The evenings are drawing out, and just like that another month has passed. The leaves of the daffodils have sprouted, their yellow buds consider opening to the cool Spring air. This article takes a look back at the most popular reads in the month of March, and glances forward at the most anticipated books being published in April 2021.
The book publishing industry has been busy this month with several big names releasing big titles. Bookshelves were populated by Leigh Bardugo’s Rule of Wolves, Kate Quinn’s The Rose Code, Stephen King’s Later, and Emma Stonex’s The Lamplighters, to name a few. Perhaps, the most wished-for book was Kazuo Ishiguro’s futuristic novel, Klara and the Sun, published in an unmistakable shade of red by independent publisher Faber and Faber. Whilst March was brimming with books from recognisable names, debut novelist Megan Nolan’s Acts of Desperation was a must-read, honest, and moralistic account of the experience of being a woman in Ireland. March was International Women’s Month, and this book came at a timely moment when women across the UK were speaking up about their lived experiences in a society that still has far to travel before brutality against those most at risk becomes infrequent.
It is pleasing to see that April’s publishing calendar is filled with books by women authors, including a couple of debut appearances. As a person who searches for patterns in most things, this writer could not help but notice the number of Jennifers on this list. If it was a normal April in a normal year - not one disrupted a rabid, mutant virus - I’d like to imagine an army of Jennifers storming into the glass offices of the publishing houses dotted along the Thames, brandishing pointed fountain pens loaded with ink, demanding to sign their author contracts. Perhaps my imagination goes too far, I’m sure these authors that so happened to be named Jennifer are lovely people, as authors often are. So, without further wild imaginings, let’s get down to the purpose of this article - our list of (in our opinion) the most anticipated reads coming to readers in April.
Tall Bones - Anna Bailey
Doubleday - 1st April
Pre-order Tall Bones by Anna Bailey
Let’s start this list off with a debut novel by Anna Bailey. Set in the small town of Whistling Ridge, it is just the beginning of their lives for seventeen year olds Emma and Abi. However, one fateful night starts with a party and ends with a disappearance, which proceeds to unravel the details of the small town’s history. There are questions that need to be answered by those closest to the disappearance, but will this be the spark to ignite the sensitivities of small town rage? Paula Hawkins - author of Girl on the Train - describes this as an “irresistible… psychological thriller suffused with small town prejudice and dark family secrets.”
Of Women and Salt - Gabriela Garcia
Picador - 15th April
Pre-order Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
This is another debut novel from Gabriela Garcia, an award winning writer, whose poetry has been selected for publication in Best American Poetry 2019. This book is split between three different time periods, across three countries, the only link being a single book that is passed down five generations in one family. This is a story about fierce Latina women, and their strength to tell their stories despite those who wish to silence them. Elizabeth Mcneal - author of The Doll Factory - credits this debut as “a book that made me fall in love with reading again.”
The Drowning Kind - Jennifer McMahon
Scout Press - 6th April
Pre-order The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon
This is the first Jennifer to appear on our list of April anticipated reads. Jennifer McMahon is a New York Times bestselling author and author of ten suspense novels. There seems to be a recurring theme of families, so far in this list, as The Drowning Kind tells the story of Jax who returns to her family home amid strange and questionable circumstances - her sister has drowned in the family pool. Classified as a modern-day ghost story, this is a suspense novel that is hauntiny and compulsive. Chris Bohjalian - author of The Flight Attendant - highly praises McMahon as “a worthy descendant of Shirley Jackson,” describing The Drowning Kind as “utterly chilling.”
Big Summer - Jennifer Weiner
Atria Books - 16th April
Pre-order Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
Our second Jennifer on our list is another New York Times bestseller, Jennifer Weiner’s Big Summer is your perfect beach read - provided you can get to a beach. Perhaps, just take the deck chairs out of the garden shed. Daphne, our protagonist, is surprised when her ex beau Drue suddenly waltzes back into her life after all those years separated. Daphne is a plus-sized Instagram influencer, who has come a long way since those days with Drue back in highschool. But, an invitation to a waterfront Cape Cod mansion for the weekend is extremely hard to resist. The Washington Post describes this book as “empowering and surprising - a reminder to put the phone down and enjoy each moment for what it is.”
The Crown of Gilded Bones - Jennifer L. Armentrout
Blue Box Press - 20th April
Readers of the Blood and Ash series will be pleased to know that the third book The Crown of Gilded Bones will be out on April 20th. The third, and final, Jennifer in this list is another New York Times bestselling author, though Jennifer L. Armentrout is most likely a Jennifer for fans of fantasy and stories of regal conquests. This book continues the narrative following Poppy, whose birthright is to wear the gilded crown that will make her the Queen of Flesh and Fire. Poppy has a choice to make, amid quelling a rising threat. By the sounds of it, you wouldn’t want to trade places with Poppy, but that generally means that this certainly will be a thrilling read for fantasy lovers.
The Next Everest - Jim Davidson
St. Martin’s Press - 22nd April
And, just like that, we have moved away from the Jennifers, and simultaneously away from fiction. Jim Davidson tells his dramatic personal account of surviving Mount Everest on one of the mountain’s deadliest days. On April 25th 2015, an earthquake of a 7.8-magnitude released multiple avalanches during Davidson’s ascent, trapping the team at 20,000 feet with no escape route. Not only does this book detail this terrifying story, but also tells of Davidson’s resilience to return to Everest and reach his dream - the summit.
The Dictionary of Lost Words: A Novel - Pip Williams
Chatto & Windus - 8th April
This book is another debut novel, which is an international bestseller. It was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. If all of that doesn’t convince you that you should be reading this book, I’m not sure what else will! The premise of this book is wonderfully unique, and a fictionalised account of an equally intriguing story. Esme is a naturally curious girl, and in 1901, her father and other lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Esme is beneath the sorting table when a slip of paper with the word ‘bondmaid’ printed upon it flutters into her view. She cannot help but claim it. This act is an act that sets in motion a whole new quest - to compile a collection of unrecorded words for The Dictionary of Lost Words.
The Mary Shelley Club - Goldy Moldavsky
Henry Holt & Company - 13th April
Pre-order The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky
If I’m being honest, I’ve included this book on the list because it’s intriguing title caught my eye. However, Goldy Moldavsky is a New York Times bestselling author, and this book is an essential go-to for fans of YA thrillers. This tale is described as “Scream meets Karen McManus,” who is the author of popular books One of Us Is Lying, and Two Can Keep a Secret. The Mary Shelley Club is a group of students that have a common objective - to orchestrate the scariest prank. As you can imagine, this objective sets the narrative up for thrilling escalation, so much so that it literally takes on a life of its own.
Wild Swimming Walks - Cornwall - Matt Newbury
Wild Things - 1st April
I don’t think you will see this book on many April anticipated book lists, but I’m willing to bet that many will be turning to this book for ideas to inspire trips closer to home. This book is part of a series eponymously called Wild Swimming Walks. Featuring twenty-eight days out in Cornwall with downloadable guides and detailed directions, perfect for both families, and lone adventurers. Have you ever wondered why Daphne Du Maurier was so obsessed with Cornwall to the extent of setting most of her books there, even whilst she was living abroad, this book will introduce you to the entrancing coastal Celtic county.