The Best New Books To Read This Month - The Gloss Magazine

The Best New Books To Read This Month

Edel Coffey selects some of the most anticipated books of the year…

One of the most anticipated books of the year is Laureate for Irish Fiction Colm Toibin’s long-awaited sequel to his best-selling novel Brooklyn. LONG ISLAND (Picador, €13.99) is set decades after Eilis emigrates to America. She has been married to Tony for 20 years, they have two children together and she lives a comfortable life in Long Island. But, in the opening pages, a knock on her door delivers unwelcome and explosive news and she begins to reassess her whole life, including her marriage and the decision she made to leave her family and her home country all those years ago. This is a masterly meditation on love, home, longing, regret and the “sliding doors” moments of life.

Sarah Crossan is a prolific writer of both children’s and adult fiction, and following hot on the heels of last month’s YA release Where The Heart Should Be, HEY, ZOEY (Bloomsbury, €21), tells the story of Dolores O’Shea, whose world is upended by the discovery that her husband has an expensive lifelike AI sex doll called Zoey. When Dolores begins to confide in Zoey, the doll becomes part-counsellor, part-friend, part-mirror forcing Dolores’ to reflect on her life, her marriage, her relationship with her mother, and her own ambitions and desires. This is both an exploration of AI and the role it might play in our lives and also a sharp critique of the constraints modern womanhood puts on women and how these constraints warp our lives. If you liked Cathy Sweeney’s Breakdown, you’ll love this.

Coinciding perfectly with the release of the TV mini-series adaptation of Amor Towles’ A Gentleman In Moscow is the publication of TABLE FOR TWO (Hutchinson Heinemann, €22.40), a collection of six short stories and a novella from the much-loved American author. The stories were all written over the last decade and the novella, Eve in Hollywood, returns to a character from Towles’ debut novel, Rules of Civility, which followed Eve’s journey to Los Angeles and her adventures in the golden age era of Hollywood in the 1930s. While Towles usually sets his novels in the defining historical eras of the 20th century, these stories are mostly set in New York around the millennium, which will surely be regarded as a defining moment in history too, from the arrival of the internet to the fall of the Twin Towers. Fans will enjoy these stories and how Towles manages to connect his fictional worlds and characters.

Another collection of stories published this month is THE BRIDEGROOM WAS A DOG (Granta, €15.99) by revered Japanese author Yoko Tawada. The title story was first published in Japan in 1993, where it won the prestigious Akutagawa prize. It tells the story of a grinds teacher who tells her pupils a story about a princess who marries a dog, only to discover that the story is weaving its way into her own life. Tawada’s stories are delightfully surreal and fantastical, exploring themes of identity, displacement and social conformity with absurd humour. If you liked Rachel Ingalls’ Mrs Caliban or indeed Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, you will enjoy this unusual, unique tale.

Irish author John Connolly’s private detective Charlie Parker has made him a New York Times bestselling author much loved by fans of crime fiction and supernatural mystery alike. THE INSTRUMENTS OF DARKNESS (Hodder & Stoughton, €15.99) is Connolly’s 21st instalment in the Parker series and sees Parker hired to help a lawyer defend a mother who stands accused of abducting and possibly killing her child. As always, Connolly uses Parker to uncover the darker side of our world, and also to be a force for good in the darkness. My only unanswered question at the end of this novel is when will we see a Charlie Parker TV adaptation?

EARTH (Doubleday, €13.99) is the second in John Boyne’s elemental quartet. Water was published last November and Fire and Air will follow over the course of the next twelve months. Earth tells the story of Evan Keogh, a minor character in Water but now the centre of the story here. Evan is a thwarted artist, a victim of many kinds of abuse and a hugely successful footballer. When his team member is accused of rape, Evan is on trial as an accessory and Boyne asks, what role does a bystander have in abuse? If you don’t stop a crime, are you still guilty?

A bold new Irish voice arrives this month as former glossy magazine editor Vicki Notaro publishes her debut novel, REALITY CHECK (Penguin Sandycove, €14.99). Portia Daniels has an apparently perfect life – gorgeous boyfriend, Manhattan apartment and a job she loves writing for TV. Her mother is the star of a hit reality TV show, Ladies of Los Angeles, while her sisters are celebrities of the model and influencer variety. Portia prefers a life of anonymity but as Jason surprises her with an unexpected revelation and her family becomes embroiled in gossip and scandal, Portia has to face up to her own reality. This is pure escapism, from its sequined cover to its celebrity characters. Glamorous, witty and full of heart and humour, it also addresses lots of modern female concerns, from motherhood to marriage and body image. A smart, fun debut.

Cork author Michelle McDonagh’s debut novel There’s Something I Have To Tell You was a bestseller in Ireland and she returns this month with her second novel, SOMEBODY KNOWS (Hachette Ireland, €15.99). Like her debut, this is a quintessentially Irish story of secrets, lies, shame and protecting reputations. Set in Galway, the story follows Cara Joyce, an adopted woman who is driven to find out about her birth mother. Her investigation leads her to some shocking discoveries nd brings her into contact with a powerful and wealthy family.

In non-fiction, WHEN THINGS DON’T GO YOUR WAY (Penguin Life, €17.40) by Haemin Sunim is a gentle guide to navigating the unavoidable and everyday challenges of being human. ? This book dropped through my letterbox during a very busy month and I was taken with its practical, simple and calming wisdom. The author is a Zen Buddhist teacher with a million followers on Instagram and several bestselling books to his name. This book includes chapters on how to deal with the modern malaise that stems from feeling burned-out and joyless, enduring loneliness in a city full of people or the uncertainty that can come with war and climate change. Okay, so it may not solve all of your problems or even change your life but it will certainly over comfort, solace or, at the very least, a moment’s reprieve. I’ve deliberately left it on my coffee table so I can dip into it when I have a few minutes to spare. It completely resets my attitude.

Booker-longlisted Irish author Elaine Feeney is best known for her novels As You Were and How To Build A Boat but she began her writing life as a poet and she has just published her fourth collection, ALL GOOD THINGS YOU DESERVE (Harvill Secker, €15.08). Feeney’s warm and authentic voice balances themes like trauma and violence with humour and the life-saving salve of love. If you think you don’t like poetry, read this.


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