A TBR is a wonder to look at. All that potential, all those hours of enjoyment, angst, frustration and suspense. Cultivating it can be a fine art. What to buy? When will it be read? Will it squeeze into the house somewhere? So to help prepare I’ve had a little look at what can be expected next year. I’m hoping that one or two (or ten or more) will end up being given a new home with the Emsons.
First logically comes January releases and we welcome in the year with a flurry of new books.
Isabelle in the Afternon by Douglas Kennedy, published by Cornerstone.
Before Isabelle I knew nothing of sex.
Before Isabelle I knew nothing of freedom.
Before Isabelle I knew nothing of life.
Paris in the early Seventies. Sam, an American student, meets a woman in a bookshop. Isabelle is enigmatic, beautiful, older and, unlike Sam, experienced in love’s many contradictions. Sam is instantly smitten – but wary of the wedding ring on her finger.
What begins as a regular arrangement in Isabelle’s tiny Parisian apartment transforms into a true affair of the heart, and one which lasts for decades to come.
Of Cats and Elfins by Sylvia Townsend Warner, published by Handheld Press.
A companion volume to Kingdoms of Elfin, Of Cats and Elfins gathers together the remaining four Elfin stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner, with the remarkable forgotten tales of The Cat’s Cradle Book (1940), eighty years after its first publication. This is a new selection of Warner’s remaining fantasy short stories, collected for a new generation of fantasy enthusiasts and Warner fans.
With a cover endorsement by Neil Gaiman: ‘Sylvia Townsend Warner was one of our finest writers. I’m thrilled that Handheld Press are bringing some of her uncollected fantasy stories back into print to delight and amaze a new generation.’
Things in Jars, Himself and The Hoarder, all by Jess Kidd, published by Canongate.
London, 1863. A strange puzzle has reached Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age. To recover a stolen child, Bridie must enter the dark world of medical curiosities. The public love a spectacle and this child may well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen.
Things in Jars is a Victorian novel unlike any other, one that explores what it is to be human in inhumane times.
1950. A teenage girl is brutally murdered in a forest. But, somehow, her baby survives.
1976. A mysterious and charming young man returns to the remote coastal village of Mulderrig, seeking answers about the mother who, it was said, had abandoned him on the steps of a Dublin orphanage.
With the help of its oldest and most eccentric inhabitant, he will force the village to give up its ghosts. Nothing, not even the dead, can stay buried forever.
Unintentional psychic Maud Drennan arrives to look after Cathal Flood, a belligerent man hiding in his filthy, cat-filled home.
Her job is simple: clear the rubbish, take care of the patient. But the once-grand house has more to reveal than simply its rooms. There is a secret here, and whether she likes it or not, Maud may be the one to finally uncover what has previously been kept hidden …
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg, published by Borough Press.
Meet Doris, a 96-year-old woman living alone in her Stockholm apartment. She has few visitors, but her weekly Skype calls with Jenny―her American grandniece, and her only relative―give her great joy and remind her of her own youth.
When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father, and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. Looking through the little book now, Doris sees the many crossed-out names of people long gone and is struck by the urge to put pen to paper. In writing down the stories of her colourful past―working as a maid in Sweden, modelling in Paris during the 30s, fleeing to Manhattan at the dawn of the Second World War―can she help Jenny, haunted by a difficult childhood, to unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future? And whatever became of Allan, the love of Doris’s life?
The Other People by C J Tudor, published by Michael Joseph.
She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .
Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.
She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’
It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.
He never sees her again.
Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.
Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.
Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .
Highfire by Eoin Colfer, published by Jo Fletcher.
Squib Moreau may be swamp-wild, but his intentions are (generally) good: he really wants to be a supportive son to his hard-working momma Elodie. But sometimes life gets in the way – like when Fake Daddy walked out on them leaving a ton of debt, or when crooked Constable Regence Hooke got to thinking pretty Elodie Moreau was just the gal for him . . .
An apprenticeship with the local moonshine runner, servicing the bayou, looks like the only way to pay off the family debts and maybe get Squib and his momma a place in town, far from Constable Hooke’s unwanted courtship and Fake Daddy’s reputation.
Unfortunately for Squib, Hooke has his own eye on that very same stretch of bayou – and neither of them have taken into account the fire-breathing dragon hiding out in the Louisiana swamp . . .
The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow, published by Mantle.
t is a sad fact of life that if a young woman is unlucky enough to come into the world without expectations, she had better do all she can to ensure she is born beautiful. To be handsome and poor is misfortune enough; but to be both plain and penniless is a hard fate indeed.
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary is the middle of the five Bennet girls and the plainest of them all, so what hope does she have? Prim and pious, with no redeeming features, she is unloved and seemingly unlovable.
The Other Bennet Sister, though, shows another side to Mary. An introvert in a family of extroverts; a constant disappointment to her mother who values beauty above all else; fearful of her father’s sharp tongue; with little in common with her siblings – is it any wonder she turns to books for both company and guidance? And, if she finds her life lonely or lacking, that she determines to try harder at the one thing she can be: right.
One by one, her sisters marry – Jane and Lizzy for love; Lydia for some semblance of respectability – but Mary, it seems, is destined to remain single and live out her life at Longbourn, at least until her father dies and the house is bequeathed to the reviled Mr Collins.
But when that fateful day finally comes, she slowly discovers that perhaps there is hope for her, after all.
A Good Man by Ani Katz, published by William Heinemann.
Thomas Martin is everything a man is supposed to be. He has a beautiful wife and a loving daughter, a good house on Long Island, a flourishing career at a prestigious Manhattan advertising firm. He’s a good son and brother, taking it upon himself to support his ailing mother and adult sisters. He knows it’s his God-given duty to shield them, his girls, from the everyday horrors of the world.
But he has failed, and unspeakable tragedy has befallen his family.
Now, Thomas struggles to come to terms with what has become of his life. If only he can tell the story as he saw it, he believes he might find out how and why things unravelled so horribly; how he failed so disastrously.
Because Thomas Martin is a good man.
The Home by Sarah Stovell, published by Orenda.
When the body of a pregnant fifteen-year-old is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For she lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away…
As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.
A gritty, dark and harrowing psychological thriller, The Home is also a heartbreaking drama and a piercing look at the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all…
The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page, published by Orion.
Welcome to the café that never sleeps.
Day and night, Stella’s Café opens its doors to the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It’s a place where everyone is always welcome, where life can wait at the door.
Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They love working at Stella’s – the different people they meet, the small kindnesses exchanged. But is it time to step outside and make their own way in life?
Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café, where one day might just be enough to change your life . .
The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper, published by Headline.
Six-foot-two Irish man who answers to the name Samuel McLaughlin.
Has weak shins and enjoys show tunes.
If found, please return to Sophie Williams.
Before Sophie met Samuel she saw the world in grey.
Before Samuel met Sophie, he never believed in love at first sight.
When they first meet, something tells them they are meant to be.
But fate has other ideas.
Now they have lost each other and can’t see a way back.
