Newsletter 2nd April 2021

Posted 22nd April 2021

 Anna’s Recommendations

Our bookseller Anna Vincent is a voracious reader and is always up to date with all the new releases. For this week’s newsletter Anna has put together a selection of six of her favourite titles published so far this year and six on her radar for April. If you like this list and would like more recommendations from Anna, Heather, Gary or Lizzy pop by the shop and we will be more than happy to oblige.

Rainbow Milk
by Paul Mendez
Reserve a copy
With fresh discernment, this compelling
coming-of-age tale explores Britain’s complex
and often shameful relationship with otherness
and class. It follows young protagonist Jesse
through his strict childhood, his grappling with
queerness, and his relationship with sex work.
Against the backdrop of the Windrush
generation, matters of racial and religious
identity are dissected as Jesse pursues self-
discovery. An unflinching and lyrical debut.

The Manningtree Witches by A.K.Blakemore
Reserve a copy
A carefully crafted retelling of the witch trial
atrocities, The Manningtree Witches is infused
with a quiet hysteria which haunts you long
after its final page. Puritanical fever has
subsumed the nation, and the women of
Manningtree are left to their own devices,
depleted of men since the war. When the
mysterious Matthew Hopkins enters the scene
and disrupts the otherwise mundane existence
of Rebecca West, daughter of the infamous
Beldam, suspicion and mistrust threaten all
integrity. A poised and urgent ode to one of history’s darkest moments.

by Raven Leilani
Reserve a copy This incisive and pulsing depiction of what it means to be young in contemporary society embodies a conversation between hope and despair. Its protagonist, Edie, emits a sour but not insurmountable malaise, as she navigates the antipathy, trauma and joy of being alive. Her position as a Black woman in America, combined with her appetite for sex and her craving to create art, forcibly evoke both empathy and curiosity in the reader. For fans of Sally Rooney who prefer a grittier pace, Luster is both beautifully expressed and wildly thought-provoking.
The Death of Francis Bacon
by Max Porter
Reserve a copy
What does it mean to write a painting? In his dreamlike, fragmented rendering of Francis Bacon’s final days, Max Porter captures the essence of the painter’s tortured life and complex work. At times poetic and at times erratic, this tenderly crafted biopic allows its reader to forge an intimacy with the legendary artist, in a way which subverts expectation and confronts presumption. The perfect gift for readers of art history, memoir and poetry. 

The Lost Pianos of Siberia
by Sophy Roberts
Reserve a copy This travel account is unlike any other; it is whimsical in its quest for a forgotten musical past, and yet it holds at its core a gravity which examines cultural erasure and the inexplicable human propensity to make sound. As she makes her way from the Ural Mountains in the west, to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the east, Roberts delivers a spellbinding account of Siberia’s relationship with pianos over the last quarter of a millennium. A heartfelt celebration of a humble instrument which will leave you wanting to learn to play.

Square Haunting
by Francesca Wade
Reserve a copy Like sitting at a breakfast table with the Bloomsbury group, this multifaceted and richly woven biography illuminates the genius and gumption of five female writers in early 20th century London. Eloquent, intimate, and at times ruthlessly interrogative of its subjects, Square Haunting paints a vibrant picture of Mecklenburgh Square’s literary past, and the politics, academia and activism of the women who lived there. APRIL RELEASES ON MY RADAR
Shuggie Bain
by Douglas Stuart
£8.99 in paperback
Reserve a copy This glorious, heart-wrenching chronicle of 1980s working class Scotland is undeniably deserving of its Booker prize accolade. Its perspective shifts between each of its fascinating and deeply nuanced characters, which soon feel like fond companions. The twists of the plot and its colloquial writing style will connect you to a cultural moment which is largely unexplored. A triumph, which I will be recommending all year.

Small Pleasures
by Clare Chambers
£8.99 in paperback
Reserve a copy
Set in the suburbs of 1950s London, this unique account of immaculate conception is a charming dose of absurdity. Jean Swinney is trapped in a dead-end newspaper job and suffocated by her dependent mother. But after being contacted by a woman who is convinced she has experienced a virgin birth, Jane must discern between miracle and fraud, and in doing so is thrust a chance for a new start. An effortless page-turner.

The Liar’s Dictionary
by Eley Williams
£8.99 in paperback
Reserve a copy This thoroughly comical debut novel documents the misadventures of a heartsick Victorian lexicographer. Subverting the tropes one might expect from a book about language, Williams writes with a playful curiosity, and frames the narrative against a search for linguistic meaning. Rebelliously laced with creative nonsense vocabulary (all of which hold convincingly legitimate definitions), this is a warm and clever tale for lovers of words in all their forms.
Ladies Can’t Climb Ladders
by Jane Robinson
£10.99 in paperback
Reserve a copy This riveting examination of the Sex Disqualification Act (1919), one of the most significant legislations in modern Britain, follows the lives of six pioneering women in the fields of law, health, architecture, engineering, academia, and religion. As startling as it is empowering, this book honours the influence of these women, casting light on what it means to possess equal opportunity in gendered terms.   

The Real Cool Killers
by Chester Himes:
£9.99 in paperback
Reserve a copy A beautiful new edition of the crime classic, this raucous thriller oozes with dark humour. Detectives Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson take on a grizzly case in the gang-riddled streets of Harlem. But when the case becomes disturbingly personal, everything is turned upside down. Resounding with the unsettling atmosphere of the streets in which it’s set, this unforgettable tale transports you through time, space and morality.
by Carlo Rovelli
£20.00 in hardback
Reserve a copy The work of Werner Heisenberg is illuminated with an adoring carefulness in this stunning meditation on quantum physics. The evolution of stars and the existence of computers have been made tangible through Heisenberg’s theories, and Rovelli successfully captures his spirit by portraying him as both magician and sage. Steeped in anecdotal intimacy, historical precision, and the strange compulsion of genius, Helgoland embodies a rare insight into a very important legacy indeed. 
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