Fiction For Autumn/Winter 2014

Cover Image Before I Go To Sleep by SJ WatersThere are so many good books around this year, it’s hard to keep pace. Here are a few of the selections I’ve made for my autumn / winter reading list.

SJ Watson’s debut novel Before I Go To Sleep is a thriller soon to hit screens in a movie starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. It’s the story of woman with amnesia who wakes up each day not knowing where she is or who she can trust — including whether she can trust her husband, Ben. Usually it’s a good idea to read the book before you see the movie, so Before I Go To Sleep takes the number one spot on my To Be Read (TBR) list for September.

Ian McEwan now has more than 20 published books under his belt. Atonement (2001) and On Chesil Beach (2007) are probably my favourites. Of his more recent fiction, neither Solar (2010) nor Sweet Tooth (2012) held much appeal for me but the earlier works have stayed fresh in my mind and so The Children Act will certainly get a look.

While we await the final part of the trilogy that began with Wolf Hall and continued with Bring Up The Bodies, Hilary Mantel provides us with a collection of contemporary short stories in The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher.

Cover Image Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary MantelSet in post-war London in 1922, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters tells the story of the Wrays — a mother and daughter — forced by economic necessity to take in paying guests with life changing consequences. Waters has a strong reputation and the blurb for this one promises tenderness, tension and a compelling story.

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer — a novel about grief and mental illness written by a mental health nurse and published earlier this year to good reviews.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling is the second detective Corcmoran Strike crime novel — the first being The Cuckoo’s Calling.

Two Irish writers make it on to this list: The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry was published earlier this year and promises a haunting, sad read as Irish man Jack McNulty whose existence coincided with the founding of the Irish state and two world wars looks back on his life and loves. In October 2014, Colm Toibin’s new novel Nora Webster comes out. It’s the story of a 40-year old widow coming to terms with grief and finding independence and is set in County Wexford in the 1960s — a place and period Toibin has written about before.

I’ll be posting reviews here as I go and in the meantime, if you’re reading any of the above I’d love to hear from you!


Coelho’s Parable on Adultery

Cover Image“Sometimes you have to lose yourself to discover who you are”  The subtitle of Paulo Coelho’s novel, cuts to the chase and summarises in a sentence the life lesson contained in Adultery.

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho has developed a huge following since his novel, The Alchemist, became an international bestseller. A couple of years ago, I was invited to review Manuscript Found in Accra — a contemplative series of stories in which the citizens of Jerusalem in 1099 explore a series of questions relating to love, jealousy and fear and in the process uncover wisdom and lessons for life. It was my first experience of Coelho and gave me an insight into what makes his work so appealing to many people.

He is a beautiful writer who presents thoughtful and wise insights about life and living that are a form of consolation for the soul.

Coelho’s latest novel, Adultery, is a parable where plot — and to some extent character — take second place to the moral of the tale. It’s the story of a bored and slightly depressed journalist, Linda, with a perfect husband and children who lives a privileged life in Switzerland yet is bored and dissatisfied so that when she comes across a former boyfriend she is easily tempted and embarks on an affair. Linda is not a particularly sympathetic character yet she has characteristics that many readers will recognise either in themselves or in others. She seeks meaning by questioning her own thinking, by reading, by talking to friends. She even consults a ‘shaman’ or wise man yet, ironically, it is her husband who ultimately helps her to allow herself to truly lose control and thereby discover emotional healing.

Adultery by Paulo Coelho is published by Random House. [Disclosure: An Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) was made available via Netgalley for the purpose of this review.]

See also Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho.

Chain of Events — fast-paced thriller by Swedish author Fredrik T Olsson

Cover ImageJournalist Christina Sandberg’s ex-husband disappears from hospital while being treated for a suicide attempt. A cryptologist with expertise in military code breaking, William Sandberg has special skills that a top secret international organisation urgently requires. But who is behind the organisation and why are they so intent on withholding the contextual information that might help William crack the code? And how is William Sandberg’s experience linked to the killing of a homeless man in a fake ambulance in Berlin?

Meanwhile, Janine Haynes a student specialising in Sumerian symbols has also disappeared. She, too has skills and knowledge that are valuable to the organisation.

Time is short and it becomes clear that William and Janine are working on a code that could have drastic consequences for humanity.

The tension never lets up as the stakes get higher and higher in this fast-paced thriller. It is the debut novel of Swedish screenwriter Fredrik T Olsson.

Chain of Events by Fredrik T Olsson is published by Little, Brown Book Group UK. ISBN: 9780751556853. [Disclosure: An Advance Readers Copy was made available free of charge via Netgalley for the purpose of this review]