June’s paperback publishing schedules are in a rather sorry state, thanks to the cuts and postponements brought about by Covid-19. I’m left with just four in my sights, the first of which I’ve already read. Emma Forrest’s Royals is about a working-class Jewish boy drawn into the orbit of a poor little rich girl, set against the backdrop of London caught up in royal wedding fever in 1981. Eighteen-year-old Steven’s violent father lands his son in hospital as he takes a punch for his mother. He wakes up to find himself alongside Jasmine, a fabulous creature who charms everyone with her dazzling attention, and the two instantly click. Forrest knows how to turn a striking phrase, telling her story with wit, humour and insight.
Since posting this, Emma Forrest has contacted me to let me know that, sadly, the paperback edition of Royals has been postponed until next summer. Apologies to anyone who was looking forward to bagging a copy. I dithered about deleting it but it’s such an enjoyable read I decided to leave it in for any eager ereader fans who should be able to buy a reasonably priced copy here.
Friendship – or the lack of it – crops up again in Jessica Francis Kane’s Rules for Visiting which sees a forty-year-old woman successful in her work but keeping family and neighbours at a distance. Feeling a lack in her life, she decides to set about rekindling old friendships. ‘May sets off on a journey to visit four neglected friends one-by-one, she holds herself (and them) to humorously high standards, while at home she begins to confront the pain of her past and imagine for herself a different kind of future. May’s quest becomes an exploration of the power, and perhaps limits, of modern friendship’ say the publishers which sounds very promising although that ‘humorously’ is a little worrying.
At first glance, Joanne Ramos’ The Farm apears some way outside my usual literary territory but it comes garlanded with praise from all and sundry including Sophie Mackintosh and Gary Shteyngart. A young Filipina immigrant hopes to improve her life and her child’s, taking a job at Golden Oaks a luxury fertility clinic run by an ambitious businesswoman who’s spotted a gap in the market. Described by the publishers as ‘a brilliant, darkly funny novel that explores the role of luck and merit, class, ambition and sacrifice, The Farm is an unforgettable story about how we live and who truly holds power’ which reminds me a little of David Bergen’s Stranger. It’s the dark humour and class theme that attracts me to this one.
Evan Fallenberg’s The Parting Gift comes billed as an ‘erotic tale of jealousy, obsession, and revenge suffused with the rich flavours and intoxicating scents of Israel’s Mediterranean coast’. The novel’s unnamed narrator tells the story of his all-consuming relationship with a man he met by chance on a visit to Israel and the sinister turn it takes as he becomes increasingly entangled in his lover’s life. Fallenberg’s style bears comparison to Patricia Highsmith’s work according to the publishers; an ambitious claim but it does sound worth investigating.
That’s it for June’s paperback preview. As ever a click on a title will take you either to my review or to a more detailed synopsis, and if you’d like to catch up with June’s new titles they’re here.