A quarter of the year is over already — and newly published books still keep on coming! Here's five new titles, to be published this month, that have caught my attention.
The books have been arranged in alphabetical order according to author's surname.
An automaton, a man and a woman who can never meet, a secret love story, and the fate of the world are all brought to life in this hauntingly moving novel from one of the finest writers of our time. London 2010, Catherine Gehrig, conservator at the Swinburne museum, learns of the unexpected death of her colleague and lover of thirteen years. As the mistress of a married man she has to grieve in private. One other person knows their secret, the director of the museum, who arranges for Catherine to be given a special project away from prying eyes. Mad with grief, the usually controlled and rational Catherine discovers a series of handwritten notebooks telling the story of the man who originally commissioned the extraordinary and eerie automata she has been asked to bring back to life. With a precocious new assistant, Amanda, at her side, she starts to piece together both the clockwork puzzle and the story of the mechanical creature which was commissioned in 19th century Germany by an English man, Henry Brandling, as a 'magical amusement' for his consumptive son.
The critics are already raving about this one, and if you watched The Book Review Show on BBC2 last week you will know that three out of the four on the panel said they thought it deserved to win this year's Booker Prize! Critic Professor John Carey (no relation) said it was the best book by Carey since Oscar and Lucinda. That's enough to make me want to read it straight away.
'If you were to ask me to tell you about my wife, I would have to warn you at the outset that I don't know a great deal about her. Or at least, not as much as I thought I did...'
So speaks Alex, the narrator of this unforgettable literary thriller. Alex is in his thirties, a solitary man who has finally found love in the form of his beautiful and vivacious wife, Rachel. When Rachel is brutally murdered one Midsummer Night by the lake in the grounds of their alma mater, Worcester College, Oxford, Alex's life as he knew it vanishes. He returns to Oxford that winter, and through the shroud of his shock and grief, begins to try to piece together the mystery surrounding his wife's death.
As more and more books are sold in electronic format, it seems publishers are making more of an effort to make their traditional format books look beautiful. This one, by first time novelist Elanor Dymott, is an example. The cover image alone is lovely, but the hardback has gorgeous berry-coloured paper edges and matching endpapers. And the story doesn't sound bad either.
It started quietly and without her looking for it, but the aftershock was profound. Ten years ago, Rachel had an affair. It spiralled out of control and left her and her life in pieces. Now, writing at her window, she tries to put those pieces back together. She has her memories, recollections of dreams, and her old yellow notebook. More than anything, she wants to be honest. She knows that her memory is patchy and her notebook incomplete. But there is something else. Something terrible happened to her lover. Her account is hypnotic, delicate, disquieting and bold. But is she telling us the truth?
This is a debut novel that made this year's Waterstone's 11. It has something of the Josephine Harts about it, and for that reason I'm keen to read it.
Would you accept a chance for happiness even if it wasn't yours to have? This is a story about a lighthouse keeper and his wife, who live on a lonely island with just seagulls, stars and buffeting winds for company. It's about a tiny baby and a dead man in a boat that drifts ashore one April morning, and the apparently harmless decision made that day. More than anything, it's a story about right and wrong, and how sometimes they look the same.
I read this novel, the first by M.L. Stedman, back in January as part of my Australian Literature Month. (Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia but now lives in London.) I will post my review a little closer to the actual publication date, but I can reveal that it is a brilliant read — and quite heart-rending.
Anne Tyler's The Beginner's Goodbye
Chatto & Windus, hardcover, 208 pages (April 5)
When Dorothy came back from the dead, Aaron noticed that some people simply ignored the fact; some seemed to have forgotten she had died in the first place; and others just walked straight on by. The accident that killed Dorothy -- involving an oak tree, a sun porch and some elusive biscuits -- leaves Aaron bereft and the house a wreck. As those around him fuss and flap and bring him casserole after casserole, Aaron ploughs on. He busies himself with work at the family firm, a publisher with a successful line in 'Beginner's Guides' to every stage and aspect of life. But then Dorothy starts to materialize in the oddest places. At first, she only comes for a short while, leaving Aaron longing for more. Gradually she stays for longer, and as they talk they also bicker ...
I'm a big Anne Tyler fan and have read most of her work, although much of that was long before I started this blog, so I've only reviewed a couple of her most recent novels, both of which I gave five-star reviews. This one sounds especially heartbreaking.
Please note that the release dates quoted are for the UK and are subject to change.
Are there any on this list that have piqued your interest? Or that you have read?