Whether it's back to school, back to work or just back to reality after a dreamy summer, something about September calls for a new reading list.
The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, who is trapped between her role as her alcoholic father's care taker, and her day job at the boys' prison. When the beautiful Rebecca Saint John arrives at the prison as the new counselor, Eileen is enchanted and unable to resist what appears to be a miraculously budding friendship. A mesmerising, sublimely funny psychological thriller set in sixties New England.
Nutshell by Ian McEwan
Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She's still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she's with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy's womb. Told from a perspective unlike any other (the book is narrated by the unborn foetus), and partly based on Shakespear's Hamlet, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers.
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
On the morning of her daughter's wedding, June Reid's house goes up in flames, destroying her entire family - her present, her past and her future. June finds herself in a motel room by the ocean, hundreds of miles from her Connecticut home, held captive by memories and the mistakes she has made with her only child, Lolly, and her partner, Luke. A superb novel about family that caused quite a stir when it was published last year, now out in paperback.
Reunion by Fred Uhlman
On a grey afternoon in 1932, a Stuttgart classroom is stirred by the arrival of a newcomer. Middle-class Hans is intrigued by the aristocratic new boy, Konradin, and before long they become best friends. It's an unlikely friendship of the greatest kind, of shared interests and long conversations, of hikes in the German hills and growing up together. A rediscovered classic and, at only 96 pages, easily digestible.
Transit by Rachel Cusk
Cusk’s follow-up to Outline (and second in the trilogy), in which protagonist Faye and her two young sons move to London, in the wake of family collapse. The process of upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions - personal, moral, artistic, practical - as she endeavours to construct a new reality for herself and her children.