So many new books, so little time… here are the top 3 releases to read this month:
1. the debut:
I’m going to come right out and say it – this isn’t just my book of the month, it’s my book of the year. And yes, I know we’re only five months in to 2017, but seriously, it’s that good. Like Where’d You go Bernadette, The Rosie Project and Wonder before it, Eleanor Oliphant is an unforgettable protagonist who firmly implants herself in your heart before her tragic back story touches your soul. Poignant, thought-provoking and full of pathos, laugh-out-loud lines are streaked with dignified sorrow, painting an acutely observed picture of loneliness. As you read, you can only hope that Eleanor Oliphant will discover what we readers know from the very first page – she is more than fine, she is exceptional.
2. the most anticipated
I don’t envy Hawkins the impossible task of trying to match the runaway (sorry) success of her debut The Girl on the Train for expectant fans who want the same book but… different. Has she managed it? Well, it’s a thriller, yes, about a series of women in one town who, throughout history, have drowned in the local river. When the latest victim (who was writing a book about them all) is discovered, we’re flung into the depths of the murky mystery. Fans of ‘Girl’ will find unreliable narrators galore including: a victim’s brother, another victim’s daughter and sister, the police investigators, a local teacher and townsfolk (including a psychic). Whilst the strength of the writing carries you through the first quarter, the confusing plot and extensive voices left me feeling as adrift as the dead bodies themselves.
3. the sequel
Pulitzer-prize winning author Elizabeth Strout dazzled readers and critics alike with her 2016 novel My Name is Lucy Barton in which the eponymous protagonist evaluates her life and troubled childhood from her hospital bed through the oblique filter of memory. Whilst writing that novel Strout found herself developing stories of the extraneous characters she’d briefly touched upon. This complexly carved collection of arresting short stories moulded into the shape of a novel is the result. Whilst I didn’t love it as much as Lucy, it has the same delightfully subtle, nuanced writing that somehow perfectly illuminates the wide gamut of human emotion that Strout so deftly explores.