Four new novels to read in May
Including a mind-bending thriller and a classic-in-the-making.
I love May for several reasons - all of which are to do with it being the gateway to summer. I especially enjoy the fact that it’s when I first take my reading outside to the chair on my balcony, which is perfectly positioned to be bathed in sunlight until dusk. I swear there’s nothing nicer than enjoying a good book with the not-yet-too-hot sun on your face.
I hope there’s a sunny spot for you somewhere to read the following four novels. These books might be wildly different from each other but they’re all completely engrossing and will make you want to stay there until you finish. Enjoy!
May’s best new novels
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Characters you love so much you want to ensconce them in bubble wrap, a totally absorbing plot, vivid storytelling… I cannot tell you how much I loved this novel.
Inspired by true events, the book follows Civil, a nurse in 1970s Alabama whose life becomes entangled with two young girls in her care. When something unthinkable happens to the sisters, Civil is by their side throughout the trial seeking justice - but will spend the rest of her life grappling with the guilt for not stopping it in the first place. Heart-wrenching and yet radiating with spirit, Take My Hand has all the hallmarks for a classic.
Read it if you like: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or The Colour Purple by Alice Walker.
Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
Jen is in the kitchen when she looks out of the window and, to her horror, sees her son stab a stranger to death. The next day she wakes up and it’s… yesterday. As Jen continues to travel back in time, she slowly starts to piece together the chain of events that led to the murder - while learning everything she thought she knew was a lie.
If you’re looking for a mind-bending crime thriller that you won’t want to put down, then this is your book. Just make sure you clear some time to read it in one sitting.
Read it if you like: Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter or The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle By Stuart Turton.
Ruth & Pen by Emilie Pine
Ruth and Pen are strangers to each other, but today is a monumental day for them both. Ruth is deciding whether to end her marriage which has begun to falter ever since the failed rounds of IVF, while Pen, a teenager, is on the brink of telling her best friend Alice she’s in love with her.
Like James Joyce’s Ulysses, the entirety of this novel takes place on one single day in Dublin. Unlike Ulysses, Ruth & Pen isn’t a gazillion pages long. It’s actually quite short, and yet manages to pack in big ideas (about love, desire, choice, crises), as well as zooming into the minutiae of day-to-day life with scalpel-sharp observation. Exceptional.
Read it if you like: novels by Rachel Cusk, Sheila Heti or Deborah Levy.
London, With Love by Sarra Manning
I adored this on-again off-again love story between Jennifer and Nick, which begins when they first meet as teenagers in north London where they’re growing up. As the years go by, their paths keep crossing, but when it comes to being a couple they can never quite get their timing right.
The book is also a love letter to London itself, where the majority of the story takes place, and it is funny, sad and joyous all at once. Anyone who’s in need of a tonic for the soul should read it immediately.
Read it if you like: One Day by David Nicholls or a good Marian Keyes.
Not long ago, I covered books being adapted for screen in this newsletter because there are so many right now. I have always been curious about how these literary adaptations actually affect our reading habits, so I really enjoyed writing this piece for the i, and thought that I would share it here too.