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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. Blackwells.com also has free international delivery worldwide.
The Runaways, by Fatima Bhutto (UK, 7th March; literary fiction)
Anita lives in Karachi’s biggest slum. Her mother is a maalish wali, paid to massage the tired bones of rich women. But Anita’s life will change forever when she meets her elderly neighbour, a man whose shelves of books promise an escape to a different world. On the other side of Karachi lives Monty, whose father owns half the city and expects great things of him. But when a beautiful and rebellious girl joins his school, Monty will find his life going in a very different direction. Sunny’s father left India and went to England to give his son the opportunities he never had. Yet Sunny doesn’t fit in anywhere. It’s only when his charismatic cousin comes back into his life that he realises his life could hold more possibilities than he ever imagined. These three lives will cross in the desert, a place where life and death walk hand in hand, and where their closely guarded secrets will force them to make a terrible choice.
The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson, by Helen Kitson (UK and US, 7th March, literary fiction)
Once upon a time Gabrielle Price wrote and published an extraordinary novel. But twenty years on her literary star has dimmed, her “work of genius” is all but forgotten, and no further novels have materialized. She now lives an unremarkable life: middle-aged, living alone in the sleepy village she grew up in, and working as a housekeeper for the local vicar. Her lonely existence is dominated by memories of her best friend Madeleine, who died young, in tragic and mysterious circumstances. Gabrielle’s quiet world is turned upside down when she meets and befriends Simon – young, attractive, a would-be writer, and enthusiastic fan of the astonishing novel that Gabrielle published all those years ago. Charmed and flattered, she recklessly invites him into her home and her heart. But Simon is mysterious and manipulative, and it’s not long before he forces Gabrielle to confront the demons in her past. Gabrielle’s obsession begins to destroy her carefully cultivated life, and she comes to feel increasingly threatened by Simon’s presence. Who is he? Why did he seek her out? And what does he really want?
The Department of Sensitive Crimes, by Alexander McCall (UK, 7th March, fiction)
Ulf Varg works in Malmo’s Department of Sensitive Crimes. Like all Scandinavian detectives he has his issues. In his case these include his unresolved feelings for his colleague, Anna; his impatience over the seeming incompetence of his irritating colleague Blomquist; and his concerns for the health of his hearing-impaired dog, Marten, the only dog in Sweden (and possibly all Scandinavia) who is able to lip-read (in Swedish). Along with his colleagues, Ulf is called upon to investigate a bizarre attack on a market trader, the disappearance of a handsome man who may or may not exist, and the affairs of a variety of young female students whose relationships with one another leave a great deal to be desired. Ulf and his team come to realise that the world is a puzzling place, lycanthropy (were-wolfism) exists and fish might have something to teach us. There is so much to learn if you are a Swedish detective, and in the first book in this new quasi-Scandinavian series, Ulf Varg embarks on these lessons with spirit and good humour.
I Thought I Knew You, by Peggy Hancock (UK, 7th March; thriller)
Jules and Holly have been best friends since university. They tell each other everything, trading revelations and confessions, and sharing both the big moments and the small details of their lives: Holly is the only person who knows about Jules’s affair; Jules was there for Holly when her husband died. And their two children – just three years apart – have grown up together. So when Jules’s daughter Saffie makes a serious allegation against Holly’s son Saul, neither woman is prepared for the devastating impact this will have on their friendship or their families. Especially as Holly, in spite of her principles, refuses to believe her son is guilty.
The Day We Met, by Roxie Cooper (UK, 7th March; women’s fiction)
Stephanie doesn’t believe in fate, true love or living happily ever after. She’s content enough being engaged to Matt. But then she meets Jamie, who understands her more than anyone else ever has. Jamie is happily married to his childhood sweetheart Helen and believes in everything Stephanie doesn’t. So why does he have such a strong connection with Stephanie? When Stephanie and Jamie meet one fateful weekend in 2006 it will change everything…
Don’t You Forget About Me, by Mhairi McFarlane (UK, 7th March; romantic comedy)
It began with four words. ‘I love your laugh. x’ But that was twelve years ago. It really began the day Georgina was fired from The Worst Restaurant in Sheffield (© Tripadvisor) and found The Worst Boyfriend in the World (© Georgina’s best friends) in bed with someone else. So when her new boss, Lucas McCarthy, turns out to be the boy who wrote those words to her all that time ago, it feels like the start of something. The only problem? He doesn’t seem to remember Georgina – at all…
The Sisterhood: A Love Letter to the Women Who Have Shaped Me, by Daisy Buchanan (UK, 7th March; memoir)
In this tender, funny and unflinchingly honest account Daisy examines her relationship with her sisters and what it’s made up of – friendship, insecurity jokes, jealousy and above all, love – while celebrating the ways in which women connect with each other and finding the ways in which we’re all sisters under the skin.
The Secret Civil Servant: The Inside Story of Brexit, Government F**k-Ups, and How we Try to Fix Things, by the Secret Civil Servant (UK, 7th March; US, audio, 7th March; non-fiction)
As Britain jigs daily between political crisis and constitutional meltdown, it’s high time we understood what really goes on behind closed doors, from the corridors of Whitehall to the EU negotiating table. The Secret Civil Servant will reveal how Brexit unfolded behind-the-scenes, from the panic triggered by the EU referendum result in June 2016 to the last-gasp efforts to secure a deal in 2018. It will be a unique insight into the organisation we entrust to enact the will of the British people, exploring the role civil servants have to play in running the country, how decisions made in SW1 have significant consequences for everyone and what Brexit revealed about the cracks in the system.