But they’ve already changed each other’s lives in more ways
than they ever expected…
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, published by Headline.
Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved most in the world.
Today, her eight-year-old son Luca is all she has left.
For him, she will carry a machete strapped to her leg.
For him, she will leap onto the roof of a high speed train.
For him, she will find the strength to keep running.
She by HC Warner, published by HQ.
She’s everything he dreamed of. Isn’t she?
Ben can’t believe his luck when Bella walks into his life, just when he needs her most. Sexy, impulsive and intelligent, Bella is everything he ever wanted. And Bella wants him. All to herself.
In fact, Bella decides that everything is better when it is just the two of them, making it harder for Ben’s friends and family to stay in touch. And then a sudden tragedy triggers a chain of events which throws Ben headlong into a nightmare.
Secrets, lies, vengeance and betrayal are at the heart of this utterly twisted story about a family that is destroyed when SHE becomes part of it…
Hitler’s Secret by Rory Clements, published by Zaffre.
Autumn 1941. The war is going badly for Britain and its allies. If Hitler is to be stopped, a new weapon is desperately needed.
In Cambridge, professor Tom Wilde is approached by an American intelligence officer who claims to know of such a weapon – one so secret even Hitler himself isn’t aware of its existence. If Wilde can smuggle the package out of Germany, the Third Reich will surely fall.
But it is only when he is deep behind enemy lines that Wilde discovers why the Nazis are so desperate to prevent the ‘package’ falling into Allied hands. And as ruthless killers hunt him through Europe, a treacherous question hangs over the mission: if Hitler’s secret will win them the war, why is Wilde convinced it must remain hidden?
Abigail by Magda Szabo, translated by Len Rix, published by MacLehose Press.
A teenage girl’s difficult journey towards adulthood in a time of war.
Of all her novels, Magda Szabó’s Abigail is the most widely read in her native Hungary. Now, fifty years after it was written, it appears for the first time in English, joining Katalin Street and The Door in a loose trilogy about the impact of war on those who have to live with the consequences.
It is late 1943 and Hitler, exasperated by the slowness of his Hungarian ally to act on the “Jewish question” and alarmed by the weakness on his southern flank, is preparing to occupy the country. Foreseeing this, and concerned for his daughter’s safety, a Budapest father decides to send her to a boarding school away from the capital.
A lively, sophisticated, somewhat spoiled teenager, she is not impressed by the reasons she is given, and when the school turns out to be a fiercely Puritanical one in a provincial city a long way from home, she rebels outright. Her superior attitude offends her new classmates and things quickly turn sour.
It is the start of a long and bitter learning curve that will open her eyes to her arrogant blindness to other people’s true motives and feelings. Exposed for the first time to the realities of life for those less privileged than herself, and increasingly confronted by evidence of the more sinister purposes of the war, she learns lessons about the nature of loyalty, courage, sacrifice and love.
Stay Up With Hugo Best by Erin Somers, published by Headline.
June Bloom is twenty-nine, broke, and an aspiring comedy writer.
Hugo Best is a beloved late-night chat show host – and notorious womaniser – who invites her to his mansion for Memorial Day Weekend.
This is the story of their four days together, a ‘zippy… magnificent… devilishly fun ride’ Vogue
Charting the four days June and TV icon Hugo Best spend together, Stay Up with Hugo Best is both a smart and timely exploration of sexual politics in the #MeToo age, and the hilarious and poignant story of one young woman’s stumble into adulthood.
The Hungry and the Fat by Timur Vermes, published by MacLehose Press.
REFUGEE CAMPS IN AFRICA ARE SWELLING
And Europe has closed its borders. The refugees have no future, no hope, and no money to pay the vast sums now demanded by people smugglers. But what they do have is time.
AND THEN AN ANGEL ARRIVES FROM REALITY T.V.
When German model and star presenter Nadeche Hackenbusch comes to film at the largest of the camps, one young refugee sees a unique opportunity: to organise a march to Europe, in full view of the media. Viewers are gripped as the vast convoy moves closer, but the far right in Germany is regrouping and the government is at a loss. Which country will halt the refugees in their tracks?
THE HUNGRY AND THE FAT
A devastating, close-to-the-knuckle satire about the haves and have-nots in our divided world by one of Europe’s finest and most perceptive writers, in which an outlandish conceit follows a kind of impeccable logic to a devastating conclusion.
The Woods by Vanessa Savage, published by Sphere.
There’s a lot from Tess’s childhood that she would rather forget. The family who moved next door and brought chaos to their quiet lives. The two local girls who were murdered, their killer never found. In fact, the only thing she can’t remember is the one thing she wishes she could.
Ten years ago, Tess’s older sister died. Ruled a tragic accident, the only witness was Tess herself, but she has never been able to remember what happened that night in the woods.
Now living in London, Tess has resolved to put the trauma behind her. But when an emergency call from her father forces her back to the family home, Tess discovers that, sometimes, the past cannot be laid to rest . . .
Silver by Chris Hammer, published by Wildfire.
A HOMECOMING MARRED BY BLOOD
Journalist Martin Scarsden returns to Port Silver to make a fresh start with his partner Mandy. But he arrives to find his childhood friend murdered – and Mandy is the prime suspect. Desperate to clear her name, Martin goes searching for the truth.
A TERRIBLE CRIME
The media descends on Port Silver, compelled by a story that has it all: sex, drugs, celebrity, and religion. Martin is chasing the biggest scoop of his career, and the most personal.
A PAST HE CAN’T ESCAPE
As Martin draws closer to a killer, the secrets of his traumatic childhood come to the surface, and he must decide what is more important – the story or his family…
Forced Confessions by John Fairfax, published by Little, Brown.
Convicted of murder sixteen years ago, William Benson is ostracised by the establishment and his family. Supported by a close-knit group including solicitor Tess de Vere, he’s defied them all and opened his own Chambers. Now he faces the case of his life – and the terminal illness of Helen Camberley who helped him leave his prison life behind
Jorge Menderez, a doctor from Spain, has been found dead in a deserted warehouse in East London. A troubled man, he’d turned to counsellor Karen Lynwood seeking help. Now Karen’s husband, John, is accused of his murder. Who is Menderez, and why did he come to London? Benson is defending the couple against seemingly impossible odds, while secrets from his own past threaten to overwhelm him…
Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid, published by Transworld.
Which is more dangerous, a secret or a lie?
Poppy has a secret.
It was a whirlwind romance. And when Drew, caught up in the moment, suggests that he and Poppy don’t tell each other anything about their past lives, that they live only for the here and now, for the future they are building together, Poppy jumps at the chance for a fresh start.
But it doesn’t take long for Poppy to see that this is a two-way deal. Drew is hiding something from her. And Poppy suddenly has no idea who the man she has married really is, what he is hiding from her or what he might be capable of.
Drew says he has nothing to hide. Drew is lying.
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara, published by Vintage.
