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Heads-up on fiction to look forward to


There are some fantastic new books to look forward to in 2021 and while the lockdown is in place it’s a great time to stay inside and read. We asked EMMA MILNE-WHITE from our award-winning local independent Hungerford Bookshop for the heads-up on fiction to look forward to.

LET’S start with a novel that’s getting a lot of press and radio attention. Mrs Death Misses Death, by the performance poet Salena Godden is published on January 21. Death, in this book, is a black working-class woman. Exhausted from spending eternity doing her job, she unburdens herself to Wolf, who writes down her life story. Highly imaginative and deeply profound, this novel promises to be a meditation on life, death and everything in between.

Exploring similarly deep themes on the human condition, again with a very original voice, is the deeply affecting novel No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood (out February 16). A woman known for her viral social media posts travels the world speaking to her adoring fans, her entire existence overwhelmed by the internet. Two texts from her mother bring ‘real life’ into focus. Irreverent and sincere, poignant and delightfully profane, this is sure to get you thinking about our life in the digital age.

For those that like their fiction more ‘down to earth’, Luster by Raven Leilani and Girl A by Abigail Dean (both out January 21) are two of the most talked-about books coming soon. Razor sharp, provocatively page-turning and surprisingly tender, Luster is a painfully funny debut about what it means to be young now, centring on Edie, a young black woman who is in a dead-end job. She finds herself falling for a suburban middle-aged married white man who has an adopted black daughter, and a wife who has ‘sort of’ agreed to an open marriage.

In Girl A Lex Gracie doesn't want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Already optioned for TV, this is an incredibly powerful page-turner.

Those that read historical fiction will be pleased to learn that Kate Mosse follows up The Burning Chambers with City of Tears (out January 19). A breath-taking novel of revenge, persecution and loss, sweeping from 16th-century Paris and Chartres to the City of Tears itself – the great refugee city of Amsterdam – this is a story of one family’s fight to stay together, to survive and to find each other, against the devastating tides of history.

Elizabeth MacNeal, author of the hit The Doll Factory, sets her new novel The Circus of Dreams (out May 13) in 1866 in a coastal village in Southern England. Nell is set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin. Sold by her father to a circus this Circus of Dreams she becomes immensely famous. Moving from the pleasure gardens of
Victorian London to the battle-scarred plains of the Crimea this is a story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility.

For more historical fiction also look out for Andrew Taylor’s next book in the phenomenally successful series following James Marwood and Cat Lovett during the time of King Charles II (April 29); and Light Perpetual by the award-winning writer of Golden Hill, set during the Second Word War with a ‘Sliding Doors’ premise (February 4).

I’m currently reading an advance copy of Claire Fuller’s fourth book Unsettled Ground (out March 25) which is set quite locally. 51-year-old twins, who are living in rural isolation and poverty try to preserve their small sanctuary and livelihoods after the death of their mother. Secrets begin to unravel, putting everything they thought they knew about their life at stake. I am always immersed in the lives of Fuller’s characters.

If family relationships are what draws you to books, then look out for Esther Freud’s novel I Couldn’t Love You More published May 27, and The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex (out March 21) which is inspired by true events – the mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse keepers in Cornwall.

There are some literary heavyweights to come too, including Kazuo Ishiguru’s Klara and the Sun (out March 2); Double Blind by the author of the internationally-acclaimed Patrick Melrose novels, Edward St Aubyn (out March 18); Booker-winning author Richard Flanagan’s The Living Sea of Waking Dreams (out January 14) and a new Sebastian Faulks due this September.

I am particularly looking forward to Lean, Stand Fall, by the award-winning author Jon McGregor (out April 29). He always writes so movingly. His hotly-awaited new novel explores what happens when an Antarctic expedition goes wrong. I shared a house with him as a student and it has been brilliant to watch his literary star soar over the years.

All these books can be pre-ordered through the Hungerford Bookshop via uk.bookshop.org/shop/HungerfordBookshop or by calling (01488) 683480. They are also open for orders and collection.

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