September brings falling leaves, pumpkin spice lattes and the biggest literary blockbusters of the season. Sarra Manning picks the best five…
by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday,
£20, out 6th September)
A new Kate Atkinson novel is always a reason to rejoice, and Transcription was everything I was hoping for and more. Largely split between 1940, when naïve ingénue Juliet Armstrong is working for a hush-hush operation flushing out Nazi sympathisers, and 1950, when the nowworld-weary Juliet is working for a dull BBC department, it’s impossible not to form a strong bond with her. Then comes the truly surprising denouement of Transcription,
which makes for one of the best conclusions of a novel I’ve ever read. I immediately wanted to read it all over again.
Love Is Blind
by William Boyd (Viking, £18.99, out 20th September) From Edinburgh to Paris, Trieste, St Petersburg and beyond, we follow the adventures of Brodie Moncur, a myopic, tubercular piano tuner (he’s more attractive than I’m painting him!) who falls in love with a Russian soprano, paramour of ‘the Irish Liszt’, John Kilbarton, whose brother, the dangerous Malachi, is not a man to be crossed. I love Boyd’s gift for being able to tell a cracking good story, and Love Is Blind is no exception.
by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber, £14.99, out now) Sally Rooney’s debut novel, Conversations With Friends, was shortlisted for just about every award going, and Normal People looks set to continue this trend. It’s the forensically detailed story of a couple, Marianne and Connell, from their school days to their postgraduate lives. Intense and claustrophobic, but also beautifully observed, this is a salutary reminder that love can make you a better person, but it won’t always make you happy.
The Silence Of The Girls
by Pat Barker (Hamish Hamilton, £18.99, out now)
A feminist reimagining of the Trojan War: when famous Greek warrior Achilles conquers her city and kills her husband, Briseis is one of many women captured. The Silence Of The Girls not only tells Briseis’s story, of her time bound to Achilles who she despises, but the story of all the other women held captive and erased by history. With obvious parallels to current conflicts, this is a stunning achievement and deserves all the awards it will undoubtedly receive.
by Laura Purcell (Raven, £12.99, out 20th September) Teenage seamstress Ruth Butterham is awaiting trial for murder when she meets dogooding prison visitor Dorothea Truelove. As Dorothea tries to discover if Ruth is really guilty, it becomes hard to tell the difference between victim and murderer, the imprisoned and the free. Maybe not quite as terrifying as her debut novel, The Silent Companions, The Corset still gave me conniptions.