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 read this month…

Australian author Madeleine Gray’s debut novel GREEN DOT (€18.99, Weidenfeld & Nicholson) comes with its own winnebago of hype. Hera is 24, over-qualified and under-stimulated at her job as an online comment moderator for a news outlet. Bisexual, she begins an affair with Arthur, who is the least appealing candidate for a tryst, being middle-aged and married, not to mention “daggy”. While the novel’s central story is about Hera’s ill-advised affair with Arthur, it’s also about lots of other types of love, including friendship and parental love. Green Dot is an irresistible story about the skin-crawlingly bad decisions many of us make in the name of love. Scorchingly smart and readable.

AJ Finn became a global phenomenon with his 2018 debut novel The Woman In The Window. END OF STORY (€17.50, Harper Collins) is his long-awaited follow-up, which is equally twisty. Finn is a fan of Alfred Hitchcock films and that influence can be seen in this novel too. End of Story tells the story of a mystery novelist with an unsolved disappearance in his past. When he is given three months to live, he invites a detective fiction expert to his San Francisco mansion (so far, so Hitchcockian). When a body surfaces in his pond, they both realise that the past is no longer in the past but very much in the present.

Ashani Lewis’s debut novel WINTER ANIMALS (€18.99, Dialogue Books) has been described as White Lotus meets The Secret History and it does have elements of both. It’s a compelling story of 38-year-old Elen, whose husband has left her and who finds herself homeless with no other choice but to return to her parents’ home in Michigan. Drowning her sorrows in a bar, she meets a group of wealthy English drifters who are squatting in abandoned ski resorts and Airbnbs. With nothing to lose, Elen tags along with them and soon discovers that these rich kids are not just drifting, but running.

Matthew Blake’s debut novel ANNA O (€17.50, Harper Collins) was the subject of a fierce bidding war and sold in over 20 territories before it was even published. It’s a high-concept thriller about a young woman, Anna, who goes on a weekend trip with her friends and colleagues. But when her colleagues are murdered and Anna is found fast asleep, covered in blood and holding the knife, it seems like an open-and-shut case of a sleepwalking crime. But four years later, Anna has still not woken up and a sleep expert is drafted in an attempt to wake her. When another murder takes place, it opens new questions for Anna, her sleep therapist and the police.

OURS (€18.99, Granta) is the impressive debut novel from the prize-winning American poet Phillip B Williams. Set in the 1800s, it tells the story of a woman known as Saint, who rescues slaves from plantations in the South and brings them to a haven known only as “Ours”, a place that Saint manages to hide through mysterious means. But inevitably, she cannot keep the town a secret forever. Williams uses this original story to interrogate the idea of freedom.

AFTER A DANCE (€13.99, Picador) is a collection of short stories by the late London-Irish writer Bridget O’Connor. O’Connor was one of the greatest short story writers of her generation and began her career in 1991 when she won the Time Out short story prize for her story, “Harp”. O’Connor went on to write two sharp and blackly comic short story collections and a play, The Flags, before moving into screenwriting. She died of cancer in 2010 at the age of 49 and received a posthumous Bafta for her screenplay for the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch. Her daughter, Constance Straughan, has written the introduction to this collection.

In non-fiction, POVERTY CREEK JOURNAL (€9.99, Daunt Books) by American poet and essayist Thomas Gardner, records the author’s runs over the course of one year. But this is not a book just for runners. Something about Gardner’s writing makes these 52 brief entries feel universal, meditative, spiritual even, as he moves from the landscape to what’s on his mind, whether it’s physical or existential pain, grief or the politics of his country (Gardner lives in Southwest Virginia). This slim book lands somewhere between nature writing, poetry and philosophy and comes with an introduction by Irish writer Lisa McInerney. Whether you’re a runner, walker or armchair sitter like me, it will give you pause for reflection.

Fitzcarraldo Editions have a reputation for publishing iconic writers, not to mention Nobel prize winners (four of the last nine Nobel literature laureates, including Annie Ernaux and Jon Fosse, are in their stable). ALPHABETICAL DIARIES (€12.35, Fitzcarraldo Editions) sees Sheila Heti join the ranks of Fitzcarraldo. Heti is best known for her works of inquiry How Should A Person Be? and Motherhood. Here she has edited and re-ordered ten years’ worth of her diaries, feeding them into an Excel document and organising the sentences alphabetically to see what her life might look like without chronological narrative. Fascinating, thought-provoking and original. You can get a taster on the New York Times website where the project was serialised.

Irish author Joseph Murray wrote one of the most charming romantic novels of 2022 with his debut Fling. Murray excels at high-concept romance and his second novel HITCHED (€18.99, Macmillan) delivers another great idea. Kate is due to marry dental surgeon, Norman, and is celebrating with a dream hen party in Las Vegas. But an alcohol-fuelled night results in Kate being accidentally married to her ex, a DJ who broke her heart nine years ago. It should be a simple case of a quick annulment, but Trevor wants Kate back, and won’t sign the papers until she agrees to go on three last dates with him. Will Kate choose the steady love of Norman or take a gamble on the man who broke her heart?

Cathy Kelly is one of Ireland’s best-loved writers and she returns this month with SISTERHOOD (€13.99, Harper Collins). It’s Lou’s 50th birthday but she’s not in celebratory mood. She’s just discovered that her mother has kept a huge secret from her for her entire life. Meanwhile Lou’s sister Toni is preoccupied with her own problems. Both sisters embark on their own journeys to find out who they are and who they want to be.

Lucy Diamond is the bestselling author of 19 novels, including The Beach Café and Anything Could Happen, and her latest, I REMEMBER PARIS (€16.99, Quercus), is just the antidote for bleak February days, with its uplifting story about second chances and friendship, all set in the magical city of Paris. The novel revolves around Jess, a single mother and journalist, and Adelaide, an octogenarian artist. When Jess takes on the job of writing Adelaide’s memoir, their stormy working relationship forces them to face truths about themselves, their pasts and their future.


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