Best New Reads: August |
We’re well into Trump’s presidency – and so arrives a plethora of female-authored novels that explore oppression and what it is to be a woman in America in 2018. This month also sees the return of bestselling authors Matt Haig and Sally Rooney, while debuts cover everything from British politics to finding an elusive plus one for a wedding…
Favourites 19

A River Of Stars by Vanessa Hua

Holed up with other mothers-to-be in a secret maternity home in LA, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. Now she’s carrying his baby. Already married with three daughters, Boss Yeung is overjoyed because the doctors have confirmed that he will finally have the son he has always wanted. To ensure that his child has every advantage, Boss Yeung has shipped Scarlett off to give birth on American soil. US citizenship will open doors for their little prince – until something goes very wrong. A powerful debut about modern-day motherhood, immigration and identity.

The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg

In Havana, Cuba, a widow tries to come to terms with her husband’s death—and the truth about their marriage—in Laura van den Berg’s surreal, mystifying story of psychological reflection. Shortly after Clare arrives in Havana, to attend the annual Festival of New Latin American Cinema, she finds her husband, Richard, standing outside a museum. He’s wearing a white linen suit she’s never seen before, and he’s supposed to be dead. Grief-stricken and baffled, Clare tails Richard, a horror film scholar, clocking his every move. As the distinction between reality and fantasy blurs, Clare finds grounding in memories of her childhood in Florida and of her marriage to Richard, revealing her role in his death and reappearance along the way.

Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

The follow-up to the Sunday Times Bestseller Reasons to Stay Alive, Notes on a Nervous Planet sees Matt Haig explore how the modern world is messing with our minds. After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, this question became an urgent matter of life and death for Haig, and so he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him. Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the 21st century – we predict another bestseller.

This Really Isn’t About You by Jean Hannah Edelstein

In 2014, six weeks after moving back to New York City, Jean Hannah Edelstein’s father died: six months on she learns that she too is a carrier of the gene that caused his death. As her world overturns, she is forced to confront some of life’s big questions: how do we cope with grief? How does life change when we realise we’re not invincible? Does knowing our likely fate make it harder or easier to face the future? This Really Isn’t About You is a book about finding your way in life. Which is to say, it’s a book about discovering you are not really in charge of that at all.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

The follow-up to her super-successful debut Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney’s Normal People is the story of Connell and Marianne, who grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland – but they are from very different worlds. Connell’s mother works as a cleaner in Marianne’s family home. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years. A fascinating exploration of domination, legitimacy and privilege.

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

Former Tatler journalist Sophia Money-Coutts has delved deep into her society background for her debut novel, which focuses on protagonist Polly’s elusive hunt for a plus one for her best friend’s nuptials. An amusing, if affectionate sideways glance at society’s eccentric upper classes, The Plus One has drawn comparisons to Bridget Jones, with ‘bonkbuster’ novelist Jilly Cooper describing the sex scenes as “amazing – makes me feel like a nun!” Witty and sharply drawn, it’s essential reading for anyone heading to a wedding solo this summer.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Set in a United States in which half the population has been silenced, Vox is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter. On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed to speak more than 100 words per day, Dr Jean McClellan is in denial. Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. Dubbed ‘The Handmaid’s Tale 2.0’, this is an explosive debut.

Severance by Ling Ma

Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-exiled in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine: her work, watching movies with her boyfriend, avoiding thoughts of her recently deceased Chinese immigrant parents. So, she barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps the world. Candace joins a small group of survivors, led by the power-hungry Bob, on their way to the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. A send-up and takedown of the rituals, routines and missed opportunities of contemporary life, Severance is a moving family story, a deadpan satire and a heartfelt tribute to the connections that drive us to do more than survive.

The Only Girl: My Life And Times On The Masthead Of Rolling Stone by Robin Green

With irreverent humour, journalist Robin Green spills stories of being the only girl in the 1970s Rolling Stone office. From sparring with Dennis Hopper on a film junket in the desert, scandalising fans of David Cassidy and spending a legendary evening on a water bed in Robert F Kennedy Jr's dorm room, Green reveals what it was like to be the first woman granted entry into an iconic boys' club. Pulling back the curtain on Rolling Stone magazine in its prime, The Only Girl is a striking tribute to a bygone era and a publication that defined a generation.

Rise: Life Lessons In Speaking Out, Standing Tall & Leading The Way by Gina Miller

Gina Miller came to prominence in 2016 when she brought one of the most significant constitutional cases ever to be heard in the British Supreme Court: successfully challenging the UK government’s authority to trigger Article 50 without parliamentary approval. For standing up for what she believed was right, Miller became the target of not just racist and sexist verbal abuse, but physical threats to herself and her family. In Rise, Miller draws on a lifetime of fighting injustice and looks at the trauma, failures and successes that made her.

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