August 2023 books

What’s new and good to read this month? Dan Coombes has a look at what’s on offer and chooses The Normal Rules Don’t Apply by Kate Atkinson, Tom Lake by Anne Patchett and Bridge by Lauren Beuke.

The Normal Rules Don’t Apply – Kate Atkinson

The author of recent bestseller Shrines Of Gaiety and the multi-award winning classic Life After Life has written her first short story collection in two decades – an ingenious collection of linked tales that showcase her mastery of comedy, poignancy and the intertwining of the ordinary and the extraordinary to full effect.

We meet a queen who makes a bargain she cannot keep; a secretary who watches over the life she has just left; a man whose luck changes when a horse speaks to him. With clockwork intricacy, inventiveness and sharp social observation, Kate Atkinson conjures a feast for the imagination, a constantly changing multiverse in which nothing is quite as it seems.

Images above: The Normal Rules Don’t Apply front cover, author Kate Atkinson

Tom Lake – Anne Patchett

The latest from another contemporary fiction heavyweight with shelf-loads of awards to their name. Her last book – The Dutch House – is a tough act to follow but this is another insightful, beautiful and just very slightly heartbreaking look at the many-faceted human soul.

This is a story about Peter Duke who went on to be a famous actor. This is a story about falling in love with Peter Duke who wasn’t famous at all. It’s about falling so wildly in love with him – the way one will at twenty-four – that it felt like jumping off a roof at midnight.

There was no way to foresee the mess it would come to in the end. It’s spring and Lara’s three grown daughters have returned to the family orchard. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the one story they’ve always longed to hear – of the film star with whom she shared a stage, and a romance, years before.

Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents lead before their children are born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart. ‘One of our greatest living chroniclers of love and marriage.

Images above: Tom Lake front cover, author Anne Patchett

Bridge – Lauren Beukes

Lauren Beukes is a truly great, genre-hopping author. She’s written crime thrillers, dystopian fiction, stories from the end of the world, all just a little bit twisted and strange. Her latest is a very exciting prospect for anyone looking for something gripping and different that tilts the real world on its head in the best possible way.

Bridge desperately wants to see her mother again, and she’ll do anything, risk anything, including using a half remembered, half-believed gateway to other lives and worlds from her childhood.

But there are others who believe in it too. Some want to possess it for themselves, while a few know it’s their duty to destroy anyone it touches. Bridge? She just wants to find her mother.

Images above: Bridge front cover, Author Lauren Beukes

Dan Coombes’ Books of the month

Dan Coombes is a bookseller at Bookcase, an independent bookshop open in Chiswick since 1993. A specialist in science fiction, Dan has been a bookseller for 15 years.

Bookcase is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme – see their current discounts for Chiswick Calendar readers here: Bookcase Club Card offer.

See all The Chiswick Calendar’s previous monthly book reviews here.