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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 blackwells.com, which has free international delivery, including to the US, though you may also have some luck with wordery.com and bookwitty.com, as well as bookdepository.com, which is owned by Amazon.
We Need New Stories: Challenging the Toxic Myths Behind Our Age of Discontent, by Nesrine Malik (UK, 5th September, non-fiction)
It is becoming clear that the old frames of reference are not working, that the narratives used for decades to stave off progressive causes are being exposed as falsehoods. Six myths have taken hold, ones which are at odds with our lived experience and in urgent need of revision. Has freedom of speech become a cover for promoting prejudice? Has the concept of political correctness been weaponised to avoid ceding space to those excluded from power? Does white identity politics pose an urgent danger? These are some of the questions at the centre of Nesrine Malik’s radical and compelling analysis that challenges us to find new narrators whose stories can fill the void and unite us behind a shared vision.
To War With the Walkers: Three Soldiers, a War Bride, a Nurse and a Doctor: One Family’s Extraordinary Story of Survival in the Second World War, by Annabel Venning (UK, US ebook, 5th September, non-fiction)
How would it feel if all your sons and daughters were caught up in war? What would it be like to spend six years fearing what a telegram might bring? That was the heart-wrenching reality faced by so many families throughout the Second World War, including the parents of the Walker children. From the Blitz to the battlefields of Europe and the Far East, this is the remarkable story of four brothers and two sisters who were swept along by the momentous events of the war. Harold was a surgeon in a London hospital alongside his sister Ruth, a nurse, when the bombs began to fall in 1940. Peter was captured in the fall of Singapore. Edward fought the Germans in Italy, and Walter the Japanese in Burma, while in London, glamorous Bee hoped for lasting happiness with an American airman. In To War With the Walkers, Annabel Venning, Walter’s granddaughter, tells the enthralling and moving tales of her relatives, six ordinary young men and women, who each faced an extraordinary struggle for survival.
For Emily, by Katherine Slee (UK, 5th September, fiction)
A little dedication goes a long way. That’s why Catriona Robinson, the country’s favourite children’s author, always dedicated her books to those who touched her life the most – not least Emily, her reclusive granddaughter. Emily never thought too much about these dedications. But when Catriona dies unexpectedly, each one becomes a cryptic clue in a breadcrumb trail that apparently leads to her lost, unpublished manuscript. It’s a mystery only Emily can solve. But to do so she will have to walk in her grandmother’s footsteps, into the wider world she’s spent her whole life hiding away from…
The Museum of Broken Promises, by Elizabeth Buchan (UK, 5th September, literary fiction)
Paris, today. The Museum of Broken Promises is a place of wonder and sadness, hope and loss. Every object in the museum has been donated – a cake tin, a wedding veil, a baby’s shoe. And each represent a moment of grief or terrible betrayal. The museum is a place where people come to speak to the ghosts of the past and, sometimes, to lay them to rest. Laure, the owner and curator, has also hidden artefacts from her own painful youth amongst the objects on display.
Prague, 1985. Recovering from the sudden death of her father, Laure flees to Prague. But life behind the Iron Curtain is a complex thing: drab and grey yet charged with danger. Laure cannot begin to comprehend the dark, political currents that run beneath the surface of this communist city. Until, that is, she meets a young dissident musician. Her love for him will have terrible and unforeseen consequences.
It is only years later, having created the museum, that Laure can finally face up to her past and celebrate the passionate love which has directed her life.
A Single Thread, by Tracy Chevalier (UK, 5th September, US, 17th September, literary fiction)
It is 1932, and the losses of the First World War are still keenly felt. Violet Speedwell, mourning for both her fiancé and her brother and regarded by society as a ‘surplus woman’ unlikely to marry, resolves to escape her suffocating mother and strike out alone. A new life awaits her in Winchester. Yes, it is one of draughty boarding-houses and sidelong glances at her naked ring finger from younger colleagues; but it is also a life gleaming with independence and opportunity. Violet falls in with the broderers, a disparate group of women charged with embroidering kneelers for the Cathedral, and is soon entwined in their lives and their secrets. As the almost unthinkable threat of a second Great War appears on the horizon Violet collects a few secrets of her own that could just change everything…
Gotta Get Theroux This: My life and strange times in television, by Louis Theroux (UK, 19th September, memoir)
Louis takes the reader on a joyous journey from his anxiety-prone childhood to his unexpectedly successful career. Nervously accepting the BBC’s offer of his own series, he went on to create an award-winning documentary. As Louis woos his beautiful wife Nancy and learns how to be a father, he also dares to take on the powerful Church of Scientology. Just as challenging is the revelation that one of his old subjects, Jimmy Savile, was a secret sexual predator, prompting him to question our understanding of how evil takes place. Filled with wry observation and self-deprecating humour, this is Louis at his most insightful and honest best.
I Love the Bones of You, by Christopher Eccleston (UK, US ebook, 19th September, memoir)
Along this path of fame and fortune also lay a man still bonded to his home city of Salford, his politics, his family, and especially his beloved parents. Chris will discuss openly the loss of his father and his family’s struggle to cope with his condition over the past decade of his life as they watched his health deteriorate. A journey thousands of British families travel on each year. A heart-rending, honest and often touching memoir of a man embedded in his roots and mourning the loss of the father who nutured those roots.
The Confession, by Jessie Burton (UK, 19th September, literary fiction)
One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever. Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession…
Don’t Think a Single Thought, by Diana Cambridge (UK, US ebook, 26th September) literary fiction
1960s New York, and Emma Bowden seems to have it all – a glamorous Manhattan apartment, a loving husband, and a successful writing career. But while Emma and her husband Jonathan are on vacation at the Hamptons, a child drowns in the sea, and suspicion falls on Emma. As her picture-perfect life spirals out of control, and old wounds resurface, a persistent and monotonous voice in Emma’s head threatens to destroy all that she has worked for…
Breaking and Mending: A junior doctor’s stories of compassion and burnout, by Joanna Cannon (UK, US, 26th September, memoir)
In this powerful memoir, Joanna Cannon tells her story as a junior doctor in visceral, heart-rending snapshots. We walk with her through the wards, facing extraordinary and daunting moments: from attending her first post-mortem, sitting with a patient through their final moments, to learning the power of a well- or badly chosen word. These moments, and the small sustaining acts of kindness and connection that punctuate hospital life, teach her that emotional care and mental health can be just as critical as restoring a heartbeat. In a profession where weakness remains a taboo, this moving, beautifully written book brings to life the vivid, human stories of doctors and patients – and shows us why we need to take better care of those who care for us.