Ricky Monahan Brown (Sandstone, £7.99)

In 2012, 38-year-old Ricky Monahan Brown, a Scot living in New York and working as a lawyer, was felled by a stroke so massive that his chances of survival were estimated at only 5 per cent. This frank but quirkily amusing memoir charts his arduous recovery in fascinating and frequently unsettling detail. It is, he emphasises, a love story, and his devoted American partner Beth is at his side every step of the way, sharing in his dream of one day returning to Scotland (they did) and getting the credit she deserves. Alongside Beth’s presence and support, Brown was able to draw comfort from the fact that people still considered him funny, even after his personality had been largely stripped away, and the warmth and wry humour of his account help to balance the distress of the disorientation and memory loss caused by his stroke and, as he left the law behind to become a writer, his gruelling rehabilitation.


Lissa Evans (£8.99)

Matilda Simpkin made an appearance in Evans’ previous novel, Crooked Heart, but this prequel puts her centre stage. In her youth, she was a suffragette, jailed five times for her activities. By 1928, she is middle-aged and bored, and in no mood to throw in the militant towel. After having her bag snatched on Hampstead Heath, she starts a club for women involving physical pursuits like archery, javelin-throwing and firing slingshots. It’s so successful that a group of fascist sympathisers form their own rival club, far more disciplined and less individualistic than Mattie’s crew. A confrontation is unavoidable. The “one-woman battalion” Mattie is a glorious creation, but she’s not always the most insightful or sensitive of women, and her judgement seems to be affected by her own old baggage, the death of her dear brother in the Great War. Lively, entertaining, but not without its serious side, its portrayal of an ageing suffragette and her milieu is refreshingly original.


Janice Galloway (Granta, £9.99)

Short story collections from Janice Galloway are always eagerly awaited. This, her fourth, is something of a stopgap, being reissued by Granta after the collapse of Freight Books, albeit with two new stories added. The David Lodge quote she uses as an epigraph – “Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about children; life’s the other way round” – feels very apt. Although there is some sex, the theme of being a parent leaves the stronger impression by far. The varied shades of motherhood are spread across these stories: the caring and intimacy, but also the anxieties, tension and absence. A story about George Orwell’s last few months on Jura sees Galloway briefly stepping away from strong female characters, but Orwell too has parental duties to attend to, namely rushing his injured son off to the doctor. Superbly crafted as usual, these are thoughtful, observant tales threaded through with a sense of unease and written with an emotional eloquence that touches deeply.