July 2020 Books

What’s new and good to read this month? Annakarin Klerfalk has a look at what’s on offer and chooses three good reads for July. Rodham, Utopia Avenue and Miss Benson’s Beetle are all out in July.

Rodham

Curtis Sittenfeld is best known for her novels American Wife, Sisterland and Eligible. Now she is back with Rodham, the intimate story of Hillary Rodham: What if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton?

The novel begins at Yale Law School in 1970, where she met Bill for the first time. Hillary tells us about their powerful connection that leads her to move to Arkansas to be with Bill after law school. What makes Rodham a stunning achievement is how Sittenfeld entwines real events into her own fiction as we follow Hillary over the next four decades as she makes her own path into the political scene. Rodham is published by Doubleday on 9 July.

Utopia Avenue

Fans of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks have waited a long time for David Mitchell’s new novel, Utopia Avenue. A tale of 1968’s rock ‘n’ roll, the story of Utopia Avenue emerges from a band of four unforgettable characters. Each chapter is a song title and the book captures the band members’ turbulent times of drugs, dreams, madness and stardom. Mitchell asks the question: Can we really change the world, or does the world change us?

Tony Parsons reviewed it as “The great rock and roll novel – an epic love letter to the greatest music ever made and the book the music has always deserved.”  Utopia Avenue is published on 14 July.

Miss Benson’s Beetle

Rachel Joyce has written plays for BBC Radio 4 and her debut novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, was on the longlist for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. Now she is back with Miss Benson’s Beetle – an uplifting story about the belief of what can be found.

The novel opens in 1950, when Margery Benson gives up her day job to go on a major expedition. She advertises for an assistant to join her and ends up with Enid Pretty; Margery’s least likely choice. They travel to the other side of the world in the search for a beetle that may or may not exist. The journey makes them risk everything, break rules and, most importantly, discover their best selves.

Sarah Winman, bestselling author of When God was a Rabbit, said “Rachel Joyce is a masterful storyteller. She has written the perfect book for these times. Funny, perceptive and life-enhancing. I urge you to read it.” Miss Benson’s Beetle is out on 23 July.

Annakarin Klerfalk

Anna is a literary agent based in Chiswick who is keen to hear from authors trying to get their books published. Contact her on anna@intersaga.co.uk. She used to run the Waterstones bookshop in Chiswick. You can read more about her and Intersaga here.

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See more of Anna’s book choices here

Read about the annual Chiswick Book Festival here