Modern and Contemporary Fiction

Welcome to the present, here we have some fabulous reads set in the modern era. From provocative to beautiful, open your heart and mind and discover strong, believable stories that hammer at your awareness and cause thoughts to hesitate, develop, and flow.

Less is Lost

Less is Lost

Author: Andrew Sean Greer Format: Hardback Release Date: 22/09/2022

In the follow-up to the 'bedazzling, bewitching, and be-wonderful' (NYTBR) bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning Less, the awkward and lovable Arthur Less returns in an unforgettable road trip across America. Go get lost somewhere, it always does you good. For Arthur Less, life is going surprisingly well: he is a moderately accomplished novelist in a steady relationship with his partner, Freddy Pelu. But nothing lasts: the death of an old lover and a sudden financial crisis has Less running away from his problems yet again as he accepts a series of literary gigs that send him on a zigzagging adventure across the US. Less roves across the 'Mild Mild West', through the South and to his mid-Atlantic birthplace, with an ever-changing posse of writerly characters and his trusty duo - a human-like black pug, Dolly, and a rusty camper van nicknamed Rosina. He grows a handlebar mustache, ditches his signature gray suit, and disguises himself in the bolero-and-cowboy-hat costume of a true 'Unitedstatesian'... with varying levels of success, as he continues to be mistaken for either a Dutchman, the wrong writer, or, worst of all, a 'bad gay'. We cannot, however, escape ourselves - even across deserts, bayous, and coastlines. From his estranged father and strained relationship with Freddy, to the reckoning he experiences in confronting his privilege, Arthur Less must eventually face his personal demons. With all of the irrepressible wit and musicality that made Less a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning, must-read breakout book, Less Is Lost is a profound and joyous novel about the enigma of life in America, the riddle of love, and the stories we tell along the way.

Girl Friends

Girl Friends

Author: Holly Bourne Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/09/2022

Men see women in two separate categories. There are the women they sleep with, and the women they fall in love with. And they will treat you differently based on that. From the day they first meet as teenagers Fern and Jessica are best friends. Despite their differences, they are there for each other throughout everything, navigating the difficulties of growing up and fitting in. That is, until Jessica crosses a line that Fern can't forgive. But now, more than ten years later, Jessica has unexpectedly reappeared in Fern's life. A lot has changed for them both - but can their relationship be different now they are older? Is it possible for either of them to rewrite the role that they have been cast in? Or will their shared history ultimately be doomed to repeat itself? Set between the present day and the past, Girl Friends is a blisteringly funny and devastating novel: both a joyful celebration of female friendship and a razor-sharp look at the damage we can all cause to those we claim to love the most.

This Diary (World) Belongs to Molly and Jonny

This Diary (World) Belongs to Molly and Jonny

Author: Laura Clark Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/08/2022

Brimming with of-the-moment one-liners from two protagonists, Laura Clark’s This Diary (World) Belongs to Molly and Jonny presents pithy observations on the trials, tribulations and tingles of modern life in a slick package - perfect for fans of knowing confessionals in the tradition of Bridget Jones. Meet Dr Molly Beaujolais and Dr Jonathan Nylon, colleagues and office neighbours at a London university. On the surface, they’re very different creatures. While Molly, a lecturer in performing arts and applied theatre, has flung herself into internet dating and enjoys the resulting flings, Jonny, a lecturer in history, is rather more concerned with the subject of medieval diseases and has little luck when it comes to love and lust. That is, until Molly catches his eye, and expands his horizons. Not that she’s necessarily aware of her impact… Will they? Won’t they? As their respective diary entries play out against a backdrop of Brexit and the 2019 election, their story takes unexpected turns, much like the course of many relationships (and Brexit negotiations).

