OCTOBER’S must-reads

There are spooky houses, slave home­com­ings and a search for be­long­ing in Sarra Man­ning’s pick of this month’s best books

Red - - READS -

Log­i­cal Fam­ily: A Mem­oir by Ar­mis­tead Maupin (Dou­ble­day, £20; out 5th October)

From the con­ser­va­tive heart­lands of North Carolina, to the Viet­namese jun­gle, and then the glo­ri­ous, lib­er­ated melt­ing pot of San Fran­cisco in the any­thing-goes 70s, Tales Of The City au­thor Ar­mis­tead Maupin’s mem­oir is ev­ery­thing I hoped it would be. His search for his tribe, for some­where he can truly be­long – his “log­i­cal fam­ily” – is funny, filthy and pro­found.

The Silent Com­pan­ions by Laura Pur­cell (Raven Books, £12.99; out 5th October)

When the re­cently wid­owed Elsie is sent to her late hus­band’s de­cay­ing coun­try es­tate to wait for the birth of their child, she’s un­set­tled from the start. There are strange noises, hos­tile vil­lagers and be­hind a door that mys­te­ri­ously un­locks it­self is a painted fig­ure – a silent com­pan­ion – that looks a lot like Elsie. This is a su­perbly at­mo­spheric, tense novel full of creep­ing dread.

I could only read it dur­ing day­light hours!

Sugar Money by Jane Har­ris (Faber & Faber, £12.99; out 5th October)

A lyri­cal, vividly told ad­ven­ture story set in Mar­tinique in 1785 from the best­selling au­thor of Gille­spie And I. Broth­ers Emile and Lu­cien, slaves bound to a French monastery, un­der­take a reck­less, dan­ger­ous mis­sion to re­turn to their home is­land of Gre­nada to smug­gle back 42 slaves claimed by the Bri­tish. In re­turn, the broth­ers are promised their free­dom, and for Emile, the chance to be re­united with his first love, Celeste.

Man­hat­tan Beach by Jen­nifer Egan (Cor­sair, £16.99; out 3rd October)

How do you fol­low the suc­cess of the Pulitzer Prize-win­ning A Visit From The Goon Squad? If you’re Jen­nifer Egan, you write some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent in the form of Man­hat­tan Beach, a metic­u­lously re­searched novel set largely in New York dur­ing World War II. In the Brook­lyn Naval Yard, against all the odds and the prej­u­dice of the Com­man­der in charge, Anna trains to be a diver and forges a re­la­tion­ship with the one man who knows what hap­pened to her miss­ing fa­ther. Read our in­ter­view with Jen­nifer Egan on page 114.

Fresh Com­plaint by Jef­frey Eu­genides (Fourth Es­tate, £16.99; out 5th October)

Jef­frey Eu­genides’ nov­els have al­ways been ei­ther hit or miss for me, but I loved Fresh Com­plaint, a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries that chart the va­garies of mod­ern life. Baster, in which a man at­tends the in­sem­i­na­tion party of an ex-girl­friend, and the bit­ter, frus­trated poet Kendall ob­sessed with other peo­ple’s wealth in Great Ex­per­i­ment were stand outs and re­minded me just how witty, el­e­gant and per­cep­tive Eu­genides’ writ­ing can be.

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