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11 books I'm excited to read this Spring

Well, what else are you going to do with your bank holiday weekend?!

A selection of novels published in spring 2023 in front of some houseplants

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Arrangements In Blue: Notes On Love & Making A Life, Amy Key (Vintage, out now)
We live in a world of twos, and then threes and fours. A world where romantic love is revered above all else. A world where it's drummed into us, almost from birth, that finding a partner is the be-all and end-all. So what if it doesn't work out that way? How does it feel to live life without it? For poet Amy Key, now in her 40s, that's how things turned out. Taking her experiences and the album that shaped her expectations of love (Joni Mitchell's Blue) she's produced this gorgeous examination of living the life unexpected. From building a home to travelling alone to deciding whether or not to become a mother, this is a moving, painfully honest exploration of loneliness, envy, grief and a sense of failure. Read it. I guarantee you'll want to buy more than one copy.
• Buy it from Amazon (Opens in a new window), Waterstones (Opens in a new window) or (Opens in a new window)

curtis sittenfeld romantic comedy

Romantic Comedy, Curtis Sittenfeld (Doubleday, out now)
Curtis (American Wife) Sittenfeld can do no wrong in my eyes and Romantic Comedy is no exception. Sally Milz is a writer at a show not a million miles from Saturday Night Live and she can't help noticing that the funny-but-average male writers have a distinct habit of bagging gorgeous high-achieving women. Strangely, not so the female writers! Enter unexpectedly decent, decidedly hot, rockstar Noah. Funny, clever, warm, this is uplifting balm for the soul.
• Buy it from Amazon (Opens in a new window), Waterstones (Opens in a new window) or (Opens in a new window)

Greek lessons, Han Kang (Hamish Hamilton, 27 April)
South Korean writer Han Kang (and her main translator Deborah Smith) are arguably responsible for the West's passion for South Korean fiction, thanks to her award-winning, The Vegetarian (Opens in a new window). The deceptively slim Greek Lessons packs just as much into its 147 pages. In it, a young woman with no voice and her teacher who is losing his sight find themselves drawn to each other. Together they help her retrieve her voice. A gem.
• Buy it from Amazon (Opens in a new window), Waterstone (Opens in a new window)s or (Opens in a new window)

Pineapple Street, Jenny Jackson (Hutchinson Heinemann, 13 April)
If you, like me, were a fan of Miranda Cowley Heller's The Paper Palace (Opens in a new window), look no further for your next privileged-New Yorkers-in-meltdown fix. (Without the WTF ending.) The Stockton family is Manhattan-real-estate-rich. But life is far from straightforward for Darley, the eldest daughter who takes it all for granted, until she can't; youngest daughter Georgiana who's never really felt she belonged; and, in the midst of it all, Sasha, who married into it and really doesn't fit. Cue a smart, funny, astute skewering of class and money and money and class.
• Buy it from Amazon (Opens in a new window), Waterstones (Opens in a new window) or (Opens in a new window)

The Anniversary Stephanie Bishop

The Anniversary, Stephanie Bishop (W&N, out now)
If you like your psychological suspense with a touch of brainache, this is the one for you. Novelist JB Blackwood is on a cruise with her husband, Patrick, to celebrate their anniversary. Once her lecturer and now a film-maker, Patrick is much older than JB and now, as his star begins to wane, she wins a big literary prize completing her ascendance. Then a violent storm hits their ship and Patrick vanishes overboard... Beautifully written and steeped in rising dread. Loved it.
• Buy it from amazon (Opens in a new window), Waterstones (Opens in a new window) or (Opens in a new window)

Big Swiss, Jen Beagin (Faber, 18 May)
Greta is an audio transcriptionist for a sex therapist. She's also divorced, lonely and obsessed with the Big Swiss – a woman she imagines as tall and glamorous and whom she has never met, nor is she likely to. Because Big Swiss (Flavia) is a married gynaecologist who has never had an orgasm and the two have only ever "met" through the tapes Greta transcribes. But both women are dog lovers and Flavia isn't in Switzerland, far from it, she's in Greta's local park. This is an absolute riot. And I'm not the only one who thinks so, since it's already being made into an HBO series starring Jodie (Killing Eve) Comer. And given what she did with Villanelle I can't wait to see what she makes of Flavia!
• Buy it from amazon (Opens in a new window), Waterstones (Opens in a new window) or (Opens in a new window)

