Books to Look Out For in March 2016

Cover imageHope springs eternal as we edge towards the beginning of spring in the UK. With winter a bit of a non-event for half of the country, I’m wondering if we’ll notice its arrival at all. Plenty to keep you occupied indoors if it turns out to be another washout, though. It’s an all female line-up for March. Two of my choices are by writers whose books I’ve already read and enjoyed and three are new to me. I’ll begin with the one I’m most looking forward to, Elizabeth Hay’s His Whole Life. Late Nights on Air is one of those quietly beautiful books that I’d loved to have seen piled up on bookshop tables. Alone in the Classroom didn’t quite match it for me but I have hopes for this one which follows a young boy over the few years which will shape his adult life. It’s described by the publishers as ‘an unconventional coming of age story as only Elizabeth Hay could tell it. It draws readers in with its warmth, wisdom, its vivid sense of place, its searching honesty, and nuanced portrait of the lives of one family and those closest to it’ listing many of the qualities I admired in Late Nights on Air.

Way back in my early blogging days I posted a review of Judith Hermann’s Alice, a lovely, gentle novella, beautifully written. Her new one, Where Love Begins, sounds very different. Stella leads a prosaically happy life. Because her husband travels for work, she and her daughter are often alone in the house. One day, a stranger knocks on her door and asks to come in saying he only wants to talk to her. She sends him away but he persists day after day, undeterred when she tries to confront him. Described by the publishers as ‘a delicately wrought, deeply sinister novel’ it sounds riveting.Cover image

Of the three novels I’ve not yet read, Anna Raverat’s Lover sounds the most enticing to me. Kate’s marriage begins to unravel when she discovers her husband’s dalliance with another woman. Work offers no comfort as her boss becomes increasingly demanding. Amidst this turmoil, Kate’s priority is to protect her daughters but her life is in tatters. ‘Told with warmth and lightness, even as it also mines real depths of sorrow, Lover is a novel about the hand that life can deal you, and how to play it with grace. Beautifully observed, full of wisdom, poetry and humour, it asks what it means to be true in all things, and in so doing, how to live’ say the publishers, which makes it sound like a nice piece of intelligent, absorbing fiction.

I still haven’t got around to reading Deborah Levy’s Man Booker shortlisted Swimming Home, much rated for its writing, I gather. Her new novel, Hot Milk, ‘explores the violently primal bond between mother and daughter’ according to its publishers. It’s set in Spain where the daughter has taken her mother to an alternative clinic in the hope of discovering a cure for her paralysis, which may or may not be psychologically induced. While her mother undergoes a series of odd treatments, the daughter becomes caught up in ‘the seductive mercurial games of those around her’. That synopsis isn’t entirely up my street but Levy has been praised by so many people whose opinions I trust that its seems worth investigating.

Cover imageOttessa Moshfegh’s Eileen had already caught my eye then I read a review by Naomi over at Consumed by Ink – it was published in Canada a little while ago. The eponymous Eileen is a disturbed young woman caring for her alcoholic father and working as a secretary in a boys’ prison. She passes her dull days fantasising about escape and her nights and weekends shoplifting and stalking one of the prison guards. The arrival of an attractive counsellor sparks what Eileen thinks is a friendship but proves to be her undoing in what the publishers call a ‘Hitchcockian twist’. Naomi describes the novel as ‘delightfully morbid’, a book she couldn’t put down, which is more than enough to persuade me. Great jacket, too!

That’s it for March hardbacks. As ever if you want to know more, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis or, in the case of Eileen, Naomi’s review. Paperbacks shortly…

18 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For in March 2016

  1. naomifrisby

    We have very similar lists for March. I hadn’t head of the first one but the rest are on my TBR bar Eileen which I’ve already read and well, it seems wrong to say loved but I did relish it. I’m sure that says more about me than I should probably reveal in public but there you go.

    Reply
  2. Naomi

    Thanks for linking up to my review, Susan. I hope you end up liking Eileen as much as I did (and anyone else who reads it)!
    I’m really looking forward to your review of His Whole Life. I’ve been ready to put that one on hold multiple times, but have held off because of other books coming ahead of it. A Student of Weather is the only book of hers I’ve read so far, although I do also have Late Nights On Air on my shelf.
    All the books on your list sound tantilizing!

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      You’re welcome, Naomi. I’m fast coming around to the idea that Eileen is the more enticing title rather than Lover as I’d first thought! I absolutely loved Late Nights on Air – beautiful, yearning quality to the writing. Fingers crossed for His Whole Life.

      Reply
  3. Alex

    I read Elizabeth Hay’s first novel, ‘A Student of Weather’ and remember enjoying very much, but I haven’t been back to her since. Thank ou for reminding me of an author I should have paid more attention to.

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    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I hope you’ll enjoy her other books as much as A Student of Weather, Alex. I can’t recommend Late Night on Air highly enough.

      Reply
  4. JacquiWine

    I’ve seen quite a few positive reports about Eileen. It seems have gone down very well in the US. I’m with you on the cover, too – it looks rather noirish!

    Reply
  5. poppypeacockpens

    Really fancy Eileen, Lover & Where Love Begins (and catching up with Alice) … really like a good slice of sinister domestic at the minute; Hot Milk is on my review pile as I’m another fan of Swimming Home – as is Black Vodka, Levy’s short stories.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Where Love Begins fits you ‘sinister domestic’ bill perfectly, Poppy! I must catch up with Swimming Home.

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  6. Annecdotist

    Another enticing list of books, Susan. I hadn’t heard of Elizabeth Hays, so that’s certainly one for me to follow up.
    I have my review of Where Love Begins ready to post on publication day on Thursday, and I’m looking forward to reading Hot Milk soon. I thought Swimming Home was great.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thanks, Anne. I’m a great fan of Hays, as you’ve probably gathered. I’ll look forward to your review of Where Love Begins – very different from Alice. And I really must catch up with Swimming Home!

      Reply

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