7 New Books For April Reading - The Gloss Magazine

7 New Books For April Reading

With themes of summer, mystery and romance, Orna Mulcahy chooses new books to read in April

Beautiful women often end up dating average men but does it ever happen the other way around? Are you kidding? Sally Milz, an Emmy-winning script writer on a late-night TV show, whose average colleague Danny has just got engaged to a movie star, knows it will never happen to her. Though there’s a guy she calls for sex, her schedule doesn’t allow for anything serious, what with the all-night writing sessions and glitzy after-show parties. Curtis Sittenfeld’s ROMANTIC COMEDY (Doubleday, €19.20) introduces Sally at the height of her comedy powers, and the go-to person when guest-host Noah Brewster, a scarily handsome pop idol, needs to sharpen his shtick. There’s instant chemistry but, wait, doesn’t he only ever date models? Sally gives him the brush-off just as Covid descends. When Noah reaches out from California, their email conversations turn serious and Sally sets out across America to see if Noah is really as good as he reads.

Is a wife and mother allowed an inner life? And if she chooses to keep her inner thoughts secret, is that a sin? From the minute Valeria Cossati buys a notebook and starts to write in it, she is terrified her family will find it. The notebook becomes “a blood sucker”, drawing out her doubts and longings. FORBIDDEN NOTEBOOK, a long-dormant novel by mid 20th-century Italian-Cuban writer Alba De Cespedes (Pushkin Press, €19.20) is worth your attention. Valeria feels increasingly trapped in the small house she shares with bank clerk husband Michele, and their two children, Riccardo and Mirella. At first, she fills her notebook with observations on family life, mainly her anger at Mirella for seeing a married man and the struggle to make ends meet on their meagre salaries. Soon, she takes refuge in writing and a private world blossoms in which she becomes close to Guido, her sophisticated boss. As Mirella’s relationship deepens, Riccardo falls for a penniless girl and Michele petitions a glamorous, man-eating friend Clara to sell a script he’s written, the task of holding it all together falls to Valeria. De Cespedes’s own life reads like a novel: granddaughter of the first president of Cuba, she was raised in Rome, married at 15 and began her writing career after her divorce at 20, eventually becoming one of Italy’s most successful novelists.

Anne Griffin’s third novel THE ISLAND OF LONGING (Sceptre, €16.90) presents that most awful scenario – a missing child. Saoirse disappeared without trace eight years ago and her parents, Rosie and Hugh, are falling apart from the loss. Hugh needs some space and so Rosie returns to West Cork to help her father skipper his ferry for a season. Each chapter is prefaced with a line or two that emerge as Saoirse’s story – mundane at first but increasingly terrifying. As Rosie fights to save her father’s business, she draws hope from a clairvoyant friend that Saoirse is still out there somewhere.

There’s trouble down on the farm in Michelle McDonagh’s dark debut THERE’S SOMETHING I HAVE TO TELL YOU (Hachette, €15.80), when the wealthy owners of an agri-tourism business turn up dead at the bottom of the slurry tank. Matriarch Ursula was a well-coiffed pillar of the community, her devoted husband Jimmy only mildly suffering from dementia. Soon the police are hounding Rob and Kate, the son and daughter-in-law who run the farm and stand to inherit everything. But as family secrets bubble unpleasantly to the surface, it seems that there were plenty of people who wanted Ursula dead.

Colorado writer Shelley Read’s GO AS A RIVER (Doubleday, €19.20) follows the meandering course of the Gunnison River through the Elk Mountains, to tell the story of peach farmer’s daughter Victoria Nash. Raised to keep house for her father, brother and mean, wheelchair-bound Uncle Og, at 17 she meets and falls in love with Wilson Moon, a native Indian passing through town. When Wilson disappears, Victoria takes herself away to a remote cabin to give birth to their child but the harsh environment makes a life together impossible and she is forced to make a hard choice. Years later Victoria must fight to preserve her family’s prize peach trees and the kernel of hope that she will one day see her son again. Aimed at Crawdad fans, it’s a pleasure to read.

Debut writer Charleen Hurtubise’s THE POLITE ACT OF DROWNING (Erui, €16.90) will instantly transport you to summer. Set in a lakeside community in Michigan in the 1980s, the story centres on the Kennedy family who have deep roots in the marshy lands around Kettle Lake. Aunt Rita rules the roost with her successful fish tackle business while blow-in Rosemary, married to Danny, is a distracted presence, always drifting away towards a visiting professor who occupies a cabin in the woods. A Memorial Day drowning casts a pall over the holidays, but 16-year-old Joanne Kennedy finds solace in her new friendship with Lucinda, a flighty foster child staying with neighbours, who’s determined to shake up the summer at Kettle Lake.

Prepare to be creeped out by DEATH OF A BOOKSELLER by Alice Slater (Hodder & Stoughton, €16.90) published at the end of April. Is that a snail peeking out at the bottom of the first page? Slowly it emerges, pushing across the opening of each chapter as the story goes deeper and darker. Roach and Laura both work in a bookshop but there the similarity ends. Laura, a poet in her spare time, cleanses and moisturises her pretty face and wears a cute beret. Roach slinks and skulks, can’t abide “normies” and lives for true crime podcasts. When Laura doesn’t respond to her clumsy attempts at friendship, Roach is determined to be part of her life, whether Laura wants it or not. Dark and unsettling, with references to more serial killers than you every knew existed.

Twitter @OrnaMulcahy

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