I’ve been mulling over a post on books I’m looking forward to in 2014 for a little while, wondering how to organise it. At first it was going to be one post covering the first four months, then two made up of two months each but it seems to be turning into one for each month, four in total. Don’t fret, though. They won’t be long posts as I haven’t yet read the books, just pointers with links to the publishers’ synopses at Waterstone’s website in case you want to know more. They will, however, all be books published in the UK. So, here we go.
Given next year’s world war one anniversary there’s an inevitable tidal wave of books on the subject, two of which have caught my eye. The first is Wake by newcomer Anna Hope which looks at the aftermath of the war through the eyes of three women, each dealing with their own loss, and the second is by one of my favourite authors – The Lie by Helen Dunmore about the catastrophic and unforeseen consequences of a deception. Hugely underrated, Dunmore rarely puts a foot wrong writing the kind of carefully considered prose that I so much admire. I haven’t read The Lie yet – saving it for review – but Naomi at The Writes of Women rates it highly. She’s planning a series of in-depth posts on particular women writers in the New Year beginning with Dunmore and her work which I’m looking forward to. Moving swiftly on, Donal Ryan’s The Thing About December takes us to Ireland during the years of the Celtic Tiger and is hotly anticipated after his impressive, Guardian First Book prize-winning The Spinning Heart, out in paperback in the next few days. Fiona McFarlane’s The Night Guest is an unsettling-sounding debut set in New South Wales where Ruth, an aging widow, lives alone until Frida arrives supposedly sent by the authorities to be her carer – but can Frida be trusted? Another Australian novel, Floundering by Romy Ash, takes us on a road trip across the country with Tom, Jordy and their mother who wants them back after leaving them with their grandmother some time ago. The reunion goes badly in what the publishers describe as a gripping debut. Katharine Grant’s Sedition takes us to London in 1794 where a craftsman finds himself approached by an unscrupulous band of City speculators (no change there, then) who want help in finding titled husbands for their daughters. A rip-roaring plot is promised and the title itself is seductive enough. The book’s author comes with a history, too, having been born into what Lord Burghley, Treasurer to Elizabeth I, described as a family ‘of more than usual perversity’. Lovers of Armistead Maupin’s Tales in the City series will no doubt be delighted to hear about The Days of Anna Madrigal. Maupin wandered off-piste a few times after the six-part series ended – Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener were disappointments for me – but Mary Ann in Autumn saw him satisfyingly back on track so I have high hopes for this one, too.
I often neglect non-fiction – so many seductive novels out there – but January sees the publication of The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti which comes with the irresistible subtitle ‘A Tale of Love, Betrayal and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese’. Says it all, really.
I’m sure there are many more treats for January – and please let me know of any you’ve heard about – but I’m going to call a halt for today. February’s temptations follow tomorrow.