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 suggestion comes from Rosy Thornton. Rosy is the author of The Tapestry of Love, More Than Love Letters, Ninepins and Hearts and Minds and her latest book, a collection of short stories entitled Sandlands, was published by Sandstone Press on 21 July 2016.

Rosy’s choice is Hot Kitchen Snow by Susan Rickards, published by Salt Publishing.


Typically we lie to each other four times a day and the commonest lie told is, ‘I’m fine.’ The characters in Hot Kitchen Snow go one step further: they lie to themselves. This collection explores the gap between how others see us and how we see ourselves. Teenage Euan is guest of honour at a mystery funeral; teacher Joseph Mutabe gives up a lifetime’s morals to earn extra money for a new sofa by tutoring the children of a military dictator; door-to-door dog-food seller Greg sets out to find the girl whose life he once saved, to lessen his sense of failure. The tiny everyday shifts and decisions that account for some of life’s biggest developments are charted here, often represented by an emblematically charged scrap from nature: In ‘Life Pirates’ a lecherous drunk steals a rare sapling for a suicidal woman; in ‘Mango’, an exotic fruit reunites a family after near-lethal electric shock; a fall of snow from a skylight reminds a city banker of everything he lacks in ‘Hot Kitchen Snow’, and in ‘Odissi Dancing’, scarlet chrysanthemums sewn into a fat college administrator’s hair by her affectionate pupils assure her of what she never knew she had. Here the bad do good and the pious wreak havoc. No one is as they seem or as they think they are. Ultimately, Hot Kitchen Snow is a collection about the restorative powers in life, about warmth, forgiveness and acceptance.

(image and synopsis from Amazon)

Here’s what Rosy has to say about Hot Kitchen Snow:

“This vivid, quirky, thought-provoking and subversive collection of short stories is beautifully written and packed with surprises, and was one of the books which inspired me to have a go at writing a collection of my own.”

You can read a Q&A with Rosy here.

The next choice is suggested by Hemmie Martin. Hemmie is the author of  The Divine Pumpkin, Attic of the Mind, In the Light of Madness, Rightful Owner and Garlic and Gauloises. Her latest novel, What Happens After was published by Winter Goose Publishing on 8 March 2016.

Hemmie’s choice is The Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, published by Penguin and Virago Modern Classics.


In 1914 Vera Brittain was eighteen and, as war was declared, she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life – and the life of her whole generation – had changed in a way that was unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era.

TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain’s account of how she survived the period; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Vera Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time.


Here’s what Hemmie had to say about it:

…it is a fascinating, and sometimes heart-breaking insight into the life of a young woman during the period of the First World War. I read it when I was about twelve, and it has stayed with me for almost forty years.”

You can read a Q&A with Hemmie here.

So there you have it, two diverse reads, yet both sound intriguing and two that had certainly slipped my radar. What are your thoughts on this week’s suggestions? Let me know if you’ve read either of them. And don’t forget to share any quiet books you want to shout about.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Love short stories & really like the sound of Hot Kitchen Snow… great title!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Isn’t it just. I hope you enjoy it if you read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. rosythornton says:

    ‘Hot Kitchen Snow’ was one of the short story collections which really inspired me when I was first embarking on trying to write one of my own. And the author, Susannah, is also a truly lovely person! 🙂


    1. janetemson says:

      It’s lovely to hear about your inspiration and Hot Kitchen Snow is a book I’d not come across before. Thanks again for your suggestion 🙂


  3. Hot Kitchen Snow sounds great – I like the idea of a ‘subversive’ collection of short stories


    1. janetemson says:

      It’s one that had passed me by but it does sound interesting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m reading Testament of Youth at the moment- so much tragedy but very good indeed!


    1. janetemson says:

      It sounds like it would be a very moving book.

      Liked by 1 person

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