Nine-year-old Jai watches too many reality cop shows, thinks he’s smarter than his friend Pari (even though she always gets top marks) and considers himself to be a better boss than Faiz (even though Faiz is the one with a job).
When a boy at school goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from episodes of Police Patrol to find him. With Pari and Faiz by his side, Jai ventures into some of the most dangerous parts of the sprawling Indian city; the bazaar at night, and even the railway station at the end of the Purple Line. But kids continue to vanish, and the trio must confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force and soul-snatching djinns in order to uncover the truth.
Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara, published by Transworld.
It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around.
Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged.
But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected.
Some mistakes, you have to pay for . . .
The God Game by Danny Tobey, published by Gollancz.
Win and All Your Dreams Come True™!
Charlie and his friends have entered the God Game.
Tasks are delivered through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them. Charlie’s money problems could be over. Vanhi can erase the one bad grade on her college application. It’s all harmless fun at first.
Then the threatening messages start.
Worship me. Obey me.
Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them.
Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?
As Charlie looks for a way out, he finds God is always watching – only He will say when the game is done.
And if you die in the game, you die for real.
A Silent Death by Peter May, published by Quercus.
A SILENT VOW
Spain, 2020. When ex-pat fugitive Jack Cleland watches his girlfriend die, gunned down in a pursuit involving officer Cristina Sanchez Pradell, he promises to exact his revenge by destroying the policewoman.
A SILENT LIFE
Cristina’s aunt Ana has been deaf-blind for the entirety of her adult life: the victim of a rare condition named Usher Syndrome. Ana is the centre of Cristina’s world – and of Cleland’s cruel plan.
A SILENT DEATH
John Mackenzie – an ingenious yet irascible Glaswegian investigator – is seconded to aid the Spanish authorities in their manhunt. He alone can silence Cleland before the fugitive has the last, bloody, word.
The Unforgetting by Rose Black, published by Orion.
1851. When Lily Bell is sold by her father to a ‘Professor of Ghosts’ to settle a bad debt, she dreams of finding fame on the London stage. But Erasmus Salt wants Lilly not as an actress, but as his very own ghost – the heart of his elaborate illusion for those desperate for a glimpse of the spirit world . . .
Obsessed with perfection, Erasmus goes to extreme lengths to ensure his illusion is realistic. When Lily comes across her own obituary in the paper, and then her headstones in the cemetery, she realises that she is trapped, her own parents think she is dead, and that her fate is soon to become even darker . . .
A spellbinding story of obsession, the lure of fame, and the power of illusion.
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton, published by Viking.
Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.
It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.
In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. From the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.
An Almost Perfect Holiday by Lucy Diamond, published by Pan Macmillan.
The holidays are here, and down in Cornwall Lorna’s cottages are fully booked. The sun loungers are lined up beside the swimming pool, the sky is blue and a new set of arrivals are on their way . . .
Em’s planned the perfect break with her teenagers plus her new boyfriend, George . . . but now his difficult six-year-old is coming too. Will their romance survive the realities of parenthood?
Maggie’s hoping a seaside holiday will bring her and her daughter closer together, but when her ex makes a surprise reappearance, it changes everything. Can she trust the man who broke her heart?
Olivia has escaped the domestic grind, only for the past to catch up with her. Maybe the time has come to confess all – if she can find the courage . . .
Meanwhile, the teenagers are running wild and love is in the air. With friendship, heartache and secrets in the mix, will this holiday turn out to be a scorcher – or simply too hot to handle?
Pine by Francine Toon, published by Transworld.
They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.
Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.
In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.
Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.
The Hopes and Triumphs of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain, published by HQ.
Mae has watched as her three older sisters have gone through the process of finding their place in the world and faced the challenges of parenthood head on. Now ready to spread her wings beyond her close-knit family, Mae is ready to take the world by storm.
But a series of events will shake the strong self-belief Mae has always had in herself and will leave her questioning where it is she really fits in.
The Amir sisters will need to draw on all the love they have for each other, if they are going to navigate the challenges life has to throw at them and help Mae along the path to self-discovery.
Mr Nobody by Catherine Steadman, published by Simon and Schuster.
When a man is found on a Norfolk beach, drifting in and out of consciousness, with no identification and unable to speak, interest in him is sparked immediately. From the hospital staff who find themselves inexplicably drawn to him; to international medical experts who are baffled by him; to the nationalpress who call him Mr Nobody; everyone wants answers. Who is this man? And what happened to him?
Neuropsychiatrist Dr Emma Lewis is asked to assess the patient. This is her field of expertise, this is the chance she’s been waiting for and this case could make her name known across the world. But therein lies the danger. Emma left this same small town in Norfolk fourteen years ago and has taken great pains to cover all traces of her past since then.
But now something – or someone – is calling her back. And the more time she spends with her patient, the more alarmed she becomes.
Has she walked into danger?
Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar, published by Sphere.
Meg and her daughter Grace are the most beloved family in Ashford, the lynchpin that holds the community together.
So when Meg is found brutally murdered and her daughter missing, the town is rocked by the crime. Not least because Grace has been sick for years – and may only have days to live.
Who would murder a mother who sacrificed everything, and take a teenager away from the medication that could save her life? Everyone is searching for an answer, but sometimes the truth can kill you . . .
February next and what better way to celebrate the month of love than with books.
The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary, published by Quercus.
Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…
Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann, published by Riverrun.
He’s a trickster, a player, a jester. His handshake’s like a pact with the devil, his smile like a crack in the clouds; he’s watching you now and he’s gone when you turn. Tyll Ulenspiegel is here!
In a village like every other village in Germany, a scrawny boy balances on a rope between two trees. He’s practising. He practises by the mill, by the blacksmiths; he practises in the forest at night, where the Cold Woman whispers and goblins roam. When he comes out, he will never be the same.
Tyll will escape the ordinary villages. In the mines he will defy death. On the battlefield he will run faster than cannonballs. In the courts he will trick the heads of state. As a travelling entertainer, his journey will take him across the land and into the heart of a never-ending war.
A prince’s doomed acceptance of the Bohemian throne has European armies lurching brutally for dominion and now the Winter King casts a sunless pall. Between the quests of fat counts, witch-hunters and scheming queens, Tyll dances his mocking fugue; exposing the folly of kings and the wisdom of fools.
The Alibi Girl by C. J. Skuse, published by HQ.
JOANNE HAYNES HAS A SECRET.
THAT IS NOT HER REAL NAME.
And there’s more. Her flat isn’t hers. Her cats aren’t hers. Even her hair isn’t really hers.
Nor is she any of the other women she pretends to be. Not the bestselling romance novelist who gets her morning snack from the doughnut van on the seafront. Nor the pregnant woman in the dental surgery. Nor the chemo patient in the supermarket for whom the cashier feels ever so sorry. They’re all just alibis.
In fact, the only thing that’s real about Joanne is that nobody can know who she really is.
But someone has got too close. It looks like her alibis have begun to run out….
The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue, published by Corvus.
Power. Jealousy. Desire.
Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…
When Louisa arrives at Temple House, an elite catholic boarding school, she quickly finds herself drawn to sophisticated fellow pupil Victoria and their young bohemian art teacher, Mr Lavelle. The three of them from a bond that seems to offer an escape from the repressive regime of the nuns who run the cloistered school. Until Louisa and Mr Lavelle suddenly disappear without trace.
Years later, a journalist with a childhood connection to Louisa determines to resolve the mystery. Her search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.
The Temple House Vanishing is a stunning, intensely atmospheric novel of unrequited longing, dark obsession and unintended consequences.
The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart by Margarita Monitmore, published by Gollancz.
Brooklyn, 1982. Oona Lockhart and her boyfriend are about to ring in the New Year and Oona’s 19th birthday. But seconds after the New Year begins, Oona is torn from her life and everyone she loves, finding herself in her fifty-one year old body thirty-three years into the future. The life she had is gone, and all she is a letter from herself from the previous year to guide her.
Each year on the stroke of midnight she finds herself resurfacing in a different year of her own adulthood. Still a young woman on the inside, but ever changing on the outside, who will she be next year? Wealthy philanthropist? Club kid? World traveller? Wife to a man she’s never met?
The Holdout by Graham Moore, published by Orion.
One juror changed the verdict. What if she was wrong?
It was the most sensational case of the decade.
Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar fortune, vanishes on her way home from school. Her teacher, Bobby Nock, is the prime suspect. It’s an open and shut case for the prosecution, and a quick conviction seems all but guaranteed.
Until Maya Seale, a young woman on the jury, persuades the rest of the jurors to vote not guilty: a controversial decision that will change all of their lives forever.
Ten years later, one of the jurors is found dead, and Maya is the prime suspect.
The real killer could be any of the other ten jurors. Is Maya being forced to pay the price for her decision all those years ago?
Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan, published by Bloomsbury Raven.
As the country bakes under the relentless summer sun, a young doctor is found brutally murdered at his home in a picturesque Cambridgeshire village.
Is his death connected to his private life – or his professional one?
Dr Joshua Ainsworth worked at an all-female detention centre, one still recovering from a major scandal a few years before. Was he the whistle-blower – or an instigator?
As Detective Sergeant Ferreira and Detective Inspector Zigic begin to painstakingly reconstruct Dr Ainsworth’s last days, they uncover yet more secrets and more suspects. But this isn’t the only case that’s demanding their attention – a violent criminal has been released on a technicality and the police force know he will strike again: the only question is who will be his first victim…
Saving Missy by Beth Morrey, published by Harper Collins.
Missy Carmichael’s life has become small.
Grieving for a family she has lost or lost touch with, she’s haunted by the echoes of her footsteps in her empty home; the sound of the radio in the dark; the tick-tick-tick of the watching clock.
Spiky and defensive, Missy knows that her loneliness is all her own fault. She deserves no more than this; not after what she’s done. But a chance encounter in the park with two very different women opens the door to something new.
Another life beckons for Missy, if only she can be brave enough to grasp the opportunity. But seventy-nine is too late for a second chance. Isn’t it?
The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock by Jane Riley, published by Amazon publishing.
His life is perfectly regimented. Is there really room for something as unpredictable as love?
Oliver Clock has everything arranged just so. A steady job running the family funeral parlour. A fridge stocked with ready meals. A drawer full of colour-coded socks. A plan (of sorts) to stay trim enough for a standard-sized coffin. And in florist Marie, he’s even found the love of his life—not that she’s aware of it.
When a terrible tragedy takes Marie out of his life but leaves him with her private journal, he discovers too late that she secretly loved him back. Faced now with an empty love life, a family funeral business in trouble, a fast-approaching fortieth birthday and a notebook of resolutions he’s never achieved, Oliver resolves to open himself up to love—and all the mess that comes along with it.
But, with a habit of burying his feelings, can he learn to embrace his lovability and find the woman who will make him feel whole?
Firewatching by Russ Thomas, published by Simon and Schuster.
ONE WRONG MOVE
A body is found bricked into the walls of a house. From the state of the hands, it’s clear they were buried alive and had tried to claw their way out before they died. Soon, the victim is linked to a missing person’s case and DS Adam Tyler is called.
As the sole representative of South Yorkshire’s Cold Case Review Unit, Tyler recognises his role for what it is – a means of keeping him out of the way following an ‘incident’. When this case falls in his lap, he grabs the opportunity to fix his stagnating career.
When he discovers he has a connection to the case that hopelessly compromises him, he makes the snap decision not to tell his superiors. With such a brutal and sadistic murder to unpick, Tyler must move carefully to find out the truth, without destroying the case or himself.
Meanwhile, someone in the city knows exactly what happened to the body. Someone who is watching Adam closely. Someone with an unhealthy affinity with fire . . .
Amnesty by Aravind Adiga, published by Picador.
Danny – Dhananjaya Rajaratnam – is an illegal immigrant in Sydney, denied refugee status after he has fled from his native Sri Lanka. Working as a cleaner, living out of a grocery storeroom, for three years he’s been trying to create a new identity for himself. And now, with his beloved vegan girlfriend, Sonja, with his hidden accent and highlights in his hair, he is as close as he has ever come to living a normal Australian life.
But then one morning, Danny learns a female client of his has been murdered. When Danny recognizes a jacket left at the murder scene, he believes it belongs to another of his clients — a doctor with whom he knows the woman was having an affair. Suddenly Danny is confronted with a choice: come forward with his knowledge about the crime and risk being deported, or say nothing, and let justice go undone? Over the course of a single day, evaluating the weight of his past, his dreams for the future, and the unpredictable, often absurd reality of living invisibly and undocumented, he must wrestle with his conscience and decide if a person without rights still has responsibilities.
The Burning Men by Will Schindler, published by Hodder & Stoughton.
When a development in South London catches fire mid-construction, a close-knit team of fire fighters runs in to save a man spotted at the window.
They come out without a body. They quit the service. They plan never to speak to each other again.
Five years later one of them is set alight at his own wedding. Soon after, a second is found, nothing but a smoking corpse. It appears that someone knows what they did that night. What they chose over their duty. And there are still three men left to burn . . .
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, published by Picador.
On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardø is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves, the menfolk of Vardø wiped out in an instant.
Now the women must fend for themselves.
Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilized world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardø to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty and terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs.
Gathering Evidence by Martin MacInnes, published by Atlantic.
The world is heating up, species are dying out, and data collection is thriving.
Shel Murray, a primate researcher, is sent to lead a small team investigating suspicious deaths in one of the last remaining troops of bonobo chimpanzees. Establishing base in a national park controlled by an elusive conglomerate, the team encounter odd, then alarming behaviour, suggestions of an unknown predator, and they begin to consider their own safety.
Back at home, Shel’s partner, John, a software engineer, is attacked, suffering head trauma. As he tries to rebuild his memory, in a remote house shrouded in fog, he starts to question not only the assault, but his present circumstances. How can he explain the fresh wounds on his body, and the activity he hears during the night? Can he really trust his doctor? And how much should he worry about the pattern of mould growing along the front of the house?
