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New books to read in May

New books abound in May, with a huge list of fantastic titles being published by wonderful authors.

Book and Brew has picked four great books from that list to recommend in May.

These literary fiction gems cover dystopian adventure, challenging relationships and political peril, and will introduce you to four very exciting debut authors.

Enjoy.

These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper

These Dividing Walls

I’ve seen this book a lot on social media as bloggers eagerly posted their previews of this talked-about title.

And, I can see why after reading the blurb:

In a forgotten corner of Paris stands a building.

Within its walls, people talk and kiss, laugh and cry; some are glad to sit alone, while others wish they did not. A woman with silver-blonde hair opens her bookshop downstairs, an old man feeds the sparrows on his windowsill, and a young mother wills the morning to hold itself at bay. Though each of their walls touches someone else’s, the neighbours they pass in the courtyard remain strangers.

Into this courtyard arrives Edward. Still bearing the sweat of a channel crossing, he takes his place in an attic room to wait out his grief.

But in distant corners of the city, as Paris is pulled taut with summer heat, there are those who meet with a darker purpose. As the feverish metropolis is brought to boiling point, secrets will rise and walls will crumble both within and without Number 37…

Ooh, that sounds brilliant, doesn’t it?

It’s Cooper’s first novel and is winning praise for its strong setting and absorbing descriptions – Cooper’s three-year stint living in Paris no doubt helped to give this book its authenticity.

The Dividing Walls is published by Hodder & Stoughton on 4 May.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

The End We Start From

Another debut novel. Another iconic city. This time it’s London but not as we know it.

In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, and as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety.

The End We Start From is a deeply moving account by Megan Hunter of the first months of motherhood, but in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made unstable, the UK turned into a place of danger, its inhabitants become refugees. As the narrator and her baby move from place to place, shelter to shelter, the story traces both fear (abandonment, hunger, sleeplessness) and wonder, as Z’s small fists grasp at the first colours he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

Crikey! This book mixes dystopian fiction with sci-fi, and throws in the emotional perils of motherhood for good measure. Elle magazine said Hunter’s prose is “beautiful and insightful” and that “everyone who reads The End We Start From will come away feeling renewed”. That’ll do me.

The End We Start From is published by Picador on 18 May.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Honeyman’s manuscript for this book was awarded the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in a progress. Pretty impressive.

Here’s the blurb:

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live. Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than fine?

The book’s been described as “funny, touching and unpredictable” by JoJo Moyes and it sounds like it’s going to take readers on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

It’s published by HarperCollins on 18 May.

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

Salt Houses

This is a striking book with some contemporary issues that will get you thinking about the current state of the world.

Where do you go when you can’t go home? On the eve of her daughter Alia’s wedding, Salma reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee dregs.

Although she keeps her predictions to herself that day, they soon come to pass in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967. Caught up in the resistance, Alia’s brother disappears, while Alia and her husband move from Nablus to Kuwait City. Reluctantly they build a life, torn between needing to remember and learning to forget.

When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait, Alia and her family yet again lose their home, their land, and their story as they know it. Scattering to Beirut, Paris and Boston, Alia’s children begin families of their own, once more navigating the burdens and blessings of beginning again.

Alyan has some award-winning poetry under her belt and it sounds like her fiction is going to be of the same calibre.

Salt Houses is published by Penguin on 18 May.

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