(Composite/PA)
(Composite/PA)

5 new books to read this week

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of Her Heart For A Compass by Sarah Ferguson and Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner.

Prudence Wade
Wednesday 11 August 2021 10:31

A period romance and a moving memoir make up this week’s new releases…

Fiction

1. Paul by Daisy Lafarge is published in paperback by Granta, priced £12.99 (ebook £12.99). Available now

Paul is the debut novel by poet Daisy Lafarge. It follows a young British student called Frances who escapes her work as a researcher in Paris following a scandal, and is now volunteering at an eco-farm called Noa Noa in sticky rural France. She has naive ideas about what her experience should be like and ends up in an uncomfortable and abusive romantic relationship with the owner of the farm, a middle-aged man named Paul. He is overbearing and bewitching, and often speaks for and tries to think for her, with his behaviour becoming creepier and suspicious as the novel progresses. It makes for a tense and absorbing read; Lafarge is a real talent.8/10(Review by Frances Wright)

2. Her Heart For A Compass by Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York, is published in hardback by Mills & Boon, priced £14.99 (ebook £6.99). Available now

The Duchess of York’s first novel for adults is an easy reading romance looking at the social straitjacket faced by many upper class women in Victorian England, whose lives were ruled by their father and then their husband. Lady Margaret Montagu Scott, Ferguson’s real life great-great-aunt, faces marriage to a man she despises in a story mixing some real characters with fictional creations. The headstrong Lady Margaret has red hair and enjoys writing stories for children – like Ferguson herself – but the author says the novel is not autobiographical. Still, there are clear parallels between Ferguson’s struggles with the disciplines of royal life and Lady Margaret’s frustration with the constraints of her privileged situation. The romance may seem tame to audiences used to raunchier historical stories like Bridgerton, but it’s less predictable than some novels about love and remains an enjoyable read.7/10(Review by Beverley Rouse)

3. The Island Of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak is published in hardback by Viking, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Elif Shafak is used to unusual narrators: her Booker Prize shortlisted 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World is told from the perspective of a woman in the minutes after her death. Sections of The Island Of Missing Trees are told from the perspective of a fig tree – originally based in Cyprus, and then regrown in London. Through the tree and other narrators, we learn the story of 16-year-old Ada in London and the history of her parents: the Greek Kostas and Turkish Defne, who fell in love in 1970s Cyprus and had to keep their relationship secret. Shafak has thoroughly researched the political climate of 1974 Cyprus, but often it reads more like a history lesson and the characters don’t feel fully formed until near the end. In parts it’s a powerful look at a country broken apart – and the devastating and long-lasting impact it can have on its people – but the sections from the perspective of the tree risk feeling a bit twee.6/10(Review by Prudence Wade)

Non-fiction

4. Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner is published in hardback by Picador, priced £16.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

If you’re feeling emotionally vulnerable, it’s probably best to wait to pick up Crying In H Mart. Singer Michelle Zauner’s debut is a true gut punch of a book, written in the wake of her mother’s death – exploring their strained relationship growing up and her cancer diagnosis. Zauner recounts returning home, trying to be the ‘perfect’ daughter to a mother who is slowly fading away in an attempt to patch up the wounds of the past. Food is central to the book: Zauner desperately tries to connect with her mother’s memory through Korean cooking, and her descriptions will make your mouth water. It’s a moving and emotional look at an imperfect mother-daughter relationship, and how truly heartbreaking it is to lose someone before their time. It’s hard to believe Zauner is a musician before a writer: her words fly off the page – she’s both poignant and darkly funny – and will stay with you long after you put down the book.9/10(Review by Prudence Wade)

Children’s book of the week

5. The Wild Before by Piers Torday is published in hardback by Quercus, priced £12.99 (ebook £7.99). Available August 19

What do you do if you’re called to make a stand by your leader, but feel ill-equipped to make a difference? That’s how Little Hare feels as he is chosen to save a poorly calf, with the world around them suffering from climate change. Flooding, landslides and unbearable summer weather are all plaguing Dandelion Hill, and in an attempt to stop a great Terribleness from happening – despite being so small, frightened and unsure he can fulfil his duty – Little Hare finds inner strength and shows his bravery and courage. Although it takes a while for the story to get going, the best part of The Wild Before is the teamwork and togetherness of the wild animals fighting for the greater good. They put aside selfish ambition to seek better days – a great lesson for us all.7/10(Review by Karen Sykes)

BOOK CHARTS FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 7

HARDBACK (FICTION)1. Billy Summers by Stephen King2. The Island Of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak3. How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie4. Shooting Martha by David Thewlis5. The Desert Prince by Peter V. Brett6. Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro7. A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris8. The Devil’s Advocate by Steve Cavanagh9. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid10. The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. Jane’s Patisserie by Jane Dunn2. The Comfort Book by Matt Haig3. It’s Always Summer Somewhere by Felix White4. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy5. Vaxxers by Sarah Gilbert & Catherine Green6. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given7. The Power Of Geography by Tim Marshall8. Joe’s Family Food by Joe Wicks9. Landslide by Michael Wolff10. Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. Billy Summers by Stephen King2. The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell3. The Doors Of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky4. Atomic Habits by James Clear5. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman6. Too Much And Never Enough by Mary L. Trump, PhD7. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig8. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey9. Mythos by Stephen Fry10. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson(Compiled by Audible)

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