Annalena McAfee Harvil Secker, £16.99
At 60, Eve Laing is a famous artist in crisis.
She’s working on what she believes is a masterpiece, FG보드 but her marriage has ended in divorce. As she journeys across one December evening, she looks back on her life, from her art-school days and FG보드 an affair with a Lucian Freud-like older man to her time in New York and rise as an edgy painter.
Above all, FG보드 she dwells on her fatal romance with a handsome studio assistant.
McAfee’s engaging novel combines a dark plot with a zestful skewering of the contemporary art world.
And Their Children After Them
Nicolas Mathieu Sceptre £16.99
Mathieu won France’s prestigious Goncourt prize for this absorbing Nineties narrative set in a French valley community left stranded by the decline of industry.
It’s loosely centred on Antoine, 14, who escapes his warring parents to dabble with booze and FG보드 girls.
When he borrows his dad’s motorbike to get to a party without asking, only to wake up to find it stolen, we’re primed to expect a plot-driven coming-of-age drama.
Instead, the novel unspools in more leisurely fashion as a multi-viewpoint panorama of thwarted aspirations, spiced with breathy sex scenes and nostalgic detail.
My Dark Vanessa
Kate Elizabeth Russell Fourth Estate £12.99
Shy Vanessa Wye is just 15 when 42-year-old Jacob Strane, her English teacher at an elite New England boarding school, starts paying her special attention. Plying her with poetry, he insists she’s a ‘dark romantic’ like him; a torrid affair ensues.
Fast-forward 17 years and with the #MeToo movement gathering pace, another former pupil has accused Strane of sexual assault, forcing Vanessa to rethink what she’s always told herself was a formative love affair.
Plunging deep into questions of consent and agency, this electric debut is as readable as it is psychologically acute.