Author, self-confessed bookworm and books editor at The Bookseller Cathy Rentzenbrink tells us about the hot new books that should be on your buy, beg or borrow list this month
Surely the only consolation for the nights drawing in is that curling up with a good book is an even better use of our time when it is cold and dark outside. Let’s start with something seasonal: in David Mitchell’s new novel, a guest is summoned to Slade House on the last Saturday in October once every nine years. The story concludes on 31st October 2015 – perfectly spooky Halloween reading wrapped up in a gorgeous cover.
There’s more mystery and intrigue on offer from Garth Risk Hallberg in the hotly tipped City on Fire, and from Robert Galbraith and Kate Morton. Two slender novels: a slice of beautifully written sadness from Sara Baume in Spill Simmer Falter Wither and an amuse bouche of Gallic decadence in Pétronille by Amélie Nothomb. Looking at non-fiction, we’ve the life of a poet with a hefty sideline in philandering, an inspirational modern odyssey across Europe, a history of perfume and a new biography of the endlessly fascinating Mitford sisters. Happy reading.
City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
Love, betrayal and forgiveness are all on the menu in this 900-page New York adventure that opens in the final days of 1976, when a partygoer stumbles across the body of a girl in Central Park. Much anticipated on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Lightless Sky by Gulwali Passarlay
A tale of gracious triumph over all sorts of adversity as the author describes his life as a refugee and his arduous journey from Afghanistan to England when he was only 12. This is a harrowing but necessary must-read about an exceptional young man, adding context to so much of what we read in the papers.
Perfume: A Century of Scents by Lizzie Ostrom
‘Scent is the silent and invisible companion that marches through our history.’ I had no idea that perfume was so interesting, but have been converted by this entrancing stroll through 100 years of its creation. Beautifully written and illustrated with a sumptuous cover, this would make a perfect gift.
Slade House by David Mitchell
Slade House only appears once every nine years when its purpose is to welcome a specially chosen guest… Readers of The Bone Clocks will recognise this world, but don’t be put off if you haven’t read the author before – this spectacularly engrossing tale would be a good place to start.
Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume
When Ray sees a mangled one-eyed dog advertised in the window of a jumble shop on his weekly trip to town he decides to give it a forever home. This is an achingly sad book about feeling unable to fit in, loneliness, and the comfort of friendship.
Take Six Girls by Laura Thompson
The Mitford sisters included in their number a fascist, a communist, a writer, a duchess and the woman who created a scandal by running off with Oswald Mosley. This new biography shows them as both a product and a reflection of upper class society between the wars and beyond. Lots of jokes and glamour and I love the art deco cover.
Head of Zeus
Pétronille by Amélie Nothomb
A gloriously eccentric champagne-fuelled caper through literary Paris and London as the narrator, who is also called Amélie Nothomb, pursues her friendship with hard drinking Pétronille. Full of delights and there's an appearance from Vivienne Westwood when Amélie is sent to interview her (and made to walk her dog instead).
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
JK Rowling’s alter ego gives us a third helping of private investigators Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. When Robin receives a package containing a woman’s severed leg, Strike must work out who from his past is capable of such brutality. The list has four names on it…
Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life by Jonathan Bate
I can’t resist this life of the poet, though I am most amused by the author’s theory that Hughes’ infidelity to his second wife was a type of fidelity to his dead first wife, Sylvia Plath. The fact that he was continually unfaithful to Plath when she was alive and available for devotion would seem to negate that idea…
The Lake House by Kate Morton
Cornwall: policewoman Sadie Sparrow is on enforced leave from her job in the Met when she comes across an abandoned house and learns of a decades-old mystery. Back in London, elderly Alice Edervane is now a bestselling novelist and doesn’t want to be forced to remember that terrible night in 1933…