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November's best new books
Four lovely reads I've enjoyed this month
I hope everyone is having a lovely start to November and isn’t freaking out as much as I am about how quickly this year has passed.
Still, with a new month comes new brilliant books and I’m excited to share with you what I’ve been reading. With the clocks back an hour and the dark evenings firmly setting in, it’s been the perfect time to curl up with these lovely reads…
Four great new books publishing this month
Lily by Rose Tremain
Out 11th November with Chatto & Windus.
It’s the mid 1800s and 17-year-old Lily has reunited with the police detective who found her when she was abandoned as a newborn baby at the entrance of an east London park at night. There’s just one problem: the closer she becomes to him, the more likely it is he’ll find out that she’s secretly committed a murder.
With themes of friendship, hope, resilience and love, Lily is one of those atmospheric books which just sweeps you up in the story, with a protagonist you really root for. I loved it.
Read it if you like: The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins or any of Stacey Halls’ books.
My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
Out now with Harvill Secker.
Set in the near-future, when white supremacists storm Da’Naisha’s community in Charlottesville, she, her boyfriend, her grandmother and their neighbours flee, finding refuge in Thomas Jefferson’s historic deserted plantation, Monticello.
Here, over 19 days, the group try to survive, while tensions rise both inside and out. Among the fear and the fighting, there’s a love story - and a love triangle - which make My Monticello a heart-stopping read. The ending is also so powerful that I need more people to read this book so that we can discuss it.
Read it if you like: books by Margaret Atwood or Colson Whitehead.
A Three Dog Problem by S. J. Bennett
Out 11th November with Zaffre Books.
This is a deliciously charming whodunnit where the crime scene is Buckingham Palace and the person investigating the crime is none other Her Majesty the Queen herself.
When a dead body is found beside the palace pool, Elizabeth is certain it’s not just an accident. Meanwhile, a valuable painting goes missing and she knows something sinister is at play. Funny, clever and oh-so-readable, this book is royally good.
Read it if you like: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman or a good Agatha Christie.
Things We Do Not Tell the People We Love by Huma Qureshi
Out 11th November with Sceptre Books.
This collection has reminded me how much I love short stories (pretty much for the same reason I love short books, which I waxed lyrical about in my last newsletter). It’s about family, lovers, loneliness and secrets, and although you could dip in and out of the collection, I devoured it cover to cover.
My favourite is the story Firecracker, where the narrator looks back at a friendship which has gone from full-on to faded, but the whole collection is seriously wise and moving; one I know I’m going to revisit.
Read it if you like: Lucy Caldwell’s Intimacies, Zadie Smith’s Grand Union or Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties.
With the 2021 Booker Prize being announced this week - going to Damon Galgut for The Promise - I’ve been thinking about how intimidating I find prestigious literary awards, and it all boils down to worrying that I’m not going to be clever enough to ‘get it’ (Just me?) Having said that, there’s one Booker-winning novel that I recommend time and time again: Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger, a witty, searing and highly readable novel about the haves and the have-nots of India, which has recently been adapted into a Netflix movie. If you’ve read any other Booker prize winners that definitely won’t bore me to tears, please let me know.