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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures 2023 – Captivating Contemporary

Welcome to my final list of most anticipated 2023 books. I love reading contemporary and literary fiction, so couldn’t leave out those genres. Especially when some of the books in this list are ones I’m most anticipating this year.

So, here are the twenty Contemporary Fiction books released this year that I’m most anticipating:

We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

SYNOPSIS:
Who knows you better than your best friend? Who knows your secrets, your fears, your desires, your strange imperfect self? Edi and Ash have been best friends for over forty years. Since childhood they have seen each other through life’s milestones: stealing vodka from their parents, the Madonna phase, REM concerts, unexpected wakes, marriages, infertility, children. As Ash notes, ‘Edi’s memory is like the back-up hard drive for mine.’

So when Edi is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ash’s world reshapes around the rhythms of Edi’s care, from chipped ice and watermelon cubes to music therapy; from snack smuggling to impromptu excursions into the frozen winter night. Because life is about squeezing the joy out of every moment, about building a powerhouse of memories, about learning when to hold on, and when to let go.

For fans of Nora Ephron and Sorrow & BlissWe All Want Impossible Things is a deeply moving, jubilant celebration of life and friendship at its imperfect, radiant, and irreverent best.

Published January 12th by Doubleday
Pre-order here*

Are You Happy Now by Hanna Jameson

SYNOPSIS:
At a New York City wedding, on a sweltering summer night, four people are trying to be happy.

Yun has everything he ever wanted, but somehow it’s never enough.
Emory is finally making her mark, but feels the shame more than the success.
Andrew is trying to be honest, but has lied to himself his whole life.
Fin can’t resist falling in love, but can’t help wrecking it all either.

And then the world begins to end. The four of them watch as one of the wedding guests sits down and refuses to get back up. Soon it’s happening across the world. Is it a choice or an illness?

Because how can anyone be happy in a world where the only choice is to feel everything – or nothing at all?

An intensely compulsive novel for anyone who has ever felt hopeful and helpless in one breath, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW is about how you keep living when the world is on fire. Perfect for fans of Emily John St. Mandel’s Station Eleven, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Patricia Lockwood’s Nobody is Talking About This and Naomi Alderman’s The Power.

Published February 2nd by Viking
Pre-order here*

Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintosh

SYNOPSIS:
From the Booker Prize-nominated author of The Water Cure comes a chilling new feminist fable based on the true story of an unsolved mystery…

Good Housekeeping recommended read for 2023

‘Sensual, luminous, transcendent. It confirms Mackintosh as one of our finest young writers’ The Bookseller


‘A thrilling and subversive fable’ i-D

If you eat the bread, you’ll die, he said. The statement made no sense, but it filled me with an electric dread.


Elodie is the baker’s wife. A plain, unremarkable woman, ignored by her husband and underestimated by her neighbours, she burns with the secret desire to be extraordinary. One day a charismatic new couple appear in town – the ambassador and his sharp-toothed wife, Violet – and Elodie quickly falls under their spell. All summer long she stalks them through the shining streets: inviting herself into their home, eavesdropping on their coded conversations, longing to be part of their world.

Meanwhile, beneath the tranquil surface of daily life, strange things are happening. Six horses are found dead in a sun-drenched field, laid out neatly on the ground like an offering. Widows see their lost husbands walking up the moonlit river, coming back to claim them. A teenage boy throws himself into the bonfire at the midsummer feast. A dark intoxication is spreading through the town, and when Elodie finally understands her role in it, it will be too late to stop.

Audacious and mesmerising, Cursed Bread is a fevered confession, an entry into memory’s hall of mirrors, a fable of obsession and transformation. Sophie Mackintosh spins a darkly gleaming tale of a town gripped by hysteria, envy like poison in the blood, and desire that burns and consumes.

Published March 2nd by Hamish Hamilton
Pre-order here*

If I Let You Go by Charlotte Levin

SYNOPSIS:
If I Let You Go by Charlotte Levin is a deeply moving and gripping portrayal of a woman coming to terms with loss.

Every morning Janet Brown goes to work cleaning offices. It calms her, cleanliness, neatness. All the things she’s unable to do with her soul can be achieved with a damp cloth and a splash of bleach. However, the guilt she still carries about a devastating loss that happened eleven years ago, cannot be erased.

Then, Janet finds herself involved in a train crash and, recognising the chance to do what she couldn’t all those years ago, she makes a decision. As news spreads of Janet’s actions, her story inspires everyone around her, and for the first time her life has purpose and the future is filled with hope.

