Hooray! It’s Red Book Club! Top five choices for July issue… The New Republic by Lionel Shriver, a quirky witty novel about terrorism and the life of the foreign correspondent. I felt a bit bad choosing this as Shriver wrote it over a decade ago and is only now getting it published because… Well, basically, she can get anything she wants published now. But I’m the biggest fan of her writing and will lap up anything she does. Even her mad tennis novel, Double Fault, which everyone else hated. I have only ever met one other person who liked it. It was like meeting my long-lost twin.
Other choices for July: The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace, an atmospheric Victorian story about a woman in a mental asylum which reminded me of Maggie O’Farrell’s The Vanishing of Esme Lennox.
Catching the Sun by Tony Parsons, about a much-misunderstood taxi driver who moves his family to Thailand when he becomes disillusioned with life in Britain. I review a Parsons book with slightly gritted teeth as, God knows, he doesn’t need the publicity. But this is a good read and he is a writer who really knows what he’s doing…
The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus (pictured above), which is the weirdest, freakiest, most brilliant idea, a futuristic novel about what happens when parents start to be poisoned by the words and speech of their children. I said it was freaky. I was amazed Red were happy for me to put this in, but quirky, difficult novels are having a bit of a moment and it’s good to have something a bit different in the mix.
And finally… in the book of the month slot is Park Lane by Frances Osborne. I put this in against my better judgement because (a) it’s a decent read and (b) I knew everyone would be talking about it and a lot of Red readers would want to know about it. It seems unfair to hold the author’s husband, George, against her… Or does it?