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Memoirs and marriage: the new books to perk up February

There is a strong non-fiction showing in my pick of the best books out in February.

Four very different and excellent memoirs by women lead the way: Kay Plunkett-Hodge talks food, Yiyun Li depression and healing, and MP Jess Phillips feminism and politics, while Stephen Westaby looks back at his career saving people's lives as a heart surgeon.

If that all sounds quite serious, there's Julie Ferry's The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau, a wonderfully fun look at a year in which a number of American heiresses married into the British aristocracy.

Marriage is also explored in two of my fiction picks this month, although the relationships in Gwendoline Riley's First Love and Ajay Close's The Daughter of Lady Macbeth are much darker than those explored by Ferry.

February also sees the release of Hannah Kent's second novel, The Good People, which takes you to Ireland in the 1800s.

Two debuts make my list this month – History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund, the unsettling tale of a teenager living in a former commune, and the sad yet also uplifting Under the Almond Tree by Laura McVeigh.

Happy reading.

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