March’s Best New Fiction

This month brings us tales of witches, espionage, and a Downton Abbey-esque love triangle, as well as an oral history of the dramatic break-up of a wildly famous 1970s band. Across the pond in England, you’ll fall head over heels for Queenie in a debut that’s been called Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah. Lastly, grab your tissues for emotional stories about families in crises from Jess Blackadder and Danielle Steel.

Silent Night, by Danielle Steel
Fans of Steel’s recent novels The Cast and Beauchamp Hall in particular will love her latest, also set in the world of TV. After a tragic car accident, nine-year-old child star Emma loses her mother, relentless stage mom Paige, whose own parents were considered Hollywood legends. Emma is sent to live with her Aunt Whitney, a down-to-earth, accomplished psychiatrist who was never comfortable with the family’s celebrity status. But the physical and mental trauma from the accident has irrevocably altered the once-bubbly, outgoing little girl, and it will take every ounce of strength and love Whitney possesses to bring Emma back.

Daisy Jones & The Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Fresh off the success of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Reid returns with a 1970s-set story reminiscent of the rise and break-up of Fleetwood Mac. Via interview transcripts, readers learn how the brilliant, fiery Daisy Jones joined forces with up-and-coming band The Six to form an iconic, larger-than-life group. The Six’s leader, Billy Dunne, isn’t prepared for Daisy to challenge his authority or decisions, and her actions may have inspired his other bandmates to rebel, too.  There’s enough drama, sex, drugs, and betrayals in this rock documentary to power a small country, all centered on the book’s main question: What tore the band apart at the height of their success?

The Witch’s Kind, by Louisa Morgan
Witches are often metaphors for women distrusted by society, and Morgan (A Secret History of Witches) uses that tension to great effect in this World War II-era family story. Barrie Anne and her aunt Charlotte live alone in a small Pacific Northwest town that views them with suspicion, and when they take in an abandoned baby who appears to share their supernatural powers, they feel a fierce need to protect the child. Then Barrie Anne’s abusive husband shows up, and the women must determine the lengths they’re willing to go to for autonomy and self-determination.

The Parade, by Dave Eggers
Two foreign contractors are sent to pave a road meant to unite the people of an unnamed country ravaged by a decade-long civil war. Known only as Four and Nine, the contractors are opposites in every way; rule-abiding Four wants to get in and out as swiftly as possible, while wild-card Nine insists on exploring the local nightlife and meandering onto any path that entices him. Nine’s irresponsible and reckless behavior quickly causes problems above and beyond the chaos that awaits the two men. Eggers has spent time in the Sudan, which may have helped inspire this allegorical tale that poses the question, are outsiders capable of strengthening another country’s fragile peace?

Crown Jewel, by Christopher Reich
Last year’s The Take introduced readers to thief-turned-corporate-spy Simon Riske, a high-end problem solver who lives for the thrill of the chase. After all, to catch a criminal, you’ve got to think like one, and Simon’s shady past proves the perfect training ground for his latest caper. The manager of a casino in luxurious Monte Carlo hires Riske to figure out who’s been ripping off the establishment—to the tune of millions—and how the heists tie together with a recent murder and kidnapping. Fast cars, stunning locales, mobsters around every corner, and a mysterious woman who may or may not be royalty, make for a slick and compelling read.

The Parting Glass, by Gina Marie Guadagnino
A sexy historical debut set in 1830s New York City, Glass is perfect for fans of Sarah Waters and centers on a tortured, passionate love triangle. When siblings Maire and Seanin O’Farren arrived from Ireland, by necessity they assumed British personas to find work. Rechristened Mary and Johnny, respectively, they are both hiding illicit secrets that could ruin their lives and positions, not the least of which is that lady’s maid Mary is deeply in love with her gorgeous, wealthy employer, Charlotte. Unbeknownst to Charlotte, the stable groom with whom she’s having an affair—facilitated by Mary—is Mary’s brother. An irresistible tale of forbidden love, family loyalty, the criminal underworld, and the risks we take to protect the people we cherish.

Me For You, by Lolly Winston
It’s been nearly a year since fifty-something Rudy became a widower. Having left the world of finance for a job playing piano at Nordstrom’s, he gains a friend in Sasha, a co-worker from the watch department who appreciates his music. Their tentative connection makes him feel as though he’s betraying his wife, however, and his guilt only intensifies as the anniversary of his wife’s death draws closer. When the police inform him that foul play was involved, his world is altered once again, obliterating any clear path forward. As with Good Grief, Winston’s bestselling debut, Me For You provides a sympathetic voice to those who’ve loved and lost but aren’t yet down for the count.

In the Blink of an Eye, by Jess Blackadder
Transplanted from Tasmania to New South Wales to care for an ailing relative, the Brennan family has barely settled in to their new home when their toddler son drowns in the backyard pool. In light of the tragedy, parents Bridget and Finn turn on each other, and their surviving son, teenaged Jarrah, already the victim of bullies, must navigate the harrowing reality of Before and After. Blackadder gives a POV to each family member, whose grief, pain, hopelessness, and rage are deftly and emotionally rendered.

Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams
This debut looks to be a blistering and blisteringly funny take on modern life and love. Queenie is a whip smart but foundering Jamaican-British journalist trying to figure out her next move after being dumped by her long-term white boyfriend. As she fumbles to make sense of her twenties, her increasingly frustrating job, and the racial politics that surround her everywhere she goes, her judgmental family dismisses Queenie’s interest in receiving psychotherapy, since they view Queenie’s problems as trivial. Will her trio of tight-knit friends and a series of questionable one-night stands see her through?

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