The autumn nights are closing in and before we have even had Halloween work colleagues are confessing to have bought "one or two" Christmas presents. Book sales surge at Christmas, and even with the dreaded Kindle competition people still like to buy a book as a gift.
Ross O'Carroll-Kelly, the D4 rugby head created by journalist Paul Howard is widely popular. His newly released Downturn Abbey has gone straight to the top of the bestsellers list and will be in many stockings this Christmas. I'm not a fan of the character myself but there is no doubting Howard's ability to perfectly conjure up the extremes of accent heard on the North and South side of the city and the satirical look at the changes seen during the decline and fall of Ireland after the millennium.
Downturn Abbey is published by Penguin.
Bishop's Move is the first novel by Irish Times public affairs correspondent Colm Keena. He brings to this most excellent story his knowledge of current affairs in relation to the church in modern day Ireland. It is almost unexpected that the tale of a cleric should become so absorbing. Keena's writing is precise and sure without losing out on emotion or essential detail. The main character is somewhat enigmatic in his unpredictable actions in relation to events that unfurl. At just 192 pages the novel wraps up the tale in a satisfying way but still leaves you wanting more. A thoughtful and intelligent read which is highly recommended.
Bishop's Move is published by Somerville Press.
Another excellent read is Catherine Dunne's new novel The Things We Know Now. To describe it as heartbreaking is not overstating the power of this tragic story. Opening with a shocking event, we learn of the ways in which a family can be pulled to its extremes by both internal and external events. At the story's heart is Patrick, the older parent who has been given a second chance at happiness. The events that are revealed are both upsetting and disturbing but the reader is drawn forward by Dunne's excellent writing which never turns to set phrases or easy escapes from the harsh reality of the story she tells.
The Things We Know Now is published by PanMacMillan.
For the younger teen readers, John Boyne's Stay Where You Are and Then Leave ticks all the right boxes. A well known name after the global success of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Boyne again turns to history to explore the story of a young boy during the First World War. With a father who went to fight 'on a special, secret mission' but has not been heard from now for years, an unexpected sighting of his father's name while in a London station leads his son Alfie to investigate. That his father is actually near by and in a hospital brings about a most unusual father and son story which involves a secret.
Published by Doubleday.
Finally, one of the Booker nominated novels The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Writing this article on the evening when the winner will be announced I look forward to the big reveal. If readers are put off by a book's length then they will run a mile from this one. At 832 pages in the hardback version it is a tad intimidating. I will be honest and admit that I have not yet finished it. It needs long sessions of uninterrupted focus to really absorb yourself in the tale of nineteenth century New Zealand and the newly emerging communities as man arrive to make their fortune in the goldfields. We follow Walter Moody as he arrives in the midst of a secret gathering where unsolved crimes are being discussed- the disappearance of a wealthy man, the attempted suicide of a whore and the discovery of a very large sum of money in the home of a down-and-out drunk. Drawn into this mystery we follow Moody through Catton's interconnected storytelling. A hefty book to hold but worth the effort of the read.
The Luminaries is published by Granta.