Books to Look Out for in March 2022: Part One

Cover image for The Exhibitionist by Charlotte Mendelson Things are looking up in my part of the world with spring on the, albeit distant, horizon and some great new fiction on offer in March beginning with Charlotte Mendelson’s The Exhibitionist, seven years in the writing according to the letter that accompanied my proof. Artists Ray and Lucia Hanrahan have been together for decades. Lucia is younger than Ray who made his reputation with a single work off which he’s lived ever since, claiming that Lucia’s held him back by continuing with her own career while it’s Lucia who’s kept the family afloat, deferring to Ray’s outrageously inflated ego at the cost of all her children. On the eve of Ray’s first exhibition in years, Lucia’s evading the call from her agent that most artists would be thrilled to take. We’re in fabulously dysfunctional family territory with this entertaining novel which ends on a note of hope that made me want to cheer. Review soon…

Hard to resist the jacket of Claire Powell’s debut At the Table about another dysfunctional family although perhaps less so than the Hanrahans. The apparently happily married Linda and Gerry announce their separation much to their children’s shock. Both in their 30s, Nicole and Jamie seem heading for their own disasters even before their parents’ announcement. ‘Claire Powell’s beautifully observed debut novel follows each member of the Maguire family over a tumultuous year of lunches, dinners and drinks, as old conflicts arise and relationships are re-evaluated. A gripping yet tender depiction of family dynamics, love and disillusionment, At the Table is about what it means to grow up – both as an individual, and as a family’ say the publishers which sounds unmissable to me.

I still haven’t caught up with Anne Tyler’s last novel but that hasn’t stopped me casting my eye at French Braid which spans Cover iamge for French Braid by Anne Tyler seven decades from the ‘50s to the present day in the lives of the Garrett family. Robin and Mercy have three children whose care is left to their mother who longs to become a painter. As the years wear on, these five will continue to have an influence on each other’s lives in the way that family members do despite the best efforts of some to get away. ‘Full of heartbreak and hilarity, French Braid is classic Anne Tyler: a stirring, uncannily insightful novel bursting with warmth and humour that illuminates the kindnesses and cruelties of our daily lives, the impossibility of breaking free from those who love us, and how close – yet how unknowable – every family is to itself’ say the publishers. No surprises there, then, but a reliably good read for Tyler fans by the sound of it.

I can rarely resist a small town American novel. Lee Cole’s Groundskeeping is set in Kentucky where Owen has returned to Cover image for Groundskeeping by Lee Cole work as a groundskeeper at a small college. He and Alma, the writer-in-residence, strike up a relationship, kept under wraps, Owen attracted to Alma’s success and her liberal background, the antithesis of his own life. ‘Exploring the boundaries between life and art, and how our upbringings affect the people we can become, Groundskeeping is at heart a love story – a novel about two very different people navigating the turbulence of an all-consuming relationship, and the complications which can ruin it’ say the publishers temptingly. Very much like the sound of that.

Cover image for Hourglass by Keiran Goddard Here’s one that could go either way. Keiran Goddard’s Hourglass is a love story, although not a conventional one according to the blurb which is more than a little opaque. Goddard’s novel follows a couple from love’s beginnings through its gradual flowering to its precipitate end. ‘Exquisitely crafted, wildly imaginative and as darkly funny as it is moving, Hourglass is a revolutionary love story. It turns time upside down, combs the intimate wreckage of heartbreak for something universal, and asks what it means to lose what you love’ says that blurb. Definitely sounds worth a try although I’m prepared for disappointment. Cover image for Homesickness by Colin Barrett

Colin Barrett’s short story collection, Homesickness, sounds a safer bet. ‘In these eight stories, Barrett takes us back to the barren backwaters of County Mayo, via Toronto, and illuminates the lives of outcasts, misfits and malcontents with an eye for the abrupt and absurd’ according to the publishers, suggesting a treat in store. I missed Barrett’s first collection, Young Skins, much praised by the likes of Kevin Barry, Jon McGregor and Colm Tóibín making me even keener to read this one.

That’s it for the first instalment of March’s fiction. A click on a title with take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more. Part two soon…

37 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in March 2022: Part One”

  1. The premise of At the Table sounds very similar to Helga Flatland’s A Modern Family, which came out a few years ago. Proof that there are few entirely new ideas in writing and publishing, and yet we still read books on the same topics.

  2. I have the Mendelson and Tyler on order from the library (you can go ahead and skip Tyler’s Redhead!), and have been promised Groundskeeping from the publisher. Looking forward to them all!

  3. These all sound good–another “last” Anne Tyler? SIgn me up! The Exhibitionist reminds me of the parents in Hilary McKay’s wonderful Casson family series lol.Groundskeeping will be good unless it contains the now seemingly mandatory PTSD flashbacks to Trump–ugh. Let him be history!!

  4. I know I shouldn’t be swayed by an attractive cover, but Groundskeeping has a lovely, stylish cover, and sounds very appealing too. I like novels featuring educational establishments and writers.

  5. Short story collections are a no for me as you already know. I could go either way on any of the rest – none of them call loudly to me but neither do any of them lack appeal.

  6. I just won The Exhibitionist from NetGalley and I’m hoping I’ll still get my review copy of French Braid the publisher promised me after I emailed to beg while I was doing my Anne Tyler project last year!

  7. I’ve several novels by Charlotte Mendelson, a writer I’ve been meaning to try for years. What’s that about good intentions? This new one sounds very, very good and I may just begin with it (any excuse for a new book)!
    When reading your summary of At the Table, I, too, thought of Helga Flatland’s A Modern Family; the overall theme seems very similar . . .

      1. I hope the stories in Homesickness are as good as they sound.
        At the Table sounds like a book for me. Sometimes I feel like that woman on the cover!

  8. Like Ali, Madame Bibi and Janet, I think I’m most interested in Groundskeeping. It sounds quieter than some of the others here (if that makes sense), and the small-town setting definitely appeals. I’ll be interested to see what you think!

  9. Pingback: Review: Groundskeeping: A Novel by Lee Cole – Hopewell's Public Library of Life

  10. Pingback: Review: French Braid by Anne Tyler–UPDATED – Hopewell's Public Library of Life

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