Tag Archives: Books Published in March 2017

Books to Look Out for in March 2017: Part Two

Top of the list for this second batch of March goodies is Michèle Forbes’ Edith & Oliver, largely on the strength of her exquisitely written debut, Ghost Moth, published back in 2014. Hopes are high, then, for this new novel which is about a couple who fall in love when she’s a pianist working the music halls and he’s touring the world performing as an illusionist. When music halls fail, thanks to the advent of cinema, these two are left with only each other and their children as glamour seeps away and Oliver’s dangerous flaws become apparent.

Katie Kitamura’s A Separation is also about a marriage – this one, as the title makes clear, so strained it has broken. A young woman leaves her husband, agreeing to keep the rift between themselves, but then finds that he has disappeared somewhere in the Peloponnese. She reluctantly tries to track him down and as she does so, contemplates what has led to the breakdown of their marriage in ’a story of intimacy, infidelity and compassion… … about the gulf that divides us from the lives of others and the narratives we create to mask our true emotions’ according to the publisher. Not very cheerful, I know, but it’s an interesting idea and I’ve enjoyed Kitamura’s previous fiction.

Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West carries on the theme of relationships and love, this time between two refugees fleeing the civil war raging through their country.  Nadia and Saeed are ‘two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing – to fall in love – in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it’ says the publisher. Hamid’s name may be familiar from his previous novel, the Man Booker shortlisted The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which I enjoyed very much.Cover image

Which can’t be said for Stephen May’s debut, I’m afraid, although I think I’m in the minority there – Life! Death! Prizes! was one of those books that everyone seem to love but I did not – however I do like the sound of Stronger Than Skin. When Stephen Chadwick sees a police car outside his house he knows why it is there and that the family life he’s carefully built up over twenty years is about to unravel. According to the publishers it’s ‘a story of a toxic love gone wrong, with a setting that moves easily between present day London and 1990s Cambridge… …compulsively readable, combining a gripping narrative with a keen eye for the absurdities of the way we live now’. Quite like the sound of that but we’ll see.

That’s it for March new books. A click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis and if you’d like to catch up with the first instalment it’s here. Paperbacks shortly…

Books to Look Out for in March 2017: Part One

Cover imageThere’s a timeline flowing neatly through this first batch of March titles, beginning with Helen Dunmore’s Birdcage Walk set in 1792 in her home town of Bristol with the French Revolution still playing out across the Channel. Recently married, Lizzie comes from a Radical background but her husband is a property developer whose future prosperity relies on stability rather than the prospect of war and social unrest. John believes not only that Lizzie is too independent and questioning but that she belongs to him by law and must live according to his wishes. A new Dunmore is always a joy and the scene seems set nicely here for an exploration of political and domestic tensions.

Over half a century later, the beginning of the American Civil War is the setting for George Saunders’ first novel Lincoln in the Bardo. The basis of Saunders’ story is the death of Lincoln’s eleven-year-old son and its effects on his father, rumoured to have frequently visited his son’s grave despite the war ravaging his country. ‘From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying’ according to the publisher. I’m not entirely sure what to make of that but it’s the novel’s central question – ‘how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?’ – together with Saunders’ reputation that makes this one attractive.

Sana Krasikov’s The Patriots moves us on to the 1930s where Florence is desperate to escape her Brooklyn family. A new job and relationship take her to Moscow but she later finds she has no way back. Florence’s actions have repercussions that reverberate down through the generations as her son will find when his own work forces him to investigate his mother’s past. ‘Epic in sweep and intimate in detail, The Patriots is both a compelling portrait of the entangled relationship between America and Russia, and a beautifully crafted story of three generations of one family caught between the forces of history and the consequences of past choices’ says the publisher which sounds much more interesting than your average family saga.Cover image

Ayòbámi Adébáyò‘s Stay with Me takes us to Nigeria in the turbulent 1980s where Yejide is desperate for a child. She’s tried everything she knows, from medical consultations to pilgrimage, with no success until finally her in-laws insist on a new wife for their son. ‘Stay with Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayòbámi Adébáyò weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood’ says the publisher which sounds almost too heartrending to bear. I spotted Naomi over at The Writes of Women raving about this on Twitter last December and so my hopes are high.

That’s it for the first tranche of March goodies. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more. Part two follows shortly…