We have a host of brilliant fiction and non-fiction poised to drop as we swing into the summertime.
From cults and early American settlers to thoroughbreds and Brit-pop, we’ve quite a spread here for the most eclectic of reader…
FOXLOWE, by Eleanor Wasserberg (@e_wasserberg) Out 2nd June
First up is a chilling, compulsive debut about group mentality, superstition and betrayal – and a utopian commune gone badly wrong. Green narrates her childhood growing up at Foxlowe, a sprawling old house among a family of eccentrics who have shed their identities from the world outside the confines of the grounds. Slowly – very slowly, you are sucked into their lives and rules and rituals, and your markers of normality shift until you’re not quite able to navigate the moral minefield of the unfurling story.
This is perfect for fans of Emma Donoghue’s Room, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Helen Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching, and it definitely belongs in that emerging genre of GRIP LIT, otherwise known as STAY UP ALL NIGHT BECAUSE I CANNOT BEAR ANOTHER MOMENT OF UNCERTAINTY-lit.
‘We were the Family, and Foxlowe was our home.
There was me – my name is Green – and my little sister, Blue. There was October, who we called Toby, and Ellensia, Dylan, Liberty, Pet and Egg. There was Richard, of course, who was one of the Founders. And there was Freya.
We were the Family, but we weren’t just an ordinary family. We were a new, better kind of family.
We didn’t need to go to school, because we had a new, better kind of education. We shared everything. We were close to the ancient way of living and the ancient landscape. We knew the moors, and the standing stones. We celebrated the solstice in the correct way, with honey and fruit and garlands of fresh flowers. We knew the Bad and we knew how to keep it away.
And we had Foxlowe, our home. Where we were free.
There really was no reason for anyone to want to leave.’
Wish for this book on NetGalley*
OUT OF TIME, Miranda Sawyer (@) Out 30th June
‘The really frightening thing about middle age is that you know you’ll grow out of it’ Doris Day
Miranda Sawyer takes on middle age with gusto. This is a manual for that indeterminable, ever-shifting period of life that most of us (if we’re lucky) get to experience. I drank it up and I’m in my 20s, as there are important lessons here on what actually matters once the flurry of youth is over, and what is in fact worth investing time/money in right now.
Crucially, Miranda illuminates how the mid-life crisis manifests itself in women as well as men, and drives the conversation beyond the tired stereotype of the ‘sports-car/affair with your secretary’ with thoughtfulness, insight and humour.
‘You wake one day and everything is wrong. It’s as though you went out one warm evening – an evening fizzing with delicious potential, so ripe and sticky-sweet you can taste it on the air – you went out on that evening for just one drink … and woke up two days later in a skip. Except you’re not in a skip, you’re in an estate car, on the way to an out-of-town shopping mall to buy a balance bike, a roof rack and some stackable storage boxes’
BARKSKINS, Annie Proulx Out 16th June
Long novels have become a bit of thing recently. Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life and Marlon James’ Booker Prize winning A Brief History of Seven Killings have all demanded a huge amount of critical attention, reading hours and space on bookshelves. Annie Proulx’s new novel, her first in ten years, isn’t just big, It’s epic in every sense of the word. As big as the endless forests of New France (now Canada) that René Sel and Charles Duquet are confronted with when they arrive fresh of the boat in 1693 looking for work and a fresh start. The story that follows spans over 300 years, hundreds of characters and cements Annie Proulx’s already rock-solid standing as one of the very great American novelists writing today. Immersive and utterly intoxicating, this is without a doubt, her masterpiece.
In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a “seigneur,” for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters – barkskins. René suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years – their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions; the revenge of rivals; accidents; pestilence; Indian attacks; and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse.
Proulx’s inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid – in their greed, lust, vengefulness, or their simple compassion and hope – that we follow them with fierce attention. Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable and compelling American writers, and Barkskins is her greatest novel, a magnificent marriage of history and imagination.
Wish for this book on NetGalley.
THE SPORT OF KINGS, C.E. Morgan Out 5th May
‘A majestic masterpiece’, ‘the most beautifully written book that I’ve had the pleasure to read’, ‘Every once in a while you read a book and you know it’s destined for great things, and this is the case with The Sport of Kings’. Goodreads reviews.
There is nothing quite as rewarding in this business as seeing a book you are incredibly passionate about connecting with readers in a powerful way. That is happening with The Sport of Kings. This book has everything, and we can’t wait for readers everywhere to discover it.
Hellsmouth, an indomitable thoroughbred filly, runs for the glory of the Forge family, one of Kentucky’s oldest and most powerful dynasties. Henry Forge has partnered with his daughter, Henrietta, in an endeavour of raw obsession: to breed the next superhorse. But when Allmon Shaughnessy, an ambitious young black man, comes to work on their farm after a stint in prison, the violence of the Forges’ history and the exigencies of appetite are brought starkly into view. Entangled by fear, prejudice, and lust, the three tether their personal dreams of glory to the speed and grace of Hellsmouth.
A spiralling tale of wealth and poverty, racism and rage, The Sport of Kings is an unflinching portrait of lives cast in shadow by the enduring legacy of slavery. A vital new voice, C. E. Morgan has given life to a tale as mythic and fraught as the South itself – a moral epic for our time.
Wish for this book on NetGalley.
Words by Tara Al Azzawi and Matt Clacher.
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