20 fiction fireside reads for every taste this autumn

The new “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” brings with it a bumper crop of excellent new novels in all genres. Here’s a selection of the top 20 fiction titles coming our way in autumn. There’s something here for everyone, whatever your tastes might be.

Girl by Edna O’Brien (Faber €18.99), her 19th novel at the age of 88, is the story of Maryam, a young Nigerian girl abducted by Boko Haram jihadists. Maryam flees from her captors and her harrowing recollections are based on the true experiences of escaped Boko Haram survivors.

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Andreas Norman’s The Silent War (riverrun €17.99) is a contemporary story of a different kind of treachery; that which is secretly inflicted on Syrian political prisoners by the UK military. This dark tale of international espionage set in Brussels has already garnered rave reviews.

Thriller writer Robert Harris publishes The Second Sleep (Hutchinson €15.99) (see review on opposite page) this month, about a young 15th century priest, who arrives in an Exmoor village to bury his predecessor. As he learns more about the deceased Father Lacy, Fairfax will find his faith very severely tested.

Sophie White’s very funny debut, Filter This (Hachette €12.99) follows the fortunes and misfortunes of Instagram influencer Ali Jones, hellbent on gaining 10,000 followers. She’ll stop at nothing to achieve her target, even if she has to tell a few porkers about being pregnant to do so.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale is also out this month. The publication of The Testaments (Random House €19.99) is being hailed as “the literary event of the year” and takes up Offred’s story 15 years on. It has already made the Booker 2019 shortlist.

Another eagerly awaited sequel is Emer McLysaght’s and Sarah Breen’s Once, Twice, Three Times an Aisling (Michael Joseph €14.99). As Aisling hits her 30th birthday she struggles with the “notions” of being a proper grown-up. Irresistible fun.

Sequels continue to be the trend into October, starting with Heather Morris’s harrowing sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Cilka’s Journey (Zaffre €18.99) finds Cilka, after her liberation, being charged by the Russians as a collaborator and imprisoned once again, this time in Siberia. And once again she must find the will to survive.

Fans of Patrick McCabe’s The Butcher Boy can re-encounter Francie in his sequel, The Big Yaroo (New Island €14.95). Francie is in Dundrum Mental Hospital, passing the time by producing his own magazine, which he has titled The Big Yaroo. His transfer to Portrane is inevitable, but in the meantime he’s keeping himself busy. Whether he is rehabilitated or not is… well, you’ll just have to read it.

Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being A Wallflower publishes a very different kind of novel this year. Imaginary Friend (Orion €21) is in essence a horror story about little Christopher Reese, aged just seven, who goes missing in the town he’s recently moved to. He emerges six days later, unharmed but utterly changed and obsessed with building a tree house in the local woods, which must be finished by Christmas. A long and terrifying read.

Eithne Shortall’s new novel Three Little Truths (Corvus €14.99) follows the lives of three female friends who live on the picture-perfect Pine Road. But behind their pretty front doors things are less than pretty, as secrets and lies abound.

Secrets and lies are also the stuff of The Lying Room by Nicci French (Simon & Schuster €16.99). Neve Connolly, loving mother, wife and trusted colleague, discovers the body of a man she knows. And she doesn’t tell a soul…

Deirdre Purcell’s new novel is destined to be another hit. That Christmas Wedding (Hachette €14.99) concerns the bonds of motherhood as Grace and her flighty adult daughter Leonie take some mother-daughter time out on a winter cruise, with interesting and unforeseen consequences.

Andrea Carter is another Irish author with a new novel out in October. The Body Falls (Constable €15.99) is Carter’s fifth Inishowen Mystery. When a body falls – literally – on to the bonnet of the local vet’s jeep, Ben O’Keeffe, just returned from sunny Florida, finds she’s in the thick of another murder mystery. And it’s more murder mystery, this time set in an old haunted house in 1917, that is WC Ryan’s A House of Ghosts (Zaffre €16.99). A group of spiritualists gather in Blackwater Abbey, off the coast of Devon, to hold a seance. And one of them ends up murdered.

Cathy Kelly’s The Family Gift (Orion €15.99) concerns itself with Freya Abalone’s blended family, one that muddles along nicely until her husband’s ex returns from abroad to claim the child she abandoned.

Michael Connelly’s The Night Fire (Orion €15.99), a Bosch and Ballard thriller, concerns the cold case of a murder of a young man in an alley 20 years ago. Why did Bosch’s old LAPD mentor take the case notes on this murder with him when he retired? Over on the east coast, Olive Kitteridge is still stumbling through the complexities of her life and her second marriage in Elizabeth Strout’s exquisite Olive, Again (Viking €20).

Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley (John Murray €15.99) depicts the grief of the Willoughbys when they lose their son Ewan, aged five. Starve Acre, their house on the moors, has morphed from a happy family home into a bleak and haunted house.

November is publication month for The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Harvill Secker €15.99) beginning with Zachary Ezra Rawlins discovering an old book in his college library which contains many fantastic adventure stories, but also a specific story from his past. He embarks on a fantastical adventure of his own to find out more.

And finally Pete Townshend (yes, that Pete Townshend) publishes his first novel in November. The Age of Anxiety (Coronet €23.99) is a novel about music, drugs, genius and madness and is destined to sell by the truckload.

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