No matter your plans for the summer, having a good book to dive into on warm, sunny days is a must. Luckily, there are plenty of tempting new fiction books hitting shelves this August, including much-anticipated follow-up works from authors including Paula Hawkins, Pat Barker and Elif Shafak. Whether you’re after a unsettling thriller with a feminist slant or a lyrical love story of two teenagers torn apart by war, there’s certainly a novel to meet your mood. Here, we’ve rounded up the best new fiction books out this August.
Out This August
Fans of Margaret Atwood and Orphan Black are sure to be enthralled by Sara Flannery Murphy’s sci-fi crime thriller. At the centre of the story is Jospehine Morrows, one of nine ‘miracle babies’ raised by nine mothers, conceived without any male DNA. The children live happily on the Homestead, an exclusive commune, with their mothers, until one night a suspicious fire at the ranch kills the doctor pioneering the experiment and one of the youngest girls. Suddenly afraid of their home, the surviving mothers and children disperse across the country, some continuing to live under the media spotlight, others hiding from public view.
Years later, Josephine is grown up and studying medicine, determined to follow in the footsteps of her mentor, the late doctor. But after her mother mysteriously disappears, Josephine is forced to track down her estranged sisters and finally confront the secrets of their dark past in order to find her mother, and the truth.
Little, Brown Book Group
Already tapped to be made into a feature film, Chandler Baker’s latest novel is a twisted and slick feminist thriller about one woman’s haunting experience in what appears to be a picture-perfect town. Frustrated by the strains of trying to have it all, when her husband seems to be gliding through life and work far more easily, Nora is excited to move to an affluent suburb where the couples’ lives seem more balanced. The wives aren’t expected to make all the sacrifices, and the husbands are active participants in their family lives.
But things take a dark turn when one of the locals is discovered dead and Nora is implicated in the case. As the investigation ensues, Nora begins to wonder whether this idyll harbours a dark secret, and if so, whether this town is willing to kill to keep it hidden.
The bestselling author of The Girl on the Train returns with another crackling thriller. As with her previous novel, the story flits between multiple perspectives, as three women become entangled in a brutal murder on a London houseboat. There’s Laura, the loner misfit who has spent her life being judged for her troubled temperament, who is spotted leaving the murder with blood on her clothes after a one-night stand with the victim. Then there’s Carla, the murdered boy’s grief-stricken aunt, desperate for answers and struggling to deal with the death of yet another family member. And finally there’s Miriam, the nosy neighbour who for some reason keeps withholding information from the police.
Full of suspense, Hawkins once again plays with her audience as she weaves a complicated web that makes it impossible to know who to trust. Each of the three women is full of resentment, the question is — who would go so far as to commit murder?
David Thewlis’ latest novel is a darkly humorous and acerbic imagining of the strange possibilities of method acting. Celebrated director Jack Drake is trying desperately to get through making his latest film, but following the death of his wife Martha, on whom he’d always relied heavily for support and guidance, he finds it impossible to get the work done. Then one night, he sees actress Betty Dean on stage playing a crazed nun, and is struck by her resemblance to Martha. Determined to complete his cinematic masterpiece, he convinces Betty to move into his house in France and play the role of his supportive Martha.
But as Betty steps into Martha’s shoes, reading from scripts during nightly video calls with Jack while he’s on set in London, things become increasingly twisted, as Betty’s method acting takes her to dark corners of the house and the secrets it hides.
Pat Barker follows up her immensely successful The Silence of the Girls with another reimagining of one of the greatest myths. Following the fall of Troy, the victorious Greeks are ready to return home after the long and bitter war with all their spoils, including stolen women. But the gods are offended by the Greeks, and so they refuse to give the wind for their sails, leaving the Greeks stranded in the shadow of the city they’ve destroyed.
With nothing to fill their days, the camp begins to rustle with dissatisfaction as old feuds begin to arise and the hierarchies that held the army together begin to disintegrate. The growing chaos poses an opportunity for Briseis, who has survived the war but is desperate for revenge and to not be caught up in the danger of peacetime. Alliances begin to form, plans are hatched and Barker takes us along on the mesmerising journey.
The acclaimed author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World returns with another powerful, lyrical novel about family, identity and belonging. Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot meet in secret at a taverna. It’s the only place the two lovers, Kostas and Defne, can spend time together. The only witness to their relationship is a fig tree that grows around the beams. It also witnesses the war that breaks out on the island, which sees the town destroyed and the teenagers separated. Years after that, Kostas returns as an adult and a botanist, and takes a clipping of the fig tree and Defne back with him to London.
Years later, their daughter Ada, home in London, is struggling to find her place in the world and is keen to understand more about where she comes from. Her only clue to her parents’ past is the fig tree that grows in their garden. As she seeks to untangle the truth to her past, her journey takes her down a mystical path that traces love, trauma and renewal.
A searing and darkly funny tale of cancel culture, The Echo Chamber traces the life of the uber-privileged Cleverley family. The father, George, the patriarch, is an acclaimed television interviewer and considers himself a national treasure, while his wife Beverley is a celebrated novelist still aspiring for more success. Blissfully unaware of their privilege, the couple and their three children glide through life, until one tweet upends it all.
This sharp satire of modern life sees the Cleverley family try to navigate the complicated and volatile jungle of a digital misstep, political correctness and the destruction of carefully curated public personas.
Simon & Schuster
The award-winning author of Our House returns with another nail-biting crime thriller, this time set in an apartment block nestled between the warehouses of Shad Thames. The mystery this time isn’t who the murderer might be, as that’s made clear from the outset — it’s you.
Written entirely from the first person, this disorientating and unsettling thriller explores the terrifying depths of revenge and resentment, as you look through the murderer’s eyes and see something entirely unexpected — a glimpse of the man you murdered, standing on the rooftop terrace opposite your flat. Chilling from the outset, this sinister thriller is a rollercoaster of a read.
Faber & Faber
This moving and epic novel follows the life of Mathilde, a passionate French woman who gets caught up in war, revolution and a struggle against patriarchal oppression. In 1944, Mathilde meets and falls deeply in love with Amine Belhaj, a Moroccan soldier stationed in her town fighting for the French. After the Liberation, Mathilde marries Amine and follows her new husband to Morocco. But while she moved to this new country out of passion and love, she finds a way of life that is unrecognisable and incomprehensible to the young woman.
Then, violence threatens them once again, as revolution brews in Morocco and the country begins its fight for independence. Determined not to take sides, Mathilde must determine how she can protect her family while wrestling with her own desire for freedom.
Following up on the success of The Other Half of Augusta Hope, Joanna Glen returns with a tender and evocative examination of one woman’s journey of self-discovery. Eva Martinez-Green is an only child desperate for answers about her beginning. She’s convinced that her parents are withholding the truth from her — what else could explain the absence of any baby pictures?
When the relationship between her emotionally absent mother and her physically absent father finally crumbles, Eva finally finds an opportunity to get answers to her question. Her journey will probe the idea of motherhood, the role of women in her life and what it means to be a parent.
The International Man Booker prize winner returns with a poignant and sweeping tale of love, family and loss. The story is centred on the reunion of three generations of women at a kibbutz in Israel to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of the family matriarch, Vera. The head of the family and her beloved granddaughter Gili are shocked when Nina, the daughter who rejected Vera and who abandoned her baby Gili, decides to show up.
Brought back together again, the meeting sets off a journey into the past tracing Vera’s experience being held and tortured as a political prisoner five decades earlier, and its impact on the family for generations to follow. It’s an expansive and moving drama, deftly unpacking the wounds and histories of one close but conflicted family.