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.

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 Sheila O’Flanagan. Her latest novel, Her Husband’s Mistake, was published by Headline Review on 30 May 2019.

She has recommended an author rather than a specific book. Her recommendation is Mary Stewart. Mary Stewart wrote many novels, including books for younger readers. Her novels included The Moon Spinners, Nine Coaches Waiting, The Crystal Cave, Airs Above the Ground, Rose Cottage, The Ivy Tree and Thunder on the Right.

High in the rugged Pyrenees lies the Valley of the Storms, where a tiny convent clings to the beautiful but lonely mountainside. Jenny Silver arrives seeking her missing cousin, and is devastated when she learns of Gillian’s death following a terrible car accident. But Jenny’s suspicions are aroused when she’s told the blue flowers ornamenting her cousin’s grave were Gillian’s favourite. Jenny knows Gillian was colour-blind – and so starts her mission to uncover what really happened to her.

Here’s what she had to say:

“… an author I go back to for comfort but very elegant writing is Mary Stewart who I absolutely adored when I was growing up. Her books are romantic thrillers, with feisty heroines getting caught up in intruiging and usually dangerous situations. Although they don’t need a man to rescue them, often times a rather dashing hero does. They were written back in the 1950s and yet are still very fresh and readable, especially as they are often set in beautiful locations.”

The second suggestion comes from Poppy Dolan. Her latest novel, Confessions of a First Time Mum, was published by Canelo on 25 June 2018.

She has suggested Lazy Ways to Make a Living by Abigail Bosanko.

‘Have you ever seen The Thomas Crown Affair? Faye Dunaway (sugar pink lips, fabulous nails, playing Black) utterly destroys Steve Mc Queen (blue eyes, playing White). It’s a dazzling performance …That film made me get out the chess set I’d abandoned three years earlier. It made me search through East Anglia for a blue-eyed boy suffering from wealth-ennui. I never found one, but my chess and my nails were outstanding for a thirteen year old.’

Lexicographer, chess master and hedonist, Rose is down on her luck when she meets Jamie, a guy she beat at chess twelve years previously who has never recovered from losing the game or forgotten the sight of Rose’s perfectly manicured nails poised to strike over the chess board. She’s destitute, he’s loaded and terrified of losing her again. They strike a bargain: in return for chess he will keep her. What is it like being a kept woman in the 21st century? Rose is about to find out. She’s also about to learn that disguising your moves in chess can lead to victory, but doing the same thing in love leads to disaster.

Here’s what she had to say:

“I read this book a good few years ago now but it still sticks in my mind as one of the freshest, sharpest rom coms ever with a truly ballsy heroine.”

So there we have it, two authors I wasn’t familiar with before. Have you read either author? Do you have a favourite quiet novel? Do let me know.

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