Three brilliant new books for April
Ft. a murder mystery, a love story, and a novel I can only compare to a glass of champagne.
You have no idea how much I have to refrain from writing ‘how is it [insert month here] already?’ at the start of every single one of these newsletters, but seriously - April?
This month is an incredibly busy one for publishers and I had a huge pile of April books to choose from for today’s newsletter. The following three novels were easily my favourites - and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Three new novels to read in April
Trespasses by Louise Kennedy
Some books just take your breath away and this is one of them. Set in Belfast during the Troubles, Cushla is a Catholic 24-year-old primary school teacher who also picks up shifts at the pub her brother runs. It’s here she meets Michael. He’s a barrister, a Protestant, he’s twice her age - and he’s married. And yet there’s a gravitational pull between them they cannot resist.
Meanwhile, Cushla tries to care for her widowed mother who drowns her grief in alcohol, and help the boy in her class whose father has been caught up in violence. But, at its heart, Trespasses is a love story to end all love stories. Kennedy’s writing is practically perfect and the book is so visceral, and so affecting, that I’m still reeling from it. This novel deserves many, many awards.
Read it if you like: books by Alice Munro, Anna Burns, or Edna O’Brien.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
In what is one of the most unique and fun books I’ve read in forever, Elizabeth Zott is an exceptionally clever chemist in a man’s world in the 1950s and 60s California. She also happens to be (god forbid) a single mother, and, after a series of unexpected events, becomes the unlikely star of a new cooking show. It’s through ‘Supper at Six’ she starts to change the lives of the housewives who watch it - but shaking up the status quo doesn’t come without its challenges.
This book is so fizzy and funny that it’s as much of a treat as a glass of champagne, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in emotional depth, either. It’s also being adapted into an Apple TV+ drama starring Brie Larson, so if that doesn’t demonstrate how much it’s worth reading, I don’t know what will.
Read it if you like: Funny Girl by Nick Hornby or Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple.
Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare
The year is 1936 and Lena Aldrige is doing her usual singing shift in a sweaty and sticky Soho club when her boss and best friend’s husband takes a sip of a poisoned drink and chokes to death right in front of her. The next thing we know, Lena is running away on a cruise ship bound for New York.
Just as she thinks she’s escaped the chaos of the world behind, though, she realises it’s only just begun. On board, more people around her die in peculiar circumstances, while others go missing. Miss Aldridge Regrets is an evocative murder mystery which also artfully captures the way Lena walks a precarious tightrope as a light-skinned mixed-race woman passing in a very white environment. Taut and layered, this is an excellent read.
Read it if you like: books by Agatha Christie or Lucy Foley.
Because it’s such a bumper month for publishing and I’ve only shared three recommendations, I also wanted to shout out a few more great books coming this month. They are: Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow, Wet Paint by Chloë Ashby, A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon, Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes, One Day I Shall Astonish the World by Nina Stibbe, None of This is Serious by Catherine Prasifka, and Theatre of Marvels by Lianne Dillsworth. Happy reading!