#FridayReads 2021-07-16 ‘The High House’, ‘Featherweight’ and ‘Summerwater’

This week’s books have all been published within the last year. From a genre point of view, they’re a mixed bag: one is Science Fiction, one is Historical Fiction and one is a Thriller. Another way of looking at them is that they’re all Literary Fiction wrapped in attention-getting Genre coats. I hope this means that they’re well-written AND imaginative.

Anyway, they all have attractive covers and intriguing premises so I’m hoping it’s going to be an entertaining week.

‘The High House’ by Jessie Greengrass (2021)

‘The High House’ is one of my ‘Ten Portals To Other Worlds’ that I’m reading for my Science Fiction Summer. It’s part of that growing Speculative Fiction sub-genre, Climate Fiction or Cli Fi. By now we can all see climate change coming. Many of us can see that it’s not a topic that governments are going to deal with effectively and some are us are starting to wonder what, if anything, we can do to be prepared.

‘The High House’ tells the story of what happens when a scientist who has seen the climate crisis coming and made her preparations, takes her makeshift family to the home she has prepared, part Arc and part Bunker, to survive the oncoming storm.

I’m hoping for something thoughtful and beautiful. I’m reconciled to the idea that it will also probably be very sad.

Featherweight’ by Mick Kitson (2021)

I read Mick Kitson’s debut novel, Sal’ back in 2018 and thought it was wonderful. It was about Sal, a thirteen-year-old girl who, after months of planning, has fled with her ten-year-old sister, Peppa, from their home in Glasgow to the forests of the Scottish Highlands, where, with a Bear Grylls knife, a compass, waterproofs, a first aid kit and what she’s learned from the SAS Survival Handbook and watching YouTube videos, she intends to survive.

‘Featherweight’ also has a young girl as the main character but this time it’s a Romani girl, born towards the end of the nineteenth century, who is sold to a bare-knuckle fighter and ends up becoming one herself.

I’m hoping for a well-written adventure, with a main character I can cheer for and an historical setting I can believe in.

‘Summerwater by Sarah Moss (2020)

This will be my first Sarah Moss book. I’ve had her earlier novel, ‘The Tidal Zone’ languishing on my shelf unread since 2017. This fact triggered one of those internal debates that I suspect only bookish introverts like me have.

It started with the compulsive part of me insisting ‘You should read the other one first. It will give you context. And anyway, why buy another book from an author when you haven’t read the last one?’ It ended with the more relaxed, new, I’m-a-retired-man-who-reads-for-pleasure me replying, ‘This one is set in the summer. It’s only about 200 pages long and it’s what I’m in the mood for, so shut it.’ Sometimes I think that the new retired me isn’t as relaxed as he claims to be.

Anyway, what I’m hoping for here is an intense, beautifully written, more than a little menacing, read that feels contemporary and closely observed.

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