Fall fa­vorites

Septem­ber brings fall­ing leaves, pump­kin spice lat­tes and the big­gest lit­er­ary block­busters of the sea­son. Sarra Man­ning picks the best five…

Red - - Reads -


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.

Nor­mal Peo­ple

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.

The Corset

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.

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