The Last White Man

The Last White Man

Author: Mohsin Hamid Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/08/2022

With an opening scene reminiscent of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Mohsin Hamid’s The Last White Man is consummately compelling from its arresting first line: “One morning Anders, a white man, woke up to find he had turned a deep and undeniable brown”. Though Anders initially only discloses this to Oona, his long-time friend and new lover, it soon emerges that Anders is not the only person to have undergone this metamorphosis, though his boss still reacts with a revealingly blunt one-liner: “I would have killed myself.” As “it seemed people were continuing to change, white people becoming dark”, there’s growing unrest. People stockpile food and riot as “pale-skinned militants, some dressed almost like soldiers” take to the streets. Meanwhile, Anders’ darkness disturbs his dying father, but he comes to realise, bittersweetly, that “whatever Anders was, whatever his skin was, he was still his father’s son, and still his mother’s son.” The writing is exquisite - muscular, and supremely paced as it undulates between intensity and characters’ reflecting on who they are, and who and what matters to them. It’s about seeing, accepting and living together as one, with Oona’s transformation revealing much of the novel’s prescient roots. Though her change leaves her melancholic and in a state of mourning for part of herself, she also realises that she’d long been harbouring a desire to escape, to shed her skin, and now she can “abandon the confinement of the past” and grow, “unfettered.” It’s also noted how the population comes to being “better able to tell one dark person from another.” Ending on a note of hope, The Last White Man casts a timely, empathetic, powerfully thought-provoking spell.

Star Books
Always By Your Side

Always By Your Side

Author: Julie Haworth Format: Ebook Release Date: 09/08/2022

When school teacher Rose loses her dream job at a London primary school, her self-confidence takes a knock. Worse still, her stockbroker fiancé, Ollie, sees it as the perfect opportunity for her to join his firm, which only adds to the feelings Rose has that their relationship might be coming to an end. An unexpected phone call, and an elderly aunt who’s taken a fall, means Rose must drop everything – including Ollie - and return to Blossom Heath, the Sussex village she grew up in. With no job to rush home to, Rose decides to stay in Blossom Heath for the Summer, trading London for the idyllic countryside. Here Rose finds herself reconnecting to the village life of her childhood in more ways than one, including falling head-over-heels for local farmer, Jake. So when her London life comes calling, Rose is faced with an impossible choice… to return to the high-pressure life of her past, or embrace the joy of a new life in the country. Bursting with romance and charm, Always By Your Side is the perfect uplifting Summer read for fans of The Switch and Rescue Me, from an exciting new voice in women’s fiction.

eBooks of the Month
The Last Party

The Last Party

Author: Clare Mackintosh Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/08/2022

Oh my word, I’m jumping up and down with excitement over this one and so so glad to be in at the beginning of the DC Morgan mystery series. Clare Mackintosh certainly knows how to throw one heck of a reading party. Murder strikes on New Years Eve, DC Ffion Morgan is more than aware that there are plenty of suspects, and she just happens to be hiding a secret of her own. The first few pages set the mood quite perfectly, the adventure, the excitement, the body… The location is incredibly atmospheric, the village, holiday homes, and lake can be felt, even seen in glorious colourful detail. There are a fair number of characters to meet, but I didn’t ever feel lost, they all settled in and whether a walk-on part or main characters, I felt as though I knew every single one. Ffion is truly fabulous, her outward devil-may-care attitude clashes with her whip-smart intelligence. Local issues, grudges, scandal and slander swagger their way across the pages. The plotting is tight, with a wickedly barbed humour adding a real edge to proceedings. As I travelled backwards and forwards in time and information fell into place, the ending arrived to smack me in the face. This is a belter of a read in its own right, and as a start to a new series it’s given me goosebumps of anticipation. Sweeping in to join our Star Books list, The Last Party throws all the right moves, not only hugely entertaining, it’s remarkably compelling and clever too.

Star Books
Maror

Maror

Author: Lavie Tidhar Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/08/2022

A multi-generational saga with cultural and political depth, drawing on the rich, often troubling recent history of Israel, for fans of A History of Seven Killings or The White Tiger. How do you build a nation? It takes statesmen and soldiers, farmers and factory workers, of course. But it also takes thieves, prostitutes and policemen. Nation-building demands sacrifice. And one man knows exactly where those bodies are buried: Cohen, a man who loves his country. A reasonable man for unreasonable times. A car bomb in the back streets of Tel Aviv. A diamond robbery in Haifa. Civil war in Lebanon. Rebel fighters in the Colombian jungle. A double murder in Los Angeles. How do they all connect? Only Cohen knows. Maror is the story of a war for a country's soul - a dazzling spread of narrative gunshots across four decades and three continents. It is a true story. All of these things happened.

