Books to Look Out For in March 2023: Part One

Cover image for Birnam Wood by Eleanor CattonTwo big names leapt out of the March schedules for me although I’m not at all sure about the first. The second I’ve already read but I’m saving that for the next instalment.

You’ll probably already know about Eleanor Catton’s Birnam Wood which has been all over social media. It follows the eponymous guerrilla gardening group who see an opportunity to take over a farm apparently abandoned thanks to a massive landslide. When the new owner catches Mira on his land, he suggests a plan to benefit both of them but can he be trusted. ‘A gripping psychological thriller from the Booker Prize-winning author of The LuminariesBirnam Wood is Shakespearean in its wit, drama and immersion in character’ say the publishers. I’m afraid I gave up The Luminaries much as I admired the writing, although I enjoyed the BBC adaptation.Cover image for Nothing Special by Nicole Flattery

No doubts about the next title. I loved Nicole Flattery’s short story collection, Show Them a Good Time, so was keen to read her first novel which has an intriguing premise. In 1967 two young high school students helped transcribe tapes of conversations and monologues made by Andy Warhol’s coterie, later published as a novel. Nothing Special reimagines the lives of these two anonymous women who briefly lived on the fringes of a group mythologised for their part in ’60s counterculture. Mae has never quite got over her exposure to this world of self-obsessed, beautiful people seemingly intent on humiliating each other. A fascinating novel, original and smartly delivered. Review shortly…

Cover image for The Sharing Economy by Sophie BerrebiSophie Berrebi’s The Sharing Economy is set 2014 in Amsterdam where a dating app is being tested which will strain Gabrielle and Anton’s open marriage to breaking point as Gabrielle’s desire for brief encounters is given free rein. ‘Set during one intense and transformative year, and suffused with art, sex and philosophy, The Sharing Economy is at once a uniquely radical reappraisal of the way we view relationships and a tender and moving depiction of the many ways in which the human heart is capable of love’ according to the blurb. Not entirely sure about this one which puts me in mind a little of Jo Bloom’s Permission but there’s mention of art, and Amsterdam.Cover image for The Anniversary by Stephanie Bishop

Way back in the early days of this blog, I read Stephanie Bishop’s The Other Side of the World which I enjoyed very much. Her new novel, The Anniversary, follows a novelist and her husband on a celebratory cruise. Patrick’s star is waning while J. B.’s is on the rise. After days of lazing in the sun, enjoying life and each other, a storm hits the ship and Patrick disappears overboard. The blurb hints that things aren’t quite what they seem in this apparently happy marriage promising secrets to be revealed. Very much like the sound of that.

Cover image for My Nemesis by Charmaine CraigCharmaine Craig’s My Nemesis sees another writer wrongfooted when she speaks out drunkenly at a party. Tessa enjoys her sparky, cerebral relationship with Charlie but is puzzled by his wife’s apparent subservience to him. When she makes her feelings known publicly, she’s forced to deal with the aftermath and to rethink her blunt assertion. ‘An exercise in empathy, an exploration of betrayal and a charged story of the thrill of a shared connection – and the perils of feminine rivalry – My Nemesis is a brilliantly dramatic and captivating story from a hugely talented writer’ says the blurb whetting my appetite nicely.Cover image for Furies (Various authors)

Three short story collections for March but just one for this instalment although it’s the one most likely to hit the spotlight. Published by Virago as part of their fiftieth anniversary celebrations, Furies is an anthology of fifteen pieces which is all about ‘reclaiming the stories of the wicked wild and untamed’ according to the enticing strapline on its cover. Contributors range from the headlining Margaret Atwood to Stella Duffy, Kamila Shamsie to Linda Grant, Ali Smith to Helen Oyeyemi. Sounds unmissable to me.

That’s it for March’s first batch of new fiction. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis for any that take you fancy. Part two soon…

44 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For in March 2023: Part One”

  1. As I don’t ‘do’ social media, the Eleanor Catton had passed me by. But every one of these titles sounds worth a go – and I see the Catton is on order at our library.

  2. I’m excited about the Catton, which I didn’t know about – maybe I’m on the wrong social media platforms! In contrast to you, I was completely enthralled by The Luminaries, but quickly gave up on the BBC adaptation, which I found almost unwatchable. Chacun a son gout and all that!

  3. I loved The Luminaries so the Catton looks very interesting to me. Haven’t seen the social media furore so that hasn’t put me off
    The short story collection looks interesting too, if I could get over my conceptual dislike of short stories. I like them but always have to convince myself to read them.
    Intriguing selection as always.

      1. The Anniversary and My Nemesis look interesting. I think I did notice Birnam Wood on NetGalley(?) but this was one of the times I did manage to behave myself and not request

  4. The Catton sounds suspiciously like Margaret Atwood’s Maddaddam Trilogy, so I too have my doubts. I’ll look out for reviews and prize listings before I decide whether to try it.

  5. Oh dear, did my comment do the disappearing thing again? The Anniversary and My Nemesis do look interesting. I noticed Birnam Wood on NetGalley but managed to behave myself for a change and not request.

  6. Hadn’t heard about the Eleanor Catton – will probably give it a go even though I wasn’t that enamoured by Luminaries. Interesting that you liked the tv version – I’m afraid I gave up on it half way through episode 1.

  7. Going to add The Anniversary and My Nemesis to my wish list. Thanks, as ever, for the recommendations. Your ears would’ve been burning yesterday when I was telling a friend that your reviews are responsible for most of my book purchases! Currently reading The Second Cut by Louise Welsh on your recommendation.

  8. I really enjoyed The Luminaries and am intrigued by Catton’s new one, although I’ll probably wait for the broadsheet reviews before deciding whether or not to pick it up. Nicole Flattery’s novel sounds interesting – looking forward to hearing more about it in your review. 🙂

  9. I agree that The Furies is a “must-have;” Nothing Special also sounds very intriguing. I’ve commented already (Part 2) about Catton (didn’t really like The Luminaries); given others’ reactions, however, I should perhaps give her another try.
    As always, I enjoyed the list — it’s much fun to read and I’m always slow to learn about upcoming releases.

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