We’ve got historical novels as well novels set in the present day as our suggestions for great reads this month. We head to Bristol with Helen Dunmore, Scotland with Polly Clark, America with George Saunders and finally to the football league club with Ross Raisin.
Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore
No one writes historical fiction better than Helen Dunmore and this, her latest novel, set in 1792 is one of her best. Against a backdrop of a Europe seized by political turmoil and violence we follow Lizzie Fawkes who has grown up in radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. But she has recently married John Diner Tredevant, a property developer who is heavily invested in Bristol’s housing boom, and he has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war. Soon his plans for a magnificent terrace built above the two-hundred-foot drop of the Gorge come under threat.
Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders
A debut novel from one of the best short story writers around today and it’s a fantastic triumph. Set in 1862 against the backdrop of the American Civil War we enter the world of Abraham Lincoln as his son is dying. When the 11-year-old Willie passes away, Lincoln is grief-striken and become trapped in a world between life and death, known in the Tibetan tradition as the bardo. A very special novel that is sure to go on and win prizes galore. You heard it here first.
Larchfield is the story of Dora Fielding, a young poet who struggles with isolation and sanity, interwoven with the story of W.H. Auden. Beginning in the present day, Dora is living in Helensburgh struggling to write her novel. As her mental state deteriorates she finds solace in Auden’s poems and begins to find out more about Auden’s life in 1930’s. Polly Clark is a poet who was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize who has produced a novel of poetic and imaginative writing.
This is a tale of masculinity set in the high stakes world of premiership football. When at 19, Tom is released from his premiership club that has been building his career his dream is shattered. A Natural delves into the heart of a professional football club: the pressure, the loneliness, the threat of scandal, the fragility of the body and the struggle, on and off the pitch, with conforming to the person that everybody else expects you to be.