Trust

Trust

Author: Hernan Diaz Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/08/2022

A literary puzzle about money, power, and intimacy, Trust is a novel that challenges the myths shrouding wealth, and the fictions that often pass for history. Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth-all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of Bonds, a successful 1938 novel that all of New York seems to have read. But there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit. Hernan Diaz's Trust elegantly puts these competing narratives into conversation with each other-and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that spans an entire century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation. Provocative and propulsive, Trust engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of relationships, the reality-warping gravitational pull of capital, and the ease with which power can manipulate the truth.

The Very Nice Box

The Very Nice Box

Author: Laura Glackett, Eve Gleichman Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/07/2022

Ava Simon designs storage boxes for STAEDA, a slick Brooklyn-based furniture company. She's hard-working, obsessive and heartbroken from a tragedy that killed her girlfriend and upended her life. It's been years since she's let anyone in. But when Ava's new boss - the young and magnetic Mat Putnam - offers Ava a ride home one afternoon, an unlikely relationship blossoms. Ava remembers how rewarding it can be to open up - and, despite her hesitancy, she starts to fall for him. But what if Mat isn't who he claims to be? The Very Nice Box is a darkly comic and suspenseful novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat until its gripping finale. It's at once a satire of toxic masculinity and a big-hearted account of grief, friendship and trust.

History

History

Author: Miles Jupp Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/07/2022

Clive Hapgood is feeling stuck. The private school he teaches at is consuming his life, no thanks to wretched headteacher Julian Crouch. The gentle country life Clive envisaged has stifled him and left his marriage on the brink. What he needs is a holiday - something to remind him and Helen what life used to be like. But when things don't go to plan, and an incident at school begins to weigh heavy on his head, Clive's life starts to unravel in front of him. Has he got it in him to turn things around, whatever the cost? After all, it's his own time he's wasting... Wonderfully funny and often moving, this brilliant novel by star of The Durrells and Would I Lie To You? Miles Jupp is set to be the stand-out book of the summer.

eBooks of the Month
The Daves Next Door

The Daves Next Door

Author: Will Carver Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/07/2022

The lives of five strangers collide on a London train carriage, as they become involved in an incident that will change them all forever. A shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original new thriller from Will Carver... A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care. An injured young sportsman wakes up find that he can see only in black and white. A desperate old widower takes too many pills and believes that two angels have arrived to usher him through purgatory. Two agoraphobic men called Dave share the symptoms of a brain tumour, and frequently waken their neighbour with their ongoing rows. Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode. Like the suicide bomber, riding the Circle Line, day after day, waiting for the right time to detonate, waiting for answers to his questions: Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train? Shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original, Will Carver's The Daves Next Door is an explosive existential thriller and a piercing examination of what it means to be human ... or not. 

Disorientation

Disorientation

Author: Elaine Hsieh Chou Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/07/2022

An uproarious and bighearted satire – alive with sharp edges, immense warmth, and a cast of unforgettable characters – that asks: who gets to tell our stories? And how does the story change when we finally tell it ourselves? Twenty-nine-year-old PhD student Ingrid Yang is desperate to finish her dissertation on the late canonical poet Xiao-Wen Chou and never read about ‘Chinese-y’ things again. When she accidentally stumbles upon a strange and curious note in the Chou archives, she convinces herself it’s her ticket out of academic hell. But Ingrid’s in much deeper than she thinks. Her clumsy exploits to unravel the note’s message lead to an explosive discovery, one that upends her entire life and the lives of those around her. With her trusty friend Eunice Kim by her side and her rival Vivian Vo hot on her tail, together they set off a roller coaster of mishaps and misadventures, from campus protests and over-the-counter drug hallucinations, to book burnings and a movement that stinks of Yellow Peril propaganda. In the aftermath, nothing looks the same, including her gentle and doting fiancé, Stephen Greene . . . As the events Ingrid instigated keep spiraling, she’ll have to confront her sticky relationship to white men and white institutions – and, most of all, herself.