With The Furies, British writer Natalie Haynes has delivered an addictive, dark and suspenseful— yet sensitive—debut about death, obsession and fate.
Fans of historical fiction will be drawn to The Miniaturist, a fantastical tale from British debut novelist Jessie Burton that takes place in 17th-century Amsterdam. The story begins as 18-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at the home of her wealthy merchant husband, Johannes Brandt. Surprisingly, though, he is nowhere to be found. In his stead is his strictly religious sister, Marin; housemaid Cornelia; and his manservant, a former slave named Otto. Nella, a country girl, is forced to forge her way alone as head of the household.
The Story of Land and Sea follows three generations of a Revolutionary-era family struggling with life and death, freedom and slavery as they make a life in a small coastal town in North Carolina. Ten-year-old Tabitha is enthralled by her father’s stories of the sea and of his elopement aboard ship with her mother, Helen, whom she never knew. John gave up the sea when Tabitha was born and Helen died, returning to it only when he feels his last hope lies in the healing salt air.
We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas’ epic first novel, was 10 years in the making and, upon completion, the subject of a vigorous publishers’ bidding war. Readers will understand why.
In her debut novel, Season of the Dragonflies, Sarah Creech delivers a masterly portrayal of sisterly sibling rivalry, Southern style. Creech’s own experience growing up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a house brimming with women storytellers with a penchant for the mystical inspired the novel’s setting and plot, which unfolds as the latest generation of Lenore women are swept up into a fragrant family crisis.
It’s 7 a.m. on December 23, and Madeleine Altimari is shimmying. In 30-second intervals, the girl attempts to perfect her moves, pausing in between for a quick drag from a cigarette. After each interval, she rates her work on a school-letter scale. She has yet to check off the day’s other rehearsal tasks: singing, scales, guitar.
Nobody has ever taken care of Mia Dennett. Her upwardly mobile parents didn’t do it. Her uptight older sister didn’t do it. So the talented inner-city art teacher has learned to take care of herself. Or so she thinks, until an impulsive one-night stand turns into a nightmare far beyond Mia’s control. But why does her abductor seem so uncertain about his plans for her? Why did he choose to hide her in a remote Minnesota cabin rather than turn her over to the man who hired him? Was it an act of mercy, or something else entirely?
At first glance, Ove looks like a Grumpy Old Man with a Saab—a typical curmudgeon, not the type whose depths one is tempted to plumb. In fact, unless you like being scowled at, scolded, insulted and having doors slammed in your face, you might just decide to avoid him altogether. He wouldn’t mind; the only person he wants to see is his wife, who died six months ago.
“There are often two conversations going on in a marriage,” short-story writer Robin Black claims in her debut novel, Life Drawing. “The one that you’re having and the one that you’re not. Sometimes you don’t even know when that second, silent one has begun.” One could suggest that there are two conversations going on in this quiet, yet exquisitely crafted novel: the conversation between Augusta (Gus) and her husband Owen, and the conversation they’re not having, about Gus having cheated on him.
If you've ever wondered whether modern art is trash disguised by critical theory or whether critical theory is trashy modern art, Will Chancellor's debut novel, A Brave Man Seven Stories Tall, may settle the wager. It is a spirited sendup of the frauds found in art, academia and their "liminal" intersections.