Welcome to September’s round up of great new British books!
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I take these titles from a number of sources, including the highlighted books on The Bookseller, my own knowledge of authors to watch, and various lists around the web, and while I can’t claim to have read them, they definitely seem to have merit — or, at least, buzz. Unless indicated otherwise, descriptions are taken from Goodreads, Amazon, or the publisher’s site.
The Golden House, by Salman Rushdie (5th Sept, UK and US, literary fiction)
On the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, an enigmatic billionaire from foreign shores takes up residence in the architectural jewel of “the Gardens,” a cloistered community in New York’s Greenwich Village. The neighborhood is a bubble within a bubble, and the residents are immediately intrigued by the eccentric newcomer and his family. Along with his improbable name, untraceable accent, and unmistakable whiff of danger, Nero Golden has brought along his three adult sons. There is no mother, no wife; at least not until Vasilisa, a sleek Russian expat, snags the septuagenarian Nero, becoming the queen to his king—a queen in want of an heir.
The Break, by Marian Kayes (7th Sept, UK, women’s fiction)
Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her. He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it. Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet… A a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman? Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn’t she?
Cold Feet: The Lost Years, by Carmel Harrington (7th Sept, UK, fiction/TV spinoff)
Reeling from the sudden death of Rachel, his beloved wife, Adam has no time to grieve. He has to keep going, for the sake of their baby son. Jenny moves back in with ex-husband Pete, eight and a half months pregnant with another man’s child. Can their relationship overcome past jealousies? Karen and David agree to an amicable divorce – but that’s before he sleeps with the divorce lawyer… The Lost Years reveals what happened to your favourite characters between series five and six of the award-winning TV series written by Mike Bullen. It’s an irresistible chance to catch up on all the laughter, the tears, the life lessons we missed while they were gone.
I Heart Forever, by Lindsey Kelk (7th Sept, UK, chick lit)
The day her husband Alex picks up a backpack and goes travelling, Angela Clark promises to stay out of trouble and keep both Louboutins on the ground. So when her best friend’s boyfriend confides in her, it can’t hurt to help him pick out a ring at Tiffany’s surely? And when her fashion magazine announces major changes, being terminally late and winking at your new boss in the lift isn’t that bad, is it? Then suddenly there’s another big secret Angela’s got to keep – and the man she loves is still thousands of miles away. As the wedding of the year looms, and Manhattan switches on its Christmas lights, Angela is going to need her friends by her side as her old life looks set to change forever.
This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor, by Adam Kay (7th September, UK, memoir)
Adam Kay was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, before a devastating experience on a ward caused him to reconsider his future. He kept a diary throughout his training, and This Is Going to Hurt intersperses tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis.
Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking: The Royal Marriages that Shaped Europe, by Deborah Cadbury (7th September, UK, non fiction)
Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking travels through the glittering, decadent palaces of Russia and Europe, weaving in scandals, political machinations and family tensions to enthralling effect. It is at once an intimate portrait of a royal family and an examination of the conflict caused by the marriages the Queen arranged. At the heart of it all is Victoria herself: doting grandmother one moment; determined Queen Empress the next.
A Life of My Own, by Claire Tomalin (7th September, UK, memoir)
Acclaimed biographer Claire Tomalin turns her critical eye to another fascinating literary life: her own. In this intimate and insightful memoir, Claire remembers moments of national literary history as well as intense personal emotion. Claire’s career soared as she became literary editor of the New Statesman and the Sunday Times, working with Christopher Hitchens and Julian Barnes, before discovering her vocation as a biographer. Claire reflects on an extraordinary life filled with love, loss, and literature.
If Only They Didn’t Speak English: Notes From Trump’s America, by Jon Sopel (7th Sept, UK, non fiction)
As the BBC’s North America Editor, Jon Sopel has experienced ‘the Greatest Country on Earth’ from a perspective that most could only dream of: he has travelled aboard Air Force One, interviewed President Obama and seen first-hand the gaudy splendour of Donald Trump’s billion-dollar empire. Jon has also witnessed the darker side of the United States today. What Jon has discovered, is that for all we think we know the USA, it is – now more than ever – a truly foreign land. If Only They Didn’t Speak English is a fascinating, insightful, portrait of American life and politics seen through British eyes.
What’s Your Bias? The Surprising Science of Why We Vote the Way We Do, by Lee de-Witt (14th September, UK, ebook only in the US, non fiction)
Psychologists have been studying how we make political decisions for years, and the truth is we’re a lot less rational than we think we are; sometimes we vote for reasons we’re not even consciously aware of. In this absorbing book, psychologist and neuroscientist Lee de-Wit explores the subtle – and often surprising – factors that could be influencing our votes, from our personality traits and unconscious biases to our susceptibility to campaign targeting and fake news.
Doctor Who: Now We Are Six Hundred: A Collection of Time Lord Verse, by James Goss (14th September, UK, poetry)
As they get older, even Time Lords sometimes struggle to understand the universe around them. In this delightful collection of poems – the first volume of Doctor Who verse ever published – there are moments of insight, wit and reassurance for those aging inhabitants of Gallifrey, all of which will sound hilariously familiar.