Through their respective projects, Shel and John must confront the threat they face. And a surprise event means that they have never had so much to lose as they have right now.
The Better Liar by Tanen Jones, published by Harvill Secker.
How well do you know your family?
Estranged for a decade, sisters Leslie and Robin must reunite if they are to claim the fortune their father left them. Leslie desperately needs that money, but when she arrives at her sister’s apartment, she finds her body instead. Leslie needs another plan. Without Robin, she won’t see a penny.
Mary, an aspiring actress, spends her nights slinging beers at a seedy restaurant. She’d do anything to start her life over. When Leslie offers her a huge sum of money and the chance to be someone else – to be Robin – she takes it.
But Robin’s life isn’t as straightforward as Mary thought it would be. And Leslie seems to have secrets and a past of her own . . .
The Guest List by Lucy Foley, published by Harper Collins.
On a remote island, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.
The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.
All have a secret. All have a motive.
One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .
The House on the Lake by Nuala Ellwood, published by Penguin.
No matter how far you run . . .
He’s never far behind
Lisa needs to disappear. And her friend’s rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows her or her little boy, Joe.
But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realizes that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought.
What secret has Rowan Isle House – and her friend – kept hidden all these years?
And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?
I Can See the Light by Russ Litten, published by Wildpressed.
The prose poems in I Can See The Lights are earthy and raw, but also incredibly sensitive. It’s pretty much guaranteed that more than one of them will bring you to tears.
Characters are vividly brought to life, and stark but warm environments evoked in a down to earth, yet almost painterly manner by Russ Litten’s uncompromising voice.
Tales of home, of un-belonging, of strife at sea – of a northern city’s beating heart. Told in a mesmeric, stripped-down tone, this collection is a work of understated genius.
The Slaughterman’s Daughter by Yaniv Iczkovits, published by MacLehose Press.
The townsfolk of Motal, a small town in the Pale of Settlement where nothing extraordinary ever happens, are shocked when Fanny Keismann – devoted wife, mother of five and celebrated cheese farmer – leaves her home at two hours past midnight and vanishes into the night.
True, the husbands of Motal have been vanishing for years, but a wife and mother? Whoever heard of such a thing. What on earth possessed her?
Could it have anything to do with Fanny’s missing brother-in-law, who left her sister almost a year ago and ran away to Minsk, abandoning his family to destitution and despair?
Or could Fanny have been lured away by Zizek Breshov, the mysterious ferryman on the Yaselda river, who, in a strange twist of events, seems to have disappeared on the same night?
Surely there can be no link between Fanny and the peculiar roadside murder on the way to Telekhany, which has left Colonel Piotr Novak, head of the Russian secret police, scratching his head. Surely that could have nothing to do with Fanny Keismann, whatever her past, whatever her reputation as a wilde chayeh, a wild beast . . .
Marching into March and marching into a book shop to get these great sounding novels.
We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker, published by Zaffre.
For some people, trouble just finds them.
Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.
Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.
Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.
Murder, revenge, retribution.
How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?
Thorn by Intisar Khanani, published by Hot Key Books.
Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family’s cruelty and the court’s contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future. But powerful men have powerful enemies – and now, so does Alyrra.
Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman’s, giving Alyrra the first choice she’s ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she’s never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realise, sometime the hardest choice means learning to trust herself.
Inspired by The Goose Girl fairytale by the Brothers Grimm.
The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mitting, published by MacLehose Press.
Norway, 1880. In the secluded village of Butangen at the end of the valley, headstrong Astrid dreams of a life beyond marriage, hard work and children. And then Pastor Kai Schweigaard comes into her life, taking over the 700-year-old stave church with its carvings of pagan deities. The two church bells were forged by her forefather in the sixteenth century, in memory of conjoined sisters Halfrid and Gunhild Hekne, and are said to have supernatural powers. But now the pastor wants to tear it down, to replace it with a modern, larger church. Though Astrid is drawn to him, this may be a provocation too far.
Talented architecture student Gerhard Schönauer arrives from Dresden to oversee the removal of the church and its reconstruction in the German city. Everything about elegant Schönauer is so different, so cosmopolitan. Astrid must make a choice: for her homeland and the pastor, or for a daunting and uncertain future in Germany.
Then the bells begin to toll . . .
The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elizabeth Gifford, published by Corvus.
1927: When Fred Lawson takes a summer job on St Kilda, little does he realise that he has joined the last community to ever live on that beautiful, isolated island. Only three years later, St Kilda will be evacuated, the islanders near-dead from starvation. But for Fred, that summer – and the island woman, Chrissie, whom he falls in love with – becomes the very thing that sustains him in the years ahead.
1940: Fred has been captured behind enemy lines in France and finds himself in a prisoner-of-war camp. Beaten and exhausted, his thoughts return to the island of his youth and the woman he loved and lost. When Fred makes his daring escape, prompting a desperate journey across occupied territory, he is sustained by one thought only: finding his way back to her.
The Lost Lights of St Kilda is a sweeping love story that will cross oceans and decades. It is a moving and deeply vivid portrait of two lovers, a desolate island, and the extraordinary power of hope in the face of darkness.
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, published by Fourth Estate.
ALL HE DID WAS FALL IN LOVE WITH ME AND THE WORLD TURNED HIM INTO A MONSTER
Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher.
She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.
Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.
Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.
The Wailing Woman by Maria Lewis, published by Piatkus .
Good girls don’t talk back. Good girls don’t cry. Good girls don’t scream. Sadie Burke has been forced to be a good girl her entire life. As a banshee, she’s the bottom of the ladder when it comes to the supernatural hierarchy. Weak. Condemned. Powerless. Silent. That’s what she and her six sisters have been told their entire lives, since their species was first banished from Ireland. Yet when a figure from her childhood unexpectedly arrives on the scene, Sadie finds it harder than ever to toe the line. Texas Contos is the son of their greatest oppressor. He’s also someone she’s inexplicably drawn to, and as they grow closer, Sadie begins to question what banshees have been told for centuries about their gifts. But the truth comes at a cost. With Sadie and Tex forced to run for their lives, their journey leads them to new friends, old enemies, and finally to her true voice – one that could shatter the supernatural world forever.
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones, published by One World.
Chaurisse and Dana have a lot in common. They both grew up in Atlanta, they shop at the same stores, visit the same restaurants. But unlike Chaurisse, Dana knows the truth: that the girls share the same father. A father with two families, one of which he is determined to keep secret. When the girls meet and become friends, the unsteady balance of both their lives is threatened. Theirs is a relationship destined to explode.
Black River by Will Dean, published by Point Blank Books.
Tuva’s been living clean in southern Sweden for four months when she receives horrifying news. Her best friend Tammy Yamnim has gone missing.
Racing back to Gavrik at the height of Midsommar, Tuva fears for Tammy’s life. Who has taken her, and why? And who is sabotaging the small-town search efforts?
