The 20 books we can’t wait to read (part 1)
I belong to a great book club (slash wine & gossip club – let’s not even pretend) and naturally, one of the trickiest tasks is coming up with our next book. We spend ages tussling on email over our next choice – too trashy, too highbrow, too long, too chick-flicky, too heavy etc. So when I asked the lovely Emma Milne-White, owner of The Hungerford Bookshop, if she’d give me her unputdownables coming out this year, I was thrilled when she came back with not 10, but 20 brilliant suggestions.
It’s always good to have an expert hand to steer you in the right direction when there are just so many good reads out there (and a lot of decidedly ropey ones too). So, here are her first 10 choices for you to get excited about, and I’ll put the remaining 10 up next week (because you can have too much of a good thing).
1. Exposure by Helen Dunmore
A gripping read showing spies can be ‘ordinary people’ set in the 1960s from the Orange prize-winner. London, November, 1960: the Cold War is at its height. Spy fever fills the newspapers, and the political establishment knows how and where to bury its secrets. When a highly sensitive file goes missing, Simon Callington is accused of passing information to the Soviets, and arrested. An incredibly satisfying and emotional read.
Hutchinson, out now, £16.99
2. The Muse by Jessie Burton
It seems that there very few readers who haven’t read The Miniaturist, so it’s with great excitement that we look forward to Jessie Burton’s next novel – an addictive read about aspiration and identity, love and obsession, authenticity and deception.
Ecco Press, publication date 30 June, £12.99
3. Circling the Sun by Paula McClain
A novel inspired by the life of Beryl Markham, part of the Happy Valley Set, and who scandalized high society with her errant behaviour. After becoming embroiled in an unhappy love triangle she is awakened to her fate: to fly.
Fleet, out now in HB; PB release 14 July, £8.99
4. Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
The breathtaking new novel from the multi-award-winning author of The Other Hand. In a powerful combination of both humour and heartbreak, this dazzling novel weaves little-known history, and a perfect love story, through the vast sweep of the Second World War.
Simon & Schuster, published 21 April, £14.99
5. The Mistresses of Cliveden by Natalie Livingstone
Subtitled ‘Three Centuries of Scandal, Power and Intrigue in an English Stately Home’, this Sunday Times bestseller is a lively account of sex, power and politics in Berkshire’s grandest residence, and the ways in which these exceptional women manipulated the expectations of their time.
Hutchinson, out now in HB; PB release 28 April, £9.99
6. Kick: The True Story of JFK’s Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth by Paula Byrne
After an engaging biography of Jane Austen, Paula Byrne now turns her attention to Kathleen Kennedy (nicknamed ‘Kick’). Her wit and sexual charisma became a source of endless fascination to the English public. With a cast of characters that includes the Mitfords, the Maughams, the Astors and Evelyn Waugh this is sure to be an engrossing biography.
HarperCollins, publication date 19 May, £20
7. All Together Now by Gill Hornby
A sparkling comedy of manners from West Berkshire author of hit book The Hive. All Together Now, is a funny, sharply observed and moving novel about the joys of singing, about living in harmony, and about falling in love… and about the importance of finding your own true voice.
Little, Brown, out now in HB; PB publication date 2 June, £7.99
8. The Crime Writer by Jill Dawson
I am a great fan of Dawson’s writing. Here she takes the eccentric real-life writer Patricia Highsmith for her new novel. Highsmith is hiding out in a cottage in Suffolk to concentrate on writing but she has another motive too – a secret romance with a married lover based in London. Unfortunately it soon becomes clear that all her demons have come with her. Masterfully recreating Highsmith’s much exercised fantasies of murder and madness this is at once a brilliant portrait of a writer and an atmospheric, emotionally charged, riveting tale.
Sceptre, publication date 2 June, £18.99
9. Beyond the High Blue Air by Lu Spinney
A beautifully written but devastating memoir of love by the mother of Miles who, at 29, had a disastrous snowboarding accident that left him in a coma. Spinney manages to get inside her son’s mind and understand how it might feel to be conscious and sentient, yet barely able to communicate. A remarkable book.
Atlantic Books, publication date 5 May, £14.99
10. Black Water by Louise Doughty
The author’s Apple Tree Yard became a bestseller along with psychological thrillers such as Gone Girl before it, and Girl on a Train after it, helping to form the ‘grip-lit’ wave of books. Having enjoyed Apple Tree Yard so much I can’t wait to get my hands on her forthcoming book. Doughty writes with intelligence and precision and deftly creates moral ambiguity that has the reader thinking about her books long after finishing them.
Faber & Faber, publication date 2 June, £12.99