Paperbacks to Look Out For in December 2019

Cover imageJust about enough paperbacks for a December post starting with a book I wasn’t entirely sure I’d read and ended up loving. I thought Meet Me at the Museum might be a little too sentimental for my cynical literary heart but Anne Youngson’s novella proved me wrong. It’s made up of letters between Tina, who is mourning her best friend, and, Anders, the Danish museum curator she contacts about an Iron Age man preserved in peat whose discovery captivated the two friends when they were schoolgirls. Tina and Anders’ characters are beautifully drawn. Each is enduring a quiet loneliness, each is dealing with grief yet there are unexpected joys to share. Rather than the schmaltzy piece of fiction I’d feared, it’s a quiet contemplation of the power of love and a reminder that change is possible at any stage of life.

Given that it’s billed as a thriller, I’d probably not have included Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing had it not been popping up on various blogs I’ve read for what feels like years. It’s set in a small, North Carolina coastal town in 1969 where the discovery of a man’s corpse sees a beautiful young woman, living alone out on the marshes, coming under suspicion. Described as ‘a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder’ by the publishers, it doesn’t sound entirely up my alley but I know I’ve read some excellent reviews of it. If only I could remember where, I might be able to explain what it was about the novel that snared my interest.

Nuruddin Farah’s North of Dawn sounds much more my kind of thing. A Somali couple have lived quietly for years in Oslo until their jihadi son’s widow arrives from Somalia with her two children. ‘A nuanced quietly devastating family soap opera’ according to the New York Times which sounds just the ticket for this time of the year.Cover image

I’m rounding off this tiny handful of paperbacks with Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s Crossing Borders. The title alone would have been enough for me to take notice but apparently, it’s a collection of essays and short stories about translation from a wide range of authors including Primo Levi, Joyce Carol Oates and Lydia Davis. Sounds excellent.

A click on a title will take you to my review for Meet Me at the Museum and to a longer synopsis for the others. If you’d like to catch up with December’s new novels they’re here. Next stop January. Hard to believe we’re almost at the end of another year…

23 thoughts on “Paperbacks to Look Out For in December 2019”

  1. I enjoyed Meet Me at the Museum as well and had the pleasure of hearing Anne talk about her book at Henley Literary Festival in 2018, and have her sign my copy. I agree it’s not schmaltzy at all. In fact, if anything, I found myself hoping for a different ending!

  2. I felt the same about Meet Me at the Museum: the marketing was a little too ‘women’s fiction’ for me, but I found it very touching.

    Crawdads is very good. I reviewed it for BookBrowse late last year. The dual timeline does create suspense, but it’s more remarkable for the main character and the setting — the author was previously a nature writer. If you have a good track record with Oprah book club books then you should get on with this one (a Reese Witherspoon book club selection) too.

    I like the sound of a collection about translation. Thanks for alerting me to it!

  3. I came across Crawdads while browsing and couldn’t quite commit – I think it was the coming-of-age aspect that made me hesitate rather than the thriller-ness. Maybe I’ll give it another look.

  4. A former colleague read Meet Me at the Museum when it came out it hardback and was very impressed. As you say, it seems to be more ‘literary’ than the initial marketing suggests – a point that we may need to bear in mind for the paperback release.

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