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Delve into fictional families with these five new books

Delve into fictional families with these five new books

At this time of year, our lives revolve around family, as do these new novels, for better or worse.

Watching You, Lisa Jewell

The British author’s last novel, Then She Was Gone, was by far and away the year’s most popular thriller, and remains on the bestseller list eight months after its release. Fans have a treat in store with Watching You, her 16th novel. Joey and her hapless new husband move in with her older brother and his wife on a posh Bristol street. Soon she’s nursing a serious crush on Tom, the head of the local high school, with a much younger wife and a son who spies on the neighbours. Across the way lives Jenna and her delusional mum. We know there will be a murder. But which of these characters (if any) is the victim? Jewell keeps us waiting.


The Dakota Winters, Tom Barbash

The Winters include 23-year-old son Anton, recovering from malaria acquired in Gabon during his stint with the Peace Corps; father Buddy, a late-night talk-show personality, recovering from a nervous breakdown; plus Anton’s mother and brother, Kip — but this novel really focuses on the father-son relationship. It is 1980 and the Winters live at The Dakota, the fabled Manhattan co-op apartment building, home to the rich and famous, including John Lennon (who lived a floor above and who we readers know will be dead by year’s end). An entertaining trip to a bygone New York, filled with snippets of showbiz lore.


Family Trust, Kathy Wang

Wealthy Chinese are having a moment, with Crazy Rich Asians on the screen and author Kevin Kwan’s triumphal return to the bestseller lists. This social satire is author Kathy Wang’s debut, and it bristles with wit. Family patriarch Stanley Huang has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, prompting his nearest and dearest to ponder the size of his fortune and whether his two offspring, Fred, a low-rung venture capitalist, and Kate, a manager in a demanding Silicon Valley tech company, will get their due. Self-sufficient early-70s ex-wife Linda wants to make sure they do — despite the expectations of Stanley’s young wife, Mary Zhu, expert at massaging Stanley’s feet and plying him with the sugary desserts he adores.


The Three Beths, Jeff Abbott

Mariah’s mother, Beth, vanished a year ago, and most residents of this suburb of Austin, Texas, believe Craig, Mariah’s dad, murdered his wife. Mariah, determined to prove her father’s innocence, discovers that six months before Beth disappeared a young woman named Bethany also went missing. This sets Mariah on a quest to establish a connection between the missing Beths. Soon a third Beth, this one named Lizbeth, becomes part of the puzzle. A well-constructed family-driven twister.


Ordinary Strangers, Bill Stenson

Sage and Della wander into a copse of fir trees in Hope, B.C., searching for their lost dog, Barker. Instead, they find a crying toddler. Without much ado, they put her in their car and drive to Fernie, where Sage has taken a job in the coal mine. They name her Stacey and bring her up as their own, an unanticipated domestic unit but a family all the same. The characters in Bill Stenson’s quirky story are used to catching life’s curveballs, and dealing with luck, whether good or bad, as they find it. Ordinary Strangers won Mother Tongue Publishing’s 4th B.C. Novel Contest.

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