March Book of the Month
Every attempt we made to link March's four-book shortlist with a theme felt like an Alan Partridge line. So, let's just say these are all clever, darkly funny books by clever, funny women, all of whom have won, or been shortlisted for, major prizes. Other than that, they are wildly different. Vote now to pick the one you'd like to read in March...
AM Homes: This Book Will Save Your Life
Not a self-help manual but an uplifting story, set in Los Angeles, about one man's effort to bring himself back to life. Richard has the perfect anodyne LA life: a spotless home; a housekeeper and personal trainer; pots of money; a modern art collection. But is he happy? He embarks on steep learning curve of generosity, bringing with it a reconnection with his ex-wife and estranged son, plus many other fantastical characters and bizarre adventures. Touching and darkly funny, this is an antidote to the over-achievements of modern life.
Liz Jenson: Ark Baby
New Year's Eve 1999: a sudden, heavy rainfall over Britain signals the end of fertility and every woman becomes mysteriously barren. Meanwhile, back in the 19th century, a hairy foundling called Tobias is searching for his real parents. The tightly woven plots converge in a blend of diaries, recipes, strange artefacts and curious coincidences. Described by the New York Times as 'Monty Python's Origin of Species', this is a beautifully written comic satire on evolution and survival of the fittest.
Catherine O'Flynn: What Was Lost
Ten-year-old Kate Meaney goes missing in the new Green Oaks Shopping Centre. Twenty years later, the night security guard Kurt sees a girl with a toy monkey on the video monitors. Together with Lisa, the disillusioned assistant manager at the Your Music superstore, he starts to search for her. A poignant first novel that explores bereavement and loneliness, what it is to be invisible and what it takes to be found. Intricately plotted and compelling, this was shortlisted for the 2007 Booker Prize.
Helen Simpson: Constitutional
Helen Simpson's short stories are legendary. As they chart tantrums, funerals, pregnancy, war and love affairs, the author's piercing wit and sympathy shines through. One woman finds her grief for her lost lover is assuaged by involvement in some carpentry repair work. In the title story, a circular walk on Hampstead Heath leads to revelations involving feats of memory, a Shakespearian heroine, crossword clues, nonagenarians and new life. Her similes are extraordinary: one downtrodden mother's overhanging heel is like 'a hunk of Parmesan'; when one mother sees another she doesn't like, her face 'slips like an omelette from a frying pan'. Her previous collection, Hey Yeah Right Get a Life, is one of the all-time best books on motherhood. Brilliantly observant and amusing.
Vote for the book you'd most like to be March's Book Club choice. The poll closes at midnight on Tuesday 17 February.
Last updated: almost 2 years ago