Coming this week – my fiction picks to 10th April.

Here’s this week’s list of new fiction titles. These are titles appearing in hardback/paperback for the first time. In some cases the ebook might already be available. All titles are based on the listings found in The Bookseller, so I’m not working from a list of all titles being published.

Just a reminder I don’t see any advance copies, my choices are based on the blurb, gut instinct and what takes my fancy at the time.

(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)

Index

Crime, Thriller and Mystery

General Fiction

Non-Fiction added extra

Crime, Thriller & Mystery

Let’s Pretend by Laura Vaughan

When you fake it for a living, the truth is hard to find…

Former child star Lily Thane is now a struggling thirty-something actress. Her old stage-school buddy, Adam Harker, is on the brink of making it big, but he needs an appropriate red-carpet companion to seal the deal, and Lily fits the bill.

Soon after signing on the dotted line, Adam’s dark side starts to surface and their perfect fauxmance turns toxic.

But when Adam winds up dead in a swimming pool, Lily is the only person who cares enough to find out why. She’s convinced someone was out to get Adam – and now they’re after her…


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General/Contemporary Fiction

Hope and Glory by Jendella Benson

Glory arrives back in Peckham, from her seemingly-glamorous life in LA, to mourn the sudden death of her father, and finds her previously-close family has fallen apart in her absence. Her brother, Victor, has been jailed; her sister, Faith, appears to have lost her independence and ambition; and their mother, Celeste, is headed towards a breakdown. Glory is thrown by their disarray, and rather than returning to America she decides to stay and try to bring them all together again. However, when she unearths a huge family secret, Glory risks losing everyone she truly cares about in her pursuit of the truth.


The Missing Word by Concita De Gregorio

Irina’s life with her husband and her twin daughters is orderly. An Italian living in Switzerland, she works as a lawyer. One day, something breaks. The marriage ends without apparent trauma, but on a weekend seemingly like any other, the girls’ father takes Alessia and Livia away with him. They disappear.

A few days later the man takes his own life. Of the girls, there is no trace. 

Concita De Gregorio takes the unadorned, terrible facts of this true story and embodies the protagonist’s voice. In a narrative that is fast and urgent, she unravels these traumatic events to tell the story of a mother bereft of her children – a state for which there is no word. 


All Along the Echo by Danny Denton

FIRST VOICE: Why are we listening?
SECOND VOICE: I dunno, I mean, what else is there to do?

Tony Cooney, a local-radio DJ, spends his days on air, talking to the listeners of Cork. They call in to tell him about overturned sewage trucks and nuisance graffiti artists, each story a small testimony to the bustle of life that goes on in the county. Off air, however, Tony is beginning to feel unsettled. His long marriage is strained, his teenage daughter is struggling with her mental health, and then out of the blue an old girlfriend gets in touch and suggests he come to visit.

Lou Fitzpatrick, Tony’s young radio-show producer, is having her own off-air problems. She wants children, but her girlfriend has other ideas; they’ve lost their beloved cat and her father’s drinking is way past problematic. Which is why both Tony and Lou are relieved to leave Cork and drive across Ireland as part of a radio publicity stunt organized by a local car dealership. Their aim is to give away the Mazda 2 that they’re driving, the catch being that it must go to one of the many emigrants who have recently returned home to escape a wave of escalating terror attacks in London. But as they navigate dual-carriageways and Travelodges, giving airtime and narrative to the great cacophony of voices calling into the show, the car competition transforms into a surreal quest: Tony to find his first love, Lou to find answers to impossible questions, and all the while two mysterious voices listen in, making their own estimations…

A mighty tale of radios, road trips and of the noisy static of life, All Along the Echo asks us whether our lives ever add up to more than the stories we tell ourselves. Funny, warm and in the wilding spirit of George Saunders or Samuel Beckett, Danny Denton’s novel is a bravura capturing of modern Ireland, one that shows us the possibilities of fiction, the nature of love and death, and what it is for each of us to be only the briefest signal in life’s splendid broadcastttzchidhcmxc [static].


