Reasons to be cheerful: spring has sprung and a brilliant new batch of March books has arrived. Gather around, and let Muddy tell you a story.
Book of the month: The Recovery Of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
This ridiculously compelling thriller’s premise is delicious: Patty Watts has just been released from prison, after serving five years for poisoning her daughter Rose Gold for her entire childhood (Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, basically). Despite everything she went through, Rose Gold, now in her twenties but still hugely fragile, takes Patty in and even allows her to care for her baby grandson, much to the disapproval of the local community. Why on earth would she do that? This absolute corker of a debut novel by Wrobel, a Chicagoan who lives in London, is an epic psychological battle between mother and daughter, with the chapters told from alternating viewpoints. You’re never quite sure who has the upper hand until the very end, and despite being an expert twist-sniffer-outer (yes, that is a word), even I was caught off-guard by the slippery eel of a plot. It’s elegantly written with deft characterisation too, so if you sometimes find these kind of page-turners a little trashy for your tastes, worry not. In summary: all thriller, no filler – prepare to put normal life on hold until you’ve nailed all 341 pages.
Also out this month
Anna K by Jenny Lee is a Young Adult novel but this not-young adult certainly lapped it up. It’s a modern, irreverent, whizzy reboot of Anna Karenina, transposed to New York’s money-bags Upper East Side. HBO have already snapped up the TV rights and I’ll hazard a guess it’ll do for the Tolstoy classic what Clueless did for Austen’s Emma. Meanwhile, over on the West Coast, we find a very different story, told at a very different pace. You might remember the headlines about Claire Nelson – in 2018, the London-based New Zealander went missing while hiking in Joshua Tree National Park in the Californian desert. Her moving memoir, Things I Learned From Falling, recounts how plunging 25 feet and seriously injuring herself, she (just about) survived four long days and nights before being rescued. As you’d imagine, nearly dying totally recalibrates one’s perspective on living.
Finally, two books to help us finesse our lives – and I don’t know about you but mine could use a little finessing right now. Lift As You Climb by Viv Groskop is her follow-up to How To Own The Room (a fantastically practical read about how to be better at – yikes – public speaking). Her new confidence bible redefines female ambition; a trait that’s traditionally seen as selfish and grasping. Instead, Groskop recasts it as something kinder and more community-spirited. As always with her books, there’s useful advice aplenty, including how to not look like a dick when promoting yourself on social media or – yikes again – networking. Then there’s florist-to-the-stars and local gal Willow Crossley’s The Wild Journal. She details the magical healing powers of the natural world, having reconnected with the great outdoors following her postnatal depression. From identifying wild flowers to making your own essential oils to bird-watching and star gazing, she’s full of dreamy ideas to nurture ourselves through nature. And we certainly live in the right place for that.