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This month we are starting with Shuggie Bain the debut novel by Douglas Stuart. All the books in my chain this month are also debut novels!
Shuggie Bain tells the story of the love that a young boy has for his addicted and desperate mother as he grows up in poverty in Glasgow. The book has been greeted with fantastic critical and commercial success and won the Booker Prize in 2020.
Another debut novel featuring a young boy which won the Booker Prize is The Bone People by New Zealand author Kerri Hulme. This experimental and ambitious book focuses on the relationship between three characters: Kerewin, an artist and hermit, a mute boy called Simon and his Maori foster father Joe.
Muteness also features in The House of Spirits the first book by Isabelle Allende, her sprawling magic realist story of four generations of the Trueba family. Clara del Valle is shocked into muteness upon the death of her sister Rosa the Beautiful. She only speaks again when she accepts a proposal of marriage from Rosa’s one time fiancée Esteban Trueba.In the Hollywood adaptation of The House of Spirits, Esteban was played by Jeremy Irons.
Jeremey Irons also starred in the Louis Malle movie adaptation of Damage by Josephine Hart. In this erotically charged debut novel, an unnamed politician, in the prime of his life, begins an obsessive sexual relationship with his son’s fiancée. The actions resulting from this toxic love triangle will devastate the lives of all involved.
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan also features a love triangle, albeit of a less dramatic nature. Set in Hong Kong, the book follows Ava, a Dubliner who is teaching English to children. She begins an unfulfilling relationship with Julian, an upper-class English banker and soon moves into his plush apartment where she lives rent-free. When Julian leaves on a business trip, Ava Meets Edith, a Hong Kong native who is just as posh as Julian, but who stirs Ava’s complex emotions. When Julian returns, Ava has a hard decision to make.
Another debut novel which features a teacher in Hong Kong is The Piano Teacher by Janice Y K Lee. In 1951, Claire Pendleton travels from London to Hong Kong when her husband is posted there. She gets a job teaching piano to the daughter of a wealthy couple called the Chen’s. As she grows to love this strange city, she embarks on an affair with Will, a handsome charmer who is the Chen’s chauffeur.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler was his first book and the first outing for iconic detective Philip Marlowe who has been hired by the wealthy General Sternwood, whose daughter is being blackmailed. This complex tale of intrigue and murder also features a chauffeur, who is killed when his car mysteriously plunges off a pier.
So there we have it. Seven debuts that take us from Glasgow to New Zealand, South America, London, Hong Kong and Los Angeles!
Have you read any of my choices?
Next month’s starting point is Beezus and Ramona, in honour of Beverly Cleary (May 1, 2021).
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!