April Book of the Month

We asked you to nominate your Unsung Heroes/Heroines - the kind of books that deserve to be far further up the literary food chain, whose absence from all the Best Ever lists is quite frankly a crime. And here below is the result: an eclectic list, with something for all tastes. Strangely (or perhaps not) Ann Marie Macdonald's Fall on Your Knees turned out to be a secret passion for quite a few of us. Is your hidden gem here too?

Fall on Your Knees - Ann Marie Macdonald
Find your nose stuck in these pages at all hours of day and night - this is an all-involving, all-encompassing family saga of four sisters, terrible secrets, New York Jazz Age, First World War, just about everything you can imagine. There is so much packed into this book; harrowing and potentially depressing at times, but also poetic, magical, Gothic, informative, all sorts. It was a major bestseller in the US, but somehow the author has remained fairly low profile here, despite a truckload of 5-star reviews on Amazon UK. Recommended by fleacircus/suedonim. Buy it here

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Dee Brown
Not strictly unsung, but it is perhaps on many 'must get round to it one day' lists. The first book to look at the development of the American West from the Native American point of view, it tells how the 'Indian' people were forced off their land under pain of death, and how the greed of white settlers crushed America's original history into dust. Constructed with many first-hand accounts, it deserves to be read by everyone, both as a record of huge human injustice, and to remind us the American Dream was founded on very shaky principles. Recommended by jumpingbeans. Buy it here

I, Claudius - Robert Graves
The Roman Empire has become awfully fashionable these days, with whole sexy TV series and all that. But if you really want to know how debauched and terrifying life in Imperial Rome could be, this is the book to choose. Claudius, our admirable narrator, observes all the intrigues, betrayals, affairs and power games of the Romans, bringing all the major characters to life and guiding us through a plot that would seem far fetched were it not all true. A brilliantly enjoyable historical novel and you'll feel highly informed while you're at it. Recommended by Mumsnet's very own co-founder, Justine. Buy it here

Hallucinating Foucault - Patricia Duncker
I'd not heard of this author before but now I'm looking out for all her novels. Check out the adoring fan club for this book on amazon - everyone cites her originality, intelligence and brilliance.  This novel is about a student who tracks down a favourite author, about the love between reader and writer, about madness and sanity. It is tense, full of clues, mysteries, plot twists and surprises. It is a clever blend of cool intellect and gripping suspense. Recommended by Joash. Buy it here


Electric Brae - Andrew Greig
The Electric Brae is a piece of road in Scotland where a stationary car seems to be pulled uphill by magic (I've done it, it works). Andrew Greig takes the Scottish landscape and human relationships and works a kind of magic between them. Engineer Jimmy is surviving a tempestuous relationship with artist Kim while Thatcher's government wreaks havoc in the local towns. The big themes - love, intimacy, death - are all played out beautifully in tandem with stunning descriptions of the mountains and wilderness. Recommended by dropscone. Buy it here.

Mr Skeffington - Elizabeth Von Arnim
A real classic, but not as well known as it should be. Fanny is 50 and knows she's losing her once-renowned beauty. Creeping into her mind comes her ex-husband and while she re-evaluates her perception of him, she also has to re-evaluate her perception of herself. Throughout the book, she keeps meeting men whose hearts she has broken over the years, who now see her in a different light. A perceptive take on beauty and ageing from a now-invisible writer. Recommended by Kathyissixincheshigh. Buy it here

Love Medicine - Louise Erdrich
A fictional partner to Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Erdrich's novel explores Native American life using immense imagination, magical imagery, folklore, dialect and artistic impressions. She has written a quartet of books following the same families and tracking their stories back and forth - Love Medicine is the first and most well known of these, but it's incredible that she isn't on every reading list. A real discovery. Recommended by lemurtamer. Buy it here

Gaudy Night - Dorothy L Sayers
Dorothy Sayers is the mystery writer's mystery writer - everyone from Ruth Rendell, Minette Walters and P.D James have acknowledged her superior eye and energy. This detective story is set around Oxford University where Harriet, an old scholar with an independent nature and a scandalous past, tries to solve mysterious evil deeds with the help of Lord Peter Whimsey, a dashing bachelor and a suitor for her hand in marriage. Great characters, clever plots, interesting insight into women's place in society at the time - this is agreed to be one of the author's best. As recommended by EffiePerine. Buy it here


Who deserves to be thrust into the limelight, where they belong? Vote here and choose your Unsung Hero/Heroine for April Book of the Month

Last updated: about 3 years ago