Two big names leapt out of the March schedules for me although I’m not at all sure about the first. The second I’ve already read but I’m saving that for the next instalment.
You’ll probably already know about Eleanor Catton’s Birnam Wood which has been all over social media. It follows the eponymous guerrilla gardening group who see an opportunity to take over a farm apparently abandoned thanks to a massive landslide. When the new owner catches Mira on his land, he suggests a plan to benefit both of them but can he be trusted. ‘A gripping psychological thriller from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Luminaries, Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its wit, drama and immersion in character’ say the publishers. I’m afraid I gave up The Luminaries much as I admired the writing, although I enjoyed the BBC adaptation.
No doubts about the next title. I loved Nicole Flattery’s short story collection, Show Them a Good Time, so was keen to read her first novel which has an intriguing premise. In 1967 two young high school students helped transcribe tapes of conversations and monologues made by Andy Warhol’s coterie, later published as a novel. Nothing Special reimagines the lives of these two anonymous women who briefly lived on the fringes of a group mythologised for their part in ’60s counterculture. Mae has never quite got over her exposure to this world of self-obsessed, beautiful people seemingly intent on humiliating each other. A fascinating novel, original and smartly delivered. Review shortly…
Sophie Berrebi’s The Sharing Economy is set 2014 in Amsterdam where a dating app is being tested which will strain Gabrielle and Anton’s open marriage to breaking point as Gabrielle’s desire for brief encounters is given free rein. ‘Set during one intense and transformative year, and suffused with art, sex and philosophy, The Sharing Economy is at once a uniquely radical reappraisal of the way we view relationships and a tender and moving depiction of the many ways in which the human heart is capable of love’ according to the blurb. Not entirely sure about this one which puts me in mind a little of Jo Bloom’s Permission but there’s mention of art, and Amsterdam.
Way back in the early days of this blog, I read Stephanie Bishop’s The Other Side of the World which I enjoyed very much. Her new novel, The Anniversary, follows a novelist and her husband on a celebratory cruise. Patrick’s star is waning while J.B.’s is on the rise. After days of lazing in the sun, enjoying life and each other, a storm hits the ship and Patrick disappears overboard. The blurb hints that things aren’t quite what they seem in this apparently happy marriage promising secrets to be revealed. Very much like the sound of that.
Charmaine Craig’s My Nemesis sees another writer wrongfooted when she speaks out drunkenly at a party. Tessa enjoys her sparky, cerebral relationship with Charlie but is puzzled by his wife’s apparent subservience to him. When she makes her feelings known publicly, she’s forced to deal with the aftermath and to rethink her blunt assertion. ‘An exercise in empathy, an exploration of betrayal and a charged story of the thrill of a shared connection – and the perils of feminine rivalry – My Nemesis is a brilliantly dramatic and captivating story from a hugely talented writer’ says the blurb whetting my appetite nicely.
Three short story collections for March but just one for this instalment although it’s the one most likely to hit the spotlight. Published by Virago as part of their fiftieth anniversary celebrations, Furies is an anthology of fifteen pieces which is all about ‘reclaiming the stories of the wicked wild and untamed’ according to the enticing strapline on its cover. Contributors range from the headlining Margaret Atwood to Stella Duffy, Kamila Shamsie to Linda Grant, Ali Smith to Helen Oyeyemi. Sounds unmissable to me.
That’s it for March’s first batch of new fiction. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis for any that take you fancy. Part two soon…