This month I’ve chosen to feature Sandstone Press having bought a couple of their titles recently.
The press was founded in 2002 and grew out of the collaborative partnership between Robert Davidson and Moira Forsyth, who first met while working on the arts magazine Northwords. Initially the output was non-fiction, concentrating largely on hillwalking, climbing and the environment. Then in 2010 they moved into fiction. The following year saw Jane Roger’s the Testament of Jessie Lamb come to the attention of the Man Booker judges. Its long listing exemplified their ethos of having an international outlook and producing inspiring books by innovative authors.
Sandstone have continued to flourish and their catalogue encompasses thoughtful fiction, gripping crime and adventurous non-fiction such as outdoor, biography and memoir. Since 2011 and their Man Booker inclusion they have continued to publish award winning literature. They have won or been shortlisted for many literary prizes including the Commonwealth, Arthur C Clarke, Creative Scotland, Green Carnation, Petrona, Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize (SA), Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition, Boardman Tasker, Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, Betty Trask Award, Not the Booker, and Desmond Elliott Awards.
In 2014 they were recognised as Scottish Publisher of the Year at the Saltire Literary Awards.
So what was I tempted by last month? (NB Amazon and Hive links are affiliate links)
Painted Ladies by Lynn Bushell
Paris 1917. For twenty-five years, the legendary Marthe has been Pierre Bonnard’s companion and muse. His new model Renée, lovely and captivating, thinks it’s time her rival stepped aside. But Marthe won’t give up her place in history without a fight. An artist may have many models but there can be only one muse.
I can heartily recommend this having devoured it on my recent holiday. I loved the evocation of Belle Epoque Paris and the social mores that defined the period. But it’s the fictionalised lives of Bonnard’s muses that sit at the heart of this captivating read. Its hard to feel anything but sympathy for both Marthe and Renée as they sacrificed reputations, families and more for the love of Pierre Bonnard.
Dune Song by Anissa M Bouziane
Winner of the Special Jury Prize, Prix Littéraire Sofitel Tour Blanche
I came to the Sahara to be buried.
After witnessing the collapse of the World Trade Centre, Jeehan Nathaar leaves her New York life with her sense of identity fractured and her American dream destroyed. She returns to Morocco to make her home with a family that’s not her own. Healed by their kindness but caught up in their troubles, Jeehan struggles to move beyond the pain and confusion of September 11th.
On this desiccated landscape, thousands of miles from Ground Zero, the Dune sings of death, love, and forgiveness.
Here’s a selection of recent offerings, but you can find the full catalogue with purchasing links here.
Freedom is a Land I Cannot see by Peter Cunningham
1924. In the dangerous first years of the Irish Free State, beautiful Rose Raven, having lost her sight and her first love, is living quietly with her brother. But Ultan is involved in anti-government propaganda. As the net tightens, Rose is the only person who knows where the shameful truth is hidden – a truth so incendiary, it threatens the new Ireland itself.
Gears for Queers by Abigail Melton and Lilith Cooper
Keen to see some of Europe, queer couple Lilith and Abigail get on their old bikes and start pedalling. Along flat fens and up Swiss Alps, they will meet new friends and exorcise old demons as they push their bodies and their relationship to the limit.
Expiry Date by Rachel Ward
Bea’s favourite customer, Julie, hasn’t been seen for weeks. Her abusive husband, Dave, claims she’s left him but Bea can’t shake the feeling something worse has happened. When a body is found, it seems to confirm her fears – until it comes out that the corpse is fifteen years old. Where is Julie? Who is the dead girl? And what was her connection to Bea’s late father? Ant and Bea are back with their most personal case yet.
Blasted Things by Lesley Glaister
WW1 is over. As a nurse at the front, Clementine has found and lost love, but has settled for middle class marriage. Vincent had half his face blown off, and wants more than life offers now. Drawn together by their shared experiences at the Front, they have a compulsive relationship, magnetic and parasitic, played out with blackmail and ending in disaster for one of them.
Negative Capability by Michele Roberts
Yesterday ended in disaster. Very late at night, I decided to write down everything that had happened; the only way I could think of coping.
So here goes.
So begins Michele Roberts’s intimate and honest account of the year after her latest novel has been rejected by her then publisher. Written with warmth and sensitivity, she navigates the difficult road from depression and anxiety to acceptance and understanding of the value of the friendships which nurture her and make life worth living – whatever happens.
Murder at the Music Factory by Lesley Kelly
The body of Paul Shore toppled onto him, a stream of blood pooling around them on the concrete. Bernard lay back and waited to see if he too was going to die.
An undercover agent gone rogue is threatening to shoot a civil servant a day. As panic reigns, the Health Enforcement Team race against time to track him down – before someone turns the gun on them.
The Hound from Hanoi by Moire O’Sullivan
Tom is an Asian puppy, destined to be dinner. Instead, an Irish couple rescue him from a street vendor and take him into their care. Together they embark on a whirlwind tour through Vietnam, Nepal and Cambodia, thwarting street dogs and customs officials along the way. But can the three of them truly become a family?
Waiting for Lindsay by Moira Forsyth
On a hot July day, Lindsay Mathieson, confident, carefree and thirteen years old, walks up the beach where she has played all her life, around the rocks and out of sight. She does not come back. More than thirty years later, her younger brothers and cousins are still dealing with the fallout from that terrible summer.
Marram by Leonie Charlton
Seven years after her mother’s death, Leonie Charlton is still gripped by memories of their fraught relationship. In May 2017, Leonie trekked through the Outer Hebrides in the company of a friend and their Highland Ponies in search of closure. When Leonie’s pony has a serious accident, she begins to realise that finding peace with her mother is less important than letting go. Leonie Charlton blends travel and nature writing with intimate memoir in this beautifully written account of grief and acceptance.
There are some great titles here and I know I’ll certainly be watching for future titles