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Watershed moment

The middle of the year is a bit of a watershed for booksellers as we start seeing all the great new books to be published in the second half of the year, leading up to Christmas. The list of terrific authors with new books this year is exhaustive, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.  Here’s just two to start with.

Coming in August is a new novel from Australian (expat) writer Alice Nelson. I loved the intelligence and compassion of The Children’s House which came out in 2018, but her new novel Faithless, reaches new heights and places Nelson up there with the likes of Michelle de Kretser and any other great writers you care to mention. 

Set in India, England and the south of France, Faithless is a story of enormous moral complexity, centring on Cressida, a successful novelist who has a life-long affair with Max, an even more successful, married writer. Nelson navigates this rocky terrain with surety. Cressida’s unconventional upbringing in India as well as her deeply passionate and lasting love for Max makes us loath to judge and underpins the reader’s understanding of this all-too-human character. 

When the novel opens, Cressida is mourning Max’s death, her husband also having died a few years before  (another interesting and complex story). She is caring for Flora, a strange child whose relation to Cressida we don’t learn until near the end of the book. This mysterious sub-plot and Cressida’s obvious love for Flora, further complicates the situation and our understanding of this flawed but brilliantly drawn protagonist. This is a brave and beautiful book which wears its highly intelligent, literary heart on its sleeve.

A somewhat lighter read this month is Liza Klaussman’s stupidly titled This is Gonna End in Tears. Why the author and/or publisher put the word ‘Gonna’ in the title is beyond me. It makes the book sound like something hilarious and bears no relation to what is a moving and interesting novel about the relationship between three characters who have had a long, unhappy history, having once owned a recording company together. Set in LA in 1984, it artfully skewers these adults lives while delving into the messy teenage lives of their children. Klaussman writes with a light touch and there is some humour, but it is by no means frivolous and when it ends in tears, they are real. 

See you on D’Hill