Three new books to read in June
From a sweeping World War Two story to an oh-so-loveable novel
I have just returned from a week’s trip to Greece, the first proper holiday abroad since you-know-what, where I spent as much time reading as I did exploring/drinking/over-eating feta cheese.
There is something about being away that makes books even better, don’t you think? For me, rather depressingly, it seems to be the only time when I can properly separate myself from other distractions when reading (AKA my phone).
Whether you are heading away this summer or not, I highly recommend you carve out some distraction-free time in which you can ensconce yourself in the following three novels.
Three of June’s best new novels
The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn
Oh my! This book is quite simply brilliant. At 560 pages, it is a novel you are forced not to rush. Instead it is the kind of story you sink into, getting totally wrapped up in the characters and their world. At the centre of it all is the wayward, headstrong Christabel, who is four years old when we first meet her in Dorset in 1919, where she spends her childhood having adventures and putting on outdoor plays with her siblings (and anyone nearby she can enlist).
She comes of age in the lead up to the war, and the decades that follow are tumultuous and the story itself is breathtaking. I can see myself (and a great many others) going back to this book time and time again, in the same way I only do with novels like Jane Eyre. The Whalebone Theatre is a book to treasure.
Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
Based on horrifying true events, Nightcrawling tells the story of 17-year-old Kiara, who lives in Oakland, California. Her father is dead, her mother has been detained at a rehab facility, and Kiara is forced into sex work as a way of surviving. When a police officer stops her one night, the events that unravel are saturated with institutional corruption and abuse of power.
Evidently, even with the scatterings of light that mainly come from the protective love and friendships within the story, this is not an upbeat read. But, leagues above your average crime story, Nightcrawling is powerful and gritty and chilling and unforgettable.
Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander
In one of those openings to a novel that just keeps you reading, Meredith is about to leave the house for work when all of a sudden she finds she cannot step outside her front door. The next chapter, she hasn’t left home for 1,214 days, and we just don’t know why.
The gripping start is carried through the novel as we begin to piece together bits of Meredith’s past, while also following her life inside, where (she insists) she is perfectly happy with her jigsaws and her cat. I love this book for so many reasons, but mostly for Meredith herself who is both flawed and loveable. Although Meredith Alone is totally unique, it also reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine in all the best ways.
This newsletter is not the place for monarchy musings or more Jubilee talk, but as poet Simon Armitage wrote the official verse for this weekend’s celebrations, I thought I would share my favourite poem of his. (No, it is not this one about the Queen.) It is called ‘Evening’, and I couldn’t find it online, so here is a photo from my battered copy of Paper Aeroplane…