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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.
The Au Pair, by Sarah Alderson (UK, 6th December, US, 8th January 2019, thriller)
Seraphine Mayes and her brother Danny are known as the summer-born Summerbournes: the first set of summer twins to be born at Summerbourne House. But on the day they were born their mother threw herself to her death, their au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark-cloaked figures and a stolen baby. Now twenty-five, and mourning the recent death of her father, Seraphine uncovers a family photograph taken on the day the twins were born featuring both parents posing with just one baby. Seraphine soon becomes fixated with the notion that she and Danny might not be twins after all, that she wasn’t the baby born that day and that there was more to her mother’s death than she has ever been told…
Shakespeare’s Sword, by Alan Judd (UK, 13th December, literary fiction)
‘To Mr Thomas Combe my sword.’ These six words in Shakespeare’s will tell us that Shakespeare had a sword. Did he wear it? Did he use it? What sort was it? When and why did he get it? What happened to it? Might it – does it – still exist? These questions plague Simon Gold, an antiques dealer. He believes he has identified the sword as belonging to a customer, an unworthy owner indifferent to cultural icons and uninterested in history. Simon is desperate to acquire the sword, but how? How far is he prepared to go to get it? In alliance with Charlotte, his customer’s attractive and disaffected wife, Simon finds himself going farther than he had intended – and finds, too, that Charlotte is rather more than she appears.
Turbulence, by David Szalay (UK, 13th December, US, 16th July 2019, literary fiction)
Twelve people on the move around planet Earth, twelve individual lives, each in turmoil, and each in some way touching the next. n this nuanced and deeply moving sequence, David Szalay’s diverse protagonists circumnavigate the world in twelve plane journeys, from London to Madrid, from Dakar to Sao Paulo, to Toronto, to Delhi, to Doha, en route to see lovers and parents, children and siblings, or nobody at all. Along the way, Szalay deftly depicts the ripple effect that, knowingly or otherwise, a person’s actions have on those around them, and invites us to consider our own place in the vast and delicately balanced network of human relationships that is the world we live in today.
Friends Like These, by Sarah Alderson (UK and US, 13th December, thriller)
Lizzie hasn’t thought much about Becca since the accident. She remembers the blood though. She can see how you wouldn’t be the same again after something like that. No one was surprised when Becca didn’t come back to work. And Lizzie’s different these days too. She used to be the one in the shadows, stalking Becca’s perfect life online, but a lot has changed since then. So when Becca’s ex shows up on Tinder, Lizzie swipes right. Why not? Doesn’t she deserve a chance at happiness as well? Becca will have moved on. There’s no way she’d even remember Lizzie, no way she could know anything about her life – is there?
Quiet: Learning to Silence the Chatter and Believing that You’re Good Enough by Fearne Cotton (UK and US, 13th December)
Fearne talks honestly and openly about what it’s like to live in the public eye and shares some of the methods and practical activities she uses to ignore negative online chatter and trolls. She acknowledges the terrifying stats and research linking social media to rising levels of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues in young people and offers advice about how to listen more selectively to what we are told in an era of constant-sharing, over-sharing nand general misinformation about what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for us. Stop competing with all the noise out there and accept that Quiet might be your most formidable force yet.
A Year of Scottish Poems, ed. Gaby Morgan (UK, 27th December, YA/poetry)
A Year of Scottish Poems is a glorious collection of 366 poems compiled by Gaby Morgan. Reflecting the changing seasons, landscape and history of Scotland and her people and marking key dates in the Scottish calendar – from Burns Night to Hogmanay – these poems are powerful, thoughtful and uplifting.
The Rumour, by Lesley Kara (UK, 27th December, US, 6th August, thriller)
When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back… Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman. So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?
Jog On: How Running Saved My Life, by Bella Mackie (UK, 27th December, non-fiction)
In Jog On, Bella explains with hilarious and unfiltered honesty how she used running to battle crippling anxiety and depression, without having to sacrifice her main loves: booze, cigarettes and ice cream. With the help of a supporting cast of doctors, psychologists, sportspeople and friends, she shares a wealth of inspirational stories, research and tips that show how exercise often can be the best medicine. This funny, moving and motivational book will encourage you to say ‘jog on’ to your problems and get your life back on track – no matter how small those first steps may be.
The Unexpected Joy of Being Single, by Catherine Grey (UK, 27th December, US, 31st December, non-fiction)
Over a third of us are now single. But nobody seems to have told society, romcom makers, songwriters, marriage-hungry mothers, ‘tick-tock’ uncles, our mates or us that. Cue: single anxiety. Love addiction. Spending hours scrolling through dating apps. Being inconsolable when he/she doesn’t text. Humming ‘Here Comes the Bride’ when they do. Catherine Gray went through all of this. And then some. She took a whole year off dating to get her love-hooked head straight. How do we chill our boots about our single status? Detach from ‘all the good ones are gone!’ panic? And de-programme from urgent, red, heart-shaped societal pressure to find your ‘other half*’? We know intellectually that single is far preferable to panic-settling, yet we forget that almost constantly. Why? Psychologists and neuroscientists tell us? Let’s start the reverse-brainwash and locate our happily-single sanity, for good. Are you in? *Spoiler: you’re already a whole person.