I know, I know, it’s difficult to do anything other than stare at the news at the moment, but we’d all do our mental health a favour if we put down our phones for a few hours and read a good book instead.
The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss, The Mare by Mary Gaitskill and Nina is Not OK by Shappi Korsandi are very different stories but all have at their heart a girl in peril.
Keggie Carew’s Dadland and Michel Faber’s Undying both deal with loss. Mystery is on the menu in The Place That Didn’t Exist by Mark Watson, I Found You by Lisa Jewell and The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders. Smoke by Dan Vyleta is a great work of imagination.
Finally, I can’t wait for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – I feel seriously in need of some magic.
The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders
A delightful Victorian mystery featuring Mrs Laetitia Rodd, an Archdeacon’s widow living in reduced circumstances, whose barrister brother sends cases calling for gentle probing and a modicum of eavesdropping her way.
Here she must investigate the background of an unsuitable bride.
Undying by Michel Faber
"I wish I had lived into my nineties, with Eva at my side, and never written these things."
The author of The Crimson Petal and The White found himself writing poetry following the illness and death of his much-loved wife. This collection is a thing of tender, painful beauty.
Dadland by Keggie Carew
Chatto & Windus, £16.99
A manhunt of a memoir. The author investigates her charming, flaky, war hero father’s past at the same time as caring for him as dementia undermines his knowledge of who he is.
Of course, she also hopes that in finding him, she’ll find herself. Fascinating.
I Found You by Lisa Jewell
A man who can’t remember his name turns up on a beach in Yorkshire and is befriended by the woman who finds him. Down in Surrey, another man doesn’t come home from work, leaving his new bride alone in a country she hardly knows.
What connects them? Utterly compelling.
Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi
Ebury Press, £12.99
Nina likes a drink, but doesn’t everyone? Her Dad did, but then it was the drink that killed him.
Nina is good at turning her drunken exploits into amusing anecdotes until one Sunday morning she wakes up with chunks of her memory missing and the feeling that something bad has happened…
The Place That Didn’t Exist by Mark Watson
"The skyline was green, purple; colours no one expected."
When Tim Callaghan arrives in Dubai to oversee the filming of a charity advert, he thinks he’s set for a luxurious and stimulating experience but everyone else involved has a secret. When the obnoxious producer is found dead, things take a darker turn…
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J K Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
Little, Brown, £20
I love Harry Potter with my whole heart and would fight a wizarding duel with anyone who disagrees.
This is a script of the two-part play about to open in the West End and is under wraps until publication day. My six-year-old son and I are equally excited to get our hands on it.
The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss
When 15-year-old Miriam collapses at school, everything changes for her and her family. This is a breathtaking book that intertwines the sudden drama of catastrophe with the ongoing rhythms of domestic life.
I haven’t read anything that better nails the love and fear of parenting and the complexities of marriage with children.
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Imagine a world where sin smokes from the body leaving sooty stains for everyone to see and respectability depends on being visibly clean.
Thomas and Charlie are at boarding school with other sons of the elite being taught how to control their desires when they uncover a conspiracy of dark secrets.
The Mare by Mary Gaitskill
Serpent’s tail, £14.99
"It was sentimental and flattering to white vanity and manipulative as hell."
Recovering addict Ginger is longing to adopt a child but her partner, Paul, isn’t keen. As a compromise, they sign up to a scheme to give a disadvantaged child a summer holiday and Velvet explodes into their lives with unforeseen consequences.