But Janet’s story isn’t quite what it seems, and as events spiral out of control, she soon discovers that coming clean isn’t an option. Because if Janet washes away the lies, what long-buried truths will she finally have to face.

Published March 2nd by Pan Macmillan
Pre-order here*

Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood

SYNOPSIS:
A dazzling collection of fifteen stories from Margaret Atwood, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments

Margaret Atwood is celebrated as one of the most gifted storytellers in the world.

These stories explore the full warp and weft of experience, from two best friends disagreeing about their shared past, to the right way to stop someone from choking; from a daughter determining if her mother really is a witch, to what to do with inherited relics such as World War II parade swords.

They feature beloved cats, a confused snail, Martha Gellhorn, George Orwell, philosopher-astronomer-mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria, a cabal of elderly female academics, and an alien tasked with retelling human fairy tales.

At the heart of the collection is a stunning sequence that follows a married couple as they travel the road together, the moments big and small that make up a long life of love — and what comes after.

The glorious range of Atwood’s creativity and humanity is on full beam in these tales, which by turns delight, illuminate and quietly devastate.

Published March 7th by Chatto & Windus
Pre-order here*

Furies by Various

SYNOPSIS:
A FUN AND FEARLESS ANTHOLOGY OF FEMINIST TALES, to celebrate Virago’s 50th birthday, featuring NEW AND ORIGINAL STORIES by Margaret AtwoodSusie BoytEleanor CrewesEmma DonoghueStella DuffyLinda GrantClaire KohdaCN LesterKirsty LoganCaroline O’DonoghueChibundu OnuzoHelen OyeymiRachel SeiffertKamila Shamsie and Ali Smith – introduced by Sandi Toksvig.

DRAGON. TYGRESS. SHE-DEVIL. HUSSY. SIREN. WENCH. HARRIDAN. MUCKRAKER. SPITFIRE. VITUPERATOR. CHURAIL. TERMAGANT. FURY. WARRIOR. VIRAGO. For centuries past, and all across the world, there are words that have defined and decried us. Words that raise our hackles, fire up our blood; words that tell a story.

In this blazing cauldron of a book, fifteen bestselling, award-winning writers have taken up their pens and reclaimed these words, creating an entertaining and irresistible collection of feminist tales for our time.

Published March 16th by Virago
Pre-order here*

Beautiful Shining People by Michael Grothaus

SYNOPSIS:
A damaged young man meets an enigmatic waitress in a Tokyo café, and they embark on a journey that will change everything … an emotive speculative literary novel set in a near-future Japan
 
It’s our world, but decades into the future … an ordinary world, where cars drive themselves, drones glide across the sky, and robots work in burger shops. There are two superpowers and a digital Cold War, but all conflicts are safely oceans away. People get up, work, and have dinner. Everything is as it should be…
 
Except for seventeen-year-old John, a tech prodigy from a damaged family, who hides a deeply personal secret. But everything starts to change for him when he enters a tiny café on a cold Tokyo night. A café run by a disgraced sumo wrestler, where a peculiar dog with a spherical head lives, alongside its owner, enigmatic waitress Neotnia…
 
But Neotnia hides a secret of her own – a secret that will turn John’s unhappy life upside down. A secret that will take them from the neon streets of Tokyo to Hiroshima’s tragic past to the snowy mountains of Nagano. 
 
A secret that reveals that this world is anything ordinary – and it’s about to change forever…

Published March 16th by Orenda Books Pre-order here

In a Thousand Different Ways by Cecelia Ahern

SYNOPSIS:
Finding your way is never a simple journey…

‘Beautiful, moving, and unexpected, In a Thousand Different Ways is an unforgettable story. This is Cecelia Ahern at her very best’ Louise O’Neill

‘Cecelia Ahern is a master storyteller at the absolute peak of her powers. Her heroine, Alice Kelly, is completely unique – beguiling, complicated, extraordinary – and she’ll change the way you see the world. Just you wait’ CLARE POOLEY

Alice sees the worst in people.

She also sees the best.
She sees a thousand different emotions and knows exactly what everyone around her is feeling.
Every. Single. Day.

But it’s the dark thoughts.
The sadness. The rage.
These are the things she can’t get out of her head. The things that overwhelm her.

Where will the journey to find herself begin?

Published April 13th by Harper Collins
Pre-order here*

Oh, Sister by Jodie Chapman

SYNOPSIS:
Three women. Three lives. One chance to find themselves…

JEN

My body is not my own. Others make life and death decisions on my behalf.

