And then we saw, from Shining Tor,
The piebald landscape stretched below,
By glaciers an age ago.
And, in the distance, Shutlingsloe.
Sorry didn’t really cut it. Not when she’d lied an’ all. Told him she’d bought the ticket. Empty handed when his numbers came up. He divorced her.
Most of these books I heard about through reviews in the press or from recommendations on Twitter. A few I found while browsing the shelves in my local library. One of the pleasures of reading is entering new worlds and finding new voices. All these novels gave me that buzz. Happy reading.
Life! Death! Prizes! by Stephen May
The Dark Circle by Linda Grant
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
The Ship by Antonia Honeywell
We Are Now Beginning Our Descent by James Meek
The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
Calling Major Tom by David Barnett
The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan
Barkskins by Annie Proulx
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Like the sun at dawn
Like warm dough
Like the birds of the air
Like the corn in the fields
Like a song
Like a smile
Like the hills of green
Like kites in the wind
Like the tide
It’s World Book Day today so a good time to spread the word about some books I’ve enjoyed (not that I need an excuse). Enjoy!
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary
Redemption Road by John Hart
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay Behind by Elena Ferrante
A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Believe No One by A.D. Garrett
The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
Under The Harrow by Flynn Berry
The first question people ask me when they hear about this book is not what the story is, or how it’s selling, or if it’s a crime novel but whether the title is a quote from something. It isn’t, to the best of my knowledge, but it does have that sort of ring. You can imagine it in a Shakespearean speech or a classic poem. It took months to find it. While writing the novel I’d used a working title that was way too cheesy (nope, not saying). Then I spent weeks exchanging emails with my publishers, even during my holiday on Kefalonia, chewing over possibilities. Long lists were compiled and considered. The book tells the story of a group of strangers on a train from Manchester to London who are caught up in a devastating event. Some proposed titles reflected the randomness of such tragedy: A Day Like Any Other, Out Of A Clear Blue Sky; others aimed to capture the characters’ response to sudden violence: You Can’t Kill The Spirit, The Kindness of Strangers; but nothing had the emotional resonance we were after. The Silence Between Breaths appears on the last list I submitted, along with other suggestions none of which had half the impact. I love how it echoes moments of the story, mirrors both the tension and the rupture that tears lives apart but also the contemplation that comes with such an experience. It’s an intriguing phrase and calls up a physical response in the reader. It’s perfect. And how I dreamt it up remains a mystery.
You text me a full stop. Harbinger of things to come or just your phone ‘playing silly beggars’ again? Stiff fingers and failing eyes. Low battery. I’m tempted to reply with a question mark. But resist. And pick up the landline.
New year and some new book suggestions for you. I read these over the last few weeks of 2016 and they all gave me immense pleasure. Hope you find something you’ll enjoy too.
The Trespasser by Tana French
Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf
This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell
Streets of Darkness by AA Dhand
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
To The Island by Megan Delahunt
Dodgers by Bill Beverly
Here are some more titles that I’ve really enjoyed for your delectation…
Ruby by Cynthia Bond
The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
Sirens by Joseph Knox
The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong
The Museum of You by Carys Bray
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis
Date With Death by Julia Chapman
While My Eyes Were Closed by Linda Green
The nights are drawing in. Time to curl up with a good book (well, when isn’t it?) Here are some I’ve really enjoyed, hope you find something you like.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings
Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
The Woman Who Ran by Sam Baker
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson
Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
King Crow by Michael Stewart
Black Water by Louise Doughty