In this week’s rundown of the week’s best reads, the Mirror Book Club’s reviewers look at one of the hottest books of the summer by Kate Reed Petty.
We also look at what could be the thriller of the year and what our book club members have chosen as the latest book of the month.
For all that and more – have a read, and remember to join the Mirror Book Club.
True Story, by Kate Reed Petty
This gripping thriller opens in 1999 as two seniors from a US high school lacrosse team drive a drunk girl home after a party.
When they meet friends later that night, they boast of sexually assaulting her as she lay unconscious in the car.
Their story becomes so elaborate it’s laughed off as drunken nonsense by the rest of the group.
Although the school rumour mill goes into overdrive and the police get involved, enough doubt is cast on the story for it to be hushed up.
Fifteen years later, the original narrator, Nick, a member of the lacrosse team, is an alcoholic, still haunted by the incident.
Then we meet the victim, Alice, who has battled demons of her own since that fateful night. Her friend Haley, a documentary maker, is desperate for Alice to tell her side of the story.
But, like Nick, she struggles to remember what really happened that night. Whose voice can you trust when you don’t trust your own?
True Story unfolds like origami, with so many dizzying twists and turns that every time you think you have a grip on what happened that night, it changes direction again, slipping between horror, memoir, domestic noir and thriller. Clever and inventive, this is a supremely accomplished debut.
BY MERNIE GILMORE
Sweet Sorrow, by David Nicholls
In this tender, bittersweet tale about the power of first love, it’s 1997 and Charlie Lewis is 16. He is apprehensive about the future and unhappy at home since his parents’ divorce.
Then by chance he meets Fran Fisher who is taking part in an amateur production of Romeo And Juliet. Charlie is so keen to see Fran again he joins the cast and their relationship develops against the backdrop of his difficult home life.
Later, Charlie looks back on the promise of what could have been in a beautiful but almost painfully nostalgic coming-of-age story.
BY MERNIE GILMORE
Diamonds At The Lost And Found, by Sarah Aspinall
Fourth Estate, £14.99
In this delicious memoir, Aspinall charts her relationship with mum Audrey, an endearing chancer born into poverty in 1930s Liverpool, who always felt destined for glitzier things.
After Aspinall’s dad died when she was seven, her mother’s quest for excitement and love took them around the world via the stately homes of England, veering from luxury to poverty. Aspinall wonderfully evokes her late 1950s-60s childhood. Though Audrey’s parenting is shocking at times, this is a warm portrait of a loving mother.
BY CAROLINE SANDERSON
The Pull Of The Stars, by Emma Donoghue
This eerily timely read is set during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 Dublin and captures 48 hours in the life of Nurse Julia Power as she runs a makeshift maternity ward in a cupboard for pregnant women who have “the grip” and must give birth under quarantine.
It’s a gripping account of Julia’s fight to save the lives of her patients. And the stakes are high in her tiny room where small acts of heroism make all the difference.
BY LIJA KRESOWATY
Death In The East, by Abir Mukherjee
Harvill Secker, £8.99
Captain Sam Wyndham steps off a train in Assam to be treated for opium addiction at a spiritual hermitage and spots a ghost from his past, the killer of an old flame. Wyndham unmasked him but thought he was now dead. Fearing the killer plans revenge, the captain enlists help from Calcutta CID colleague Sergeant Banerjee.
In a story rich in historical detail and intrigue, spending time with Wyndham and Banerjee is a joy. This is a contender for thriller of the year.
BY JON COATES
Join the Mirror Book Club
There’s never been a better time to get lost in a good book… so we’d love you to join the friendly Mirror Book Club community on Facebook.
Members share thoughts on the current book of the month, post other recommendations and exchange book news and views.
There are regular giveaways too.
Mirror Book Club members have chosen The Dutch House by Ann Patchett as the latest book of the month.
Danny grew up in The Dutch House with big sister Maeve who has been a surrogate mother since their real mother walked out.
Then their father dies and Andrea, their wicked stepmother, forces the siblings out of the house. But they never shake off their obsession with the family home and the woman who wronged them.
We follow their fortunes over the decades as Maeve’s life stalls and Danny’s flourishes.
But their unbreakable bond is tested when the past comes back to haunt them. We’d love you to give The Dutch House a read and let the Mirror Book Club
know what you think at facebook.com/groups/mirrorbookclub.
We’ll print your feedback on August 21.