Two new novels to read in November
The best books of the month, plus adaptations that are actually good
In complete transparency I have left it until the eleventh hour to write this newsletter (which is already late as it is), so I’m going to keep the intro short and sweet. Please read these two books and then email me with your thoughts: I’m dying to talk more about them.
Playing Games by Huma Qureshi
Hana is a high-flying lawyer with the perfect life and perfect home – but her marriage is beginning to break down. Mira is a creative, struggling writer, who’s looking for a new play idea when she overhears her sister’s martial spat. But borrowing from this intimate, angry conversation for her new work is clearly never going to end well.
Playing Games is a brilliant, compulsive novel about sisterhood, art, family, and forgiveness. I read it in a weekend because I was so drawn into these complicated siblings’ lives and the world Qureshi built for them. This is an absolute jewel of a book.
Good Material by Dolly Alderton
The Everything I Know About Love author has done it again. By which I mean, here is another book which I’m telling you now will be fervently adored, discussed between friends (probably in pubs over a bottle of wine and a packet of crisps), and kept in treasured spots on bookshelves.
Good Material is told from the perspective of Andy, a flailing, 35-year-old comedian whose long-term girlfriend has broken up with him out of the blue. As he reels in the aftermath of heartbreak, he tries to work out what went wrong. This novel is filled with astute, underline-worthy observations about friendship, ageing, lost love, lost selves, but it also happens to incredibly funny. Good Material already feels like a contemporary classic.
Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See is one of my favourite novels. So when Netflix released their big-budget TV adaptation this month, I was already weary about watching it in case it didn’t live up to the book. Sure enough, the show has now been completely panned - with an astonishingly bad score of 28% on Rotten Tomatoes.
We know that’s is an enormously difficult task to capture a good book in a good show or film, so I thought I’d share six times I think it’s actually been done well. They are: Atonement (2007), Little Women (2019), Little Fires Everywhere (2020), Us (2020), Normal People (2020), and This is Going to Hurt (2022). What would you add?