Books to Look Out for in June 2019: Part One

Cover imageNo prizes for guessing which book tops June’s list of new titles if you’ve had your eye on Transworld’s tweets. Big Sky is Kate Atkinson’s first Jackson Brodie novel in nine years. For those not yet familiar with Jackson, he’s a private investigator with a military background and a career in the Cambridge Constabulary behind him. This new instalment sees him returned from Edinburgh to his native Yorkshire. His current case, an apparently straightforward one of infidelity, draws him into a sinister network and back into his past. ‘Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking new novel, both sharply funny and achingly sad, by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today’ say the publishers. Regular readers won’t be surprised to hear I’ve already devoured this one. Such a treat, particularly as it’s not even a year since Transcription was published.

Jo Baker’s The Body Lies is also a novel of suspense according to the blurb. A young writer accepts a job at a university deep in the countryside hoping to turn her back on the assault she endured in the city but finds herself involved in a vitriolic debate about violence against women. Tension is ratcheted up when a student sends her sample chapters of his novel whose main protagonist resembles herself. ‘At once a breathless battle-of-wits and a disarming exploration of sexual politics, The Body Lies is an essential book for our times’ according to the publishers.

I’m not entirely sure about Tim Lott’s When We Were Rich but its premise is an appealing one. Six people gather on a London rooftop on Millennium Eve to watch the fireworks on the Thames. All seems rosy as the economy booms but mass immigration from Eastern Europe is causing rumbles of discontent and religious fundamentalism is making itself known. How will these six weather the challenges ahead? ‘Sad, shocking and often hilarious, it is an acutely observed novel of all our lives, set during what was for some a golden time – and for others a nightmare,Cover image from which we are yet to wake up’ say the publishers. Apparently, this new novel sees the return of characters who first appeared in White City Blue, a novel I read but about which I can remember nothing.

My reservations about Craig Cliff’s The Mannequin Makers are based largely on the idea that I don’t much enjoy historical novels but I’m beginning to question that having after reading several excellent ones last year. Cliff’s story sees a recently widowed window dresser hatch a plan to scupper a rival whose mannequins are uncannily lifelike. ‘What follows is a gothic tale of art and deception, strength and folly, love and transgression, which ranges from small-town New Zealand to the graving docks of the River Clyde in Scotland. Along the way we meet a Prussian strongman, a family of ship’s carvers with a mysterious affliction, a septuagenarian surf lifesaver and a talking figurehead named Vengeance’ apparently. I’m a little concerned about that talking figurehead but it does sound original

Claire McGlasson’s The Rapture is about The Panacea Society, a religious community made up almost entirely of single ladies who patiently awaited the return of the Lord. A devoted member of the Society, Dilys makes friends with Grace, a new recruit, but becomes wary of their leader’s zealotry. ‘As her feelings for Grace bud and bloom, the Society around her begins to crumble. Faith is supplanted by doubt as both women come to question what is true and fear what is real’ according to the publishers. The Panacea Society was based in a Victoria villa in Bedford, a town I lived in for a couple of years without the slightest knowledge of the cult’s existence. The last member died in 2012, apparently.

Claire Lombardo’s The Most Fun We Ever Had sounds rather more down to earth. Much loved by their parents, the four Sorenson sisters have their lives turned upside down by the reappearance of a teenage boy given up for adoption years earlier. ‘Weaving between past and present, The Most Fun We Ever Had portrays the delights and difficulties of family life and the endlessly complex mixture of affection and abhorrence we feel for those closest to us’ say the publishers which suggests family secrets and a novel to escape into to me, perhaps heralding the beginning of the summer reading season.

That’s it for the first batch of June’s new titles. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more. Second instalment soon…

26 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in June 2019: Part One”

  1. I’m keen on the McGlasson and Lombardo. I’ll wait to hear more about Craig Cliff’s The Mannequin Makers from you or others — that sounds like one that could go either way (rather like The Luminaries, perhaps?).

  2. My uncle lives in Bedford and told me about the Panacea Society when I went to visit him this Easter—at which point I said, “what a good novel that would make”! Obviously McGlasson had the same thought! I’ve a proof of Big Sky and although I’ve never read any of the other Jackson Brodies, I do rate Atkinson. Do you think it’s important to have read some of the earlier Brodie novels?

    1. I wish I’d known about the Society when I lived there. Its last member was still alive at that point. I’d say you don’t need to have read the previous Jackson Brodies to enjoy Big Sky but I’d be surprised if you didn’t want to after you’ve finished it.

  3. Funnily enough I discovered the first reader I’ve encountered who didn’t enjoy Jackson Brodie just this afternoon. I feel there is no hope for her.

  4. we have Transcription for our next book club read. I’m really hoping it rekindles my love of her work – I didn’t care for Life after Life at all. As of today I’m in the library queue for Big Sky – it;s not arrived yet so I may be in for a long wait….

    1. I hope you like Transcription, Karen. It’s back to linear narrative which may appeal more. Fingers crossed the wait for Big Sky won’t be too long, although it will be worth it, for sure.

  5. Some great looking books there. I will really want to read Big Sky. But with the number of books I have waiting will probably wait for the paperback. I do love Jackson Brodie.

  6. Interesting to see Kate Atkinson returning to Jackson Brodie after a bit of a break to explore other things. Has he aged/developed in real time for this book, a little like Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus, or is he closer in age (and character?) to the Brodie of old?

    1. Brodie is still very much Brodie but his live has moved on which I hope answers your question without giving too much away, Jacqui! I was so surprised to see another Atkinon novel so quickly. I wonder if after the literary fireworks of Life After Life and A God in Ruins she decided she wanted to write something a little more straightforward.

  7. I bought two Kate Atkinson novels on Kindle but put off reading them for some strange reason. And now I’m reading a collection of short stories by her and she’s so good. Good to know this other book, Big Sky, is coming out. I’m now poised to read all her books 🙂

    1. So many treats in store! The Jackson Brodie series is very different from the rest of her novels although I find them just as enjoyable. I’d recommend the TV adaptations, too. Jason Isaacs is brilliant as Jackson.

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