Surrounded by dark pine forest, the sinister residents of Snake River are suspicious of outsiders. Unfortunately, they also hold all the answers. On the shortest night of the year, Tuva must fight to save her friend. The only question is who will be there to save Tuva?
The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver, published by Viking.
Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’ve been together for almost a decade, and Lydia thinks their love is indestructible.
But she’s wrong. Because on her 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a tragic accident.
So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob ’til her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to live her life well. So, enlisting the help of his best friend and her sister Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world and starts to live – perhaps even to love – again.
Then something unbelievable happens, and Lydia gets another chance at her old life with Freddie. But what if there’s someone in her new life who wants her to stay?
Keeper by Jessica Moor, published by Viking.
He’s been looking in the windows again. Messing with cameras. Leaving notes.
Supposed to be a refuge. But death got inside.
When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide.
But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.
Will you listen to them?
Coming Up for Air by Sarah Leipciger, published by Doubleday.
On the banks of the River Seine in 1899, a young woman takes her final breath before plunging into the icy water. Although she does not know it, her decision will set in motion an astonishing chain of events. It will lead to 1950s Norway, where a grieving toy-maker is on the cusp of a transformative invention, all the way to present-day Canada where a journalist, battling a terrible disease, risks everything for one last chance to live.
A Good Neighbourhood by Therese Anne Fowler, published by Headline.
In Oak Knoll, a tight-knit North Carolina neighbourhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door – an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenage daughter.
With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds over an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard.
But as they fight, they fail to notice that there is a romance blossoming between their two teenagers. A romance that will challenge the carefully constructed concepts of class and race in this small community. A romance that might cause everything to shatter…
You Never Told Me by Sarah Jasmon, published by Black Swan.
A year ago, Charlie’s life seemed to be following a plan: she had a beautiful house, a lovable dog and an upcoming wedding. But she felt trapped. A few months before the big day, ignoring the warnings from her family, she abandoned her life and fled to the other side of the world in a bid for freedom.
But when her mother unexpectedly falls ill, Charlie has to cut her trip short. She flies home, but by the time she gets to the hospital, it’s too late.
Her mother is gone, but she’s left a mystery behind. Why did she buy a canal boat, and where did the money for it come from? As Charlie attempts to work through her grief and pick up the pieces of her life, she follows the threads of her mother’s secret past – but has she missed her chance to learn the truth?
Business as Usual by Jane Oliver & Ann Stafford, published by Handheld Press.
Business As Usual was first published in 1932. It’s a delightful illustrated novel in letters from Hilary Fane, an Edinburgh girl fresh out of university. She is determined to support herself by her own earnings in London for a year, despite the mutterings of her surgeon fiancée.
After a nervous beginning looking for a job while her savings rapidly diminish, she finds work as a typist in the London department store of Everyman’s (a very thin disguise for Selfridges). She rises rapidly through the ranks to work in the library, where she has to enforce modernising systems on her entrenched and frosty colleagues.
Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac, published by Simon and Schuster.
In late 1983, a letter arrives from Italy, containing secrets so unthinkable that it is hidden away, apparently forever. More than three decades later, it is found . . . by the last person who was ever supposed to see it.
When Allie opens an envelope in her grandmother’s house, it changes everything she knows about her family – and herself.
With the truth liable to hurt those she loves most, she hires a private detective to find out what happened to her late mother in the summer before Allie was born. Taking leave from her job as a research scientist, she is led to the sun-drenched shores of Lake Garda, accompanied by her best friend Ed.
But the secrets that emerge go far beyond anything they were expecting. Now, Allie must find the courage to confront her family’s tangled past and reshape her own future.
April‘s no fool when it comes to great books being published.
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd, published by Tinder Press.
Ana is a rebellious young woman, a gifted writer with a curious, brilliant mind, who writes secret narratives about the neglected and silenced women around her. Raised in a wealthy family in Galilee, she is sheltered from the brutality of Rome’s occupation of Israel. Ana is expected to marry an elderly widower to further her father’s ambitions, a prospect that horrifies her. A chance encounter with the eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything: his ideas and his passion are intoxicating.
Taking Ana on a journey she could never have imagined, The Book of Longings is a glorious evocation of a time and a place where astounding events unfolded, and of one woman’s fate when she fights to make her voice heard.
Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar, published by HQ.
Trusting you was my first mistake…
At first Katherine dismisses her early-twenties intern as a millennial ‘snowflake’: soft, entitled, moralistic. But Lily’s youth and beauty remind Katherine of everything she once was, and she soon finds herself obsessively drawn to her new colleague.
But is Katherine simply jealous of Lily’s potential – or does she sense that her intern has a dark hidden agenda? A disturbing picture begins to emerge of two women who are not what they seem – and who are desperate enough to do anything to come out on top.
As their rivalry deepens and with their backs against the wall, the consequences are about to turn deadly…
The Split by Sharon Bolton, published by Trapeze.
SHE’S GOT NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE.
A year ago, in desperation, Felicity Lloyd signed up for a lengthy research trip to the remote island of South Georgia.
It was her only way to escape.
AND NOW HE’S COMING FOR HER.
Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder. Out at last, he’s on her trail.
And this time, he won’t stop until he finds her.
BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU RUN, SOME SECRETS WILL ALWAYS CATCH UP WITH YOU…
The Switch by Beth O’Leary, published by Quercus.
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…
When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?
The Cutting Place by Jane Casey, published by Harper Collins.
You’ve got to be in the club to know the truth.
Everyone’s heard the rumours about elite gentlemen’s clubs, where the champagne flows freely, the parties are the height of decadence . . . and the secrets are darker than you could possibly imagine.
DS Maeve Kerrigan finds herself in an unfamiliar world of wealth, luxury and ruthless behaviour when she investigates the murder of a young journalist, Paige Hargreaves. Paige was working on a story about the Chiron Club, a private society for the richest and most privileged men in London. Then she disappeared.
It’s clear to Maeve that the members have many secrets. But Maeve is hiding secrets of her own – even from her partner DI Josh Derwent. Will she uncover the truth about Paige’s death? Or will time run out for Maeve first?
Cleanness by Gareth Greenwell, published by Picador.
Sofia, Bulgaria, a landlocked city in southern Europe, stirs with hope and impending upheaval. Soviet buildings crumble, wind scatters sand from the far south, and political protesters flood the streets with song.
In this atmosphere of disquiet, an American teacher navigates a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love. As he prepares to leave the place he’s come to call home, he grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his years abroad, each bearing uncanny reminders of his past. A queer student’s confession recalls his own first love, a stranger’s seduction devolves into paternal sadism, and a romance with a younger man opens, and heals, old wounds. Each echo reveals startling insights about what it means to seek connection: with those we love, with the places we inhabit, and with our own fugitive selves.
Love in the Blitz by Eileen Alexander, published by William Collins.
