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I take the titles for these monthly posts 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 most reliable place to find UK books in the original British English and at the date at which they come out in the UK is bookdepository.com, though you may also have some luck with wordery.com and bookwitty.com.
Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading, by Lucy Mangan (UK, 1st March 2018, memoir)
In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way. Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.
Life Lessons from Remarkable Women: Tales of Triumph, Failure and Learning to Love Yourself, by Stylist Magazine (UK, 1st March; US, ebook only, non-fiction)
If you could share one lesson from your life with every woman, what would it be? Stylist magazine has asked that question of remarkable women from the worlds of entertainment, politics, sport and fashion. With honesty, wit and a serious no-BS attitude, their lessons address the challenges every woman faces today, from climbing the career ladder and finding inner fulfilment, to forging authentic relationships and overcoming life’s setbacks. Each of these impressive women, including actress Romola Garai and comedian Francesca Martinez, has a tale to tell and an experience to share. Empowering, engaging and unapologetically impassioned, their incisive observations will make you think, reflect – and kick serious ass. These are life lessons for women, by women.
Tender, by Eve Ainsworth (UK and US, 1st March, YA)Marty and Daisy spend their lives pretending. Marty pretends his mum’s grip on reality isn’t slipping by the day. Daisy pretends her parents aren’t burning out while they look after her incurably ill brother. They both pretend they’re fine. But the thing about pretending is, at some point, it has to stop. And then what?
The Western Wind, by Samantha Harvey (UK, 1st March, literary fiction)
15th century Oakham, in Somerset; a tiny village cut off by a big river with no bridge. When a man is swept away by the river in the early hours of Shrove Saturday, an explanation has to be found: accident, suicide or murder? The village priest, John Reve, is privy to many secrets in his role as confessor. But will he be able to unravel what happened to the victim, Thomas Newman, the wealthiest, most capable and industrious man in the village? And what will happen if he can’t?
Love After Love, by Alex Hurston (UK, 1st March, fiction)
Nancy Jansen is the beating heart of her family. She is the centre around whom many lives turn. Mother, therapist, daughter, sister, wife. But Nancy has a new role: lover. Everybody can be happy, Nancy believes, so long as they can be kept apart. But when these lives start to overlap, collision becomes inevitable, with consequences for all…
Ed Sheeran: Writing Out Loud (Stories Behind the Songs), by Caroline Sullivan (UK, 8th March, US, 4th September, biography)
Ed Sheeran is at the very top of the pop-music world. Whether he is creating and releasing his own amazing albums, or writing hits for many major artists – Justin Bieber, the Weeknd, Taylor Swift and One Direction, to name just a few – it is clear that Ed Sheeran is an exceptionally talented musician. Ed Sheeran: Writing Out Loud is a must-have book for the legion of fans of the beatboxing guitarist from Halifax. Caroline Sullivan, an experienced music journalist who has interviewed the biggest popstars in the world, goes behind the scenes to discover the stories behind the creation of Ed Sheeran’s award-winning music. As well as analysis of his ground-breaking albums, there is an in-depth reflection on Ed Sheeran’s life and where he has drawn his talent and inspiration. With a fan base covering all generations and nationalities, Ed Sheeran is far more than just another popstar. He is a true global songwriting talent – one whose career is not stopping any time soon. Ed Sheeran: Writing Out Loud gives his fans a refreshing new insight into what has driven him to his great success.
The Exact Opposite of Okay, by Laura Steven (UK, 8th March, YA)
Izzy never expected to be eighteen and internationally reviled. But when explicit photos involving her, a politician’s son and a garden bench are published online, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she tries to laugh it off – but as the daily slut-shaming intensifies, she soon learns the way the world treats teenage girls is not okay. It’s the Exact Opposite of Okay.
Bitter, by Francesca Jakobi (UK, 8th March, psychological thriller)
It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her. Yet she hopes desperately they can mend their shattered relationship. When Reuben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light.
The Executor, by Blake Morrison (UK, 15th March, literary fiction)
What matters most: marriage or friendship? fidelity or art? the wishes of the living or the talents of the dead? Matt Holmes finds himself considering these questions sooner than he thinks when his friend, the poet Robert Pope, dies unexpectedly. Rob had invited Matt to become his literary executor at their annual boozy lunch. Now, after a frosty welcome from his widow, Matt sits at Rob’s rosewood desk and ponders his friend’s motives. But he soon finds himself in an ethical minefield, making shocking and scabrous discoveries that overturn everything he thought he knew about his friend. As Jill gets to work in the back garden, Matt is forced to weigh up the merits of art and truth. Should he conceal what he has found or share it? After all, it’s not just Rob’s reputation that could be transformed forever…
The Perfect Girlfriend, by Karen Hamilton (UK, 22nd March, psychological thriller)
Juliette loves Nate. She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him. They are meant to be. The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back. She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.
The Trick to Time, by Kit de Waal (UK, 29th March, literary fiction)
Mona is a young Irish girl in the big city, with the thrill of a new job and a room of her own in a busy boarding house. On her first night out in 1970s Birmingham, she meets William, a charming Irish boy with an easy smile and an open face. They embark upon a passionate affair, a whirlwind marriage – before a sudden tragedy tears them apart. Decades later, Mona pieces together the memories of the years that separate them. But can she ever learn to love again?
