8 Of The Best New Books To Read This June

From the return of literary detective Jackson Brodie to a new read from the author of Eat Pray Love, this month offers beach books and hard-hitting novels in equal measure…

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

The first Jackson Brodie mystery since 2010's Started Early, Took My Dog, Big Sky hits shelves on 18th June. The novel sees Kate Atkinson – the bestselling author of A God in Ruins and last year’s hit Transcription – return to the world of one of her most iconic characters. A private investigator and former soldier and policeman, Brodie now makes his money working from investigating infidelity and finding missing cats. In Big Sky, we find he’s has relocated to a quiet seaside village in North Yorkshire. It’s a picturesque setting, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes. Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, seems straightforward, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network—and back into the path of someone from his past.

"Atkinson is one of the best writers working today, and her crime fiction, including novels featuring the now-retired Scottish inspector Jackson Brodie, rank among the finest. What takes Big Sky up a notch is its urgent, relevant subject matter: pedophilia rings and how they damage survivors for the rest of their lives."—Bethanne Patrick, The Washington Post

Pre-order here.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

This new tome from Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert pulls focus on the summer of 1940. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris arrives in New York with her suitcase and sewing machine, exiled by her despairing parents. She soon finds gainful employment as the self-appointed seamstress at the Lily Playhouse. There, Vivian quickly becomes the toast of the showgirls, transforming the trash and tinsel only fit for the cheap seats into creations for goddesses. Exile in New York is no exile at all: here in this strange wartime city of girls, Vivian and her girlfriends mean to drink the heady highball of life itself to the last drop. But there are hard lessons to be learned as Vivian learns that to live the life she wants, she must live many lives, ceaselessly and ingeniously making them new.

“Glamorous, sexy, compelling, addictive. Radical and refreshing to read.” – Dolly Alderton, author of Everything I Know About Love

Buy here.

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett

Queer author Kristen Arnett's debut novel is a darkly funny, heart-wrenching and eccentric look at loss and love. One morning, Jessa-Lynn Morton walks into the family taxidermy shop to find that her father has committed suicide, right there on one of the metal tables. Shocked and grieving, Jessa steps up to manage the failing business, while the rest of the Morton family crumbles. Her mother starts sneaking into the shop to make aggressively lewd art with the taxidermied animals. Her brother Milo withdraws, struggling to function. And Brynn, Milo's wife – and the only person Jessa's ever been in love with – walks out without a word. As Jessa seeks out less-than-legal ways of generating income, the Mortons reach a tipping point. For the first time, Jessa has no choice but to learn who these people truly are, and ultimately how she fits alongside them.

"This book is my song of the summer." —Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

Buy here.

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

This poignant and suspenseful drama from the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation untangles the complicated ties binding three women—two sisters and their mother—in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears, and a series of family secrets emerge. Sylvie, the beautiful, brilliant, successful older daughter of the Lee family, flies to the Netherlands for one final visit with her dying grandmother—and then vanishes. Amy, the sheltered baby of the family, is too young to remember a time when her parents were newly immigrated and too poor to keep Sylvie. Sylvie has always looked out for them. Now, it’s Amy’s turn to help. Terrified yet determined, Amy retraces her sister’s movements. But instead of simple answers, she discovers something much more valuable: the truth.

“Like all most compelling mysteries, Jean Kwok’s Searching for Sylvie Lee has a powerful emotional drama at its heart. A twisting tale of love, loss and dark family secrets.” – Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

Buy here.

Bunny by Mona Awad

Samantha couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort – a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny”. But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled Smut Salon and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door – ditching her only friend Ava in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper into the sinister yet saccharine world of the Bunny cult and starts to take part in their ritualistic off-campus workshops, where they magically conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur, and her friendships are brought into deadly collision.

“Mona Awad’s precision is only matched by her wit as she mounts one of the most pristine, delightful attacks on popular girls since Clueless. Bunny made me cackle and nod in terrified recognition. You will be glued to your cashmere blanket.” – Lena Dunham, Girls writer and author of Not That Kind of Girl

Preorder here.

Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Toby Fleishman thought he knew what to expect when he and his wife of almost 15 years separated: weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some residual bitterness, the occasional moment of tension in their co-parenting negotiations. He could not have predicted that one day, in the middle of his summer of sexual emancipation, Rachel would just drop their two children off at his place and simply not return. As Toby tries to figure out where Rachel went – all while juggling his patients at the hospital, his never-ending parental duties, and his new app-assisted sexual popularity – his tidy narrative of the spurned husband with the too-ambitious wife is his sole consolation. But if Toby ever wants to truly understand what happened to Rachel and what happened to his marriage, he's going to have to consider that he might not have seen things all that clearly in the first place.

“Just the sort of thing that Philip Roth or John Updike might have produced in their prime (except, of course, that the author understands women).” – Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love and City of Girls

Preorder here.

How Could She by Lauren Mechling

After a devastating break-up with her fiancé, Geraldine is struggling to get her life back on track in Toronto. Her two old friends, Sunny and Rachel, left ages ago for New York, where they’ve landed good jobs, handsome husbands and unfairly glamorous lives. Sick of watching from the sidelines, Geraldine decides to force the universe to give her the big break she knows she deserves, and moves to New York City. As she zigzags her way through the downtown art scene and rooftop party circuit, she discovers how hard it is to find her footing in a world of influencers and media darlings. Hilarious and fiercely observed, How Could She is a novel which examines female friendships, offers an insider’s look into the cutthroat world of New York media and a witty exploration of the ways we can and cannot escape our pasts.

“Lauren Mechling’s portrait of the ramifications of female friendship is so razor-sharp and accurate I found myself wincing as I read. I know these women; I am these women: flawed, conspiring, neurotic, and loving. Very few writers can entertain and still reveal deep pathos–Mechling has done it flawlessly.” – Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter

Preorder here.

Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer

The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. Many riders don’t make it to the finish line. In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – 19 and woefully underprepared – decided to enter the race. Driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness and a lifelong love of horses, she raced for seven days through extreme heat and dangerous storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she found she had nothing to lose, and tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. In one of the race’s most unexpected results, she became the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win the race. Beautifully evocative, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one young woman’s encounter with oblivion – and herself.

"Think the next Educated or Wild. Palmer’s memoir of beating the odds to become a horse champion is an inspiring saga of perseverance – and a classic underdog tale.” – Entertainment Weekly

Buy here.

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