The Lost Wife, Susanna Moore (W&N, 27 April)
Susanna Moore is one of those writers who you can't help feeling should be huge, but somehow isn't. It looked like she might be when her pitch-dark 1994 thriller, In The Cut, (Opens in a new window) (one of my all-time favourite novels) was made into a movie by Jane Campion and awarded "cult classic" status. But no. Weird. Anyway. Set in the late 1850s/early 1860s amidst the decimation of the Sioux community in Minnesota, The Lost Wife, tells the story of Sarah Brinton, a white woman caught up in the Sioux Uprising. Her loyalties are split when she is held captive by the Sioux whilst also being rejected by white settlers for her Sioux sympathies. Completely compelling and all the more fascinating for being based on a true story.
• Buy it from amazon (Opens in a new window), Waterstones (Opens in a new window) or (Opens in a new window)

yellow face Rebecca F Kuang who also wrote Babylon as RF Kuang

Yellowface, Rebecca F Kuang (Borough Press, 25 May)
Athena Liu is a literary darling. June Hayward isn't. But when Athena dies in a freak accident and her new manuscript "somehow" ends up in June's bag, she just can't resist the temptation to pass it off as her own. Her newfound bestsellerdom is addictive but, as the frenzy abates, it becomes clear she's not the only one who knows the truth behind her smash hit. A fast and furious look at call-out culture, social media shaming, appropriation and identity politics, with more than a side-eye to the publishing industry, this is like living through a 300-page twitter pile-on. In a good way! As well as being properly page-turning it has a lot to say about contemporary culture that I'm pretty sure some people won't like hearing.
• Buy it from amazon (Opens in a new window), Waterstones (Opens in a new window) or (Opens in a new window)

Looking Glass Sound, Catriona Ward (Viper Books, 20 April)
Another book about writers and the lengths they will go to for a story (it must be something in the water). Wilder Harlow has returned to Looking Glass Sound to write his final book. It's the story of his childhood summers, the Daggerman who stalked those long summer nights and Sky, Wilder's one-time friend, who stole his memoir and turned it into a bestseller. But as Wilder sets about writing his revenge, his grip on reality begins to slip... Catriona Ward is the queen of unearthing the monstrous darkness that lingers inside us and this is right up there with her bestseller, The Last House On Needless Street. (Opens in a new window)
• Buy it from amazon (Opens in a new window), Waterstones (Opens in a new window) or (Opens in a new window)

August Blue, Deborah Levy (Hamish Hamilton, 4 May)
Deborah Levy has a legion fans for good reason. Her trilogy of "living autobiographies" encapsulated life as a middle-aged woman unlike anything I'd ever read and her fiction is equally resonant. So when I received the proof for her new novel, August Blue, I tore into it. Elsa is in a flea market in Athens when she spots a woman buying two mechanical horses. The woman seems to be her living double. Is she her? Are they each other? She has to find out. That search – for the other woman, and for herself – takes her across Europe. But will the two women ever meet? (If you've never read Deborah Levy and don't know where to start, try The Cost Of Living (Opens in a new window). Or, if you prefer fiction, Swimming Home (Opens in a new window).)
• Buy it from amazon (Opens in a new window), Waterstones (Opens in a new window) or (Opens in a new window)

And one to make a date in your diary for...
The Broken Places, Russell Franklin (Phoenix, 8 June)

Based on the life of Gregory Hemingway, who started life in 1931 as Ernest Hemingway's third son: handsome, sporty, his father's favourite. And ended it in 2001 as Gloria in Miami Women's Correctional Institution. This is an extraordinary life lived in extraordinary times and I inhaled it. You can expect to be hearing a lot more about this from me before it comes out in June.
• Preorder it from amazon (Opens in a new window), Waterstones (Opens in a new window) or (Opens in a new window)

• What are you reading right now? Share your recommendations.

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