ISOBEL

My place is to be secondary to the man in my life.

ZELDA

If I break the rules I will be sorry.

But this is not a dystopia. This is not the future or the past or a fantasy. It is real and it is happening now. Can we break free?

Published April 13th by Michael Joseph
Pre-order here*

The Memory of Animals by Claire Fuller

SYNOPSIS:
From the Costa-Winning, Women’s Prize-shortlisted author of Unsettled Ground: a gripping, haunting novel about memory, love and survival, for readers of Never Let me Go and Leave the World Behind

Neffy is a young woman running away from grief and guilt and the one big mistake that has derailed her career. When she answers the call to volunteer in a controlled vaccine trial, it offers her a way to pay off her many debts and, perhaps, to make up for the past.

But when the London streets below her window fall silent, and all external communications cease, only Neffy and four other volunteers remain in the unit. With food running out, and a growing sense that the strangers she is with may be holding back secrets, Neffy has questions that no-one can answer. Does safety lie inside or beyond the unit? And who, or what is out there?

While she weighs up her choices, she is introduced to a pioneering and controversial technology which allows her to revisit memories from her life before: a childhood divided between her enigmatic mother and her father in his small hotel in Greece. Intoxicated by the freedom of the past and the chance to reunite with those she loves, she increasingly turns away from her perilous present. But in this new world where survival rests on the bonds between strangers, is she jeopardising any chance of a future?

The Memory of Animals is a taut and emotionally charged novel about freedom and captivity, survival and sacrifice and whether you can save anyone before you save yourself.

Published April 20th by Fig Tree
Pre-order here*

The Island of Longing by Anne Griffin

SYNOPSIS:
One unremarkable afternoon, Rosie watched her daughter Saoirse cycle into town, expecting to hear the slam of the door when she returned a few hours later. But the slam never came.

Eight years on, after an extensive investigation into her disappearance, Rosie is the only person who stubbornly believes that her child might still be alive. When Rosie receives a call from her father, asking her to return home for the summer, she is forced out of her limbo. Life on the island of Roaring Bay revives old rivalries, but it also brings new friendships and unexpected solace.

Yet, when a sudden glimmer of hope appears, Rosie is forced to face an impossible question: is she right to think that Saoirse is still alive? Or will her belief that her daughter will one day return to her come at the cost of everything she has left?

Published April 27th by Sceptre
Pre-order here*

Greek Lessons by Han Kang

SYNOPSIS:
A powerful novel of the saving grace of language and human connection, from the celebrated author of The Vegetarian

In a classroom in Seoul, a young woman watches her Greek language teacher at the blackboard. She tries to speak but has lost her voice. Her teacher finds himself drawn to the silent woman, for day by day he is losing his sight.

Soon they discover a deeper pain binds them together. For her, in the space of just a few months, she has lost both her mother and the custody battle for her nine-year-old son. For him, it’s the pain of growing up between Korea and Germany, being torn between two cultures and languages.

Greek Lessons tells the story of two ordinary people brought together at a moment of private anguish – the fading light of a man losing his vision meeting the silence of a woman who has lost her language. Yet these are the very things that draw them to one another. Slowly the two discover a profound sense of unity – their voices intersecting with startling beauty, as they move from darkness to light, from silence to expression.

Greek Lessons is a tender love letter to human intimacy and connection, a novel to awaken the senses, vividly conjuring the essence of what it means to be alive.

Published April 27th by Hamish Hamilton
Pre-order here*

Honeybees and Distant Thunder by Riku Onda

SYNOPSIS:
The Night Circus meets Lonely Castle in the Mirror in this million-copy multi-awardwinning Japanese bestseller

In a small coastal town just a stone’s throw from Tokyo, a prestigious piano competition is underway. Over the course of two feverish weeks, three students will experience some of the most joyous – and painful – moments of their lives. Though they don’t know it yet, each will profoundly and unpredictably change the others, for ever.

Aya was a piano genius, until she ran away from the stage and vanished; will the tall and talented Makun bring her back? Or will it be child of nature, Jin, a pianist without a piano, who carries the sound of his father’s bees wherever he goes? Each of them will break the rules, awe their fans and push themselves to the brink. But at what cost?

Tender, cruel, compelling, HONEYBEES AND DISTANT THUNDER is the unflinching story of love, courage and rivalry. Most of all, it shows how three young people reconcile with the highs and lows of what it means to truly be a friend.

