Seeking literary inspo?
Well, you’re in the right place. Ready for your June installment of unmissable future literary classics? Then let me begin.
Book Of The Month – Mine by JL Butler
Francine Day is an ambitious London divorce lawyer on track to make Queen’s Counsel but the high-flyer’s wings are clipped when she falls hard for one her clients, the powerful, enigmatic businessman Martin Joy. When his wife goes missing during their divorce hearing, Francine realizes she can’t trust her razor-sharp instincts any more. This slick, compelling psychological thriller is written under a pseudonym – Butler is actually best-selling novelist Tasmina Perry, romantic fiction and bonkbuster specialist. This new darker streak certainly suits her – there’s still lots of bedroom action but with it comes myriad sinister twists and turns. It reminded me both of Anna Friel’s TV cop Marcella (Francine suffers blackouts) and Apple Tree Yard (a professional woman driven to insanity by lust). The ending is a teensy bit Scooby Doo in terms of plausibility but, that said, I didn’t guess whodunnit before the big reveal. Which either means I’m a bit dim or it’s fiendishly plotted – let’s go with the latter. Mine was optioned for a Hollywood movie adaptation before it was even finished so best get stuck in now before it bursts onto the big screen.
I’m also loving…
With holiday season approaching, I’m very much on board with Stephanie Rosenbloom’s approach to travel. In Alone Time, the New York Times writer extolls the virtues of spending time on your tod, positing it as something to relish rather than dread. She explores Paris, Istanbul, Florence and New York in the process, free to savour every moment and not beholden to anyone else’s itinerary.
Two more marvellous memoirs land this month, one from a much-loved veteran writer, one from a hotly tipped newcomer. Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am is now out in paperback. (I like to flag up paperback editions as not everyone wants to fork out for hardbacks. Plus they fit better in the handbag, right?) Turns out she can write about herself as beautifully as she portrays her fictional characters. It’s structured around her “seventeen brushes with death”, from serious childhood illness to a terrifying labour.
Yrsa Daley-Ward, meanwhile, also had a tough start, growing up as one of the only black faces in small-town Chorley near Wigan. The Terrible is incendiary stuff, taking in secrets, sexuality and drug-taking. The writing is mesmerizing – Yrsa’s day job is a poet and, boy, it shows.
More of a dedicated follower of fiction? Rachel Kushner is an award-winning American literary novelist (you may know The Flamethrowers). Her new one, The Mars Room is the story of Romy, a woman staring down the barrel of a life sentence in prison, while her seven-year-old son is in the custody of Romy’s estranged mother.
Eve Of Man, meanwhile, is a novel jointly written by McFly star-turned- children’s author Tom Fletcher and his romantic novelist wife, Giovanna Fletcher. Which doesn’t sound like an entirely enticing prospect. but it’s actually really good – I whipped through it in two days flat. A dystopian, sci-fi love story, it’s all about the titular Eve, the only female to be born across the globe in 50 years and so lauded as the key to the future of the human race. No pressure then. It’s ostensibly aimed at teens but works for adults too, feels like it’d easily adapt into a movie and is the first of a trilogy. The Hunger Games, anyone?
I get sent an avalanche of self-improvement books each month – testament to the fact that everyone’s favourite subject is themselves, I guess. There’s a lot of over-earnest dross out there but there are two that caught my eye this month. The Kindness Method is by Shahroo Izadi, a behavioural change specialist. She’s seen great success in encouraging clients to be as nice to themselves as they would be to a friend – apparently it’s key to helping you change destructive habits, be it drinking too much or being forever glued to your phone. Methods must be A Thing – voilà Emma Gannon’s The Multi-Hyphen Method. She argues that the old way of picking a profession and sticking to it is dead and the portfolio career is the way forward. If you and your worklife need a kick up the bottom, you’ll find Emma’s energy and enthusiasm infectious.