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New books to read this week

Our top book of the week is inspired by real events from history…


1. The Household by Stacey Halls is published in hardback by Manilla Press

A cast of women, plucked from poverty and lives of crime are brought together under one roof in The Household, the latest offering from Stacey Halls. The residents, told to keep their past lives a secret, are offered a second chance – but when the reality of life in the isolated cottage sets in, not all are so sure it’s what they want. After the success of previous novels The Familiars, The Foundling and Mrs England, Halls is again inspired by real historical events. This time, the author focuses her attentions on Urania Cottage – a scheme set up in 1846 by author Charles Dickens and millionaire Angela Burdett-Coutts to offer refuge to ‘fallen’ women. The historical facts alone are interesting enough, but the past is brought to life by Halls as she expertly weaves together the individual stories of all the women involved.

Credits: PA;

2. The Last Murder At The End Of The World by Stuart Turton is published in hardback by Raven Books

Fans of Stuart Turton’s high-concept fiction will be familiar with his unique, carefully constructed mysteries, and this rollercoaster of a sci-fi/detective tale might be the best one yet. On a peaceful Greek island, untouched by an apocalypse-causing fog, three scientists and a huddle of villagers uphold what’s left of humanity. But a shocking murder triggers a nail-biting countdown to save this haven from obliteration. Emory is tasked with unmasking the killer, battling to unlock motives in time to reveal the culprit. Turton’s ability to build an alluring world of detailed ideas is astounding. You’ll feel the warm breeze as you’re swept along by the pacey plot to a showstopping conclusion. Setting this colourful, cross-genre novel apart is the eccentric, sympathetic cast of characters and some profound questions. What are our responsibilities as humans, and can we learn to deny the temptation to play God?

3. Memory Piece by Lisa Ko is published by Dialogue Books

Memory Piece starts in the early 1980s with Giselle Chin – an Asian American teenager who feels out of place in New Jersey and wants more out of life. That’s a common thread throughout this moving book of three parts – first we spend time with Giselle, through her growing up and eventually becoming a performance artist, then we visit her friend Jackie in the Nineties, as a coder in an ever-changing world. Finally comes the third friend, Ellen, as an elderly woman in the mid-21st century – still holding on to her cooperative living despite the dystopian disaster around her. While the third part does feel like a bit of an extreme departure and could be a short story in its own right, Lisa Ko has crafted a touching story of three women’s lives, exploring themes of belonging, creativity, tech and more. Like her previous book, The Leavers, it’s sure to become a modern classic.

Credits: PA;


4. The Chain: The Relationships That Break Us, The Women Who Rebuild Us by Chimene Suleyman is published in hardback by W&N

The story of The Chain is shocking, made even worse in being a real story. Chimene Suleyman’s memoir centres around a failed relationship with an ex, which culminated with her getting an abortion and him brutally leaving her alone at the clinic. As the story unfolds, it turns out he was a pathological liar and manipulator, and had treated scores more women in similarly horrific ways. These women find each other through social media, and as more details emerge of this unnamed man’s behaviour, the victims form a ‘chain’ and find themselves bound together. Suleyman’s writing is personal and raw, but once the initial bombshell settles, there’s not much direction to the book. It’s a searing look at misogyny and the treatment of women, but with a meandering and somewhat jumbled through-line, it perhaps would have been better as an essay.

Credits: PA;

Children’s book of the week:

5. When I Feel Brave by Britta Teckentrup is published in hardback by Prestel

When I Feel Brave is an inspiring read, brilliantly illustrated with rhyming throughout to help young readers digest the words and the meaning behind them. Brave begins with a young girl experiencing feelings of fear and self doubt – she walks through a forest and meets a bear that initially seems scary. Most of us experience worry and distressing thoughts when we’re growing up, but how does one deal with them in a healthy way? Brave acknowledges the real struggle some children may feel and gently urges them to face their darkest troubles. When the child does this with courage, things begin to look brighter and the clouds start to clear, making the world seem a much kinder place to live in. A beautiful read for any youngster that is fearful or anxious. Hopefully it will help every reader overcome their concerns head on.

Credits: PA;

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