Your reading list needs these titles that are due out in March 2020.
Ranging from historical fiction at its finest and a psychological handbook that’ll transform your outlook to true-life tales, terrifying horror and addictive stories from Nigeria, America, Europe and beyond, March promises to bring some seriously good books to your shelves.
Meet the books you can’t miss out on this month.
The big hitter: The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel
It goes without saying that the final part of Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy (out 5 March) is one of the most highly anticipated books ever. In a world that has no shortage of Tudor novels, plays, TV programmes and films, Mantel managed to bring something new to the tale of Thomas Cromwell and his service to the monstrous Henry VIII.
As The Mirror & The Light sets Cromwell’s downfall against a complex world stage of feuding families, international politics and the Reformation, this is a book to dive into and leave the rest of the world behind.
The creepy delight: The Deep by Alma Katsu
Alma Katsu’s last novel, The Hunger, was possibly one of the most disturbing books we’ve ever read (in a good way, and let’s face it, the Donner Party is never going to be, ahem, a picnic). In her follow-up (out 5 March), Katsu has once again been inspired by true-life tragedy to create a sinister story that will leave you gulping into the darkness at bedtime.
Set on the Titanic, strange things are happening and then the inevitable happens… four years later, its sister, the Britannic, is refitted as a hospital ship during the war and one of the Titanic’s survivors finds herself grappling with events that are just laced with menace. Perfect spooky reading.
The master storytelling: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Utterly moving, Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel (out 31 March) is inspired by the death of Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, at the age of 11. Exploring the impact of grief on the playwright and his wife, Agnes, it is an ode to the boy who would go on to inspire Hamlet and also to how loss can shape love, the bond between twins and the lives of parents.
As always with O’Farrell’s writing, it’s about letting the words, images and the observations flow over you as you revel in the work of someone who just knows how to tell stories.
The breakout debut: The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Daré
Prepare to lose your heart to 14-year-old Adunni. Sold into marriage by her broke father then again as a slave into a wealthy household in Lagos, Adunni refuses to accept the fates that other people have set out for her – she wants an education and to get a “louding voice”.
Utterly irresistible and full of verve and insight, this novel (out 5 March) isn’t just about Adunni but about the repression women and girls face around the world (facts about Nigeria’s social inequality are sprinkled throughout the book) and is, quite frankly, a gift of a read.
The #Metoo moment: My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Vanessa Wye is now 32 and her former English teacher, Jacob Strane, has been accused of sexual abuse by one of his pupils – except that when Vanessa was 15 she fell deeply in love with him and they had a romantic relationship. Or did they?
Moving back and forth in time, My Dark Vanessa (out 31 March) is at once both compelling and heartbreaking with dark moments that so many women will recognise from their own lives. From the deliberate, subtle breaking of student-teacher boundaries to the lies people tell themselves in order to survive, this is a dense, layered exploration of abuse that’s essential reading for all.
The family heartbreak: Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
Do not miss this can’t-actually-stop-reading-it novel (out 19 March) from the author of the Women’s Prize For Fiction-winning American Marriage. Opening with the instantly gripping sentence: “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” it’s the story of two sisters – Dana and Chaurisse – one whom knows her father’s secret and one who doesn’t. Told from both their points of view, this is a book about love and belonging, family and secrets and a reminder that we all have our own take on things: rightly or wrongly.
The true story of dark times: House Of Glass by Hadley Freeman
The ever-brilliant Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman was inspired to write this extraordinary history of her family after finding a dusty shoebox in her late grandmother’s wardrobe. Filled with photos of people she recognised (and some she didn’t), a note in French saying that “la famille Glass” were hiding in Paris under an assumed name, letters, a telegram and newspaper cuttings, the unexpected finds become a revealing guide to the truth.
Moving via Poland and Paris to the US, it’s a tale of persecution and terror but also survival and endurance – and one that sadly rings all too familiar in the 21st century (out 5 March).
The historic investigation: The Fatal Passion Of Alma Rattenbury by Sean O’Connor
Pick up this book (out 5 March) and prepare to be sucked into a complex tale of murder, heartbreak, the damnation of “scarlet women” and flawed humanity. Bringing meticulous research to the case, O’Connor dives straight into the confusion of Francis Rattenbury’s final night in Bournemouth, 1935.
As police arrive to investigate the man’s bloody death, his wife, Alma, is intoxicated and hysterical while the housekeeper and chauffeur lurk on the edges of the scene (the couple’s six-year-old son fast asleep upstairs) – so who is to blame? The perfect read on a cold evening.
The comfort read: This Too Shall Pass by Julia Samuel
How to navigate life’s ups and downs, side eyes and all-out outrages is one of the biggest tests all of us face. In this moving and insightful book, psychotherapist and author of Grief Works, Julia Samuel explores how we can navigate, adapt and ultimately become the people we’d hope to be but also to nurture ourselves and understand what makes us us.
Featuring stories from her anonymous patients who grapple with the themes of “Family, Love, Work, Health and Identity”, this is just the book we all need when times get tough – and even when they aren’t (out 5 March).
The feminist fable: The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld
From 18th century Scotland to the late 20th century, this is the tale of three women: one is branded a witch and must be protected from a violent community intent on killing her; one is a young mother and wife and one is a woman grappling with her family’s history. But, all three find their lives dictated by the men around them: whether through violence or control. Beautifully written, this is a reminder of female folklore and the power of giving words to women.
Images: courtesy of publishers
Francesca Brown is books editor for Stylist magazine and Stylist Loves; she also compiles the Style List on a weekly basis. She is a self-confessed HBO abuser and has a wide selection of grey sweatshirts. Honestly, you just can’t have enough. @franabouttown
Recommended by Francesca Brown
We’ve been waiting almost 20 years for an adaptation of Noughts & Crosses, and now it’s almost here
Why everyone is talking about Kiley Reid’s debut novel
Little Fires Everywhere: Reese Witherspoon’s new series is coming to Amazon Prime this May
9 best bedtime stories for a peaceful night’s sleep (if you can put them down)