I adore a good book, and this winter, it looks like I’ve got a cracking selection to plough through. Here are my top picks for September:
The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah
Released September 9
I’m really dubious about this, but I have to read it anyway.
The new Hercule Poirot novel – another brilliant murder mystery that can only be solved by the eponymous Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.
Since the publication of her first book in 1920, Agatha Christie wrote 33 novels, two plays and more than 50 short stories featuring Hercule Poirot. Now, for the first time ever, the guardians of her legacy have approved a brand new novel featuring Dame Agatha’s most beloved creation.
Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.
Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at the fashionable Bloxham Hotel have been murdered, a cufflink placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…
In the hands of internationally bestselling author Sophie Hannah, Poirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London – a diabolically clever puzzle that can only be solved by the talented Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.
En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels – Hannah Rochell
Released September 11
Hannah is Features Editor at InStyle and, as the title of the book suggests, hates heels. I couldn’t agree more.
Do you know the difference between a derby and an Oxford? Tassel loafers or penny loafers? Do you know why brogues have holes in them? From brogues to boots, pumps to penny loafers, slippers to sandals, En Brogue honours forty styles of shoes with beautiful hand drawn illustrations, quirky photographs and fascinating facts about the history of our favourite flats. En Brogue dips a (well-clad) toe into the world of fashion, and will get everyone sharing their love of comfy, chic and stylish flat shoes! This book will make the perfect gift for all your friends and you’ll be hoping to find a copy in your own Christmas stocking.
The Taxidermist’s Daughter – Kate Moss
Released September 11
I’ve loved all of her other books. I don’t need another reason!
In a churchyard, villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will die in the coming year are thought to walk. Here, where the estuary leads out to the sea, superstitions still hold sway.
Standing alone is the taxidermist’s daughter. At twenty-two, Constantia Gifford lives with her father in a decaying house: it contains all that is left of Gifford’s once world-famous museum of taxidermy. The stuffed birds that used to grace every parlour are out of fashion, leaving Gifford a disgraced and bitter man. The string of events that led to the museum’s closure are never spoken of and an accident has robbed Connie of any memory of those days.
The bell begins to toll and all eyes are fixed on the church. No one sees the gloved hands holding a garotte. As the last notes fade into the dark, a woman lies dead.
While the village braces itself against rising waters and the highest tide of the season, Connie struggles to discover who is responsible – and why the incident is causing memories to surface from her own vanished years. Does she know the figure she sees watching from the marshes? Who is the mysterious caller that leaves a note without being seen? And what is the secret that lies at the heart of Blackthorn House, hidden among the bell jars of her father’s workshop?
The Sunrise – Victoria Hislop
Released September 25
I really loved Victoria’s The Island, I quite enjoyed The Return and that’s enough for me to give this latest offering a try.
In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple are about to open the island’s most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city’s façade of glamour and success, tension is building.
When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.
Pretty Honest. The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion – Sali Hughes
Released September 25
I read her Guardian column and tend to listen when she recommends something so this is also one for the basket.
A witty, wise and truthful beauty handbook for real women on what works in real life from Sali Hughes, beloved journalist and broadcaster.
Beauty books. Exquisite coffee-table affairs featuring improbably beautiful models with wholly-unachievable-to-most women looks, product review-heavy volumes which become almost instantly outdated, or tracts of holistic mumbo jumbo, like how to make an unproven face pack from organic molasses and rough-hewn porridge oats. Not anymore. In Pretty Honest, Sali Hughes draws on over 20 years of wisdom, advice and expertise to show real women how to make the most of makeup’s physically and emotionally transformative powers. Covering everything from teenage skin to mature beauty, botox to bridal make-up, sickness to good health, it’s a work that is part instruction manual, part love letter to makeup – in a writing style that combines beauty editor, feminist and painfully funny best friend.
Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham
Released September 30
Even though she makes me feel incredibly inadequate (she’s my age), I’m sort of fascinated by the ‘Lena Dunham’ cult that’s arisen over the last few years.
Lena Dunham, acclaimed writer-director-star of HBO and Sky Atlantic’s ‘Girls’ and the award-winning movie ‘Tiny Furniture’, displays her unique powers of observation, wisdom and humour in this exceptional collection of essays.
“If I could take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile. I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you, but also my future glory in having stopped you from trying an expensive juice cleanse or thinking that it was your fault when the person you are dating suddenly backs away, intimidated by the clarity of your personal mission here on earth. No, I am not a sexpert, a psychologist, or a dietician. I am not a mother of three or the owner of a successful hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle.”
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – Hilary Mantel
Released September 30
I just love the title. It’s pretty ballsy!
A brilliant – and rather transgressive – collection of short stories from the double Man Booker Prize-winning author of ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring Up the Bodies’.
Hilary Mantel is one of Britain’s most accomplished and acclaimed writers. In these ten bracingly subversive tales, all her gifts of characterisation and observation are fully engaged, summoning forth the horrors so often concealed behind everyday façades. Childhood cruelty is played out behind the bushes in ‘Comma’; nurses clash in ‘Harley Street’ over something more than professional differences; and in the title story, staying in for the plumber turns into an ambiguous and potentially deadly waiting game.
Whether set in a claustrophobic Saudi Arabian flat or on a precarious mountain road in Greece, these stories share an insight into the darkest recesses of the spirit. Displaying all of Mantel’s unmistakable style and wit, they reveal a great writer at the peak of her powers.