Books to curl up with
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the best of Super Thursday
This week marks the annual occurrence of what is known in the book trade as ‘Super Thursday’ – the day of the year when the largest volume of books is released across all genres, as publishers vie for a spot in the bestseller charts in the lead-up to Christmas.
Super it is, in every sense of the word, and entering a bookshop this time of year can feel like being in a glittering treasure trove. But it can also be vaguely overwhelming; whether choosing for yourself or for a gift, there are so many wonderful new offerings to pick from.
This fortnight I’m going to try and help, by highlighting six of the most hotly tipped novels for the season, all new out, and all perfect choices for curling up with as the nights start to draw in. Enjoy!
The Book of Dust Volume Two: The Secret Commonwealth
OUR PRICE £15
Pullman’s original His Dark Materials trilogy (1995-2000) is on a par with the Harry Potter series for its cherished status among readers and in our literary canon; a fantasy series for children and adults alike. In it, we met and followed young Lyra Belacqua through parallel universes as she adventured against the all-powerful Magisterium. In this new The Book of Dust series, we meet her again: first as a baby in 2017's La Belle Sauvage and now in her 20s, in the second instalment, The Secret Commonwealth. As ever, Pullman’s spellbinding story takes us out of this world, speaking of broader truths and reframing the way we live now: magic.
The Giver of Stars
OUR PRICE £16
Moyes is best known for her heartrending, passionate stories of love and life choices and this new novel won’t disappoint fans. In fact, it is likely to broaden her readership, as she turns her hand to historical fiction, in Depression-era America. The Giver of Stars is based on a true story and combines two of Moyes’ personal passions – libraries (of which she is an outspoken advocate) and horses (her earlier novel, The Horse Dancer was also re-issued this year). You can sink into this novel and be transported as you meet five extraordinary women who take to horseback to deliver books as volunteers for Eleanor Roosevelt’s new travelling library. A sparkling combination!
OUR PRICE £16
A personal favourite, I felt decidedly emotional opening boxes of this on publication day, having been swept up in the buzz surrounding its release. The Testaments is the sequel to Atwood’s profound and prophetic 1985 dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, set in a totalitarian state called Gilead, in which women no longer have control of their reproductive rights. The Testaments has been described by Atwood as a response to a frequent question from her readers: how did Gilead fall? Narrated by three women – Aunt Lydia (central to The Handmaid’s Tale), Agnes, a young woman recalling her life living in Gilead, and Daisy, a Canadian woman horrified by Gilead’s abuse of human rights – it answers this and so much more, not least, what happened to The Handmaid’s Tale’s heroine, Offred.
The Lying Room
OUR PRICE £11.99
Nicci French is the pseudonym for a unique writing team (and married couple), journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. In a recent interview, I read that they have a strict set of self-imposed writing guidelines to avoid too many arguments! Best known in recent years for the massively successful, eight-book Frida Klein series, they return now with a dramatic psychological thriller. Neve Connelly is in her 40s, facing marital problems and worries about her children. An affair with her boss offers welcome relief until she finds him murdered and makes a split-second decision not to report it, in case she is implicated. What is so unsettling about this story is the way it challenged my own moral boundaries; like all the best books, it forced me to see things from a whole new perspective.
AVAILABLE ONLINE SOON
OUR PRICE £10.99
Many of you will have read Heather Morris’ debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, based on the harrowing yet remarkable true story of Slovakian Jew Lale Sokolov and the girl he fell in love with while tattooing fellow prisoners at Auschwitz. That book was a hit around the world and now Morris will seek to repeat its success, picking up on the story of a secondary character from the first book, Cilka (or in real life, Cecília Kováčová), forced into prostitution with an SS officer. In Cilka’s Journey, we will learn more about her subsequent incarceration in the Russian gulags, where she reportedly found love too. Like the first book, this latest has faced some resistance from those directly connected to Auschwitz survivors, but Morris’s confident blend of unforgiving fact and romantic fiction is certain to see this fly off the shelves like its predecessor.
Now You See Them
OUR PRICE £11.99
At Jarrold we may have dubbed Griffiths our ‘queen of Norfolk-set crime’ for her Dr Ruth Galloway series, but this autumn she is back with the next instalment of her equally gripping, 1950s Brighton-set detective series. Now You See Them is the fifth to feature detective Edgar Stephens and his wartime partner in arms, magician Max Mephisto, their relationship an anchor for the series. This time, Brighton’s rough-edged glamour and danger is on the cusp of change: it’s 1963 and Stephens is married, while Mephisto has become a success in Hollywood. They are drawn back together at the funeral of an old friend where a new case emerges. With the next Dr Ruth Galloway book not released until February 2020, this will fill the gap perfectly.
Prices and availabiltiy checked Tuesday 1 October 2019.