The Bookcase

    By Kate Whiting

    BOOK OF THE WEEK

    The Nix by Nathan Hill is published in hardback by Picador, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.49).

    At its heart, the hotly-tipped debut from Nathan Hill is the story of an estranged mother and son. Small-town English professor Samuel hasn’t seen his mother, the irritatingly-monikered Faye Andresen-Anderson, since her meticulously-planned walk-out on the family home when he was 11. Fast forward 20 years and Samuel is now an English professor at a small-town university. He spends his days obsessing about his childhood sweetheart, playing online video games and, in short, doing anything he can to avoid writing a single word of the novel he earned a megabucks advance for 10 years previously. But when his now left-wing radical mother is caught up in a scandal involving throwing rocks at a leading political figure, her lawyer begs Samuel to attest to her character. As luck would have it, this request coincides with his publisher’s threatening to sue if he doesn’t produce the novel. The temptation to investigate his mother’s story and turn it into a book proves irresistible. This is an astonishingly ambitious novel, taking in everything from the 1968 Chicago protests to the Occupy Wall Street movement, from 1980s suburbia to 1940s Norway, over 600 pages. It might sound like a heavy read, but Hill has a lightness of touch and a sly observational style that makes for a compelling narrative.

    8/10

    (Review by Anita Chaudhuri)

    The Trophy Child by Paula Daly is published in hardback, priced £12.99 (ebook £7.99).

    Karen Bloom is not the maternal type. She raises her children for success and does not accept less than perfection, especially when it comes to her young daughter Bronte who she refuses to let grow up the same as her drug-abusing brother Ewan, or her unruly step-sister Verity. But this obsession with achievement masks a crumbling family dynamic in which each member struggles to keep their head above water, and individually rebels against Karen’s intensifying control. What begins as a seemingly common tale of family fall-out, focusing on the archetypal role of the pushy parent and the overworked child, unravels to reveal a surprising and gripping read. Whilst not a particularly adventurous plotline, Daly expertly crafts a thriller from within the walls of domestic life and shows how tragedy uproots the illusions and pretences of idyllic family life.

    8/10

    (Review by Erin Bateman)

    NON-FICTION

    The January Man by Christopher Somerville is published in hardback by Doubleday, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99).

    Travel writer Christopher Somerville takes us on a rich and nostalgic tour of Britain’s countryside in this gentle amble through some of his favourite places to stretch his legs. Somerville puts on his boots and takes us across the land at various points of the year, from the frozen flatlands around the River Severn in winter, to a summer stroll in the Shetlands. His vivid, highly descriptive style seems to bring nature to life, while weaving in interesting nuggets of information on subjects including local history, people and music (the book’s title comes from a 1970 song). Interspersed with the walking, Somerville examines his relationship with his late father, himself a keen walker and potential spook. What emerges is a tender, relaxing work that is as readable as a book as it is useful as a guide to seek these places out for yourself and escape from the rat race.

    7/10

    (Review by David Wilcock)

    CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE WEEK

    The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson is published in paperback by Scholastic, priced £6.99 (ebook £5.22).

    There’s a genre of fiction that goes something like this… Boy with learning and/or physical disability or mental illness spots or solves a crime – which began with Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time in 2004, in which our hero has autism, and was notably followed up by Virginia Macgregor’s What Milo Saw in 2014, about a boy with the sight condition Retinitis Pigmentosa. The Goldfish Boy is the latest incarnation, but aimed squarely at children, who will empathise with 12-year-old narrator Matthew and his oddball friends, Jake and Melody. Matthew suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder brought on around the time his baby brother died, which makes him afraid of germs – and reclusive. He takes meals in his spotless room, wears rubber gloves, and keeps tabs on the goings on in his street, earning the nickname Goldfish Boy from Casey, the little girl who comes to stay with her grandfather, Matthew’s neighbour. When her toddler brother Teddy goes missing one day, Matthew is the last to have seen him – and so he starts to investigate his closest neighbours, learning that, in their own way, they’ve each had to deal with losing a child. Matthew and his anxieties are instantly relatable and Thompson’s book is by turns dark and light, as she bravely tackles serious subjects in a way children will understand. A moving and powerful debut.

    9/10

    (Review by Kate Whiting)

    BEST SELLERS

    HARDBACKS

    1. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
    2. Hello, Is This Planet Earth? My View From The International Space Station by Tim Peake
    3. Five On Brexit Island by Bruno Vincent
    4. Cast Iron by Peter May
    5. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

    (Compiled by Waterstones)

    PAPERBACKS

    1. The Ashes Of London by Andrew Taylor
    2. The Noise Of Time by Julian Barnes
    3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    4. Lean in 15: 15 Minute Meals And Workouts To Keep You Lean And Healthy by Joe Wicks
    5. Lean In 15: The Sustain Plan by Joe Wicks

    (Compiled by Waterstones)

    EBOOKS

    1. Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent
    2. The Gift by Louise Jensen
    3. Girl On A Train by AJ Waines
    4. The List by Joanna Bolouri
    5. The Birds And The Bees by Milly Johnson

    (Compiled by amazon.co.uk)