When the invite came through from Penguin Random House to attend the General Spring Fiction Showcase Event for 2023, I nearly dropped tea all over my laptop (which is terrible as I would have ruined it and, worse still, been unable to accept this wonderful opportunity). This was the first in-person showcase following the Covid lockdown and was held to promote the upcoming Spring Fiction titles, which are to really bloom during this season.
Situated at the heart of London’s Penguin Random House with its towering heights and beautiful lights, I was immediately greeted by an arrangement of popular titles I was more than familiar with. The room was adorned with piles of acclaimed novels and upcoming fiction. I was able to speak with editors and marketing executives who ran the event, each as excited to get the word out and share the free prosecco. From editors to writers to bookish bloggers and myself (a mixture of all three), the entire evening was a reader’s dream.
On to the books!
This gorgeous book caught my attention with its vibrant flora and quote from Meg Bliss: “A savagely funny, bracingly sad, dazzlingly clever reimagining of The Pursuit of Love. I loved it.” From farmhouse to city girl, of course, I had to pick up a laugh-out-loud and complicated novel about the pursuit of love in the city. It’s modern, witty, and a fierce homage to Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love.
The rich serpentine imagery within a hand along with the title overlay is stunning. I immediately knew this would be a moody and seductive novel. Set in Edinburgh (the reader’s comfort place), the rich cobblestone architecture and oppressive fog settle over our main characters, Clare and Tabitha, already painting the scene of this upcoming novel. It combines obsession, desire, and ambition between two unlikely friends who can’t seem to resist tainting one another. Excuse me while I open the pages and take a break to read this in one sitting.
I’ll be honest—I’m not a romance reader. But as soon as I read that Tara Chen (our heartbroken love-seeker) was sick of dating apps, I knew I had to give it a chance. Also, Amy Lea’s writing style is so witty and relatable; it’s an easy read with many charismatic renditions of romance tropes. I’ll be reading this with a large cup of tea, crackling fire, and a chocolate muffin, so watch out for my upcoming review sprinkled with sweetness.
A devastating start to spring, but a necessary one. Listening to Hermione from the Penguin Random House editing team express her adoration for this book convinced me to pick it up. It is a portrait of modern masculinity within a working-class environment. The trauma, heartache, and solitude young working-class men experience is incomprehensible and needs to be discussed; there needs to be change. I will begin this book as winter ends, sat in a coffee shop in the city in which so many working men are figuring out their identity, fighting to choose who they are and who they want to be.
This book has been on my radar, it’s been on my writers’ group’s radar, it’s been online—it’s been everywhere. Getting hold of this book prior to March felt better than any celebratory holiday. It is the novel for 2023. I read the first few pages feverishly, deeply engrossed in the haunting and devastating tale of Henry Gaunt and Sidney Ellwood. Amidst the horror of the First World War, two men find fleeting moments of solace. It’s tragic and heartbreaking and beautiful. It’s the rawest form of human adoration. As the editor said: “it’s a mixture of 1917 and Call Me By Your Name.” We were also told a little secret—it’s being made into a film! Watch this space for a soon-to-come review! I know once I start reading it, I won’t be able to stop.
Thank you so much to the Marketing and Editing Team at Penguin Random House London for hosting this event. It was dreamy and so inviting. Readers, you’re in for a treat next year!
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