Sometimes even the most disciplined and focused person needs to take their attention away from their work. There is nothing wrong with a good box set or a great movie, but perhaps the greatest escape of all is to lose yourself in a good book. No adverts, no continuity errors, just you and the author telling you the story. 

With that in mind, here are three new works on the literary scene that you can jump headfirst into this March. 

The Ship by Antonia Honeywell is strictly part of the young adult genre, but like other masterpieces, it transcends the niche. It artfully taps directly into many of our modern anxieties. The world it portrays begins in a post-apocalyptic London, littered with landmarks from the present day including a burned-out Oxford Street and a British Museum full of belligerent squatters. 

Our protagonist, the teenage Lalla, has been spared the material fears and deprivations by her politician father. The only trouble is that now he wants a chosen few hundred people to board the Ship together and set sail for a Utopia. The fact that the location and means of achieving the Utopia are unclear does not appear to phase him. 

What will become of Lalla as the social dynamics of this bottled post-disaster society roil? How long can even this small peace last? 

If you love to be unsettled, turn your attention to The Whisper Man by Alex North. A young bereaved widower moves to a rural village with his motherless son, to seek a new life and a new start. They do not know or consider that several little boys once went missing from the town. It was long ago and there haven’t been any recent repeats. That won’t last for long. 

You breathlessly follow along with Tom Kennedy,  the young father, Willis the policeman and Jake Kennedy, the motherless little boy. You will be on the edge of your seat, praying that the killer is caught and the mystery is solved before it’s too late. 

For a book that allows you to dabble in the fantastical, choose Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield. You join a group of storytellers at the ancient Swan Inn on the banks of the Thames river and are drawn into the banter and patter of the patrons with the stout landlady. In the pitch-black river, a horrible discovery is made. A body is hauled from the water, the body of a child. The patrons, the worse for wear, try to revive the child but to no avail. Under the eye of an amateur scientist and healer, the child stirs. 

Set in the age of Darwinist curiosity, the witnesses wonder. Have they seen a miracle or a scientific marvel? As the days go on the little girl remains mute but several very different people arrive to claim her. Go on the journey of discovering the truth. 

Time spent in an armchair with any one of these books would be spent in the best possible company, and refresh you for a new perspective in the spring. 


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