Recommended June Releases

I have an all-female line-up for you this time, with selections ranging from a YA romance in verse to a memoir by a spiritual recording artist. There’s a very random detail that connects two of these books – look out for it!

 

In Paris with You by Clémentine Beauvais

[Faber & Faber, 7th]

I don’t know the source material Beauvais was working with (Eugene Onegin, 1837), but still enjoyed this YA romance in verse. Eugene and Tatiana meet by chance in Paris in 2016 and the attraction between them is as strong as ever, but a possible relationship is threatened by memories of a tragic event from 10 years ago involving Lensky, Eugene’s friend and the boyfriend of Tatiana’s older sister Olga. I’m in awe at how translator Sam Taylor has taken the French of her Songe à la douceur and turned it into English poetry with the occasional rhyme. This is a sweet book that would appeal to John Green’s readers, but it’s more sexually explicit than a lot of American YA, so is probably only suitable for older teens. (Proof copy from Faber Spring Party)

Favorite lines:

“Her heart takes the lift / up to her larynx, / where it gets stuck / hammering against the walls of her neck.”

“an adult with a miniature attention span, / like everyone else, refreshing, updating, / nibbling at time like a ham baguette.”

“helium balloons in the shape of spermatozoa straining towards the dark sky.”

My rating:

 

Implosion: A Memoir of an Architect’s Daughter by Elizabeth W. Garber

[She Writes Press, 12th]

The author grew up in a glass house designed by her father, Modernist architect Woodie Garber, outside Cincinnati in the 1960s–70s. This and his other most notable design, Sander Hall, a controversial tower-style dorm at the University of Cincinnati that was later destroyed in a controlled explosion, serve as powerful metaphors for her dysfunctional family life. Woodie is such a fascinating, flawed figure. Manic depression meant he had periods of great productivity but also weeks when he couldn’t get out of bed. He and Elizabeth connected over architecture, like when he helped her make a scale model of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye for a school project, but it was hard for a man born in the 1910s to understand his daughter’s generation or his wife’s desire to go back to school and have her own career.

Mixed feelings towards a charismatic creative genius who made home life a torment and the way their fractured family kept going are reasons enough to read this book. But another is just that Garber’s life has been so interesting: she witnessed the 1968 race riots and had a black boyfriend when interracial relationships were frowned upon; she was briefly the librarian for the Oceanics School, whose boat was taken hostage in Panama; and she dropped out of mythology studies at Harvard to become an acupuncturist. Don’t assume this will be a boring tome only for architecture buffs. It’s a masterful memoir for everyone. (Read via NetGalley on Nook)

My rating:

 

Florida by Lauren Groff

[William Heinemann (UK), 7th / Riverhead (USA), 5th]

My review is in today’s “Book Wars” column in Stylist magazine. Two major, connected threads in this superb story collection are ambivalence about Florida, and ambivalence about motherhood. The narrator of “The Midnight Zone,” staying with her sons in a hunting camp 20 miles from civilization, ponders the cruelty of time and her failure to be sufficiently maternal, while the woman in “Flower Hunters” is so lost in an eighteenth-century naturalist’s book that she forgets to get Halloween costumes for her kids. A few favorites of mine were “Ghosts and Empties,” in which the narrator goes for long walks at twilight and watches time passing through the unwitting tableaux of the neighbors’ windows; “Eyewall,” a matter-of-fact ghost story; and “Above and Below,” in which a woman slips into homelessness – it’s terrifying how precarious her life is at every step. (Proof copy)

Favorite lines:

 “What had been built to seem so solid was fragile in the face of time because time is impassive, more animal than human. Time would not care if you fell out of it. It would continue on without you.” (from “The Midnight Zone”)

“The wind played the chimney until the whole place wheezed like a bagpipe.” (from “Eyewall”)

“How lonely it would be, the mother thinks, looking at her children, to live in this dark world without them.” (from “Yport”)

My rating:

 

The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen: Opening Your Eyes to Wonder by Lisa Gungor

[Zondervan, 26th]

You’re most likely to pick this up if you enjoy Gungor’s music, but it’s by no means a band tell-all. The big theme of this memoir is moving beyond the strictures of religion to find an all-encompassing spirituality. Like many Gungor listeners, Lisa grew up in, and soon outgrew, a fundamentalist Christian setting. She bases the book around a key set of metaphors: the dot, the line, and the circle. The dot was the confining theology she was raised with; the line was the pilgrimage she and Michael Gungor embarked on after they married at 19; the circle was the more inclusive spirituality she developed after their second daughter, Lucie, was born with Down syndrome and required urgent heart surgery. Being mothered, becoming a mother and accepting God as Mother: together these experiences bring the book full circle. Barring the too-frequent nerdy-cool posturing (seven mentions of “dance parties,” and so on), this is a likable memoir for readers of spiritual writing by the likes of Sue Monk Kidd, Mary Oliver and Terry Tempest Williams. (Read via NetGalley on Kindle)

My rating:

 

Orchid & the Wasp by Caoilinn Hughes

[Oneworld, 7th] – see my full review

 

Ok, Mr Field by Katharine Kilalea

[Faber & Faber, 7th]

