Paperbacks to Look Out For in March 2016

Cover imageNot nearly so many paperbacks to look forward to for me in March as there were in February, and four of them I’ve already read and reviewed. Two of those popped up on my 2015 Books of the Year posts, the first of which tied with four others at the top of the tree. Sarah Leipciger’s superb The Mountain Can Wait is the sad story of Tom Berry and his son who has knocked down a young woman in the early hours after a party then fled. Leipciger’s writing is remarkable: she’s nailed that stripped-down, spare simplicity which conveys so much in a single phrase, and she’s a mistress of ‘show not tell’. The sense of place is strikingly vivid: in just a few words she made me feel that I was striding around the Canadian bush. It’s a beautifully expressed novel, one of the finest debuts I read last year.

Entirely different, Molly McGrann’s The Ladies of the House also made it on to my 2015 list. It begins with a middle-aged woman, about to take off on her first holiday abroad, picking up a paper in which the mysterious deaths of three people in north London are reported. She’s never met these three but somehow she’s convinced she’s responsible for their demise. McGrann combines a sharp eye for characterisation with wry humour and some arrestingly vivid descriptions in this entertaining piece of storytelling. There’s a pleasing dark edge running through it and the ending is pure Southern Gothic.

If you’ve been following Jane Smiley’s The Last Hundred Years Trilogy you’ll no doubt be Cover imagedelighted to hear that the final part will soon be in paperback. Beginning with a reunion Golden Age picks up where Early Warning left off taking the Langdons from 1987 into the twenty-first century. As the novel progresses, the next generation moves seamlessly into the spotlight before focussing on their own children. The trilogy comes to a close with two events, both of which will draw the family together again in a world very different from the one in which it opened. Undoubtedly Smiley’s literary legacy, all three novels are assured, thought-provoking, magisterial and damn fine stories. You could read Golden Age as a standalone novel but I can’t imagine why you’d want to deprive yourself of the first two.

Polly Samson’s The Kindness opens at roughly the same time as Golden Age, with Julia meeting Julian. She’s flying her husband’s Harris hawk and he – struggling up the hill and struck by her beauty – falls instantly for her. Soon the two are besotted but eight years later a grief-stricken Julian is looking back at his life with Julia. A thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing read, Samson’s novel is a triumph of clever plotting. Several times throughout her narrative I congratulated myself on realising what the promised ‘explosive secret’ was only to have the carpet pulled from beneath my feet.

Cover imageJust one that I haven’t read: Nell Zink’s The Wallcreeper was much talked about last year when it came out in hardback. In it a married couple who share a love of birds move from America to Switzerland. ‘The Wallcreeper is nothing more than a portrait of marriage, complete with all its requisite highs and lows: drugs, dubstep, small chores, anal sex, eco-terrorism, birding, breeding and feeding’ say the publishers while Zink, herself, describes it as ‘a tortured autobiography in impenetrable code’. I’m cautiously intrigued.

That’s it for March. A click on a title will take you to my review for the titles I’ve read and Waterstones website for The Wallcreeper. If you’d like to catch up with my hardback preview it’s here.

16 thoughts on “Paperbacks to Look Out For in March 2016

  1. naomifrisby

    This is one of those months where I know these are all on the shelf still! Actually, I read The Mountain Can Wait and loved it but haven’t posted my review yet. Completely dreading Golden Age making the Bailey’s list as I’ll have to read all three, which is not what you want when you’ve a stack of other books to get through in a month too!

    Great round-up, as always.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thanks, Naomi, and glad to hear that you loved the Leipciger. The only consolation I can offer is that the Smiley trilogy is a comparatively easy read!

      Reply
  2. poppypeacockpens

    Hmm… Nice variety! I’ve got The Wallcreeper & The Ladies of the House on the TBR… could quite happily add the others too

    At this rate I will need to live until I’m @150 to read ALL that I want to

    Reply
  3. tanya

    I’m glad there’s only 4 to look out for in March. My TBR list is groaning. There are so many I want to read and they all seem to be chunksters.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I know what you mean, Tanya. If it’s any consolation the three I’ve read are relatively slim, although with Smiley you’d have to factor in the fist two of course!

      Reply
  4. Lectito

    Ooh, The Wallcreeper is such a brilliant title. I’m intrigued. And impressed that you’re already on top of your March reading! I’m still making my way through Feb. releases.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Ah, all read when they came out last year! I think The Wallcreeper could go either way but I think I have to try it.

      Reply
  5. MarinaSofia

    I’ve got the Sarah Leipciger book on my e-reader, raring to go… if only other things wouldn’t crop up. I was extremely keen to read The Wallcreeper (partly because of the expat in Switzerland angle) and finally got hold of it, but was not completely bowled over by it. There were some sharp observations and elements of good writing, but overall it felt cold and ruthless.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      That’s interesting, Marina. Might be a case of perusing it in a bookshop, then. I hope you enjoy the Leipciger as much as I did.

      Reply
  6. Naomi

    I’ve been wanting to read The Wallcreeper for a while now. The only thing I’ve heard about it, really, is that it’s odd (which I sometimes like). I hope you like it – looking forward to what you think!

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I’m prepared for odd, although Marina’s description of it as ‘cold and ruthless’ is a little off putting.

      Reply
  7. Alex

    Reminders here of books that i meant to read when they came out in hardback but simply never found time for. I’d like to read the Samson but the Smiley has to go on the list first. I’ve been waiting for them all to be available so that I can gorge 🙂

    Reply

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