DEBUTS

DEBUTS

MRS MARCH by Virginia Feito (4th Estate £14.99, 288 pp)

MRS MARCH

by Virginia Feito (4th Estate £14.99, 288 pp)

Nobody could be prouder of her husband’s latest novel than Mrs March, despite not having read a word.

She’s a smart, Upper East Side Manhattan housewife, buttoned up and aware of her status. But when a local shopkeeper asks if she’s the inspiration for the central character, Johanna, ‘a whore no one wants to sleep with’, Mrs March is horrified.

That throwaway comment sets Mrs March on a descent into paranoia. Gradually, her reality fractures and, increasingly delusional, with long-buried secrets from her past surfacing, she becomes obsessed with the case of an unknown killer, convinced it must be her husband.

This powerful vision of a disintegrating personality has all the tension of a Highsmith novel as the suspense builds to a shocking and horrifying denouement.

HISTORY

by Miles Jupp (Hodder £16.99, 320 pp)

Clive Hapgood is approaching crisis point. His job at a minor boys’ private boarding school is taking over his life — but not in a good way. His marriage to Helen has lost its spark.

Will his decision to accept the realities of his situation and to change himself to fit them come in time to make a difference?

On the eve of a family holiday, intended to improve the status quo, Clive is confronted by a formal complaint from one of his pupil’s parents. The holiday is subsequently overshadowed by the wet weather and Clive’s unspoken anxiety about whether he’ll get the sack, which hardly endears him to his wife.

Jupp is a successful comedian so expect some very funny set pieces and one-liners in this novel which, for me, however, never quite took off as a whole.

CHECKOUT 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett (Cape £14.99, 224 pp)

CHECKOUT 19

by Claire-Louise Bennett (Cape £14.99, 224 pp)

Celebrated for Pond, her collection of stories, Bennett’s first novel demands attention for its hypnotic rhythms, her pleasure in words and the patterns she weaves from them. Unconventional and imaginative, it’s divided into seven sections.

A nameless narrator embarks on a stream of consciousness that strays and circles in a series of impressions, themes and episodes that are linked together and sometimes repeated.

From her schooldays through her early attempts at writing that are destroyed by a boyfriend, the books she reads or doesn’t and how they impact on her, to the Russian gentleman who gives her a copy of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good And Evil, this is a book about memory, reading and writing that is intelligent and often absorbing.

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