In summer 1939, war was brewing. Eileen Alexander was a bright young graduate just leaving Cambridge and newly smitten with Gershon Ellenbogen, a fellow student who had inadvertently involved her in a car crash. Her first letter to him, written from hospital, sparked a correspondence that would last the length of the war and define the love of their lifetimes.
Love in the Blitz is a remarkable portrait of one woman’s coming-of-age. Her previously undiscovered letters are vivid, intimate, and crackling with intelligence. She is frank about sex and her ambitions, hilariously caustic about colleagues, rationing rules and life on the homefront, and painfully honest about loving a man away at war. The discovery of these magical letters must count as the greatest literary find of the 21st century.
The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves, published by Cornerstone.
A lifetime together. Six months of silence. One last chance.
Frank hasn’t spoken to his wife Maggie for six months.
For weeks they have lived under the same roof, slept in the same bed and eaten at the same table – all without words.
Maggie has plenty of ideas as to why her husband has gone quiet.
But it will take another heartbreaking turn of events before Frank finally starts to unravel the secrets that have silenced him.
Is this where their story ends?
Or is it where it begins?
The Murder Game by Rachel Abbott, published by Wildfire.
A year ago today, we all gathered for Lucas’s wedding at his glorious Cornish home overlooking the sea.
But no one was married that day.
Now Lucas has invited us back to celebrate the anniversary. But the anniversary of what? The wedding that never happened, or the tragedy that occurred just hours before the ceremony was due to begin?
He’s told us that tonight he has planned a game. We have our costumes, we have our parts, and everyone must play. The game, he tells us, is about to begin.
What does Lucas want from us? What are we not being told? And what’s going to happen when this terrible game is over?
Framed by S.L. McInnis, published by Headline.
It was all fine until she turned up…
Music teacher Beth and film producer Jay seem to have the perfect life together in LA.
When Cassie – Beth’s old best friend and college wild child – turns up unexpectedly, everything changes.
But what neither of them know is what Cassie is running from. And that it’s going to have consequences for them all.
Something is about to go very wrong. And someone is going to lie about it.
Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency by Olivia Lang, published by Picador.
Funny Weather brings together a career’s worth of Laing’s writing about art and culture, examining its role in our political and emotional lives. She profiles Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georgia O’Keefe, interviews Hilary Mantel and Ali Smith, writes love letters to David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, and explores loneliness and technology, women and alcohol, sex and the body. With characteristic originality and compassion, she celebrates art as a force of resistance and repair, an antidote to a frightening political time.
We’re often told art can’t change anything. Laing argues that it can. It changes how we see the world. It makes plain inequalities and it offers fertile new ways of living.
How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang, published by Virago.
WHAT MAKES A HOME A HOME?
TELL ME A STORY I CAN DREAM ON . . .
Ba dies in the night, Ma is already gone. Lucy and Sam, twelve and eleven, are suddenly alone and on the run. With their father’s body on their backs, they roam an unforgiving landscape dotted with giant buffalo bones and tiger paw prints, searching for a place to give him a proper burial..
Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay, published by Little Brown.
It all started with one little lie . . .
Jane and Marnie have been inseparable since they were eleven years old. They have a lot in common. In their early twenties they both fell in love and married handsome young men.
But Jane never liked Marnie’s husband. He was always so loud and obnoxious, so much larger than life. Which is rather ironic now, of course.
Because if Jane had been honest – if she hadn’t lied – then perhaps her best friend’s husband might still be alive . . .
Like a House on Fire by Caroline Hulse, published by Orion.
George and Stella’s marriage is over. They can’t decide exactly when that happened (Was it the coke can? Or that comment about Jurassic Park?), but they both agree that it has.
A couple of months after the separation, Stella’s mother, Margaret “The Force of Nature” Foy sends out invites for her murder mystery anniversary party – with George on the invite list. Stella hasn’t told her parents about the divorce, she couldn’t bring herself to. And with her father’s business shutting down, Margaret’s recent cancer diagnosis, and some very odd behaviour from her older sister Helen, now is clearly not a good time.
All they have to do is make it through the day without their secret being discovered. And in doing so, they may find each other again – or see their past and future both go up in flames…
The Portrait by Ilaria Bernardini, published by Allen & Unwin.
An internationally renowned writer, Valeria Costas has dedicated her life to her work and to her secret lover, Martìn Acla, a prominent businessman. When his sudden stroke makes headlines, her world implodes; the idea of losing him is terrifying. Desperate to find a way to be present during her lover’s final days, Valeria commissions his artist wife, Isla, to paint her portrait – insinuating herself into Martìn’s family home and life.
In the grand, chaotic London mansion where the man they share – husband, father, lover – lies in a coma, Valeria and Isla remain poised on the brink, transfixed by one another. Day after day, the two women talk to each other during the sittings, revealing truths, fragilities and strengths. But does Isla know of the writer’s long involvement with Martìn? Or that her husband had chosen Valeria for the years ahead? Amidst their own private turmoil, the stories of their lives are exchanged – and as the portrait takes shape, we watch these complex and extraordinary women struggle while the love of their lives departs, in an unforgettable, breathless tale of deception and mystery that captivates until the very end.
May your bookcase overflow this month with these fine offerings.
Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth, published by Headline.
The summer burns with secrets…
It is too hot to sleep. To work. To be questioned time and again by the police.
At the beginning of a stifling, sultry summer, everything shifts irrevocably when Lily doesn’t come home one afternoon.
Rachel is Lily’s teacher. Her daughter Mia is Lily’s best friend. The girls are fifteen – almost women, still children.
As Rachel becomes increasingly fixated on Lily’s absence, she finds herself breaking fragile trusts and confronting impossible choices she never thought she’d face.
It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.
Three by D A Mishani, published by Riverrun.
Three tells the stories of three women: Orna, a divorced single-mother looking for a new relationship; Emilia, a Latvian immigrant on a spiritual search; and Ella, married and mother of three, returning to University to write her thesis. All of them will meet the same man. His name is Gil. He won’t tell them the whole truth about himself – but they don’t tell him everything either.
Tense, twisted and surprising, Three is a daring new form of psychological thriller. It is a declaration of war against the normalisation of death and violence. Slowly but surely, you see the danger each woman walks into. What you won’t see is the trap being laid – until it snaps shut.
The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker, published by MacLehose Press.
In the summer of 1994, the quiet seaside town of Orphea reels from the discovery of two brutal murders.
Confounding their superiors, two young police officers, Jesse Rosenberg and Derek Scott crack the case and arrest the murderer, earning themselves handsome promotions and the lasting respect of their colleagues.
But twenty years later, just as he is on the point of taking early retirement, Rosenberg is approached by Stephanie Mailer, a journalist who believes he made a mistake back in 1994 and that the real murderer is still out there, perhaps ready to strike again. Before she can give any more details however, Stephanie Mailer mysteriously disappears without trace, and Rosenberg and Scott are forced to confront the awful possibility that her suspicions might have been proved horribly true.
What happened to Stephanie Mailer?
What did she know?
And what really happened in Orphea all those years ago?
