The UK’s Top Ten Books… Coming in October 2015
With Summer now rather behind us, and the rain settling in, the books for October take on a rather autumnal, even wintry aspect — and there are chills a-plenty to be found in our books of the month roundup.
Our Book of the Month comes from the legendary Edna O’Brien, probably one of the world’s truly great writers. Peter James returns to his horror roots in The House on Cold Hill, David Young’s impressive debut Stasi Child takes us back to the Cold War years, while These Shadow Graves is set to be one of the best YA novels of the year.
Also, do look out for When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow, a book that was almost never published. Dan Rhodes – the most unusual and irrepressible writer of his generation – takes on religion, and its lack, in one of the funniest books you’ll read for many years.
Finally, do have a look out for the NetGalley Challenge. You can find a lot more information here, as well as watching a really useful video about improving your NetGalley experience here. I do hope you find it useful!
The Little Red Chairs
Faber & Faber
Since publishing The Country Girls in 1960 Edna O’Brien has been one of the most acute, acclaimed and venerated novelists – and in The Little Red Chairs, her first novel for almost ten years, her mastery of the form is once again shown to be thrillingly alive.
When a wanted war criminal from the Balkans, masquerading as a faith healer, settles in a small west coast Irish village, the community – especially Fidelma McBride – falls under his spell. From this premise, O’Brien captures the internal and external worlds of men and women corrupted by the world, and how we cope with the aftermath of evil. It is a stunning, lyrical and deeply felt novel of rare grace and intelligence.
The House on Cold Hill
The author of the incredibly successful Roy Grace mysteries actually began his writing career with supernatural chillers – a genre that he has now returned to for this terrifying haunted house tale. Born townies, Ollie Harcourt, his wife, Caro, and their twelve-year-old daughter, Jade move out to the wilds of Sussex and into the dilapidated grandeur of Cold Hill House. It is a dream come true for Ollie, but as the family move in, it slowly becomes more like a nightmare. Scary and very well told.
David Young’s debut novel introduces Oberleutnant Karin Müller, a character we’re sure to hear a lot about in the future. The backdrop is East Germany in the mid-1970s, and Young diligently brings the paranoia and fear of the times to life, while also weaving an exceptionally fluid mystery that holds the reader gripped. Reminiscent of Fatherland and AD Miller’s Snowdrops, Stasi Child heralds a bold new voice – and character – in historical crime.
From Jennifer Donnelly, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of A Northern Light and Revolution, comes a mystery about dark secrets, dirty truths, and the lengths to which people will go for love and revenge. When rich girl Jo Montfort’s father dies in a gun-related accident, her perfect life is shattered. But she cannot help but search out the truth – no matter how dreadful the outcome. Atmospheric and brilliantly achieved.
A Mile Down
David Vann’s Legend of a Suicide was one the most feted American debuts of recent years. The stories it contained were autobiographical, but twisted and shaped in such a way that readers were consistently shocked. A Mile Down is pure memoir, but is written with the same poetic urgency of his fiction. In it, David recounts the inspirational tale of building his own boat, and the voyage that almost destroyed it.
When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow
Dan Rhodes is unique in British fiction; a humourist with a heart, a comedian with a brain, and a writer with a keen eye for the absolute stupidity and beauty in life. His latest novel centres on world famous evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins being stuck a place called Upper Bottom. It’s an idea that made many publishers wary of putting it out, but they shouldn’t have worried: it is utterly charming, slightly nasty and brilliantly inventive. Not to be missed.
Jonathan Lee is regularly touted as one of the finest young novelists in Britain today, and in High Dive he has written the best book of his career thus far. The narrative hinges on the assassination attempt on Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet in Brighton in 1984. In sinewy, always interesting prose, Lee takes us through the spider’s-web of conspiracy and danger, bringing an urgency and suspense to historical events. Mesmerising.
When young journalist Thomas Cleary is sent to dig up quotes for the obituary of a legendary film producer, the man’s eccentric daughter – Matilda Duplaine – offers him entry into the exclusive upper echelons of Hollywood society. What begins as a romance, however, becomes darker. Much darker. Timeless, romantic and utterly absorbing, it is a mesmerizing tale of privilege, identity and the difficult choices we make in the pursuit of power.
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Forty One is laced with good writing, searing insights into modern life, and the concessions we make for happiness. Eva Holden is middle-aged and stuck at home with the children, while her husband works for a year abroad. Just one year and they will be financially secure. But the time drags. As the boredom and frustrations mount, she find herself tempted by a past lover. Can she hold out? Should she wait? Lesia Daria’s tense and always believable narrative brings Eva’s fears in close relief. Powerful.
The Night in Question
Those who enjoyed Ripper Street will find much to admire in this tale of love and friendship set against the frightened streets of Whitechapel. It didn’t look like Dot Allbones would make much of her life, but now she is the darling of the music hall stage. Her best friend, Kate, was the beautiful one – but she has fallen on hard times, just at the worst time possible. Witty, convincing and compelling.