Welcome to the fourth post in my Anticipated Books series for the winter and spring of 2014. Today it’s time for my mainstream fiction and thriller picks. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!
To the outside world, Kathy is the very picture of a happy and fulfilled modern woman. She has a beautiful baby boy, a clever, handsome husband and a glamorous, high-powered job.
But not everybody is fooled. Her employee, Heja, knows the truth: the cracks in Kathy’s marriage, her self-doubt, her fear of failure at work. Heja is perfectly placed to destroy Kathy’s life. And if she succeeds, she can claim the one thing she wants most…
This is a chilling psychological thriller about obsession, jealousy, and lying to those you love.
Deborah McKinlay – That Part Was True (Grand Central Publishing)
When Eve Petworth writes to Jackson Cooper to praise a scene in one of his books, they discover a mutual love of cookery and food. Their friendship blossoms against the backdrop of Jackson’s colorful, but ultimately unsatisfying, love life and Eve’s tense relationship with her soon-to-be married daughter. As each of them offers, from behind the veils of semi-anonymity and distance, wise and increasingly affectionate counsel to the other, they both begin to confront their problems and plan a celebratory meeting in Paris–a meeting that Eve fears can never happen.
Jenn Crowell – Etched on Me (Washington Square Press)
Girl, Interrupted meets Best Kept Secret in this riveting, redemptive coming-of-age story about a young woman who overcomes a troubled adolescence, only to lose custody of her daughter when her mental health history is used against her.
On the surface, sixteen-year-old Lesley Holloway is just another bright new student at Hawthorn Hill, a posh all-girls prep school north of London. Little do her classmates know that she recently ran away from home—where her father had spent years sexually abusing her—and that she now spends her afternoons working in a fish and chip shop and her nights in a dingy hostel. Nor does anyone know that she’s secretly cutting herself as a coping mechanism…until the day she goes too far and ends up in the hospital.
Lesley spends the next two years in and out of psychiatric facilities; overcoming her traumatic memories, finding the support of a surrogate family and a pioneering therapist, even falling in love with a fellow patient. Eventually completing university and earning her degree, she is a social services success story—until she becomes unexpectedly pregnant in her early twenties. Despite the many gains she has made and the overwhelming odds she has overcome, the same team that saved her as an adolescent will now question whether Lesley is fit to be a mother. And so she embarks upon her biggest battle yet: the fight for her unborn daughter.
Luana Lewis – Don’t Stand So Close (Transworld)
A lingering, compulsive debut novel that will keep you tightly in its grip.
What would you do if a young girl knocked on your door and asked for your help?
If it was snowing and she was freezing cold, but you were afraid and alone?
What would you do if you let her in, but couldn’t make her leave?
What if she told you terrible lies about someone you love, but the truth was even worse?
Stella has been cocooned in her home for three years. Severely agoraphobic, she knows she is safe in the stark, isolated house she shares with her husband, Max. The traumatic memories of her final case as a psychologist are that much easier to keep at a distance, too.
But the night that Blue arrives on her doorstep with her frightened eyes and sad stories, Stella’s carefully controlled world begins to unravel around her…
DON’T STAND SO CLOSE is a chilling and suspenseful read, reminiscent of both SISTER by Rosamund Lupton and INTO THE DARKEST CORNER by Elizabeth Haynes.
Jude Morgan – A Little Folly (St. Martin’s Griffin)
When their strait-laced, domineering father, Sir Clement Carnell, dies, Valentine throws open their Devonshire estate of Pennacombe to their fashionable cousins from London and Louisa feels free at last to reject the man Sir Clement wanted her to marry.
Soon, the temptations of Regency London beckon, including the beautiful, scandalous, and very married Lady Harriet Eversholt, with whom Valentine becomes dangerously involved. Meanwhile, Louisa finds that freedom of choice is as daunting as it is exciting. Will the opportunity to indulge in a little folly lead to fulfillment—or disaster?
Carol Casella – Gemini (Simon & Schuster)
Across the Puget Sound in a rural hospital on the Olympic Peninsula an unidentified patient lies unconscious, the victim of a hit and run. In Seattle, ICU doctor Charlotte Reese receives a call: Jane Doe will be transferred to her care. But when the patient arrives—with only tubes keeping her alive—Charlotte has to dig through x-rays and MRIs to determine what went wrong on the operating table. Jane Doe’s condition is getting worse each day, and Charlotte finds herself becoming increasingly consumed by her patient’s plight—both medical and personal.
Who is this woman? Why will no one claim her? Who should decide her fate if she never regains consciousness? As a doctor and a woman, Charlotte is forced to confront these issues head on—especially when her boyfriend Eric, a science journalist, becomes involved in the case. But the closer Charlotte and Eric get to the truth, the more their relationship is put to the test. The key to unlocking Jane Doe’s secret is opening their hearts to their own feelings about life and death, love and marriage…and each other.
