed you by. Have you read either of this week’s suggestions? If so let me know what you thought of them. And do let me know if you have any suggestions for a book you think others will love.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. The Golden Cup sounds just like the kind of ‘gentler’ book I like to read – the hidden secret and the Cornish setting will both work for me. Thanks for sharing another couple of books that have gone under the radar Janet.


    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Cleo. I do hope you like The Golden Cup if you read it. It’s one that passed me by but I think I’ll have to take a look 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Janet,

    I read one or two of Marcia’s early books, but to be honest, I had completely forgotten about her.

    Now, on checking her out, I didn’t realise just what a prolific author she has become in the intervening years

    Perhaps it is time for us to be reacquainted, so thank you for the introduction 🙂



    1. janetemson says:

      Hi Yvonne, I’m glad to post was helpful. I do hope you get on well with your ‘acquaintance’ 🙂


  3. Dom says:

    Quiet novels. This description is… charming. And so true. I believe many wonderful books don’t have the chance to come out of anonymity. Many are not even translated into other languages (as for some of my favourite unforgettable books). So sad. However, it is to us to find out and spread the word. Great post! I think I am going to purchase The Guest Cat.


    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you. It seems such a shame that so many great books are missed just because they get lost in the swell of books published. And I agree I think we are missing out on some gems that aren’t translated, and vice versa. I do hope you like The Guest Cat if you read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t expect to be so taken by The Guest Cat but as Bettina says, it’s a beautifully crafted piece of writing.


    1. janetemson says:

      It’s a very gentle book I found, more of a glimpse into the lives of the characters than overly plot driven.

      Liked by 1 person

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