Gwendolyn and Estella have always been close, each other’s source of comfort in an industriously wealthy Chinese-Indonesian family with more secrets than they can keep track of. But when Estella poisons their entire family, sole survivor Gwendolyn is left to trawl through her fractured memories to try and uncover their past and make sense of a sister she thought she knew.
Eleanor Oliphant’s perfectly timetabled life is turned upside down when she and the office IT guy, Raymond, save the life of Sammy, a elderly man who falls in the street. She finds her life disrupted by social expectations and engagements, and longs to return to her weekly routine of vodka binges and frozen food. One thing she does wish she could cut from her week is her Wednesday phone call with her mother. With the help of Raymond, Sammy, and a host of other new acquaintances, Eleanor begins to learn that her life can be different if only she just opens up to it.
Juliet returns to Nightingale House at a rather tumultuous point in her life; she’s lost her job, her husband is having an affair, and her children each come with problems of their own. When she discovers she has inherited the Horner family home, many years after her grandmother’s death, she doesn’t quite understand why, but she is wary of questioning it. Instead, she takes her three children – teenage Bea, nine-year-old Isla, and toddler Sandy – and moves them to the country and the great Nightingale House where she spent her childhood summers. But the house still holds secrets from her great-grandparents’ time.
Jenny is in her mid-thirties and by all accounts, her life is pretty great. She has a good job at a cool magazine, owns a house in London, and has an array of funny friends just a text away. Problem is, she now has to live with three painfully hipster housemates since breaking up with her semi-famous artist boyfriend, her relationship with her best friend is also on the rocks, as is her career, and her fortune-telling mother has decided to show up on her doorstep. But the worst bit? Suzy Brambles just unfollowed her on Instagram.
After breaking up with her boyfriend in a failed bid for more attention and then going on an Ambien-induced doughnut binge, Lucy agrees she needs to time to work on herself (and her PhD thesis that has been unfinished for years). Heading to Venice Beach to spend a summer in her half-sister’s beach side glass-walled house, she spends her days attending group therapy for love addicts and caring for her sister’s baby; a diabetic dog named Dom. But Lucy’s therapy takes a step back when she becomes involved with a mysterious swimmer she meets out on the rocks on night.
When Cyril Conroy buys the Dutch House, he means it as a surprise for his wife, Elna. More glass than brick, with marble floors, gilt ceiling, and even a ballroom, their move from a tiny New York City apartment to this enormous home in Philadelphia is jarring for humble Elna. Bought from the Vanhoebeeks after their bankruptcy, the house also comes with their servants and all of their wordly possessions. Elna tries to adjust as the children, Maeve and Danny, marvel at their new life, but her selflessness and desire to help the neediest of society contradicts her new luxurious lifestyle. She begins to disappear, sometimes for weeks at a time, until one day she leaves for India and doesn’t return.
The nineteen year old protagonist of Elle Nash’s debut novel is destructive and reckless. When she’s not working at the Radio Shack, she’s snorting her mother’s prescription pills in the bedroom of their trailer or having meaningless sex with her boss. When Frankie and Matt initiate a sadistic three-way relationship with her, they christen her Lilith. Matt tries to educate her in the ways of Satanism while Lilith desperately tries to please them both, lest she lose their attention. Her feelings soon morph into obsession, but an obsession for Matt alone; an obsession that Frankie will not let stand.
During the summer of 1969, four siblings hear of a curious fortune teller who can predict the day you die. Pooling their pocket money and eager for a cure to the monotony of the long summer, they seek her out, entering her cramped and crowded apartment one by one. Simon, the youngest, enters first, followed wild-haired Klara, sensible Daniel, and finally the eldest, Varya, nervously follows her siblings. They come out the other side forever changed by what they heard. Over the next five decades, the fortunes they were told shape each of the siblings’ lives, pushing the power of their familial bond to the limit.
When Jen and Hugh Maddox’s daughter, Lana, goes missing on an art retreat in the Peak District, they fear the worst. But four days later, Lana is found, bruised and bleeding but alive. When they ask her what happened, and where she had been, her only answers are ‘I got lost’ and ‘I can’t remember’. The family try to return to their normal lives, but Jen’s need to know what happened leaders to her constant surveillance of Lana’s life, driving them further and further apart, until Jen’s obsession steers her into dangerous territory.
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?