None of This is Serious by Catherine Prasifka

Dublin student life is ending for Sophie and her friends. They’ve got everything figured out, and Sophie feels left behind as they all start to go their separate ways. She’s overshadowed by her best friend Grace. She’s been in love with Finn for as long as she’s known him. And she’s about to meet Rory, who’s suddenly available to her online.

At a party, what was already unstable completely falls apart and Sophie finds herself obsessively scrolling social media, waiting for something (anything) to happen.

None of This Is Serious is about the uncertainty and absurdity of being alive today. It’s about balancing the real world with the online, and the vulnerabilities in yourself, your relationships, your body. At its heart, this is a novel about the friendships strong enough to withstand anything.


Companion Piece by Ali Smith

A story is never an answer. A story is always a question.’

Here we are in extraordinary times.
Is this history?

What happens when we cease to trust governments, the media, each other?
What have we lost?
What stays with us?
What does it take to unlock our future?

Following her astonishing quartet of Seasonal novels, Ali Smith again lights a way for us through the nightmarish now, in a vital celebration of companionship in all its forms.

‘Every hello, like every voice, holds its story ready, waiting.’


Seven Steeples by Sara Baume

The mountain remained, unclimbed, for the first year that they lived there. Bell and Sigh, a couple in the infancy of their relationship, cut themselves off from friends and family. They turn their backs on a city divided by scores of streets and hundreds of sterile cherry trees, by a foul river and a declining population of house sparrows. Them in and the world out. From the top of the nearby mountain, they are told, you can see seven standing stones, seven schools, and seven steeples. All you have to do is climb. Taking place in a remote house in the south-west of Ireland, this rich and vivid novel spans seven years and speaks to the times we live in, asking how we may withdraw, how better to live in the natural world, and how the choices made or avoided lead us home.


Blue Woman by Jonathan Page

Blue Woman is the fictional life of Rose Hartwood, an eminent 20th century artist. This beautiful novel charts the ebbs and flows of her personal and professional lives with great subtlety and sensitivity. We follow Rose the artist, her rise from a bombed out house in wartime London to something close to fame in the late sixties. Then as her fame fades, she retreats to her rural hometown in Wales, where she continues to work and has an affair with a young artist twenty years her junior. Finally there is a third act, when others, her son, her lover, the trust founded in her name, gradually take on her legacy. We also follow Rose the woman: forced to give a child up for adoption as a teenager, then a marriage that is increasingly at odds with the freedom she needs, after which she must face the question all artists must ask themselves: how to come to terms with one’s own life and work? Blue Woman gradually reveals both artist and woman in their intertwined complexity: joy, struggle, determination, achievement, regret, the inheritances of love and the consolations of beauty.


Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Your ability to change everything – including yourself – starts here

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.

Like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.


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Non-Fiction – bonus extras!

Muse by Ruth Millington

Meet the unexpected, overlooked and forgotten models of art history.

Who was Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman’?
Why was Grace Jones covered in graffiti?
How did Francis Bacon meet the burglar who became his muse?

The perception of the muse is that of a passive, powerless model, at the mercy of an influential and older artist. But is this trope a romanticised myth? Far from posing silently, muses have brought emotional support, intellectual energy, career-changing creativity and practical help to artists.

Muse tells the true stories of the incredible muses who have inspired art history’s masterpieces. From Leonardo da Vinci’s studio to the covers of Vogue, art historian, critic and writer Ruth Millington uncovers the remarkable role of muses in some of art history’s most well-known and significant works. Delving into the real-life relationships that models have held with the artists who immortalised them, it will expose the influential and active part they have played and deconstruct reductive stereotypes, reframing the muse as a momentous and empowered agent of art history.


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So that’s all for this week.

Happy Reading!

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