Published May 4th by Doubleday
Pre-order here*

This Family by Kate Sawyer

SYNOPSIS:
It is my dearest wish, that after so long apart, I am able to bring this family together for my wedding day.

This house. This family.

Mary has raised a family in this house. Watched her children play and laugh and bicker in this house. Today she is getting married in this house, with all her family in attendance.

The wedding celebrations have brought fractured family together for the first time in years: there’s Phoebe and her husband Michael, children in tow. The young and sensitive Rosie, with her new partner. Irene, Mary’s ex-mother-in-law. Even Emma, Mary’s eldest, is back for the wedding – despite being at odds with everyone else.

Set over the course of an English summer’s day but punctuated with memories from the past forty years of love and loss, hope and joy, heartbreak and grief, this is the story of a family. Told by a chorus of characters, it is an exploration of the small moments that bring us to where we are, the changes that are brought about by time, and what, despite everything, stays the same.

Published May 11th by Coronet
Pre-order here*

Fourteen Days by Various

SYNOPSIS:
Set in a Lower East Side tenement in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdowns, Fourteen Days is a surprising and irresistibly propulsive novel with an unusual twist: each character in this diverse, eccentric cast of New York neighbours has been secretly written by a different, major literary voice-from Margaret Atwood and Douglas Preston to Tommy Orange and Celeste Ng.

One week into the COVID-19 shutdown, tenants of a Lower East Side apartment building in Manhattan have begun to gather on the rooftop and tell stories. With each passing night, more and more neighbours gather, bringing chairs and milk crates and overturned pails. Gradually the tenants – some of whom have barely spoken to each other – become real neighbours. In this Decameron-like serial novel, general editor Margaret Atwood, Authors Guild president Douglas Preston, and a star-studded list of contributors create a beautiful ode to the people who couldn’t get away from the city when the pandemic hit. A dazzling, heartwarming and ultimately surprising narrative, Fourteen Days reveals how beneath the horrible loss and suffering, some communities managed to become stronger.

Includes writing from:
Margaret Atwood, Douglas Preston, Celeste Ng, Emma Donoghue, Dave Eggers, John Grisham, Diana Gabaldon, Ishmael Reed, Meg Wolitzer, Luis Alberto Urrea, James Shapiro, Sylvia Day, Mary Pope Osborne, Monique Truong, Hampton Sides, R. L. Stine, Scott Turow, Tommy Orange, and more!

Published May 30th by Vintage
Pre-order here*

Limelight by Daisy Buchanan

SYNOPSIS:
Frankie has a love-hate relationship with the spotlight. She secretly craves attention, but she is ashamed of that craving. And after a lifetime of comparison to her perfect sister Bean, she has never felt more invisible. She only ever feels seen when she uploads risqué photos to her small community of online fans. She creates a new her: confident, sexy, unforgettable, and utterly unrecognisable from the real Frankie.

Then the worst happens. Bean is diagnosed with cancer. While Frankie wants to fill the freezer with home cooked food, her mother decides she knows better and somehow launches a nationwide cancer fundraiser, with Frankie as the supportive-sister-spokesmodel. And with a delicious sense of inevitability, her account is found. Now everyone has their eyes on Frankie.

With her mum and sister no longer speaking to her, Frankie flounders in her newfound notoriety. Feminists and misogynists rage at her online, while she attracts hundreds of new subscribers. Whether they’re demanding apologies or expecting an empowering call to arms, everyone wants Frankie to explain herself. But how can she explain what she barely understands?

Limelight is a story about sisterhood, sexuality, and self-esteem. It’s about how we cope with living in a world which constantly tells us who we are. What happens when we stop listening and start paying attention to who we need to be p9come?

Published June 1st by Sphere
Pre-order here*

The Wind Knows My Name by Isabel Allende

SYNOPSIS:
Vienna, 1938. Samuel Adler is six years old when his father disappears during Kristallnacht – the night their family loses everything. As her child’s safety seems ever-harder to guarantee, Samuel’s mother secures a spot for him on the last Kindertransport train out of Nazi-occupied Austria to England. He boards alone, carrying nothing but a change of clothes and his violin.

Arizona, 2019. Eight decades later, Anita Diaz and her mother board another train, fleeing looming danger in El Salvador and seeking refuge in the United States. But their arrival coincides with the new family separation policy, and seven-year-old Anita finds herself alone at a camp in Nogales. She escapes her tenuous reality through her trips to Azabahar, a magical world of the imagination. Meanwhile, Selena Duran, a young social worker, enlists the help of a successful lawyer in hopes of tracking down Anita’s mother.

