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

The Best New Books To Read This Month

Edel Coffey selects new books to get your spring reading started…

Rejoice! We are out of the bleak first months of 2024 and spring is finally here. March always brings the first major book releases of the year, and this month brings an unexpected windfall in the form of UNTIL AUGUST (Viking, €16.99), a new novel by the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and author of the iconic novels Love In The Time Of Cholera and One Hundred Years Of Solitude.

Until August is a lost book that was discovered in a Texan archive a decade after Marquez’s death. The book has been strictly embargoed until its publication later this month: all I can tell you is that Ana Magdalena Bach is a mother and wife who has been happily married for 27 years. However, once a year, she travels to the Caribbean island where her dead mother is buried and takes a lover for just one night. It is described as an exploration of freedom, desire and fear. Tantalising.

Rebecca Ivory is one of many young, talked-about Irish writers making their debut this year. FREE THERAPY (Vintage, €15.99), her collection of stylish short stories, describes contemporary life and all of its malaise in excruciating detail. Ivory’s characters are instantly involving and the title story cleverly exposes its protagonist’s vanities and prejudices. Ivory’s stock in trade is analysing the grey areas between one-night stands, hook-ups and relationships.

HEADSHOT by Rita Bullwinkel (Daunt Books, €14) is one of the most original books I’ve read in a long time. The novel is set at a girls’ boxing championship tournament. Over the course of four matches, fought by the eight best teenage boxers in the country, Bullwinkel reveals the back stories and future stories of her characters with arresting detail that lends huge emotional depth. We learn about the teenage lifeguard whose inattention led to the death of a small boy and how it plagues her for the rest of her life. By the time you get to the end of this novel, you are emotionally on the ropes yourself. Brilliant.

Another original debut is Catriona Shine’s novel, HABITAT (Lilliput Press, €18). Shine grew up in Ireland but now lives in Oslo, where she works as an architect. This expertise feeds into Habitat’s story about a group of neighbours living in an apartment building, which is starting to disappear. The neighbours recriminate with and blame each other, failing to see that working together instead of passing blame around might create a better solution. Meanwhile the components of the building tell their own story. An intriguing parable about the destruction of our much larger habitat.

SECRET VOICES (Batsford, €27) edited by Sarah Gristwood, is an anthology of women’s diary entries from the past four centuries. Each day of the year features a selection of diary entries from different women, some of them famous (Emma Thompson, Tina Brown, Audre Lorde), others less so (Anna Dostoevsky, Eleanor Coppola, and Ada Blackjack, the only survivor of a doomed 1921 Arctic expedition. She survived for eight months before she was rescued). All of the entries give insight into what it is to be a woman, from sexuality to marriage, money to adventure and survival. A beautiful object and one that can be dipped into daily for inspiration and humour.

Irish author Carmel Harrington’s latest, THE LIGHTHOUSE SECRET (Harper Collins, €13.99) is one to note. Harrington’s emotional family sagas are international bestsellers and The Lighthouse Secret is her eleventh book. It tells the dual stories of Beth and her sisters in Cork in the 1950s and Molly, one of the women’s granddaughters, who now lives in modern-day Maine. While Beth and her sisters have kept a secret since the 1950s, someone wants to bring that secret out into the open.

Roisin Maguire is a Northern Irish writer who lives in Downpatrick, Co Down. Having worked as a teacher, a bus driver and a bouncer, Maguire is also a graduate of the Queens University MA in Creative Writing (previous graduates include Louise Kennedy and Louise Nealon). NIGHT SWIMMERS (Serpent’s Tail, €21) is Maguire’s debut novel and introduces the deliciously scathing and cantankerous middle-aged voice of Grace Kielty. Grace is a resident of a small tourist town on the east coast of Northern Ireland. When Belfast man Evan, grief-stricken after the loss of his child, arrives to say in the village for a week, he is in need of community and friendship. But when Evan’s stay gets unexpectedly extended by the enforcement of lockdown, he and Grace are forced to take stock of their lives, and how they have come to be the people they are now. Beautifully written and perfect for fans of Kathleen MacMahon.

Crime fiction fans will have been eagerly awaiting Jane Casey’s new instalment of her Maeve Kerrigan mystery series. Having just discovered the joy of these novels a couple of years ago, I am now a Maeve Kerrigan zealot. A STRANGER IN THE FAMILY (Hemlock Press, €14.99) is Casey’s eleventh book in the series (it can be enjoyed as a standalone but if you have time do give yourself the enormous pleasure of going back to the the beginning of the series). This book begins with Maeve and her boss Josh Derwent investigating a fresh double murder that leads back to an old cold case. While the plot keeps us turning the pages, the sexual tension between Maeve and Josh, the Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet of crime fiction, is what keeps us coming back.

Tana French is one of Ireland’s most low-key authors but also one of its most successful. A New York Times-bestselling author, she has won an Edgar award (the Oscars for crime fiction writers) among many awards. THE HUNTER (Viking, €15.99) is French’s ninth novel and the second in her new Cal Hooper series. Cal is a retired Chicago detective who has moved to the West of Ireland to find some respite from his former life solving crimes. Having found love with a local woman, and a bond with a troubled teenage girl called Trey, he is drawn back into his old role of protect and serve by the return of Trey’s father. A smooth-paced thriller by an absolute master.

Dublin-based anaesthetist Clara Dillon’s debut THE PLAYDATE (Penguin Sandycove, €19.60) grips you with a stranglehold from the get-go. The premise is simple but effective. Struggling mother Sara holds a playdate for some of her daughter’s friends, including popular mean girl, Polly. By the end of chapter one, Polly’s lifeless body is lying on the ground in Sara’s back garden. The book is a tense page-turner that will make you think twice about ever hosting a playdate again! @edelcoffey


All the usual great, glossy content of our large-format magazine in a neater style delivered to your door.


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This