Books to Look Out for in July 2019

Cover image Inevitably, July means summer reading which means fewer books for me, not being of the reading by the pool persuasion or doing anything by the pool for that matter. That said, I’m starting off with what will be a surefire summer bestseller: David Nicolls’ Sweet Sorrow. I loved One Day which was commercial fiction perfection as far as I’m concerned. This new one explores young love over a summer in which sixteen-year-old Charlie meets Fran. It’s described by the publishers as ‘a hymn to the tragicomedy of ordinary lives, a celebration of the reviving power of friendship and that brief, blinding explosion of first love that perhaps can only be looked at directly once it has burned out’. I suspect I’ll probably be reading this one happily ensconced on a sofa.

Nicola Barker is the other end of the literary spectrum from David Nicholls, often wacky and innovative. I still haven’t got around to reading H(a)ppy but have fond memories of The Cauliflower®. I Am Sovereign follows a forty-year-old teddy bear maker trying to sell his Llandudno house. A viewing by prospective buyers sets in train a series of events that cause all concerned to question reality. ‘As religious epiphanies bump up against declarations of love, examinations of subjectivity hurtle into meditations on the history of culture, our entire understanding of the book – and of the boundaries between fiction and real life – is radically upended. A tour de force in miniature form that twists the novel into new shapes as the characters sabotage the fictional world they inhabit, I Am Sovereign sees Nicola Barker at her most joyful, provocative and riotous’ say the publishers promisingly.

We’re back in much more straightforward territory with Anna Hope’s new novel, I suspect. I enjoyed both Wake and The Ballroom very much so hopes are high for Expectation which sees three friends living in East London, their lives full of art, love and delight. A decade later, Hannah, Cate and Lissa are trying to cope with the inevitable disillusionments and difficulties of adult life, each thinking the others’ lives are better than theirs, and each wondering how to make their life more meaningful. ‘Expectation is a novel of the highs and lows of friendship – how it can dip, dive and rise again. It is also about finding your way: as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a rebel. Most of all, it explores that liminal space between expectation and reality, the place – full of dreams, desires and pain – in which we all live our lives’ say the publishers whetting my appetite nicely.

Naomi Wood’s The Hiding Game is about the Bauhaus movement, a school of art and design whose ethos and style I find very appealing. Wood’s novel follows Paul Beckermann who arrives at the school in 1922 and becomes entranced by both the teaching and his fellow students, falling in love with one of them. Political tensions and its own internal rivalries result in the group’s disintegration leaving Paul with a secret he’s forced to face when an old Bauhaus friend contacts him, many years later. ‘Beautifully written, powerful and suspenseful, Naomi Wood’s The Hiding Game is a novel about the dangerously fine line between love and obsession, set against the most turbulent era of our recent past’ say the publishers. I very much enjoyed Mrs Hemingway, Wood’s take on Ernest Hemingway’s marriage so I’m looking forward to this one.

Cover image Two American novels published in July sound like catnip to me. The first, Regina Porter’s The Travelers, follows two families – one Irish-American, the other African-American – beginning in 1942 as America recovers from the Second World War. ‘Illuminating more than six decades of sweeping change – from the struggle for civil rights and the chaos of Vietnam to Obama’s first year as President – James and Agnes’s families will come together in unexpected, intimate and profoundly human ways. Romantic and defiant, humorous and intellectually daring, Regina Porter brilliantly explores how race, gender and class collide in modern-day America – and charts the mishaps and adventures we often take to get closer to ourselves and to home’ say the publishers which sounds right up my literary alley.

As does Salvatore Scribona’s The Volunteer which spans four generations of fathers and sons, beginning in 1966 when Vollie Frade enlists in the US Marine Corps to fight in Vietnam. ‘From the Cambodian jungle, to a flophouse in Queens, to a commune in New Mexico, Vollie’s path traces a secret history of life on the margins of America, culminating with an inevitable and terrible reckoning. Scibona’s story of a restless soldier pressed into service for a clandestine branch of the US government unfolds against the backdrop of the seismic shifts in global politics of the second half of the twentieth century’ say the publishers promisingly. Cover image

I’m ending July’s new titles as I began with a novel I’d be amazed if I didn’t love – Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Starling Days. Oscar and Mina move to London after a patrol car picks her up on the George Washington Bridge, apparently about to jump off. Oscar hopes that getting away from New York will help Mina recover but finds their love tested when another woman offers Mina both friendship and attraction. I loved Buchannan’s debut, Harmless Like You, which was both poignant and wryly humorous. I’m hoping for more of the same with Starling Days.

That’s it for July’s new novels. A click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more. Paperbacks soon…

34 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in July 2019”

  1. A great bunch of books coming… And a twinge of guilt because I really want Sweet Sorrow and Expectation but when both authors’ last books are still in my TBR stack unread, it is hard to justify…! Easier to justify though, is The Hiding Game and The Travelers 🙂 There is a doco about 100 Years of Bauhaus that is being shown as part of the German Film Festival in Melbourne at the moment – really hoping to get to see it.

    1. I can’t remember if you made it to the Bauhaus Museum on your Grand Tour, Kate. A Berlin highlight for me. The documentary sounds great – I wonder if it’s available here or on the web. I’ll be reviewing Expectation nearer the pub date.

  2. I’m a bit of a sucker for anything Bauhaus, so will definitely seek out that one. And I might also try again with Nicolas Barker, who is a bit hit and miss for me. As for the contrast between expectation and reality, becoming older and wiser (and more disappointed) – hmmm, might give that one a go!

    1. Definitely not my chosen mode of relaxation but I can see why you’d want a doorstopping easy read to sink into for those it suits. Perhaps I’ll wait to see what you think of the Barker.

  3. The Hope and the Wood are definitely going on the library list. I just hope they are enlightened enough to buy them. My new library authority isn’t a patch on my old one.

  4. I’m so excited for Expectations. This line especially interests me: “each thinking the others’ lives are better than theirs” – there is so much of that going around!

  5. buriedinprint

    Like you, my summer reading slows a little. Which is partly why I am reading obsessively (more than usual) now. The Buchanan is one I’m really looking forward to as well. I still think about the cat in her debut!

  6. Now I’m curious about Nicola Barker’s I Am Soverreign, partly because there’s no cover for it. I really like the cover for Sweet Sorrow. I haven’t read the book yet but I find it matches the title and description nicely. And it’s such a simple idea!

  7. It’s a good month, isn’t it? Almost all of these are on my pile too. I’ve read Sweet Sorrow already; I’m not a big fan of Nicholl’s fiction (I prefer his screenwriting) but his fans will love the new one. First love definitely seems to be his niche.

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