Filled with intricate medical detail and set in the breathtaking Pacific Northwest, Gemini is a vivid novel of moral complexity and emotional depth from the bestselling author of Oxygen and Healer.
Cara Hoffman – Be Safe I Love You (Virago)
Be Safe I Love You tells the story of Lauren Clay, a woman soldier returned from Iraq, and her beloved younger brother Danny, obsessed with Arctic exploration and David Bowie, whom she has looked out for since their mother left them years before.
Lauren is home in time to spend Christmas with Danny and her father, who is delighted to have her back and reluctant to acknowledge that something feels a little strange. But as she reconnects with her small-town life in upstate New York, it soon becomes apparent that things are not as they should be. And soon an army psychologist is making ever-more frantic attempts to reach her.
But Lauren has taken Danny on a trip upstate – to visit their mother, she says at first, although it becomes clear that her real destination is somewhere else entirely: a place beyond the glacial woods of Canada, where Lauren thinks her salvation lies. But where, really, does she think she is going, and what happened to her in Iraq that set her on this quest?
Be Safe I Love You is an exquisite and unflinching novel about war, its aftermath, and the possibility of healing.
Every time Harry dies, he is reborn in exactly the same time and place, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before.
No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, and nothing ever changes. He only knows that there are others like him, living with but apart from the rest of us.
As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message. It has come down from child to adult, child to adult, passed back through generations from a thousand years forward in time. The message is that the world is ending, and we cannot prevent it. So now it’s up to you.’
This is the story of what Harry August does next – and what he did before – and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
Nick Harkaway – Tigerman (William Heineman)
Lester Ferris, sergeant of the British Army, is a good man in need of a rest. He’s spent a lot of his life being shot at, and Afghanistan was the last stop on his road to exhaustion. He has no family, he’s nearly forty and burned out and about to be retired.
The island of Mancreu is the ideal place for Lester to serve out his time. It’s a former British colony in legal limbo, soon to be destroyed because of its very special version of toxic pollution – a down-at-heel, mildly larcenous backwater. Of course, that also makes Mancreu perfect for shady business, hence the Black Fleet of illicit ships lurking in the bay: listening stations, offshore hospitals, money laundering operations, drug factories and deniable torture centres. None of which should be a problem, because Lester’s brief is to sit tight and turn a blind eye.
But Lester Ferris has made a friend: a brilliant, Internet-addled street kid with a comicbook fixation who will need a home when the island dies – who might, Lester hopes, become an adopted son. Now, as Mancreu’s small society tumbles into violence, the boy needs Lester to be more than just an observer.
In the name of paternal love, Lester Ferris will do almost anything. And he’s a soldier with a knack for bad places: “almost anything” could be a very great deal – even becoming some sort of hero. But this is Mancreu, and everything here is upside down. Just exactly what sort of hero will the boy need?
Sarah Lotz – The Three (Hodder & Stoughton)
They’re here … The boy. The boy watch the boy watch the dead people oh Lordy there’s so many … They’re coming for me now. We’re all going soon. All of us. Pastor Len warn them that the boy he’s not to??–
The last words of Pamela May Donald (1961 – 2012)
Black Thursday. The day that will never be forgotten. The day that four passenger planes crash, at almost exactly the same moment, at four different points around the globe.
There are only four survivors. Three are children, who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt. But they are not unchanged.
And the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives just long enough to record a voice message on her phone.
A message that will change the world.
The message is a warning.
Gambling at the roulette tables of the Kursaal, Gwendolen Harleth glances up to meet Daniel Deronda’s arresting stare. Striking, selfish and wilful, she is at that moment the mistress of her destiny. Thirty years on, the flawed heroine and true protagonist of Eliot’s last great novel writes her confessional to the man whose ever-imagined gaze has prevailed throughout her life. The egotism, naiveté and sensitivity of her blazing youth is evoked with bittersweet wisdom; a passionate remembrance of the events leading up to the marriage that broke her spirit, and the loss of the man who broke her heart.
Moving, original and elegant, this is a bravura re-imagining of the life of one of English literature’s most multi-faceted and contradictory heroines.
Deep inside the Arctic circle, the US Coast Guard icebreaker Terra Nova batters its way through the frozen sea. One day, a gaunt figure skis out of the fog. The crew bring him aboard and give him medical treatment for prolonged exposure, malnutrition – and a gunshot wound.
The man has escaped from ice-bound research station two hundred miles south of the pole. And the tale he tells is one of secrets, insanity and death.