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?
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.
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.
Taylor Jenkins Reid’s hugely hyped up novel, Daisy Jones & The Six, comes after the success of her 2017 hit, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Both play with an interview format, spanning the ups and downs of hugely successful celebrity icons. Daisy Jones & The Six follows the eponymous character, Daisy Jones, as she joins forces with rock band The Six to become one of the biggest groups of the 70s. Fuelled by sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll they embark on a rip-roaring career with a killer album and a sold-out tour to boot. But following one of their best shows, and at the peak of their success, they suddenly disband with no explanation, leaving fans heartbroken and bewildered. Decades later, the band and those close to them open up about what happened with Daisy Jones & The Six.
House of Impossible Beauties charts the lives of the drags queens that formed the beginning of legendary Latino drag house, the House of Xtravaganza. In 1980s New York City, Angel is seventeen and finally coming into her own. When her mother rejects her, she looks for a new family in the ball scene, where she meets Hector. They fall in love and decide to create their own all-Latino house, with Angel as the ruling mother, and Hector beside her as house father. When Hector dies from AIDs-related causes, Angel must mother her drag children alone. Venus, Juanito and Daniel all lean on each other and their mother Angel, as they learn how to navigate the ballroom scene, along with sex work, drug addiction, and society’s rejection of their true selves.