How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson (21st September, UK, women’s fiction)
Kate Reddy is counting down the days until she is fifty, but not in a good way. Fifty, in Kate’s mind, equals invisibility. And with hormones that have her in shackles, teenage children who need her there but won’t talk to her and ailing parents who aren’t coping, Kate is in the middle of a sandwich that she isn’t even allowed to eat because of the calories. She’s back at work after a big break at home, because somebody has to bring home the bacon now that her husband Rich has dropped out of the rat race to master the art of mindfulness. But just as Kate is finding a few tricks to get by in her new workplace, her old client and flame Jack reappears – complicated doesn’t even begin to cover it.
David Bowie: A Life, by Dylan Jones (7th September, UK, and 12th September, US, biography)
Drawn from over 180 interviews with friends, rivals, lovers, and collaborators, some of whom have never before spoken about their relationship with Bowie, this oral history weaves a hypnotic spell as it unfolds a remarkable rise to stardom and an unparalleled artistic path.
Victoria and Albert – A Royal Love Affair, by Daisy Goodwin and Sara Sheridan (21st September, UK, non-fiction/TV tie-in)
Victoria and Albert were the royal couple that broke the mould – it may have been an arranged match, yet their union was a passionate, tempestuous relationship between two extremely strong-willed individuals. Despite the fact that they were first cousins they could not have been more different people – she was impulsive, emotional, capricious, while he was cautious, self-controlled, and logical. But together they became the most successful royal couple there had ever been, and this book reveals the private and the public face of Victoria and Albert’s marriage. Using their letters and diaries, Victoria and Albert charts the constant ebb and flow of power between the couple, and presents a picture of a very modern marriage.
Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret, by Craig Brown (21st September, UK non-fiction)
Princess Margaret aroused passion and indignation in equal measures. To her friends, she was witty and regal. To her enemies, she was rude and demanding. In her 1950’s heyday, she was seen as one of the most glamorous and desirable women in the world. By the time of her death, she had come to personify disappointment. One friend said he had never known an unhappier woman. Combining interviews, parodies, dreams, parallel lives, diaries, announcements, lists, catalogues and essays, Ma’am Darling is a kaleidoscopic experiment in biography, and a witty meditation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society.
Hear Me Out, by Armando Iannucci (28th September, UK, non fiction)
In Hear Me Out, Armando Iannucci, creator of The Thick of It and Veep, brilliantly conveys the joy of his musical exploration, each discovery suggesting a fresh direction of travel, another piece, another composer, another time.
The Diary of a Bookseller, by Shuan Blythell (28th September, UK and US, memoir)
Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost … In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.
Our History of the 20th Century: As Told in Diaries, Journals and Letters, by Travis Elborough (28th September, UK, non fiction)
The book draws on over one hundred diarists. They include the great and the good – from Beatrice Webb to Tony Benn, from A. C. Benson to Alan Bennett, from Virginia Ironside to Hanif Kureishi – as well as many less-well-known individuals such as Gladys Langford and Kathleen Tipper, whose writings for the Mass Observation Project offer brilliant glimpses into what the man or woman on the street really made of the stuff of history at the time. From the Easter Rising to the arrival of email, from the Boer War to New Labour, here are responses to the death of Princess Diana, the resignation of Margaret Thatcher, the Moon landing, the Beatles and much more.
Plus, already out in the UK but being published in the US this month:
Friend Request, by Laura Marshall (5th Sept, thriller)
Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty-five years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life with a terrible secret. As Maria’s messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress. Trying to piece together exactly what happened that night, she soon discovers there’s much she didn’t know. The only certainty is that Maria Weston disappeared that night, never to be heard from again – until now…
Good Me Bad Me, by Ali Land (5th Sept, thriller)
Annie’s mother is a serial killer. The only way Annie can make it stop is to hand her in to the police. With a new foster family and a new name – Milly – she hopes for a fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be. But as her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of Milly’s past won’t let her sleep. Because Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water…
All About Mia, by Lisa Williamson (12th Sept, YA)
One family, three sisters. GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student. AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion. And MIA, the mess in the middle. Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers. When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves. But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.
Hame, by Annalena McAfee (12th September, literary fiction)
In the wake of the breakdown of her relationship, Mhairi McPhail dismantles her life in New York and moves with her 9-year-old daughter, Agnes, to the remote Scottish island of Fascaray. Mhairi has been commissioned to write a biography of the late Bard of Fascaray, Grigor McWatt, a cantankerous poet with an international reputation. But who was Grigor McWatt? Details of his past – his tough childhood and his war years as a commando – are elusive, and there is evidence of a mysterious love affair which Mhairi is determined to investigate. As she struggles to adapt to her new life, and put her own troubled past behind her, Mhairi begins to unearth the astonishing secret history of the poet regarded by many as the custodian of Fascaray’s – and Scotland’s – soul.