Books Magazine

Unsolicited Gems

By Drharrietd @drharrietd

One of the great pleasures of editing Shiny New Books is the fun of looking out for books we or our contributors would like to read and review. As soon as one issue is out of the way, we start trawling for what's going into the next one, and publishers are very generous in meeting our requests. But sometimes an even greater pleasure is things that come at you quite unexpectedly. I've just read two unsolicited novels and both of them were really good. You'll have to wait till April for full reviews, but here they are, to whet your appetite.


This one came from Faber and is Peter Swanson's second novel. I haven't read the first one, but if its a good as this, it must be a cracker. Told in the voices of a selection of devious and untrustworthy characters, it twists and turns and constantly takes you by surprise, right up to the shocking revelation in the very last sentence. Psychological crime at its best. 



This one came from Chatto & Windus, in a parcel with a book I had requested. The cover looked intriguing so I picked it up and read the first paragraph and that was it. I'd say I couldn't put it down, but in fact I had to, a few times, to get on with life. But every time I had a spare few minutes, I dived in again. This is an exceptionally wonderful novel, exquisitely written and deeply tragic. It's about a girl who goes as a soldier to the Civil War in America (as seemingly some girls and women did). Lots of superlatives here, but it deserves every one of them.

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