The High Moments by Sara-Ella Ozbek, published by Simon and Schuster.
NY RESOLUTIONS – THE PLAN
Exercise 6 times a week
Have sex once a month min. (counts as exercise)
Move out of home TO LONDON (career??)
Make more friends
New Year’s Day is the ultimate cliché for Scarlett:
feeling weepy, check
broken sense of self, check check check
She is in her twenties, stuck living at home in small-town Topsham with an academic mother who has no time for pep-talks or consolation. The one saving grace is that her friend, Billie, still works at the pub down the road, but even the pub is losing its appeal.
Feeling desperate to do something with her life and with no real plan (but the mother of all hangovers), Scarlett picks up her stuff and moves to London. But moving isn’t a miracle cure and she ends up facing exactly the same problems she was desperate to escape.
In the search for ‘her path’, Scarlett is offered an internship at a fashion agency. This might not be her dream job but her mother is disgusted. So she takes it. This is her first step to becoming something but it is also her first step to becoming someone else. Each terrible decision she makes leads to another and her life begins to spiral.
But people are starting to know her; she is starting to become someone. And surely it’s better to be someone – even if it’s someone you hate?
Where We Belong by Anstey Harris, published by Simon and Schuster.
One family learning to love again.
Cate Morris and her son, Leo, are homeless, adrift. They’ve packed up the boxes from their London home, said goodbye to friends and colleagues, and now they are on their way to ‘Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World – to stay just for the summer. Cate doesn’t want to be there, in Richard’s family home without Richard to guide her any more. And she knows for sure that Araminta, the retainer of the collection of dusty objects and stuffed animals, has taken against them. But they have nowhere else to go. They have to make the best of it.
But Richard hasn’t told Cate the truth about his family’s history. And something about the house starts to work its way under her skin.
Can she really walk away, once she knows the truth?
Joining bookcases around the country in June are some of these fabulous sounding books.
Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson, published by Pan Macmillan.
London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly-paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker, Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.
But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous than she can know . . .
The Phone Box at the End of the World by Laura Messina, published by Zaffre.
Based on an incredible true story, The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, set in Japan, introduces us to Yui, a woman who has lost her mother and daughter in the tsunami and wonders how she will carry on. Struggling to come to terms with her grief, she hears a story about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people travel there from miles around. Soon Yui makes a pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.
What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking . . .
Half way through the year and these books are published in July.
Human Resources by Robin Triggs, published by Flame Tree Press.
Antarctica. A city on the edge of nowhere.
Anders Nordvelt is chief of security in this frozen land, so, when a prominent member of a dissident group is murdered, it is his job to find the killer. Unsatisfied with the obvious explanation, Anders keeps pushing until the body of a colleague turns up in his apartment.
Could Anders really be the killer? Why does he half-remember wielding the knife? And why are the whispers of a fabled Human Resources black-ops team getting ever louder?
As for Anders, he’s about to enter a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless killer.
The Shelf by Helly Acton, published by Bonnier Zaffre.
Everyone in Amy’s life seems to be getting married (or so Instagram tells her), and she feels like she’s falling behind.
So, when her boyfriend surprises her with a dream holiday to a mystery destination, she thinks this is it – he’s going to pop the Big Question. But the dream turns into a nightmare when she finds herself on the set of a Big Brother-style reality television show, The Shelf.
Along with five other women, Amy is dumped live on TV and must compete in a series of humiliating and obnoxious tasks in the hope of being crowned ‘The Keeper’.
Will Amy’s time on the show make her realise there are worse things in life than being left on the shelf?
The Lie by Hilary Boyd, published by Michael Joseph.
The closer the couple, the bigger the lie . . .
Romy and Michael have it all. Over 30 years of marriage, two grown-up sons, a beautiful London home as well as a weekend bolthole by the sea. If Romy’s had to sacrifice some of her dreams along the way to support Michael’s high-flying legal career, then it’s been a price worth paying.
Until the arrival of a letter changes everything.
At first Romy can’t believe what it is saying. That Michael – an upholder of the law, with an unwavering sense of right and wrong – could do something so terrible.
But then other lies start to emerge and she starts to wonder who the man she’s shared her heart, her bed, the best years of her life with, really is.
Walking away should be the start of a new chapter for Romy.
But an urgent telephone call brings her back into Michael’s life – and propels her into the past and the allegations which ended their marriage.
Innocent or guilty? Truth or lie? How well can you ever know those closest to you?
Summer’s here and so are some books to wallow in the sun with in August.
Non-Combatants and Others: Writings Against Wars by Rose Macaulay, published by Handheld Press.
All Rose Macaulay’s anti-war writing, collected together in one fascinating and thought-provoking volume.
Her novel Non-Combatants and Others (1916) is a classic of pacifist writing, and was one of the first novels to be written and published during the First World War that set out the moral and ideological arguments against war.
Her journalism for The Spectator, Time & Tide, The Listener and other magazines from the mid-1930s to the end of the Second World War, details the rise of fascism and the civilian response to the impending war. These are supported by Macaulay’s two inter-war essays on pacifism,‘Apeing the Barbarians’ and ‘Moral Indignation’.
Macaulay’s only wartime short story, ‘Miss Anstruther’s Letters’, is a devastating account of the loss of her flat and all her possessions in the Blitz.
Potterism: A Tragi-Farcial Tract by Rose Macaulay, published by Handheld Press.
Potterism is about the Potter newspaper empire, and the ways in which journalists struggled to balance the truth and what would sell, during the First World War and into the 1920s. When Jane and Johnny Potter are at Oxford they learn to despise their father’s popular newspapers, though they still end up working for the family business. But Jane is greedy, and wants more than society will let her have.
Skipping onto October as I’ve not found any books yet to be published in September.
You Will Never Be Forgotten by Mary South, published by Fsg Originals.
An architect draws questionable inspiration from her daughter’s birth defect. A content moderator for “the world’s biggest search engine,” who spends her days culling videos of beheadings and suicides, turns from stalking her rapist online to following him in real life. At a camp for recovering internet trolls, a sensitive misfit goes missing. A wounded mother raises the second incarnation of her child.
In You Will Never Be Forgotten, Mary South explores how technology can both collapse our relationships from within and provide opportunities for genuine connection. Formally inventive, darkly absurdist, savagely critical of the increasingly fraught cultural climates we inhabit, these ten stories also find hope in fleeting interactions and moments of tenderness. They reveal our grotesque selfishness and our intense need for love and acceptance, and the psychic pain that either shuts us off or allows us to discover our deepest reaches of empathy. This incendiary debut marks the arrival of a perceptive, idiosyncratic, instantly recognizable voice in fiction–one that could only belong to Mary South.
So there we have my provisional shopping list for 2020. Some I am lucky to already have, others I can’t wait to get my hands on. I’m sure more fabulous books will be added as the year goes on. Have any caught your eye? This is of course not a finite list. I shall be taking a closer look at individual publishers 2020 list in future posts. Do you know about a book I’ve not listed? Do let me know.