April’s second instalment begins with a novel no doubt eagerly anticipated by Curtis Sittenfeld’s many fans despite a mixed reception for her last one. I loved American Wife but passed on Rodham after it disappointed so many whose opinions I trust. Romantic Comedy sounds more of a sure bet with its story of a TV scriptwriter, unlucky in love, who meets a handsome pop idol she’s convinced won’t be interested in her. Meanwhile, her colleague and friend, a man of average talent and looks has recently begun dating a beautiful actress. ‘Skewering all our certainties about why we fall in love, Romantic Comedy is a witty and probing tale of how the heart will follow itself, no matter what anyone says. It is Curtis Sittenfeld at her most sharp, daring and compassionate best’ promises the blurb.
I’m not sure if I’ll get around to Lydia Sandgren’s Collected Works: A Novel which weighs in at nearly 760 pages, but the premise is enticing. Martin Berg’s manuscript has been shut away in a drawer for years since his beautiful, accomplished wife, once his best friend’s muse, went missing. His daughter becomes determined to find out what happened to her mother who apparently disappeared leaving her father to bring up their two children alone. ‘Collected Works is a captivating, characterful and witty novel that asks searching questions about motherhood, family relationships, the stories that we tell ourselves and those that we inherit’ says the blurb which does sound up my street.
I was very impressed with Dutch author Marijke Schermer’s Love, If That’s What It Is, making me keen to read, Breakwater. Like her debut, it explores a marriage, this one built upon a shocking secret kept for so long there seems no going back until a thoughtless act triggers traumatic memories that can no longer be buried. As Emilia unravels, Burch makes a further revelation which rocks her faith in their marriage. It’s a powerful graphic narrative written with the same compassion and empathy that characterised Schermer’s first novel. Review shortly…
Phoebe Walker’s Temper, is set in the Netherlands where a young freelance writer has moved, spending much of her life alone and isolated until she meets Colette whom she dislikes but who seems to exert a magnetic attraction for her. ‘As her feelings of dislocation grow, larger anxieties about her purpose – or lack of it – begin to encroach. And underneath it all, a burgeoning frustration bubbles. Intimate, incisive and brilliantly observed, Temper explores loneliness, self-worth and disconnection with head-nodding accuracy’ says the blurb piquing my interest.
I was one of the few people in the literary universe that didn’t get on with Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, or at least that’s how it felt, but Greek Lessons sounds appealing. A young woman under great stress has lost her voice while her Greek language teacher’s sight is fading by the day. A bond grows between these two both of whom have suffered great difficulty in their lives, drawn together by the loss of their senses. ‘Greek Lessons is a tender love letter to human intimacy and connection, a novel to awaken the senses, vividly conjuring the essence of what it means to be alive’ according to the blurb which sounds very promising. Fingers crossed for this one.
No such doubts about April’s short story collection. I loved Katherine Heiny’s Early Morning Riser and am expecting great things of Games and Rituals which comprises eleven stories, all set in familiar Heiny territory by the sound of it. ‘From one of our most celebrated writers, our bard of waking up in the wrong bed, wearing the wrong shoes, late for the wrong job, but loved by the right people, Katherine Heiny has delivered a work of glorious humour and immense kindness’ says the blurb which sounds like a treat on the bookish horizon in store to me.
That’s it for April’s new fiction. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more, and if you’d like to catch up with part one it’s here. Paperbacks soon…