March 2023 books

What’s new and good to read this month? Dan Coombes has a look at what’s on offer and chooses Old Babes In The Wood, Old God’s Time and The Sinister Booksellers Of Bath.

Old Babes In The Wood

A magnificent new collection of short stories from one of the greatest storytellers of the last five decades, winner of more awards than you can shake a bookmark at and author of the phenomenally successful The Handmaid’s Tale. Something new from Margaret Atwood is always a huge event.

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.

Images above: Old Babes In The Wood, author Margaret Atwood

Old God’s Time

A sublime author, and strangely underrated for a multiple award winner, Sebastian Barry’s first standalone novel in fifteen years is an absolute treat.

Recently retired policeman Tom Kettle is settling into the quiet of his new home, a lean-to annexed to a Victorian castle overlooking the Irish Sea. For months he has barely seen a soul, catching only glimpses of his eccentric landlord and a nervous young mother who has moved in next door.
Occasionally, fond memories return, of his family, his beloved wife June and their two children. But when two former colleagues turn up at his door with questions about a decades-old case, one which Tom never quite came to terms with, he finds himself pulled into the darkest currents of his past. A beautiful, haunting novel, in which nothing is quite as it seems, Old God’s Time is about what we live through, what we live with, and what may survive of us.

Images above: Old God’s Time, author Sebastian Barry

The Sinister Booksellers Of Bath

Sequel to the fantastic The Left-Handed Booksellers Of London and featuring magical booksellers who guard 1980s England against the supernatural strangeness of the mythical Old World, surely no fantasy-loving bookseller could resist recommending this…

There is often trouble of a mythical sort in Bath. The booksellers who police the Old World keep a careful watch there, particularly on the entity who inhabits the ancient hot spring.

It comes from the discovery of a sorcerous map, leading left-handed bookseller Merlin into great danger. A desperate rescue is attempted by his sister the right-handed bookseller Vivien and their friend, art student Susan Arkshaw, who is still struggling to deal with her own recently discovered magical heritage. The map takes the trio to a place separated from this world, maintained by deadly sorcery performed by an Ancient Sovereign and guarded by monstrous living statues of Purbeck marble…

Images above: The Sinister Booksellers of Bath, author Garth Nix

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.

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

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