If you’re looking to pick up a good book this month, there are plenty of offerings from some of the biggest names in fiction – including Costa winner Kate Atkinson and Girl With a Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier – as well as some exciting debuts from hot new authors. So put the kettle on, grab a blanket and get stuck in with our best new releases of March 2013, below.
Got a favourite? Let us know @stylistmagazine or in the comments section.
Words: Stacey Bartlett
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
All of us think ‘what if...’ but Kate Atkinson’s extraordinary novel explores each direction Ursula Todd’s life could have taken, starting with her birth in 1910 in the midst of a snowstorm. In one scenario baby Ursula dies; in the other she survives, and so on throughout her life – and deaths – into adulthood. As the Second World War hits London, her multiple destinies and those of her family intertwine and lead her to one final, game-changing decision.
The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
In 1850, Honor Bright leaves her Quaker community in Bristol for a new life with her sister in America – but less than a month into their trip her sister is buried. As Honor tries to put down roots in this unfamiliar land she becomes aware of the Quakers’ involvement in the ‘underground railroad’, the route that runaway slaves used to escape from their masters in the South to freedom in Canada. Another engrossing historical novel from the author of Girl With a Pearl Earring.
Fifty Shades of Feminism by Lisa Appignanesi, Susie Orbach and Rachel Holmes
Joan Bakewell, Jeanette Winterson, Kate Mosse and Siri Hustvedt are just some of the fifty women who write about what it means to be a woman today in this volume that celebrates fifty years since Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published. There are inspirational essays from writers, politicians, actors and scientists – and editor Susie Orbach is Jeanette Winterson’s girlfriend. Girl Power.
The Fields by Kevin Maher
Thirteen-year-old Jim Finnegan is the youngest brother of five sisters, and his childhood in 1980s Dublin is far from idyllic. As he explores first love with the beautiful Saidhbh Donohue he is desperately trying to avoid the unwanted attentions of the sinister Father Luke O’Culigeen. This dark and funny novel from Kevin Maher was chosen as one of Waterstones’ 11 best debuts for 2013.
Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle
Hilary Mantel fans will devour this novel about Katherine Parr, the Tudor queen who married four men and outlived three of them, including Henry VIII. Based on real historical events, it follows the story of the young widow Katherine, who has joined the royal court and fallen in love with Thomas Seymour. But try as she might, she can’t escape the attentions of the king. Rich in atmosphere and period detail, this is an enticing read for historical fiction fans.
We Are Here by Michael Marshall
Aspiring novelist David is in New York with his wife to visit his publisher – but on their way home a stranger brushes past him and whispers ‘remember me?’ When David spies the same man in his hometown, he has a horrible feeling he wants something from him. Across town, Catherine is happily married with two children, but can’t escape the feeling she is being followed. David and Catherine’s stories collide in this chilling suspense thriller, for fans of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.
Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley
In the midst of a suspicious fire in their compound, twins Amity and Sorrow are bundled into the car by their mother Amaranth, and the three women escape the cult they have always called home. Amaranth is one of fifty wives to her daughters’ father and is terrified he will follow them – but when they crash the car and must accept help from a local farmer their history catches up with them. Amity and Sorrow is an intriguing insight into cults, with the security, joy and fear of the unknown they bring.
The Infatuations by Javier Marías
María is an ambitious woman working in publishing and breakfasts at the same café every morning, where she always sees a couple that appear completely in love. But then she spots an article about the man’s brutal murder, and, offering her support to his widow, is drawn into an intense and uncomfortable friendship that she can’t escape from. This literary thriller is elegantly written and offers a darkly satirical observation on the world of publishing.
Vow by Wendy Plump
Imagine not only discovering your husband has been having an affair, but that he has an eight-month old son living only a mile away. This is the position American journalist Wendy Plump found herself in eight years ago, and in her sharp and pragmatic memoir she asks whether there is such thing as The One – and confesses that she wasn’t always faithful either. Ruthless in her dissection of relationships, Plump has written a fascinating book that opens the doors on a modern-day marriage.
Red Joan by Jennie Rooney
Elderly Joan Stanley has lived a mostly unremarkable life for the last fifty years – but her past is about to catch up with her. Based on the true story of spy Melita Norwood, who shared British nuclear intelligence with Russia for decades, young Joan’s chance meeting with the glamorous Russian-born Sonya and her cousin Leo at Cambridge in 1937 leads to her make some life-changing decisions in this gripping spy thriller.