Mr. Field is a concert pianist whose wrist was shattered in a train crash. With his career temporarily derailed, there’s little for him to do apart from wander his Cape Town house, a replica of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, and the nearby coastal path. He also drives over to spy on his architect’s widow, with whom he’s obsessed. He’s an aimless voyeur who’s more engaged with other people’s lives than with his own – until a dog follows him home from a graveyard. This is a strangely detached little novel in which little seems to happen. Like Asunder by Chloe Aridjis and Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner, it’s about someone who’s been coasting unfeelingly through life and has to stop to ask what’s gone wrong and what’s worth pursuing. It’s so brilliantly written, with the pages flowing effortlessly on, that I admired Kilalea’s skill. Her descriptions of scenery and music are particularly good. In terms of the style, I was reminded of books I’ve read by Katie Kitamura and Henrietta Rose-Innes. (Proof copy from Faber Spring Party)

My rating:

 


This came out in the States (from Riverhead) back in early April, but releases here in the UK soon, so I’ve added it in as a bonus.

 

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

[Chatto & Windus, 7th]

An enjoyable story of twentysomethings looking for purpose and trying to be good feminists. To start with it’s a fairly familiar campus novel in the vein of The Art of Fielding and The Marriage Plot, but we follow Greer, her high school sweetheart Cory and her new friend Zee for the next 10+ years to see the compromises they make as ideals bend to reality. Faith Frank is Greer’s feminist idol, but she’s only human in the end, and there are different ways of being a feminist: not just speaking out from a stage, but also quietly living every day in a way that shows you value people equally. I have a feeling this would have meant much more to me a decade ago, and the #MeToo-ready message isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but I very much enjoyed my first taste of Wolitzer’s sharp, witty writing and will be sure to read more from her. This seems custom-made for next year’s Women’s Prize shortlist. (Free from publisher, for comparison with Florida in Stylist “Book Wars” column.)

My rating:

 

 

The four books in the bottom/left stack are the June releases I plan to read, three of them on assignment. The top two are Booker winners I vaguely hope to read before the 50th anniversary celebrations.


What June books do you have on the docket? Have you already read any that you can recommend?

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22 thoughts on “Recommended June Releases

  1. June is a brilliant month for new releases: I’m obsessed with Tara Isabella Burton’s debut novel Social Creature, Lissa Evans’s new book Old Baggage (about a suffragette, post-suffrage), and Fatima Farheen Mirza’s Muslim family saga, A Place For Us. From your reviews, the one that most draws me is Implosion, which sounds like it might make an interesting companion read to Tara Westover’s memoir Educated.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Indeed, in my full Goodreads review I compared Implosion and Educated — a young girl’s abusive upbringing and how she salvaged her life. Those are my two favourite memoirs of the year so far. She Writes publishes a lot of great stuff that I can only access via NetGalley. I hope the book will get a wider release and lots of attention.

      I’m interested in Social Creature.

      Like

      1. Ahhhh, I’m trying to find Implosion on Nielsen right now and it looks like it’s not available in the UK at all! (Except via the Evil Empire.) How annoying.

        Like

    2. Yeah, that’s a shame 😦 I mention simultaneous or later UK release dates when I know about them, but some of what I read through NetGalley or Edelweiss just isn’t going to be available over here.

      Like

  2. Implosion looks great. I have Chloe Coles’ “Bookshop Girl”, a YA with a heroine called Paige Turner (OK, this could go one of two ways) and Lissa Evans’ “Old Baggage”, about the middle age of a former suffragette on my NetGalley shelf for June.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I requested Bookshop Girl as well. Sounds light and fun! My NetGalley shelf is out of control, though I have somehow managed to maintain a 75% feedback rating, which I’m happy with.

      Two votes for Old Baggage!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my gosh – I just DNF’d Florida after 3 stories. I liked the second one, but the first was underwhelming and the third totally lost me. Now I’m second – guessing that.

    Like

  4. I can’t wait to hear what you think about The English Patient. Such a ‘classic’ but I remember feeling pretty ambivalent about it. Read it such a long time ago though I think it’s worth a reread now it’s up for this new prize. Surprising myself I actually fancy the sound of ‘Ok Mr Field’ now I’ve rediscovered my mojo. A bit of nothingness and nice prose would suit me just fine right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know if The English Patient is going to happen. I looked over the first page a couple of weeks ago and put it down…then saw it nominated for the Golden Booker and put it back on the stack. We’ll see. A trusted blogger friend says to watch the film first!

      I would gladly send you my proof copy of Ok, Mr Field if you’re interested?

      Like

  5. No June books on my stack, but I enjoyed reading about your June books all the same.
    On a related note, I am looking for a book with a June holiday, for a reading challenge.
    Clearly I’m going to have to think internationally for this one! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m tempted by Simon van Booy’s Father’s Day, as I loved the idea of Illusion of Separateness and liked the book well enough, but even though I know that challenges are supposed to take you into uncharted reading territory, I kinda wanted to find something that was already on my TBR list (you know what I mean I’m sure – when the TBR is ridiculously long, it’s even harder to excuse the craziness when you go and read other things for random reasons – heheh). Nice problem to have.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for letting me know 🙂 I sometimes don’t read enough advanced books for it to seem worthwhile to do a roundup, but June is such a big month for new releases that I happened to have read a lot beforehand.

      Liked by 1 person

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