Books to look out for in July 2014

Here’s my pick of the bunch from the July publishers’ schedules, three of them by authors I’ve read before so I’ll start with Cover imagethose. Kerry Hudson’s Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma  (brave title for a first novel) was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and was very funny indeed. Her second, Thirst, is billed as an unconventional love story between light-fingered Alena from Siberia and Dave, a department store security guard – if it’s only half as good as Tony Hogan it will be well worth your time.

Rebecca Makkai’s The Borrower in which a librarian takes her ten-year-old favourite regular on a road trip to evade the anti-gay classes he’s been enrolled in was also a very fine first novel. The Hundred-year House  sounds entirely different but that’s the way I like it. Looking back over the twentieth century, it’s the story of a large estate on Chicago’s North Shore. Once an artists’ colony, it was owned by Devohrs who sound like a disparate, eccentric and entertaining bunch.

The next one’s from a long-established author, Linda Grant, with whose work I have an on-again off-again relationship – I enjoyed The Clothes on Their Backs and We Had it So Good but not so much When I Lived in Modern Times and Still Here. Upstairs at the Party sounds as if it could go either way. It’s set in the ’70s and is about Adele who becomes politically active at university where she meets Evie, one half of an unsettling androgynous couple with whom she becomes obsessed. The eponymous party – Adele’s twentieth – will have far-reaching effects for all, apparently, and continues to do so forty years later.

Frederik Backman’s A Man Called Ove could also go either way but there’s something about the synopsis that appeals to me. Chucked out of the Resident’s Association, the misanthropic Ove spends his time inspecting his neighbours’ housekeeping, patrolling the streets moving bicycles as he sees fit and checking out the contents of recycling bins. When his mailbox is flattened life takes a surprising turn and a friendship is formed.

No reservations about Jessie Burton’s TheCover image Miniaturist set in seventeenth century Amsterdam. Nella Oortman’s new husband commissions a dolls’ house for her, a miniature replica of their own home whose tiny occupants rather unsettlingly begin to mirror the lives of their owners. Burton based her debut on the models in the Rijksmuseum which I was fascinated by when I visited it last Christmas. Lots of hype around this novel but I have hopes it will live up to that.

On an entirely different note my sixth title, Emily Gould’s Friendship, is about two young New York women, best friends living in a tiny flat with rubbish jobs and equally rubbish boyfriends. When one of them becomes pregnant, unexpectedly, they both realise that things must change but their friendship may not take the strain. It’s described as wryly funny and sounds like an entertaining dose of reality, rather like Tony Hogan and with that I’ve turned a convenient full circle. A click on the links will take you to Waterstones website if you want to know more.

11 thoughts on “Books to look out for in July 2014

  1. Elena

    I have heard wonderful things about The Miniaturist (and don’t get me started on the cover!) so I think I will eventually read it. I had no idea about the plot, but your description sounds very interesting and it posts a lot of questions about fiction, bodies, existentialism… That book is for me!

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      It’s the one I’m most looking forward to, Elena, and Naomi over at The Writes of Women rates it, always a good sign. I’ll be reviewing it here in July.

      Reply
  2. jacquiwine

    Like Elena, I’ve heard great things about ‘The Miniaturist’ – there seems to be such a buzz about this book, so I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts on it.

    I’ve never read any of Linda Grant’s novels, but I’m intrigued by ‘Upstairs at the Party’ with its ’70s setting.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      If you like books set in the 70s, Jacqui, look out for Louise Levine’s The Following Girls. I was a schoolgirl in the 70s and loved it – I’ve reviewed it on the blog if you’re interested.

      Reply
  3. litlove

    I do so love these posts, and they are so useful, too. Thank you for another round-up! I will definitely be looking for the majority of the titles you flag up.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      So glad you like them. It’s very enjoyable putting them together even if it does mean the wish list increases even more!

      Reply
  4. Alex

    I’m another one who has heard great things about ‘The Miniaturist’ and will be definitely looking out for it because it sounds exactly the right book for the more thoughtful of my reading groups. I’m also wondering if I should buy a copy for my hairdresser whose hobby is making dolls houses 🙂

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      The dolls’ houses are fabulous, Alex. Your hairdresser’s husband might like to take a look at the Rijksmuseum website – the link’s in this post – although he may find himself booking a ticket to Amsterdam, of course!

      Reply

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