Time to sit down and check out some of the new arrivings to share with you...you know how I like to give you the heads up on the library queue, and the stack here is looking very enticing indeed.
Maybe the most eagerly anticipated book of 2014 for many has to be The Paying Guests, the new novel from Sarah Waters to be published by Virago on August 28th..
It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.
For with the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the ‘clerk class’, the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. And as passions mount and frustration gathers, no one can foresee just how far, and how devastatingly, the disturbances will reach…
Apart from some 'ooohs' and 'aaah' and 'oh goodo' when my proof copy arrived I had no plans to read it until much nearer the time... well maybe just twenty pages or so...just to see... but I defy anyone to put it down after those first twenty pages. I was so drawn in...and by that unique way that Sarah Waters has of making the ordinary so completely riveting, that I am now in it for the home run, and of course slowly the ordinary becomes extraordinary and I can hardly breath for the tension. The book segues perfectly with my Great War theme giving me that buzz of reading excitement each time I pick it up and that reluctance to put it down... the hallmarks of a brilliant read to my mind.
UPDATE:: A weekend of rain, barely surfaced for food and air... now 100 pages to go... A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
If you are a fan of Tove Jansson keep an eye out for The Listener. It is a book of short stories for adults and I am really enjoying them...one a day in that wonderful way that this genre works so well. Published by Sort Of Books this collection was first in print in Swedish in 1971 and this is its first English translation.
Mia Morgan, in the middle of her life, is a woman under siege: by memories of her late lover, by the relationship with her blind father, and by a family secret she can’t forget. She is also accused of living in the past: her days are spent amid the life and letters of Lady Brilliana Harley, who lived nearly four hundred years ago during the English Civil War.
Brilliana Harley is a Puritan, a lone Roundhead in a county of Royalists, and it is not long before her enemies sit down in siege around her. As cannon-shot rains down upon her castle, she alone must captain a garrison of men and defend her home.
Out of Brilliana’s words emerges a woman of courage and conviction, a loving mother and capable wife, dutiful even under duress. As Mia pieces her together, she finds that it is through Brilliana’s life, so different and yet so similar, that she can come to understand her own.
Darkling is a revolutionary undertaking: an echoing of two lives across the centuries, deftly weaving original seventeenth-century documents into the fabric of a modern fiction. The result is a book of voices, past and present, exquisitely observed and skilfully summoned.
I made a great start on it and then was completely at reading sixes and sevens with a full house for three weeks and lost my momentum, but I will come back to it because it is so beautifully written and I was engrossed ( psst...secret... Laura is Alice Oswald's sister...well no secret but writers probably hate people making connections preferring to be their own person, but there I've told you now anyway)
One drowsy summer's day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for 'asylum'. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking . . .
The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly's life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland's Atlantic coast as Europe's oil supply dries up - a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes - daughter, sister, mother, guardian - is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.
Metaphysical thriller, meditation on mortality and chronicle of our self-devouring times, this kaleidoscopic novel crackles with the invention and wit that have made David Mitchell one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. Here is fiction at its most spellbinding and memorable best.
Now I have had mixed success with David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas worked like a dream, Black Swan Green and the The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet less so, which isn't to say I won't come back to them at the right moment and love them.
You won't forget Elf and Yoli, two smart and loving sisters. Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yolandi, divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men as she tries to find true love: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. Yoli is a beguiling mess, wickedly funny even as she stumbles through life struggling to keep her teenage kids and mother happy, her exes from hating her, her sister from killing herself and her own heart from breaking.
But Elf's latest suicide attempt is a shock: she is three weeks away from the opening of her highly anticipated international tour. Her long-time agent has been calling and neither Yoli nor Elf's loving husband knows what to tell him. Can she be nursed back to 'health' in time? Does it matter? As the situation becomes ever more complicated, Yoli faces the most terrifying decision of her life.
All My Puny Sorrows, at once tender and unquiet, offers a profound reflection on the limits of love, and the sometimes unimaginable challenges we experience when childhood becomes a new country of adult commitments and responsibilities. In her beautifully rendered new novel, Miriam Toews gives us a startling demonstration of how to carry on with hope and love and the business of living even when grief loads the heart.
I have read and loved all Miriam's books since first discovering A Complicated Kindness so I will be making some reading space for this one soon as
I hardly seem to have made a dent, the tempting pile of books still teeters beside me, so I'll hold those over for a second Arrivings post, but tell me...any of these take your fancy so far... have you dashing to the library catalogue to reserve...
How about David Mitchell...has anyone else had mixed success or have you loved them all...what have I missed in those two books I struggled with...
And are you as excited as me about the The Paying Guests... expect another Goldfinch Gush this end.