Intertwining past and present, The Wind Knows My Name tells the tale of these two unforgettable characters, both in search of family and home. It is both a testament to the sacrifices that parents make, and a love letter to the children who survive the most unfathomable dangers – and never stop dreaming.

Published June 6th by Bloomsbury
Pre-order here*

High Time by Hannah Rothschild

SYNOPSIS:
WHEN THE STAKES ARE HIGH, HOW LOW WILL YOU GO?

Ayesha Scott has a perfect life. Home is an art-filled Cornish castle with her stratospherically wealthy, titled husband and their beloved daughter. But behind every realised dream lurks an unexploded nightmare and in the course of one day Ayesha discovers that she will be penniless, homeless and powerless unless she can outwit the international mafia, infiltrate the world of high finance and make backstreet deals with the shadiest members of the art world.

Hurt and betrayed, she’s determined to fight for herself and her daughter – but can she do it without enlisting the help of her beloved, deeply eccentric but estranged family?

Published June 8th by Bloomsbury
Pre-order here*

The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane

SYNOPSIS:
There are two sides to every story – and every marriage in crisis . . .

Malcolm, bartender at the Half Moon, has always dreamed of owning a bar, and when his boss finally retires, he seizes his chance. He sees unquantifiable magic and potential in the Half Moon and hopes to make it a bigger success.

His wife, Jess, has devoted herself to her law career, but after years of trying for a baby, she’s struggling to accept the idea that motherhood might not be in her future. She finds herself slipping away from both her career and her marriage. The bar is Malcolm’s dream, and as she feels her youth start to fade, she wonders how to reshape her own life.

When a blizzard hits their upstate New York town on the same day that Malcolm learns some shocking news about Jess, and a regular at the bar goes missing, everyone is frozen in place for a single, pivotal week. In The Half Moon, award-winning author Mary Beth Keane carefully explores a marriage in crisis, what it takes to make a life with another person, and the true meaning of family.

One tumultuous week. One marriage in crisis. One chance to begin again…

Published July 6th by Michael Joseph
Pre-order here*

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

SYNOPSIS:
A rich, compassionate tale of four sisters and the love affair that fractures their family

Best friends and sisters, the four Padavano girls are seen as inseparable by everyone in their close-knit Italian-American neighbourhood. Julia, the eldest, is the ‘rocket’ of the family – she always has a destination in mind and clear plans for how to get there. Sylvie, the dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book, dreaming of the kind of love you only read about in literature. Cecelia and Emmeline, the twins, are the artist and the caregiver. From childhood, the four sisters complete each other.

When Julia falls in love with William Waters, a history student and college sports star, she’s delighted by the way her plans for adulthood are coming to fruition: a husband, a house, a family of her own. But when darkness from William’s past begins to block the light of his future, it is Sylvie, not Julia, who becomes his closest confidante – and the ensuing betrayal tears the sisters apart.

Heart-breaking and heart-mending, HELLO BEAUTIFUL paints a vivid portrait of the unique bond and devastating betrayals of sisterhood.

Published July 13th by Viking
Pre-order here*

The Twilight Garden by Sara Nisha Adams

SYNOPSIS:
Two warring London neighbors unite to resurrect a neglected city garden in this uplifting and quietly joyful novel by Sara Nisha Adams, author of the word-of-mouth hit The Reading List.

Between the houses of No.77 and No.79 on Stoke Newington Green in London, there is a shared garden. It was a beautiful thing once, a little oasis in a bustling city. Now it’s overgrown and neglected, an empty patch of greenery lost to time. But that suits neighbors Winston and Bernice just fine—their houses may share the garden, but they’re not exactly neighborly.

But one day, a mysterious parcel drops through Winston’s door at No.77. It contains no note, only a bundle of photographs of the shared garden many years ago—vibrant with flowers and wildlife, filled with people from every corner of the community. Is someone trying to tell them something?

As a seed is planted. Winston and Bernice lay down their arms and pick up their gardening gloves. As they dig and plant, scrub and water, the garden begins to come out of hibernation—and the frostiness between them slowly begins to thaw. In finding their green fingers, the unlikely pair also start to hatch a bigger plan—could the shared garden help to revive the community spirit that’s been languishing for so long? With a little help from the secret gardener sending the parcels, they’re determined to find out.