Inking Woman, The 250 Years of British Women Cartoon and Comic Artists, by Nicola Streeten and Cath Tate (UK, 29th March, graphic anthology)
This wide-ranging curation of women’s comics work includes prints, caricatures, joke, editorial and strip cartoons, postcards, comics, zines, graphic novels and digital comics, covering all genres and topics. It addresses inclusion of art by women of underrepresented backgrounds. Based on an exhibition of the same name, held at the Cartoon Museum in 2017, this book demonstrates that women have always had a wicked sense of humour and a perceptive view of the world.
Dead Men’s Trousers, by Irvine Welsh (UK, 29th March, contemporary fiction)
In this sequel to Trainspotting, Mark Renton is finally a success, but dissatisfied with his life. He’s then rocked by a chance encounter with Frank Begbie, from whom he’d been hiding for years after a terrible betrayal and the resulting debt. But the psychotic Begbie appears to have reinvented himself as a celebrated artist and – much to Mark’s astonishment – doesn’t seem interested in revenge. Sick Boy and Spud, who have agendas of their own, are intrigued to learn that their old friends are back in town, but when they enter the bleak world of organ-harvesting, things start to go so badly wrong. Lurching from crisis to crisis, the four men circle each other, driven by their personal histories and addictions, confused, angry – so desperate that even Hibs winning the Scottish Cup doesn’t really help. One of these four will not survive to the end of this book. Which one of them is wearing Dead Men’s Trousers?
The Prodigal Tongue: The Love–Hate Relationship Between British and American English, by Lynne Murphy (UK, 29th March; US, 10th April, non-fiction)
Lynne Murphy, an American linguist living in England, dives into the war of words being waged over the Atlantic. In a laugh-out-loud report, she separates reality from myth in this special relationship and delves into the social and political forces that have seen British and American English part ways. From the origins of ‘the bee’s knees’ to why so many of Hollywood’s evil geniuses sound as though they were educated at Oxford, The Prodigal Tongue reveals how our language really works and tells us where it’s going.
Plus, out in the US this month:
The Adulterants, by Joe Dunthorne (6th March, literary fiction)
Ray Morris is a tech journalist with a forgettable face, a tiresome manner, a small but dedicated group of friends, and a wife, Garthene, who is pregnant. He is a man who has never been punched above the neck. He has never committed adultery with his actual body. He has never been caught up in a riot, nor arrested, nor tagged by the state, nor become an international hate-figure. Not until the summer of 2011, when discontent is rising on the streets and within his marriage. Ray has noticed none of this. Not yet. The Adulterants would be a coming-of-age story if its protagonist could only forget that he is thirty-three years old.
The Sparsholt Affair, by Alan Hollinghurst (13th March, literary fiction)
David Sparsholt is a man who commands attention. As a student at Oxford during the early days of World War II, he’s handsome, powerful and alluring to all who meet him–both women and men. His two closest friends, Evert and Freddie, are aspiring artists who are quickly drawn into Sparsholt’s magnetic field even as the mores of the day complicate their ambitions–aesthetic, romantic and otherwise. Twenty years later, all three men find themselves in unexpected positions–sometimes rewarded, but sometimes thwarted–vis-à-vis love and career; money and stature. David Sparsholt is now married with a wife and son, having claimed fame as a fighter pilot in the war, but also infamy after a scandalous affair rocked his entire family–especially his teenage son, Johnny. Together, these men’s trials and triumphs present a complicated portrait of masculinity and artistic worth in England’s upper echelons, where one’s name carries the legacy, but also the telling scars, of the generations before him.
The Feed, by Nick Clark Windo (13th March, science fiction)
The Feed is accessible everywhere, by everyone, at any time. It instantaneously links us to all information and global events as they break. Every interaction, every emotion, every image can be shared through it. Tom and Kate use the Feed, but Tom has resisted its addiction, which makes him suspect to his family. After all, his father created it. But that opposition to constant connection serves Tom and Kate well when the Feed collapses after a horrific tragedy shatters the world as they know it. Tom and Kate have managed to protect themselves and their family. But then their six-year-old daughter, Bea, goes missing. Who has taken her? How do you begin to look for someone in a world without technology? And what happens when you can no longer even be certain that the people you love are really who they claim to be?
The Girl on the Dancing Horse, by Charlotte Dujardin (27th March, memoir)
Charlotte Dujardin and her charismatic horse Valegro burst onto the international sports scene with their record–breaking performance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. When Valegro (affectionately called “Blueberry”) retired from competition at the end of 2016, his farewell performance at the Olympia Grand Hall sold out and the dark bay gelding received a standing ovation. Dujardin began riding horses at the age of two, but dressage was the domain of the rich–not the life a girl from a middleclass family was born into. Her parents sacrificed to give her as many opportunities as they could, and she left school at 16 to focus on equestrian competition. It was at 22, when she was invited to be a groom for British Olympian Carl Hester, that she met the equine partner that would change her fortune. This is the story of an outsider, an unconventional horse, and the incredible bond that took them to the top.