The best of Bedtime Bookclub

Have precisely zero time to read? Make the most of the bank holiday with these tasters of our reads of the year so far

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The Cows

Bedtime Bookclub The Cows

One misjudged action can turn your life upside down – especially when that action becomes a viral sensation. Dawn O’Porter’s first novel for adults puts trolling, motherhood, careers and women’s sexuality at the forefront as we meet three different women with almost opposing lives – single mother and documentary maker Tara, blogger Cam and grieving PA Stella. Through strange (and sometimes unhappy) circumstances they become friends and enemies, their lives intertwining in the most unlikely of ways. The Cows is a zippy and hilarious book but it tackles some of the most serious issues that affect modern women today. EB

He Said She Said

Bedtime Bookclub He Said She Said

He said/she said. It's the classic scenario in countless sexual assault cases – and the so-called reason why so many never come to court. It also forms the backdrop (and the title) to the bestselling author of The Poison Tree's latest thriller. In the aftermath of an eclipse Laura witnesses a violent attack – and finds herself the key witness when the case comes to court. But a decision made in a split second sends Laura and her partner Kit into hiding – until another eclipse is imminent... Told in two voices, brace yourself for a stomach-clenchingly tense journey through the human psyche. SB

The Witchfinder’s Sister

Bedtime Bookclub The Witchfinder’s Sister

When society is in trouble, it finds a woman to blame. It's a truth so universal that it goes back as far as the 17th century (and undoubtedly far further), when, in the midst of the English Civil War, and after a long period without witchcraft trials, England was stricken with a bloodlust for them. Over 200 women were trialled during this time, many of whom by  the self-appointed Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins. In Beth Underdown's impressive debut, Matthew's fictional sister Alice returns to her native Essex after her husband is killed. Her only surviving relative, her brother, is distant and zealous. As the story progresses, Alice is faced with horrifying reality that her brother is plotting to exterminate the women of the village that he deems guilty of witchcraft. It's a slow-burning horror, rich in historical detail and is shockingly relevant for the times we live in. COD

Montpelier Parade

Bedtime Bookclub Montpelier Parade

Sonny Knolls is a 16-year-old in 1980s Dublin with the odds stacked against him: the youngest, self-described “runt” of seven brothers, with a gambler father and a mother at her wits’ end, targeted by school prefects, dismissed by the teaching staff and left with petty crime and alcohol for amusement. And then his eyes are opened to a world of literature and love, and life beyond an impoverished council estate, by Vera, a woman old enough to be his mother, yet as damaged in her own way as Sonny himself. It’s not just a sexual awakening, more an emotional one, and Geary’s particular first-person narrative draws you in, making you see in Sonny what those around him can’t, making you root for him, hoping he’ll make his escape. This powerful debut novel is tender and raw and heartfelt – and one you’ll immediately want others to read. ER

Little Deaths

Bedtime Bookclub Little Deaths

It’s 1965, in the oppressive heat of New York in the summer, and two small children go missing from their beds in the middle of the night. As the police and press hound the story, one person becomes the chief suspect: the children’s mother, Ruth. But Ruth’s being charged with other crimes, too: her wish to divorce her husband, her love of men, her sexuality, her dancing, the clothes and make-up she chooses. Emma Flint’s debut is a pageturner, cinematic in its depiction of the stifling New York heat and the depiction of the beautiful, mesmerising, entrancing, troubled and troubling Ruth. Based on a true story, Flint’s thriller has a strong feminist thread, painfully painting what happens when women refuse to behave in the way society expects them to. MB


Bedtime Bookclub Homegoing

If this is the first you've heard of Homegoing, rest assured it won't be the last. Yaa Gyasi's astonishing debut revolves around two sisters - Effia and Esi - and their very different experiences of the slave trade; one is sold into slavery, the other becomes a slave trader's wife. Encompassing two centuries, three continents, seven generations and told from fourteen different perspectives, this epic novel will make you re-evaluate everything you thought you knew. Toni Morrison's Beloved spoke to a generation. Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing will do the same for a new one. In a word, it's brilliant. And not just "for a debut".

Based On A True Story

Bedtime Bookclub Based On A True Story

The very best psychological thrillers are those that alight on a moment uncomfortably close to home and gently, oh-so gently, turn the screw. Based on a true story by Delphine De Vigan is one such thriller. Delphine (you see what she did there) is a successful novelist with writer's block. L is the sort of woman who's always fascinated her. Soignée. self-contained, groomed. (dare I say it, very very *French*). As L insinuates herself into Delphine's life, Delphine loses all sense of what she knows to be true. And so, I guarantee, will you. In France, Based on a True Story has been a prize-winning, runaway success that's destined for the big screen starring Eva Green and Emmanuelle Seigner. The same is likely to be true here, too. SB

The Possessions

Bedtime Bookclub The Possessions

The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy is, to the say the least, intriguing. Part ghost story, part study of sexual obsession, the novel imagines a clinic where people can visit the spirits of dead loved ones who temporarily inhabit the bodies of real people via a drug called “lotus”. Edie is the model “body”, giving heartbroken people the chance to connect with the people they thought they’d lost forever, always providing a detached, discreet and professional service. That all changes when Edie meets Patrick. Patrick uses Edie to channel his beautiful young wife, Sylvia who drowned under mysterious circumstances. But the more time Edie spends with Patrick, the more she starts to fall in love. Suddenly, Edie’s lust overwhelms her and she becomes embroiled in the web of Patrick and Sylvia’s own dark secrets. A mediation on grief, obsession, and the dark past we all try to bury, The Possessions is a striking debut. MB

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