Alix Nathan’s debut short story collection follows a variety of characters and their lives during 18th century England, a time when the country is shrouded in the atmosphere of revolution and reaching the height of the Enlightenment.
Drawing on her personal experiences of growing up fat and constantly dieting, Virgie Tovar teaches others to reject that same mindset. She discusses diet culture, fat phobia, sexist fashion and more, arguing that we must unlearn what society has taught us since childhood in order to embrace our bodies, and to learn that it is fine to be fat.
Kate Weinberg’s debut novel, The Truants, pulls dark academia out of the elite and picturesque colleges of America and plunges it into a Brutalist-style university found in the east of England. Jess Walker begins her undergraduate degree enthralled by her enigmatic professor, Lorna Clay, whose class on the master storyteller Agatha Christie sets the scene for the rest of the novel and its mysteries. The Truants is a story about stories, but in particular, it’s about the reliability of our storytellers. Just how much of what they’re telling us is the truth?
In the 1980s, two rookie cops move their blossoming families to the small town of Gillam, just north of New York City. Francis Gleeson and his wife, Lena, try to welcome their new neighbours, Brian and Anne Stanhope, but they receive a frosty reception from Anne. As their families grow side by side, inevitably intertwining, their quiet suburban lives hurtle towards an act that will change all of them forever. Spanning four decades, Ask Again Yes examines relationships of all kinds; marriage, friendship, parent-child relationships. It considers how each of those relationships are tested and how powerful forgiveness can be.
Augusta Hope has never really felt like she belonged, especially not in her small, boring, English town. Too inquisitive for her down-to-earth parents, Augusta clings to the bond she has with her twin sister, Julia, despite them being complete opposites. Half a world away, Parfait is living the small African country of Burundi, dreaming of a better life for himself and his siblings, not all of whom have survived the horrific war that has torn apart his country. A terrible tragedy leaves Augusta even more lost than before, and she sets out on a journey to find out where it is she’s supposed to be.
Ella is drifting through her 20s, with the distinct feeling that she’s not where she should be. She watches as her girlfriend, Alix, succeed in her art and make plans to take her work abroad, while Ella herself fails to produce more than one painting a year, despite her similar artist aspirations. Instead, she finds herself bouncing from one care-giving job to another, privy to the most private moments of people in need. She takes on the task of caring for Jill, a client slightly younger than her usual charges who is left mentally diminished following a tragic accident. Ella is struck by the tenderness with which Jill’s husband, Bryn, cares for her, and the quiet friendship that develops between the two of them as Ella returns each day to help where she can. As she continues to observe their marriage each day, Ella finds herself questioning her own relationships with those around her.
Inspired by the film of the same name, Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke brings this nightmarish fairytale to book form. In Spain during the summer of 1944, the aftermath of the civil war plays out in the forests, in between the trees and under the cover of darkness. Republican rebels hide out in the woods, hunted by the capitán and his soldiers who make an old mill their base. Ofelia and her mother, who is heavily pregnant and very weak, arrive at the mill to be reunited with Captain Vidal, Ofelia’s new stepfather. Most do not take notice of her, the cruel capitán is irritated by her presence, but under the ground, creatures are stirring – they sense the return of the long-lost Princess Moanna. Ofelia discovers an overgrown labyrinth and meets the Fawn, who sets her three tasks to prove she is the missing Princess. Ofelia’s love of fairytales guides her, but things soon become far more sinister than they ever did in her storybooks.
Carol Ann Duffy’s award-winning 2011 poetry collection, The Bees, was Duffy’s first publication as Poet Laureate. It explores a variety of topics and themes, all bound together by the subtle symbolism of the bee.
Within the first few pages of If Cats Disappeared From the World, the narrator learns of his imminent death. He returns to his apartment, where he lives alone with little contact with his family following his mother’s death, and seeks solace in the fur of his beloved cat, Cabbage. Before he can truly come to terms with his prognosis, he encounters the Devil, a Hawaiian-shirt-clad version of himself who informs him that he has just a day to live. But the Devil offers him a deal: in exchange for removing one thing from the world, the narrator will be granted an additional day of life. What follows is an unusual week of decisions, in which our narrator learns what really matters to him and what he’s willing to lose in order to live.
Kayleen Schaefer’s debut takes a personal and sociological look at the way friendships between women have developed throughout history, to become more nuanced and intimate than ever. Drawing on personal experience and interviews with friends, celebrities, writers, and historians, Schaefer renders a touching account of the importance of friendship in strengthening and supporting our life experiences.