It’s been a year since I started this feature and I felt it was time to review it. As a result you’ll see big changes going forward. I’ll explain more about why in a post later this week, but it’s also partly because it’s morphed into something it wasn’t at the start.
When I started this feature it was always intended to be linked to the Bookseller. As my subscription is due for renewal next month it made me think about how I use my copies. In my first post I explained the rationale behind the feature.
In my library days I always looked forward to the arrival of The Bookseller’s buyers guide. I’d take it home for the weekend, along with a pile of reservation cards, and choose my reading for the next few months. The choice was made purely by author, cover and a brief description. Happily I rarely picked something I didn’t enjoy. Once I left the library I waved goodbye to The Bookseller and was left to choose my reading from a range of other sources. To be fair, they are plentiful, both online and off. However, after subscribing to the The Bookseller last year with the intention of selecting (and sharing) forthcoming titles somehow I never got around to it. So I decided it was time to bite the bullet and actually make it happen.
For my posts I relied less on the Buyer’s Guide and more on the weekly publications which highlight new fiction titles roughly 3 months in advance. In that first post I listed 20 titles and in the second one 11. My weekly posts now regularly stretch to upwards of 30-40. Instead of just looking at the Bookseller, I was using other media to try and find everything being published (though still with the proviso it was something I would read). I also extended it to all fiction instead of just ‘new’ fiction, that is, I’d list the hardback edition in one month and then list the title again later when it was released in paperback. It was all getting very unwieldy and time consuming. I’m sure at times it was also as over-facing to read as it was to put together. So, in short, I’m reverting back to my original plan and using the Bookseller as my sole source of new fiction titles. I realise there are drawbacks to this plan namely, not all releases go via the Bookseller, I’m choosing from an already reduced list and it misses titles that are released only on Kindle. All big drawbacks I appreciate, so somewhere down the line I might revisit my decision.
It would appear that the 22nd is the big publication day this month so this week in particular it’s a very short list.
Coming this Week
Wild Pets by Amber Medland
Faber & Faber £14.99 HB 9780571358694
Wild Pets follows Iris, Ezra and Nance in the years after university. They fall in and out of bed with each other, reread The Art of War, grieve the closing of Fabric and write book proposals on the history of salt, while submerging their nights in drink and drugs. Confronting adulthood with high wit and low behaviour against contemporary political and social turmoil, these young men and women seem to have everything going for them. So why are they still swimming desperately against the tide?
‘A wickedly funny and emotionally complex novel.’
Jenny Offill, author of Weather and Dept. of Speculation
‘A ripe and excellent debut… funny and smart and human and true.’
Andrew O’Hagan, author of Mayflies
Daughters of the Labyrinth by Ruth Padel
Corsair £18.99 HB 9781472156396
This was my home. This harbour and sea. These golden alleys. But the town I grew up in has disappeared.
Ri is a successful international artist who has worked in London all her life. When her English husband dies she turns to her Greek roots on Crete, island of mass tourism and ancient myth, only to discover they are not what she thought. As Brexit looms in the UK, and Greece grapples with austerity and the refugee crisis, she finds under the surface of her home not only proud memories of resisting foreign occupation but a secret, darker history. As an artist, she has lived by seeing and observing. Now she discovers how much she has not seen, and finds within herself the ghost of someone she never even heard of. Unearthing her parents’ stories transforms Ri’s relationships to her family and country, her identity and her art.
Lyrical, unsettling and evocative, Daughters of the Labyrinth explores the power of buried memory and the grip of the past on the present, and questions how well we can ever know our own family.
The Darkness Knows by Arnaldur Indridason
Harvill Secker £13.99 TPB 9781787302327
The victim: a businessman missing for thirty years.
The case: impossible to solve. Until now.
A frozen body is discovered in the icy depths of Langjökull glacier, apparently that of a businessman who disappeared thirty years before. At the time, an extensive search and police investigation yielded no results-one of the missing man’s business associates was briefly held in custody, but there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him.
Now the associate is arrested again and Konrád, the retired policeman who originally investigated the disappearance, is called back to reopen the case that has weighed on his mind for decades.
When a woman approaches him with new information that she obtained from her deceased brother, progress can finally be made in solving this long-cold case.
The Woodcock by Richard Smyth
Fairlight Books 14.99 HB 9781912054985
It’s 1920s England, and the coastal town of Gravely is finally enjoying a fragile peace after the Great War. John Lowell, a naturalist who writes articles on the flora and fauna of the shoreline, and his wife Harriet lead a simple life, basking in their love for each other and enjoying the company of John’s visiting old school friend, David. But when an American whaler arrives in town with his beautiful red-haired daughters, boasting of his plans to build a pier and pleasure-grounds a mile out to sea, unexpected tensions and temptations arise. As secrets multiply, Harriet, John and David must each ask themselves, what price is to be paid for pleasure?
The Bride of Almond Tree by Robert Hillman
Faber & Faber £8.99 PB 9780571366422
Can one broken heart heal another?
Wesley Cunningham has come home from the War with more wounds than he can count. What he wants now is a quiet life – and he’s fallen in love with his beautiful, fiercly intelligent neighbour Beth Hardy.
But Beth’s own battles have just begun. Determined to change the world, her committment and ideals will extract a heavy toll. Through it all, Wes will not stop loving her. This is the story of their journey through the catastrophic mid-twentieth century to find a way of being together.
Lizzie and Dante by Mary Bly
Piatkus £8.99 PB 9780349430041
The insightful, audacious, and deeply romantic story of a woman whose life turns upside down on a magical holiday in Italy – perfect for fans of Beautiful Ruins or Under the Tuscan Sun. . .
On the heels of a difficult break-up and a devastating diagnosis, Shakespearean scholar Lizzie Delford decides to take one last lavish vacation on Elba, the sun-kissed island off the Italian coast, with her best friend and his movie-star boyfriend. Once settled into a luxurious seaside resort, Lizzie has to make big decisions about her future, and she needs the one thing she may be running out of: time.
She leaves the yacht owners and celebrities behind and sneaks off to the public beach, where she meets the unfairly gorgeous Dante, his battered dog Lily, and his wry daughter Etta, a twelve-year-old desperate for a mother. Soon Lizzie is confronted with a new dilemma. Is it fair to fall in love if time is short? Are the delicacies of life worth tasting, even if you savour them only for a short while?
A Bucket List to Die For by Lorraine Fouchet
Hodder Paperbacks £9.99 PB 9781529356779
A message in a bottle. One summer. A family to reunite.
Lou suffers from a rare type of dementia and dies in her fifties. She leaves behind a message in a bottle, charging her husband Joe with a challenging task: he has two months to reunite their patchwork family whose members have fallen out with each other.
Luckily for him, Lou has thought of everything and helps him along with a list of family activities and recipes. Slowly but surely, they all find their way back to each other:
Joe’s son Cyrian and his two daughters Apple and Charlotte.
Cyrian’s second wife who can’t stand Apple because she isn’t her own.
Joe’s stunning daughter Sarah who has lost the love of her life and seeks solace in one-night stands.
But Joe is running out of time. Will his efforts pay off before it is too late? And most importantly: what’s in the mysterious letter?
So that’s it for this week – have a good one!