Speak Up!, by Laura Coryton (UK, 7th March; YA non-fiction)
Speaking up can be difficult, but did you know just how powerful your own voice can be? Written by Laura Coryton, who led the international campaign against tampon tax, Speak Up! is a vital and timely book exploring what it means to stand up for what you believe in on both a public and personal level. Laura explores how to make sure your voice is heard as well as what happens when your voice is challenged by others. She tackles tricky subjects like feminism, consent, online bullying and self-confidence in a meaningful but accessible and entertaining way. With a positive message about friendship, female empowerment and standing up for who you are, this is the perfect gift for girls aged 12+. Inspiring, warm and honest, this conversational and big-sisterly guide is the must-have girl power book of 2019.
Proud, ed. by Juno Dawson (UK, 7th March; YA)
A stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors and new talent, giving their unique responses to the broad theme of pride. Each story has an illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
The Quiet at the End of the World, by Lauren James (UK, 7th March, YA)
How far would you go to save those you love? Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking and looking for treasure – until a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Now Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide what to sacrifice to save the whole human race…
A Girl Called Shameless, by Laura Steven (UK, 7th March 2019; YA)
It’s been two months since a leaked explicit photo got Izzy involved in a political sex scandal – and the aftershock is far from over. The Bitches Bite Back movement is gathering momentum as a forum for teenage feminists, and when a girl at another school has a sex tape shared online, once again Izzy leads the charge against the slut-shamer. This time she wants to change the state law on revenge porn. Izzy and her best friend Ajita are as hilarious as ever, using comedy to fight back against whatever the world throws at them, but Izzy is still reeling from her slut-shaming ordeal, feeling angry beyond belief and wondering – can they really make a change?
The Snakes, by Sadie Jones (UK, 7th March; US, 25th June; literary fiction)
Bea and Dan, recently married, rent out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving through France they visit Bea’s dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic. When Alex and Bea’s parents make a surprise visit, Dan can’t understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she’s never wanted him to know them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming, and rich. They are the richest people he has ever met. Maybe Bea’s ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she’s been keeping. Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath the family is stripped back to its rotten core, and even Bea with all her strength and goodness can’t escape.
Tell Me Everything, by Emma Rowley (UK, 7th March; US, 25th July; thriller)
Olivia is the domestic goddess-turned-internet sensation who has won millions of followers by sharing her picture-perfect life online. And now she’s releasing her tell-all autobiography. Nicky is the ghostwriter tasked with coaxing out the full story – including details of the tragic accident that blighted Olivia’s golden childhood. But, as she delves into Olivia’s life, Nicky discovers cracks appearing in the glamorous façade. From money worries to Olivia’s strained relationship with her handsome husband, the truth belies her perfect image. As Olivia becomes increasingly hostile to the woman she’s let into her life, Nicky becomes ever more relentless in her hunt for the truth. Has Olivia really escaped the ghosts of her past – or will Nicky find there are more sinister reasons she wants to leave an old tragedy well alone?
The Friends of Harry Perkins, by Chris Mullin (UK, 28th March; thriller)
In a near-future, post-Brexit Britain, the fault lines forged in the white heat of the referendum have become entrenched features of British political life. Britain’s standing in the world has steadily diminished as its problems have grown. Into the maelstrom steps Fred Thompson, former aide to left-wing prime minister Harry Perkins and his successor as MP for Sheffield Parkside. As he ascends the greasy pole of British politics, Thompson must deal with corruption, the threat of the Far Right and personal tragedy. Along the way, he learns that power does not come without a personal price and that shadowy forces are at work behind the scenes…which, this time, appear to be on his side.
How Was It For You?: Women, Sex, Love and Power in the 1960s, by Virginia Nicholson (UK, 28th March; non-fiction)
This is a moving, shocking book about tearing up the world and starting again. It’s about peace, love, psychedelia and strange pleasures, but it is also about misogyny, violation and discrimination – half a century before feminism rebranded. For out of the swamp of gropers and groupies, a movement was emerging, and discovering a new cause: equality. The 1960s: this was where it all began. Women would never be the same again.
Spring, by Ali Smith (UK, 28th March; US, 30th April, literary fiction)
What unites Katherine Mansfield, Charlie Chaplin, Shakespeare, Rilke, Beethoven, Brexit, the present, the past, the north, the south, the east, the west, a man mourning lost times, a woman trapped in modern times? Spring. The great connective. With an eye to the migrancy of story over time, and riffing on Pericles, one of Shakespeare’s most resistant and rollicking works, Ali Smith tells the impossible tale of an impossible time. In a time of walls and lockdown Smith opens the door. The time we’re living in is changing nature. Will it change the nature of story? Hope springs eternal.
Reasons to Be Cheerful, by Nina Stibbe (UK, 28th March; US, 23rd July, fiction)
18 year old Lizzie Vogel, determined to make a grown-up life for herself, lands a job in a local dentist’s office after answering a classified ad for a “mature lady with a strong interest in dental issues’ “Working for an eccentric dental surgeon, Lizzie’s life is, for once, uneventful, until Andy Nicolello turns up one day to deliver a crown. Lizzie seizes her chance to find love, and soon begins calling him her boyfriend even though they have never so much as kissed or even sat next to each other on the sofa. But Andy doesn’t turn out to be quite what he seems…