Books to Look Out For in November 2015: Part 1

Cover imageWell, knock me down with a feather! I would never have expected to be posting a two-part November hardback preview. Often it’s a rather dull publishing month but here it is: part one of two starting off with a new Jonathan Coe. I’m treating this one with caution as after many years of Coe fandom I’ve gone off the boil with his last few novels although Number 11 apparently features members of the loathsome Winshaw family, characters from the wonderful What a Carve Up!, in what sounds like a lacerating satire on the state of the nation ‘where bankers need cinemas in their basements and others need food banks down the street’. Sounds very promising.

Rupert Thomson’s inventive fiction wanders about all over the place which is part of its charm for me. His last novel, the excellent Secrecy, was set in seventeenth-century Florence but Katherine Carlyle jumps forward four centuries to the twenty-first. The product of an IVF embryo, frozen then implanted into her mother’s womb eight years later, nineteen-year-old Katherine decides to disappear after her mother dies from cancer and her father becomes increasingly distant. A ’profound and moving novel about where we come from, what we make of ourselves, and how we are loved’ say its publishersCover image.

Despite frequently proclaiming that I’m not a short story fan I’ve reviewed several collections here this year and am about to recommend another short story writer – Helen Simpson whose smart, witty collection of linked stories Hey Yeah Right Get a Life had me hooked. The link for Cockfosters is Tube stations which should appeal to London commuters and seems tailor-made for a Transport for London advertising campaign although it does venture outside of the confines of the metropolis, apparently. She’s very funny – sharply observant of human foibles but compassionate with it

cover imageMy last choice for this first batch is Anna Gavalda’s Life, Only Better, two novellas published in one volume. In one a twenty-four-year-old woman changes her life entirely after a man returns the bag she thought she’d lost and in the other, dinner with a neighbour spurs on an unhappy young man to start afresh. I loved Breaking Away with its bright red 2CV adorning the jacket. We used to own one just like it before seeing a distressing number with engines smoking or, once, in flames.

That’s it for the first batch of November titles. You may have noticed a common thread running through this selection, all by authors of books I’ve already read. All but one of the next lot will be entirely new to me. As ever a click on a title will take you to a fuller synopsis, and if you want to catch up with either October’s hardbacks or paperbacks they’re here and here.

15 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For in November 2015: Part 1

  1. naomifrisby

    I didn’t know there was a new Helen Simpson on the way – that’s exciting. I’ve been a fan since Four Bare Legs in a Bed which I got free with a glossy monthly magazine. These days I feel like I dreamed that books were given away with magazines once upon a time but that’s how I discovered Anne Tyler too. Anyway…!

    Reply
  2. roughghosts

    I have just read and reviewed Katherine Carlyle, my first Rupert Thomson (it was released in North America this week). I have always wanted to read his work. This one is very atmospheric.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      His novels are all so different. Hard to think of a greater contrast between Secrecy and this latest one in terms of subject matter. I’m hoping to review it myself and will have a look at yours once that’s done.

      Reply
  3. Tredynas Days

    I read Secrecy a year or so back and quite enjoyed it: very atmospheric. I like novels that place artefacts centrally in the narrative, and the macabre models in Secrecy added a distinctly gothic tone to a fairly so-so plot. I remember the dvd giveaways, in fact just got round to watching F Lang’s 1927 silent expressionist classic Metropolis that came free with a Sunday paper…nothing’s free, of course. Thanks for the interesting post.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      You’re welcome, Simon. They’re a pleasure to write. I’ve watched my Orlando giveaway three times and have lent it out twice. I think it’s the only one I actually got around to playing and that was because I’d already seen it at the cinema and loved it.

      Reply
  4. Rebecca Foster

    I read an e-ARC of Number 11 a little while back and really enjoyed it. The only Coe I’d read previously was Expo 58, so I think this was a better taste of his usual fare: a satire on modern culture, with multiple loosely linked storylines.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      That’s cheering, Rebecca. He lost me round about The Closed Circle – quite some time ago, now – although I’ve continued to read each new one but it sounds as if he might be back on track.

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    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Delighted to hhear that! I’m not usually a fan of historical fiction but I found it riveting. I hope you enjoy it.

      Reply
  5. JacquiWine

    I’ve yet to read anything by Anna Gavalda, but Breaking Away sounds like a good palate cleanser (I’ve heard quite a few positive reports about it now). It’ll be interesting to see what you think of Life, Only Better. Thanks for the round-up, Susan. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Paula Reed Nancarrow

    Pardon me if I have asked you this before, Susan. I don’t see that I have, and it’s a little off topic. I have currently been reading one book for the last six months…because I am reading it over the phone, long distance, with my mother, who has Alzheimers. But she can still read, and as long as she is still willing to take turns with me, I will read anything she wants to read at any pace she wants to read it. I am asking every book blogger I encounter if they have any suggestions for books to read with someone whose semantic memory is still intact, but whose episodic memory is – well, for shite. I have looked all over for research on Alzheimers and reading and I find very little, but I know it is helpful, and the more information I can gather, the better quality of life my mother will continue to have. 😉

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      No, you haven’t asked me this, Paula, but I would be very happy to help if I can. Can you DM me your email address as I think this may need more than a list of titles?

      Reply

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