The UK’s Top Ten Books… Coming in August 2015
Time was that August provided sad and meagre pickings in the publishing world, but over the last few years this has changed beyond belief. Far from worrying about there being no room for publicity, now many of the most talked-about books are being published in the middle of the summer.
Our selection is an eclectic bunch this month, headed by The Loney – a small-publisher sensation which redefined the modern horror novel, now published by John Murray. There is also a lot of noise surrounding Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life (ironic title, considering the book weighs in at 736 pages) while Circling the Sun sees the return of The Paris Wife author Paula McLain. And do have a look at The Eagle in Splendour, which is a fascinating journey inside Napoleon’s court.
Hope you enjoy the beginnings of summer, and see you next time!
BOOK OF THE MONTH
Andrew Michael Hurley
Originally published by a tiny press in Yorkshire, The Loney became something of a cult hit before John Murray stepped in to buy the rights. Compared to horror masterpiece, The Wicker Man, The Loney is an extraordinary, unsettling and hugely atmospheric tale of faith and ancient belief, centring on the relationship between Smith and his mute, mentally disabled brother Hanny. It is a sinister and consistently inventive tale that deserves to put British horror back on the map.
A Little Life
This is a massive book, both in terms of its size and also with the weight of expectation resting upon it. The US response to this tale of friendship in the 21st Century has been ecstatic and is sure to be replicated here. Four classmates move to New York City, all their lives ahead of them. Over the coming decades we see Willem, JB, Malcom and Jude taste success and pain, but also face the challenges of an unseen past. Epic and heart-breaking, this is a book for our times.
The Eagle of Splendour
Take a journey back into the world of Napoleon’s court in this sumptuous, fascinating and absorbing account of the Little General as Emperor rather than as a great soldier. As never before, we gain access to the intrigues and excesses of the times, as well as a unique insight into one of history’s greatest figures.
Even though this looks and feels a lot like a standard issue Scandi-Crime novel, The Father is actually something quite different – a compulsive and wholly immersive tale of three brothers who terrorised a county, and their other brother, who did not follow them. Based on a true story, this is utterly mesmerising stuff.
This is perhaps one of the most intriguing and oddly constructed novels you’ll read this – or indeed any – year. At its heart is a goldfish called Ian. Ian has always wanted a more exciting life. Then, one day, from his 27th floor apartment a series of events means he comes into contact with the other residents of his block. You’ll fall head over heels for this witty and insightful debut.
The Last Roundhead
Ancestor to Colonel Blimp, Sir Blandford Candy is an irascible old drunk with a hatred of poets and a love of hats. After an argument with his new neighbour Alexander Pope, he looks back on his life and the start of the Civil War. This picaresque romp through the Stuart and Civil War-era Britain is glorious, exuberant and delightful stuff.
The author of much-loved The Paris Wife returns to take us to the heart of another true story. Set in 1920s colonial Kenya, Circling the Sun is about an unforgettable woman who lives by nobody’s rules but her own. It’s a brilliant blend of truth and fiction, with an exceptional cast of characters – including the author Karen Blixen – but this book belongs to Beryl Markham, an always fascinating woman in the blasting heat of love, destiny and courage. Exquisitely done.
Keep Your Friends Close was Paula Daly’s big breakout novel and The Mistake I Made is perfect for those fans already gasping for the next book, as well as those yet to discover her brilliant psychological thrillers. Roz is crippled by debt. But now a stranger has made her an offer. But can it really be just for one night? What will happen afterwards?
There have been several novels about conjoined twins over the last decade or so, but mostly they have been set in the past. Sarah Crossan’s pitch-perfect and utterly convincing tale of Grace and Tippi is very much set in the present, and brings the hardships and triumphs of these incredible girls to life. Another absolute must-read from the Carnegie Medal shortlisted author of The
Weight of Water.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Hodder & Stoughton
Like The Loney, Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was snapped up by a major publisher after being independently published – and it again has become something of a phenomenon. This is a full-on space opera with so much to recommend it, not least pace, wit and invention. At its heart is Rosemary Harper, crewmate of the ragtag spaceship Wayfarer. All she wanted was some peace; but then the crew is offered a chance of a lifetime – one that could expose all Rosemary’s secrets…