Win­ter warm­ers

Jan­uary is the month to curl up be­side the fire with a good book. Emily Rhodes se­lects six of her favourite re­cent nov­els

Country Life Every Week - - Books -

Days With­out End Se­bas­tian Barry (Faber & Faber, £17.99) Re­cently an­nounced as the win­ner of the 2016 Costa Novel award, Days With­out End is the sec­ond of Se­bas­tian Barry’s nov­els to earn this pres­ti­gious prize. Young thomas Mcnulty has left 1850s Ire­land in the grip of poverty and famine for amer­ica, where he forms a soon-to-be-ro­man­tic friend­ship with John Cole. they set off on their ad­ven­tures to­gether—first dress­ing up as fe­male dancers in a min­ing town, then join­ing the US army to fight in the grue­some In­dian and Civil Wars. Mr Barry’s prose fizzes in this re­mark­able book—an in­tense, vivid por­trait of a friend­ship and also of a coun­try in the mak­ing. Com­mon­wealth Ann Patch­ett (Blooms­bury, £18.99) Bert Cousins ar­rives un­in­vited at Bev­erly and Fix keat­ing’s chris­ten­ing party, prof­fer­ing a bot­tle of gin. His lust­ful kiss for the host­ess will blos­som into a re­la­tion­ship that will first frac­ture, then join their two fam­i­lies un­easily to­gether. In glis­ten­ing prose, and with a per­cep­tive eye for the nu­ance of shift­ing fa­mil­ial al­le­giances, ann Patch­ett ex­plores the lives of the six step-sib­lings over the fol­low­ing 50 years.

The Dark Flood Rises Margaret Drab­ble (Canon­gate, £16.99) Francesca Stubbs, in her seven­ties and with a stub­born fond­ness for Premier Inns and tower blocks, is our guide in this im­por­tant novel about get­ting old. the au­thor high­lights age­ing’s many dif­fi­cul­ties—the lone­li­ness, pain and ex­pense—but light­ens what could, in lesser hands, be a grim read with her af­fec­tion­ately drawn char­ac­ters and fine ob­ser­va­tional hu­mour.

Au­tumn Ali Smith (Hamish Hamil­ton, £16.99) Young univer­sity lec­turer Elis­a­beth De­mand visits elderly, co­matose Daniel Gluck. We learn the un­usual story of their friend­ship in a tale that en­com­passes re­flec­tions on Brexit, age­ing, fem­i­nism, Pop art, mu­sic and the na­ture of time it­self. ali Smith ex­pertly com­bines puns with pol­i­tics and a sense of hu­mour with a sense of out­rage to cre­ate a vi­brant, puls­ing novel of the mo­ment. The Mu­seum of Cathy Anna Stothard (Salt, £8.99) Cathy has left her past be­hind her, ex­cept for a pri­vate ‘mu­seum’ of col­lected ob­jects, po­tent with mem­o­ries. Now liv­ing in Ber­lin, en­gaged to be mar­ried and about to re­ceive a prize for her work in a nat­u­ral-his­tory mu­seum, she is con­fronted by a man from her past and her new life threat­ens to un­ravel. anna Stothard’s ac­com­plished novel is at once sen­su­ous, grip­ping and fas­ci­nat­ing. Cousins Sal­ley Vick­ers (Vik­ing, £16.99) Cam­bridge stu­dent Will tye trag­i­cally falls from the roof of king’s Col­lege chapel—a catas­tro­phe that af­fects three gen­er­a­tions of his fam­ily (‘that spi­der’s web of which we are all a part’) and brings its se­crets and trau­mas to light. keen psy­cho­log­i­cal in­sight makes this multi-gen­er­a­tional fic­tional mem­oir a fas­ci­nat­ing ex­plo­ration of fa­mil­ial love and its many dark com­pli­ca­tions.

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