Told with warmth and spirit, The Shared Garden is a love letter to the little acts of kindness that can change a life. It’s a story of growth and community, and how when we dig in together, there’s always hope of a brighter future…

Published July 20th by Harper Collins
Pre-order here*

The Apology by Jimin Han

SYNOPSIS:
“Bold, original, and utterly captivating, The Apology is a sweeping intergenerational saga, delivered by one of the sharpest, most memorable voices I’ve ever read. A stunning new novel by a writer whose work I’ve long admired.” –Kirstin Chen, author of Counterfeit

In South Korea, a 105-year-old woman receives a letter. Ten days later, she has been thrust into the afterlife, fighting to head off a curse that will otherwise devastate generations to come.

Jeonga Cha has always shouldered the burden of upholding the family name. When she sent her daughter-in-law to America to cover up an illegitimate birth, she was simply doing what was needed to preserve the reputations of her loved ones. How could she have known that decades later, this decision would return to haunt her–threatening to tear apart her bond with her beloved son, her relationship with her infuriatingly insolent sisters, and the future of the family she has worked so hard to protect?

Part ghost story and part family epic, The Apology is an incisive tale of sisterhood and diaspora, reaching back to the days of Japanese colonialism and the Korean War, and told through the singular voice of a defiant, funny, and unforgettable centenarian.

Published August 1st by Little Brown Book Group
Pre-order here*

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Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments ⬇️

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Welcome to my stop and the final day of the blog tour for this phenomenal novel. Thank you to Michael Joseph Books and Penguin Random House UK for the invitation to take part and for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

A gripping and compassionate drama about two families linked by chance, love and tragedy.

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours.

Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.

It’s left to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will almost be broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all.

A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later…

A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again,Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so.A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.

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MY REVIEW:

This evocative, poignant and breathtaking novel is one that will linger long after reading. The author explores topics such as mental illness, addiction and parental neglect in this story of two families, the Gleesons and the Stanhopes, that are both different yet similar to each other. It follows them from the mid-seventies until present day as they go through the usual ups and downs, alongside a devastating and unimaginable tragedy that encompasses them all. 

I had been eagerly anticipating this book after seeing a lot of hype for it over the past few months, especially after it was chosen by viewers of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel as the summer read of 2019. The only problem with all that anticipation is the worry that it won’t live up to the hype, that you’ll be the black sheep who doesn’t love this book. But I needn’t have worried. Though it started slow, within the first 100 pages I had fallen under the spell of this book. The author writes with beautiful nuance, compassion, sensitivity, warmth and candor. Her characters and their experiences feel authentic.  You can put yourself in their shoes or imagine them being the people next door to you. I was drawn into their world, invested in their lives, and needed to know what the outcome would be for them.

This author has a talent for writing honest, complex and damaged characters. They were all multilayered and could be both ugly and loveable, giving them a realism that helps connect them to the reader. You can hate a behaviour but have some empathy when you can understand how someone reaches a point where they make the wrong choices, even if that doesn’t mean you’re okay with that behaviour. That’s what happened again and again with these characters. It felt like real life, like dealing with people you know. 

The story shifts its focus so that we get the perspective of almost all the members of the two families at various times, which enables us to get to the heart of these characters. A lot of the focus is on Kate and Peter so it is unsurprising that they were the characters I felt most invested in and the greatest empathy for, especially as they are so young when the tragedy occurs. Peter in particular was a character my heart ached for. He goes through so many terrible things that I wondered how he can survive it, but I also saw a resilience in him that told me he would. There are so many things I am longing to say about the other characters, especially Anne, but doing so would mean spoilers, and I don’t like to include those in my reviews, so I won’t say more about them.  But if you’ve read this and want to talk, please DM me. 

Ask Again,Yes is an extraordinary, riveting novel written with compassion, humanity and affection. It is a story of anger, bitterness, tragedy, love, hope and forgiveness. It is a melancholy yet heartwarming tale. It reminds us that ignorance doesn’t always mean bliss, that it can sometimes allow things to fester until they boil over and have far-reaching repercussions. But it also shows us that with understanding, empathy and love, fractured lives can be mended.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Everyone is talking about it, and for very good reason. You should pick it up as soon as possible. 

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

mary beth keane

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary Beth Keane attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia, where she received an MFA. In 2011, she was named one of the National Book Foundation’s ‘5 Under 35,’ and in 2015 she was awarded a John S. Guggenheim fellowship for fiction writing. She currently lives in Pearl River, New York, with her husband and their two sons. She is the author of The Walking People, Fever, and Ask Again, Yes.