I'm not going to beat about the bush here; I'll just say that Bodies of Light, the new novel by Sarah Moss, deserves to go straight to the top of your 'must read' lists.
This is a very fine work indeed: tightly controlled and restrained, and all the more powerful for it; elegant, eloquent; founded on careful research, every fact used with skill and precision to make a point - and there are many to be made in this novel which is concise and self-contained but universal in its themes.
It is the story of Alethea Moberley, sister of May from the historical strand of Night Waking, but it is also an account of the position of women in society in the second half of the 19th. century, of their rights and educational opportunities (or lack of same), of their gradual incursion into the world of medicine*, and of family life and maternal feeling and failings.
I could go into greater detail regarding the measured plot, the characters who are all seen in relation to Alethea, the clever use of her father's paintings as allegory/commentary, the chilling epigraph which sets the tone ... but suffice to say there is a sequel in the offing, and that is good news on many counts, but chiefly - and simply - because this book is first class.