Books to Look Out for in September 2018: Part Two

Cover imageMy first selection of September treats ended with the promise of more goodies to come, the most highly anticipated of which for me is Patrick deWitt’s French Exit. Cast out from New York society thanks to the scandalous death of her husband, Frances Price, her son Malcolm and their cat, who Frances believes houses the spirit of said husband, take themselves off to France. ‘Their beloved Paris becomes the backdrop for a giddy drive to self-destruction, helped along by a cast of singularly curious characters: a bashful private investigator, an aimless psychic and Mme. Reynard, friendly American expat and aggressive houseguest’ promise the publishers. Fans of The Sisters Brothers and UnderMajorDomo Minor will understand why I’m quite so excited about this one.

William Boyd has also chosen Paris as one of the backdrops for his new novel which will be very different from deWitt’s, I’m sure. Set at the beginning of the twentieth century, Love is Blind follows Brodie Mancour from Edinburgh to Paris where he conceives an obsessive passion for a Russian soprano with dangerous consequences. ‘At once an intimate portrait of one man’s life and an expansive exploration of the beginning of the twentieth century, Love is Blind is a masterly new novel from one of Britain’s best-loved storytellers’ say the publishers. Boyd’s last novel, Sweet Caress, marked a return to form after a string of thrillers which failed to hit the mark for me.

Christopher Priest’s An American Story brings us back into the twenty-first century with a novel which seems to examine the emotional fallout of one of its defining moments – the 9/11 attacks. Ben Matson lost his fiancée that day but with no body recovered he still has doubts about what happened to her, even nearly twenty years later. When the wreckage of an unidentified plane is recovered Ben is led to question everything he thought he knew about what happened that day. All of that may make this novel seem like an uncharacteristic choice for me but I’ve enjoyed several of Priest’s previous books.

Kathy Page’s Dear Evelyn is the story of a long, enduring marriage, putting me in mind of Addison Jones’ Wait for Me, Jack. Scholarship boy Harry meets independent, sharply intelligent Evelyn at Battersea Library. ‘This is a love story, albeit an unconventional one, about two people who shape each other as they, their marriage and their country change… … Dear Evelyn is a novel of contrasts, whose portrait of a seventy-year marriage unfolds in tender, spare, and excruciating episodes’ say the publishers which sounds much further up my usual street then An American Story.Cover image

I’m ending this second selection, like the first, with a set of short stories from a writer whose novels I’ve enjoyed. Samantha Hunt’s debut collection The Dark Dark comes with a well-nigh impenetrable blurb so I’m just going to quote a little of it: ‘Each of these ten haunting, inventive tales brings us to the brink of creation, mortality and immortality, infidelity and transformation, technological innovation and historical revision, loneliness and communion, and every kind of love’. Just about covers everything then.

That’s it for September’s new books. A click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis and if you’d like to catch up with the first batch, it’s here. Paperbacks soon… 

37 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in September 2018: Part Two”

  1. I didn’t get on with The Sisters Brother at all, so I wouldn’t want to read anything else by Patrick de Witt.

    It must be over 30 years since I read anything by Christopher Priest. I remember ti being hard work, but rewarding.

  2. You manage to make most of these sound potentially interesting, which is bad news for my bookish wishlist! Of all the authors mentioned, I’ve only read William Boyd and that was years ago.

  3. God, I do hate an impenetrable blurb. Short story collections suffer from them the worst, I think. An American Story sounds pretty interesting, though, as does Dear Evelyn.

      1. I have a weird feeling that people who write blurbs for story collections think they *are* providing a pithy overview of themes, whereas in fact they’re just writing strings of linked adjectives. :grumpy cat face:

  4. Someone left Sweet Caress on my shelves and I’ve wondered if it might be one of those summer reads I could pick up when I was looking for a more escapist read, but I hadn’t seen it mentioned, nor gone looking to be honest, and didn’t want to risk it – so I’m happy to see you mention it. I should probably keep it, for when that moment arises, fast running out of indulgent days of blissful reading as August comes to a close far too soon!

    1. I think you’d like it, Claire. I know what you mean about summer drawing to a close. Already feeling a bit wistful about it! Sweet Caress would also work as a long winter evening read, though.

  5. Dear Evelyn was sent to me while I was away – I’m really looking forward to it! I’ve been trying to read the review books in order of when they arrived, while interspersing them with library books – but it’s coming up soon!
    I’ll also be interested to hear what you think of French Exit, and how it compares with his other two.

    1. Oh, that’s great. I’ll look out for your review, Naomi. I’ve since read French Exit which I enjoyed but not as much as the other two. I’ll be reviewing it nearer the publication date.

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