Books to Look Out for in December 2016

Cover image December’s always a thin time of the year for new titles – publishers have long since assembled their choicest wares for the Christmas trade – but there’s usually something worth looking out for. This year three very disparate novels have snagged my attention. The first comes from an Australian publisher, Text Publishing, who seem to have an eye for a decent debut. Jennifer Down’s Our Magic Hour is set in Melbourne where Audrey and Kate have spent a decade as bosom buddies. When Kate leaves, Audrey is thrown off-kilter as her family threatens to fall apart. ‘Evocative and exquisitely written, Our Magic Hour is a story of love, loss and discovery. Jennifer Down’s remarkable debut novel captures that moment when being young and invincible gives way to being open and vulnerable, when one terrible act changes a life forever’ say the publishers.

Steinunn Sigurðardóttir’s The Good Lover sees a philandering man hankering after a woman he met in his youth. Karl Ástuson decides to track down Una, his first and only love, who left him with no explanation after only a few months. The prospect of happiness may be in his sights but unfortunately for Karl, a spurned ex has decided to make his exploits the focus of her new novel. Sigurðardóttir’s book is ‘an intriguing, unusual and beautiful novel about the messiness of love that will stay with the reader for a long time’ according to the publishers and it’s certainly an interesting premise. margaret-the-first

This last choice is a little outside my usual literary purview but it’s prompted by its protagonist, Margaret Cavendish, who popped up in Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World, the title of which she borrowed from her subject. A 17th-century duchess, Margaret, was a thoroughly accomplished woman, the first to be invited to speak at the Royal Society and the last for two hundred years. Danielle Dutton’s Margaret the First tells her story in what Jenny Offil has called ‘A strikingly smart and daringly feminist novel with modern insights into love, marriage and the siren call of ambition’. Sounds unmissable to me.

That’s it for December hardbacks. As ever a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis. Paperbacks soon…

9 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in December 2016”

  1. The Good Lover sounds intriguing. But it’s Margaret the First that most appeals to me. I didn’t realize she also makes an appearance in The Blazing World – another one to add to my list! I can’t help but notice that Margaret the First is shorter, though. I hope you like it!

  2. What colourful covers (which fit with your header very nicely as well). I’m getting a little shy of adding new books to my TBR at this time of year, when I’m so much more preoccupied by the idea of finishing some things, rather than lengthening the list (which is neverending, really, of course), but these do sound very good indeed. Enjoy!

    1. Thank you. I particularly like the Margaret the First jacket – the more you look at it the more there is to see. I’ve long since given up the list curtailment – too many defeats!

  3. This has been love at first sight, Susan! I love the idea behind Our Magic Hour so much, I’d love to get for my Christmas break. And I have only heard wonderful things about Margaret the First, mainly by Elizabeth Morris on Twitter.

    1. So glad you’ve been smitten, Elena! I noticed Elizabeth’s tweets, too – they whetted my appetite for this one even more.

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