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