Kathleen Jamie

Sort Of, £9.99

The poet and author’s third prose book emerges from a period of mid-life reflection and is a meditation on time, both in terms of a life lived and on the scale of human existence. It comprises 12 essays, each arising organically from the last, some of which look back at personal landmarks like her cancer treatment and her father’s death. Two longer pieces, meanwhile, record her participation in archaeological digs in Alaska and Orkney, including the thrill of releasing 500-year-old food smells with her trowel. Jamie digs up her own past too, reliving her attempt to enter Tibet at the time of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Back in the present, she slows time down, learning to be still and observe the gradually changing landscape. It’s a book that moves slowly and gracefully, but with too much focus to meander. Jamie’s eye is keen, her prose simple but measured and beautiful.

The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce

Tom Gillespie

Vine Leaves Press, £9.99

A lecturer in Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow, Jacob Boyce neglects his students and his marriage to pursue his obsession with an allegorical Baroque painting hanging in a city art gallery. He spends entire days there, making measurements and looking for patterns that might unlock its secrets. Is Boyce succumbing to madness, or has he really found a painting that moves when nobody’s looking? The key might be in a second-hand book by an obscure art historian mentioning a principle called the Law of Empirical Wisdom, which seems to have predicted quantum theory several centuries early. The disappearance of his distraught wife takes Boyce to Spain, pursued by nightmares, where he falls deeper down the rabbit hole, taking us with him. This scholarly psychological thriller takes some mind-bending turns, but it’s rooted in a bedrock of deep visceral grief, making it an emotionally powerful journey too.

Time To Say Goodbye

Rosie Goodwin

Zaffre, £7.99

One of the top 50 authors borrowed from public libraries, and the first writer granted permission to follow up three Catherine Cookson trilogies with her own sequels, Goodwin ends this seven-book saga where it began, with Sunday Branning. By 1935, Sunday and her husband Tom live in a former children’s home in Nuneaton, breeding horses and raising their family, which includes Kathy, who they’ve brought up as their own. Kathy’s plans to train as a nurse are derailed, however, when she gets pregnant. Then, Tom Branning dies and the stud farm founders, forcing the family to leave home on the outbreak of war. Following their various fortunes through the Second World War, Goodwin brings closure to her series, but not without putting her characters through the wringer, with some unexpectedly dark and grisly developments which might leave dedicated followers of the saga feeling like they’ve been put through the wringer themselves.