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 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.

First up is Julia Heaberlin who’s latest novel, Paper Ghosts, was published by Michael Joseph on 19 April 2018.

Julia has suggested Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, published by Penguin.

The story begins in 1962. Somewhere on a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and views an apparition: a beautiful woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an American starlet, he soon learns, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away in Hollywood, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot searching for the woman he last saw at his hotel fifty years before.

Gloriously inventive, funny, tender and constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a novel full of fabulous and yet very flawed people, all of them striving towards another sort of life, a future that is both delightful and yet, tantalizingly, seems just out of reach.

Read more on the Penguin website.

Here’s what she had to say about it:

“It rivals A Prayer for Owen Meany as my favorite book. Mysterious, romantic, lyrical, poignant, hopeful, beautiful setting, the perfect length. It’s not that it hasn’t received any attention—it was a New York Times bestseller—but I’m constantly recommending it to people who don’t know about it. It’s the perfect storm of great plot and beautiful writing. Whatever their taste, almost everyone seems to love it”

The second suggestion comes from Oggy Boytchev, who’s debut novel, The Unbeliver, was published by Quartet Books on 9 April 2018.

Oggy has picked The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier, published  by Virago.

By chance, two men – one English, the other French – meet in a provincial railway station. Their resemblance is uncanny, and they spend the next few hours talking and drinking – until at last John, the Englishman, falls into a drunken stupor. It’s to be his last carefree moment, for when he wakes, his French companion has stolen his identity and disappeared. So John steps into the Frenchman’s shoes, and faces a variety of perplexing roles – as owner of a chateau, director of a failing business, head of a fractious family, and master of nothing.

Here’s what he had to say about it:

“It’s a blueprint of how to write a novel. A very complex tale made simple, a gripping page turner exploring double identity and one’s dark side.”

So there we have it, two books I’ve not read before but will be seeking out. Have you read either of these or do you have a quiet novel you’d like to shout about?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I’d never heard of The Scapegoat but it sounds fascinating! One to check out.


    1. janetemson says:

      I hadn’t either but it sounds interesting. Hope you like it if you read it 🙂


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