Books: New from Sebastian Barry, Sally Magnusson, Natasha Pulley and more
BOOK OF THE WEEK
A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry is published in hardback by Faber & Faber, priced £18.99 (ebook £14.99)
IN A Thousand Moons, Dublin writer Sebastian Barry takes the reader back to the world of 19th century America and the lives of former soldiers Thomas McNulty and John Cole and their adopted daughter Winona, who he first introduced in his novel Days Without End. This time, the story is told by Winona, a Lakota girl who the two men have rescued from the violence inflicted on her people and brought to live with them on a farm in Tennessee. There she suffers a traumatic event with far-reaching consequences. With his lyrical prose, Barry brings vividly to life a society struggling with violence and disorder in the aftermath of the civil war, the cruelties imposed on native Americans and freed slaves, and the strength of love and friendship. In returning readers to a world they already know, sequels rarely quite match the freshness and surprise of a brand-new story; nevertheless, people who loved Days Without End are unlikely be disappointed.
The Ninth Child by Sally Magnusson is published in hardback by Two Roads, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99)
BROADCASTER Sally Magnusson's latest novel The Ninth Child is an eerie tale blending Scottish folklore with historical fiction in a page-turning read. Varying voices tell the story of a well-to-do doctor and his wife moving from a slum-ridden Victorian Glasgow to the Trossachs as a pioneering water scheme is built at Loch Katrine to serve the cholera-plagued city. At the site which inspired Sir Walter Scott to pen The Lady of the Lake, the wife, Isabel Aird, meets a mysterious minister as she grieves a series of miscarriages, but her Highland housekeeper discovers his true nature. Entertaining, educational and thought-provoking, The Ninth Child is pacy and accomplished, with particular skill in capturing the supernatural chill attached to some of Scotland's most picturesque sights.
The Lost Future Of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley is published in hardback by Bloomsbury, priced £12.99 (ebook £10.90)
NATASHA Pulley has created a world that is in fierce juxtaposition to the current one around us. The Lost Future Of Pepperharrow ties the mystical East to the industrial West and wraps a gothic ghost story inside a confusing enigma. Pulley takes her time to unravel the story with each part of the book coaxing a little bit more from the characters, as it bobs backwards and forward in time. The novel picks up five years after The Watchmaker Of Filigree Street. It's not imperative that you have read it first, but it will make the introduction to this Steampunk world much easier. Strange things are afoot, Thaniel – a quiet translator – and Mori – a watchmaker who can remember the future – are needed in Japan. Not too long after the pair arrive, Mori goes missing. There is brisling electricity in the air and more questions than answers, leading Mori's old friend Takiko Pepperharrow to try and get to the bottom of things.
This Lovely City by Louise Hare is published in hardback by HQ, priced £12.99 (ebook £9.99)
IT'S 1948 and the Blitz has left London in ruins. Lawrie arrives with the Windrush, a jazz musician ready to help England rebuild itself, only to find his welcome is less than sincere. A postman by day, Lawrie tours Soho's music halls by night. He falls in love with the girl next door and struggles to find his place in a broken city. But London isn't ready. Caught in a strange period between victory and mourning, the city punishes Lawrie and his friends, ostracising them and setting them apart. So, when Lawrie discovers the baby, dead and abandoned on the black side of town, it comes as little surprise that he is made chief suspect. Louise Hare's compelling debut is a slow-moving murder-mystery and a fractured love story, tenderly shedding light on an over-looked moment in history, when racism and discrimination forced ordinary people to take unthinkable measures for acceptance.
House of Glass by Hadley Freeman is published in hardback by Fourth Estate, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.99)
GUARDIAN journalist Hadley Freeman first holds up to the light her Polish/French (and reluctant American) grandmother, Sala Glass. Her intention was to tell this glamorous, mysterious and distantly dissatisfied woman's story through fashion, yet Freeman pans wider into 'The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family'. Cultural identity, the Second World War and lethal anti-Semitism are all embraced, although the Glass family did not suffer as terribly as some. Hadley's portal is a shoebox of memories found in her grandmother's wardrobe, and from that hidden repository she pulls her characters, notably Sala and her flamboyant brother Alex, wheeler-dealer and unlikely couture king of Paris, and Sala's American-Jewish husband Bill, forever more in love with his French wife than she with him. Freeman writes with great clarity and has an enviably light way with a weight of information.
CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE WEEK
Grief Angels by David Owen is published in paperback by Atom, priced £7.99 (ebook £4.99)
THIS YA novel is a powerful meditation on grief and friendship told from the perspectives of two struggling teen boys. Owen (15) has moved to a new house in a new area. His dad has recently died, his old friends have abandoned him and now he's all alone in a new school. There Duncan has troubles of his own – a friendship group he feels increasingly isolated from, a terror of girls, a depression he daren't tell anyone about. Both boys are lost to themselves at a time of difficult change. The story alternates between each viewpoint as Owen and Duncan get to know each other, the flaws in Duncan's friends become clearer, and the truth about Owen's relationship with his dad emerges. What gives the novel an additional, rich dimension are our excursions into Owen's inner world. This is a very satisfying read – tense, moving and emotionally intelligent. The politics of teen friendships are well drawn, there's a satisfying story arc, and the visits to Owen's other world add a powerful, almost mythic perspective. Highly recommended.