Paperbacks to Look Out For in March 2024: Part One

Cover image for Romantic Comedy by Curtis SittenfeldLots of paperbacks to herald in the spring, which seems to have arrived worryingly early this year, beginning with one by a favourite author. After avoiding Rodham in the wake of fellow Curtis Sittenfeld fans’ disappointment, I was keen to get my hands on Romantic Comedy. Sally’s a script writer, weary of the double standard which sees nondescript men dating beautiful women, an idea that raises no eyebrows, while the opposite seemingly never happens. She and gorgeous rock star Noah circle each other until a misunderstanding sees her exiting an afterparty in confusion. Two years later, the pandemic hits and a surprising email appears in Sally’s inbox. Funny, heart-warming and slightly subversive, Sittenfeld’s novel had me rooting for this endearing pair, one of whom seems very much better adjusted than the other.Cover image for Nothing Special by Nicole Flattery

Nicole Flattery’s Nothing Special 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. Flattery reimagines the lives of these two anonymous women who briefly lived on the fringes of a group mythologised for their part in sixties counterculture. Mae and Shelley find themselves drawn into a decadent world full of cruelty and humiliation. Looking back, decades later, Mae remembers those intense few months which have left her scarred. A fascinating novel, original and smartly delivered, by the author of the enjoyably idiosyncratic short story collection, Show Them a Good Time.

Cover image for Speak to Me by Paula CocozzaSet in 2011, Paula Cocozza’s Speak to Me is about a marriage in which one partner is so absorbed in his phone he appears unaware that the other is becoming obsessed with her first love after a case stuffed with letters disappears when they move. Susan becomes increasingly fixated on the lost case, remembering her relationship with the young man who had been so much more open than she had. Both witty and heartrending, Cocozza’s novel explores the consequences of not being fully present in a relationship, beautifully summed up by its striking jacket which I’m pleased to see has been held over from the hardback edition.Cover image for Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur

Cape Cod is one of several settings I find hard to resist. Don’t ask me why. It paid off handsomely with Miranda Cowley Heller’s The Paper Palace a couple of years ago and I’m hoping it will again with Adrienne Brodeur’s Little Monsters which has all the right ingredients. Ken’s picture-perfect family life is in trouble threatening to damage his political ambitions; his sister Abby is a successful artist dependent on Ken who owns her studio home; their bipolar father has stopped taking his meds and there’s a new person whose connection to them all is uncertain. The publishers are describing it promisingly as ‘a riveting novel about Cape Cod, complicated families and long-buried secrets’ which sounds more July than March.

Cover image for Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret AtwoodA new Margaret Atwood of whatever shape or form is something to be celebrated, even for fans for whom short stories are considered a slight snack rather than a full meal.  Old Babes in the Wood, sounds as if it ranges far and wide: ‘we meet beloved cats, George Orwell, a daughter whose mother may or may not be a witch, a cabal of elderly female academics, and an alien tasked with retelling human fairy tales. And we meet and re-meet Nell and Tig, a long-married couple, and see the moments big and small that make up a life of love – and what comes after’ says the blurb. Very much like the sound of that.

That’s it for March’s first batch of paperbacks. A click on a title will take you to either to my review or to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more, and if you’d like to catch up with new fiction it’s here and here.

21 thoughts on “Paperbacks to Look Out For in March 2024: Part One”

  1. These all sound so tempting! I remember the cover of Speak to Me and I’m glad they kept it. sometimes the change in artwork is baffling. I have Old Babes in the Wood but I’ve not read it yet. I’m sure it will be one to enjoy!

  2. An intriguing batch! I’m tempted by both Romantic Comedy and the Atwood. I haven’t read Sittenfeld before and feel I ought to try her, whereas my reaction to Atwood has been quite mixed – sometimes loving, sometimes underwhelmed, but I’ve enjoyed several of her short stories.

  3. I really loved Romantic Comedy. I don’t think I can pick a favourite of hers but I thought American Wife was great. They’re all so different and, yet, all-of-a-piece too. (I’ve not read Rodham yet either.)

    The first four covers are almost tonally a set, hints of orange. Very nice. hehehe

  4. I admit I was so put off by Rodham that I haven’t read Sittenfeld again. I didn’t even want to pick up R.C. when it came out though it sounds totally different and fun. But man Rodham still gets my claws out. The more it went on the worse it got.

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