Here are a few more books from the arrivals pile for your delectation:
Mesmerized by Alissa Walser, translated by Jamie Bulloch, is "a luminous, sensual tale of an episode in the lives of Franz Anton Mesmer and a blind musical prodigy". Set in Vienna and beginning in 1777 in a world of scientific experimentation and courtly intrigue, its focus is on Mesmer's controversial, alternative cures for body and mind and what happens when he is asked to help restore the sight of a blind musician favoured by the Empress. Fame is within his grasp, but at what cost?
The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber is a novel written in blank verse, "an enthralling, innovative and exceptionally accomplished debut which combines the grip of a thriller with the emotional force of a sonnet". It concerns the death in a tavern brawl of playwright Christopher Marlowe on the 30th. of May, 1593, but here his demise is revealed as an elaborate ruse to avoid being convicted of heresy, and spirited off to lonely exile, he continues to write, "hiding behind the name of a colourless man from Stratford - one William Shakespeare".
Beautiful Lies by Clare Clark is set in 1887, the year of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, a time of economic uncertainty, riots and tabloid scandal-mongering. Its central character is Maribel Campbell Lowe, the wife of a radical MP, but she's very much a person in her own right, outspoken, opinionated, passionate and intent on making her mark in the world. However, Maribel has a secret, and when a notorious newspaper editor takes an interest in her .... well, we shall see what happens. (I'm about a quarter of the way through this book and enjoying it hugely.)
John Mullan's What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved offers an intriguing analysis of the world of Jane Austen's novels to show that her brilliance can best be appreciated by looking at "the quirks and intricacies of her fiction". Do we ever see the lower classes? What do characters read? Why is it risky to go to the seaside, and how experimental a novelist is Jane Austen? The answers to these questions and many more are to be found in this new book by the Professor of English at UCL.
An Absolute Deception by Lesley Lokko is "a spellbinding tale of secrets, love and friendship", a blockbuster of a novel set in the world of fashion. Anneliese Zander de St. Phalle is one of the world's most celebrated designers with a global empire to match, but she's also a reclusive perfectionist who rarely gives interviews and never talks about her past. Then at a party at her island hideaway, a woman whom Anneliese has done her best to forget appears and brings with her a story that demands to be told; the past is now part and parcel of the present.
Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos, translated by Rosalind Harvey, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award last year and was a great hit with readers including book groups. At under a hundred pages, it's "an exquisite little fable about Mexico's narcoculture", a darkly comic chronicle of "a delirious journey to grant a child's wish" when young Tochtli, son of a drug baron, wants more than anything else to have a pygmy hippo from Liberia for his private zoo!