Muddy book club: February
Need a new book to get stuck into? Muddy, as ever, is here to help. Taking being a bookworm to a whole new level is Muddy’s Kerry Potter. She gets 300 – yes, THREE HUNDRED shiny new tomes delivered to her house every month as she’s also books editor at a glossy mag (won’t somebody think of her postman and his lumbago?). So who better to do a monthly round-up of her favourite new releases? Make space on your Kindle or bedside table pronto for her February literary picks, and if you have any recommendations of your own, we’d love to hear them – you can write in the comment box at the bottom of the post.
This Is 40 by Tiffanie Darke
I’ll hedge my bets that you’re probably a Generation X-er like me – sandwiched between the far more visible millennials and baby boomers, but too busy juggling a million things to think much about generational demographics. This is a fascinating read in which Darke, ex-editor of The Sunday Times’ Style, unpicks this cohort, interviews its major players, and traces how we’ve evolved from our ’90s salad days. (Spoiler: then – optimism and hedonism. Now – obsessed with our wonky work-life balance and wishing we could party like its 1999). Her trawl through ’90s cultural touchstones – Kate Moss, Britpop, Alexander McQueen, raves, Euro ’96 etc – will make you feel deliciously nostalgic. It was good in the olden days, wasn’t it?
City Of Friends by Joanna Trollope
With her reputation for country life “Aga sagas”, veteran novelist Joanna Trollope hasn’t ever been my cup of tea. But her new book has a younger, more cosmopolitan, modern feel. It’s about the lives of four forty-something Londoners, who have been mates since their university days but who are now facing various challenges to their cherished friendships. There’s loads that’ll resonate here: marriage problems, work/life balance, flexible working and sexism in the workplace, little white lies that take on a life of their own, and the pain and pleasure of parenting. It turns out no one else has it all worked out either.
The Wild Other by Clover Stroud
Local Oxon author and newspaper journalist Clover recently told us about her favourite places to mark the publication of her brilliant, moving memoir. No one could ever accuse Clover of being boring – she mooched round Ireland with travellers in her raver days, was a cowgirl in Texas and spent time in a war-torn corner of Russia. Oh, and she’s had five children. Overshadowing all of this is one horrific life-defining moment – the catastrophic horse-riding accident suffered by her mother when Clover was just 16. Horses are an enduring motif through the book – and you’ll gallop through this one, with tears in your eyes.
Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan
I’ve been excited about this dazzling debut since I saw Katie read from it at an event and was intrigued by its unusual mix of sci-fi and romance. I’m a bit bored of the endless stream of Girl On The Train-esque thrillers landing on my desk and this seemed pleasingly fresh. It’s a futuristic love story about a rebellious young couple Max and Carys, who are drifting dangerously in space with only 90 minutes of oxygen left. The writing has a cinematic feel, thanks to Khan’s day job in the film industry. Her star is certainly rising.
How To Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell
This is basically a car crash in literary form – you feel at times you shouldn’t be looking but you just can’t turn away (I whipped through it in just one day). Cat Marnell is a notorious figure in New York’s media scene – a promising glossy magazine beauty editor turned heroin addict, who would write about the best fake tan to hide her deathly pallor, the result of staying up all night getting wasted. She’s astonishingly open about her bad behaviour and dangerous fascination with the seamy underbelly of Manhattan’s glimmering social scene – and, boy, can she write. Believe it or not, it’s packed with jokes too.