Books: new readings by Karen Joy Fowler, Julia Armfield, Sarah Vaughan and more…

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FICTION

BOOTH by Karen Joy Fowler is published in hardcover by Serpent’s Tail, priced at £18.99 (ebook £14.49)

WE KNOW before starting the novel that the twisted timeline of American history and the Booth family will lead to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. In Booth, Karen Joy Fowler looks past the criminal, John Wilkes Booth. She tells the story through her eccentric theatrical family, whose viewpoints and personalities collide. Most of the story follows the Booth children’s acting careers. Fowler’s portrayal of the industry is captivating, and the novel’s most poignant voice comes from sister and carer Rosalie, with Fowler shining a light on a brother pushed into the shadows. Booth is an intimate historical romance that begins with fame and ends with notoriety.

9/10

REPUTATION by Sarah Vaughan is published in hardcover by Simon & Schuster, priced at £14.99 (ebook £6.99)

MP EMMA Webster is trying to fulfill her father’s dreams of making a difference, launching a campaign to protect women from online bullying, raising her media profile by giving a lengthy newspaper interview and confiding in a political editor support for his cause. But she becomes the victim of online abuse, her teenage daughter is bullied at school, and her friendship with the tabloid reporter turns sour. Her resolve to stay strong is spectacularly derailed as events combine to bring her closer to ruin – and even closer to prison for murder. The book is a thrilling mix of political, legal and personal drama, expertly told by an author who has worked as a journalist in Parliament and the courts, giving him direct access to incredible characters and settings. It really is a tense story for our time.

8/10

OUR WIVES UNDER THE SEA by Julia Armfield is published in hardcover by Picador, priced at £16.99 (ebook £8.99)

OUR Wives Under the Sea is Julia Armfield’s debut novel, telling the story of wives Miri and Leah. Leah returned from a mission on the high seas that didn’t go as planned, and it changed her. She spends most of her time in the bath, not telling Miri about what happened to her. The chapters alternate between Miri, who talks about the beginnings of their relationship and the struggles they now face together, and Leah, who more bluntly details her failed underwater mission. Armfield creates a haunting and eerie atmosphere, creating a somewhat eerie book that’s filled with praise from Sarah Waters and Florence Welch.

7/10

NON FICTION

IN THE MARGINS: ON THE PLEASURES OF READING AND WRITING by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein, is published in hardcover by Europa Editions, priced at £12.99 (ebook £10.99)

THIS collection of essays is presented as a meditation on the pleasures of creating and consuming the written word. In reality, it focuses more on the limits of the craft, the noble quest to put pen to paper (although one may never find the right words to express one’s deepest thoughts or feelings), and Ferrante’s fears, as a fledgling writer, that she isn’t up to it. You don’t need to have read the Italian author’s bestselling Neapolitan novels to appreciate this third foray into non-fiction, but you’ll need a decent vocabulary (or a dictionary handy ) to follow the intellectual prose and familiarity with the works of Dante Alighieri will also help in the case of the fourth essay Dante’s Rib. For that reason, this short but dense book is perhaps better suited to Ferrante superfans (of which there are many), or aspiring authors, than casual readers.

6/10

CHILD BOOK OF THE WEEK

BABY LOVE by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Rachael Dean, is published in hardcover by Penguin, priced at £12.99 (ebook £8.99). Available now

LAURA is like any other girl growing up – desperate to fit in and figure out how to relate to the boys, without getting too close. Following her glamorous friend’s lead, she dives headlong into the adult world of makeup, music, and boys becoming men. A brief moment of delight becomes a world of pain in the early 1960s, as the summer of love is just beginning to come to life. A member of a traditional-minded family, Laura pays a heavy price for being born on the cheap side of town. Jacqueline Wilson has woven together an electric cast of characters – a roller coaster of emotions, it’s a testament to a time when tradition and the word of parents still held incredible weight. If you’re a fan of Tracy Beaker, this story of the transition from child to young adult will keep you in suspense.

9/10

BOOK TABLES – HARDBOARD (FICTION)

1. Gallant by VE Schwab

2. Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson

3. Galatea by Madeline Miller

4. Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

5. Anna Mazzola’s Clockwork Girl

6. Lucy Foley’s Paris apartment

7. House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas

8. Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes

9. Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

10. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

(Compiled by Waterstones)

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