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The best January reads

Hiding under the duvet or plonked on the sofa? We hear you. Here's what to read while you hibernate.

Only a lunatic would venture out in this rubbish January weather, so how about we get comfy on the sofa and lose ourselves in the month’s best reads? Let Muddy’s literary luminary, Kerry Potter, be your guide.

Anatomy Of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Bored of relationship psychological thrillers? Well, you haven’t read this one yet; a fast, furious and elegantly written addition to the genre. As gripping as it is timely, it focuses on wealthy stay-at-home mother-of-two Sophie, the wife of a Bullingdon Club-type smoother operator MP, James. When he’s accused of rape by the young aide with whom he’s having an affair, Sophie’s world falls apart. Who is telling the truth? Should she stay or should she go? And why is Kate, the ambitious prosecuting lawyer, so invested in this case? If you lapped up Appletree Yard and Doctor Foster, make veteran news journalist Vaughan’s debut your new literary obsession.


Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

On first glance, this doesn’t sound massively exciting – a drama set in 84-year-old Florence’s old people’s home, where Battenberg cake counts as a major food group. But it turns out psychiatrist Cannon’s second novel is an absolute treat – and if, like me, you missed her surprise mega-hit debut, The Trouble With Goats And Sheep, this is a great place to catch up. Florence has a secret dating back to the 1950s, involving her best friend, Elsie, but it’s not easy for her to remember what it is exactly. And just who is that strangely familiar new gentleman who’s turned up at the home? With its historical mystery element, gentle humour and deft characterization of a supporting cast of eccentric staff, it’s a moving exploration of old age propelled along by a pleasingly twisty plot.


Trying by Emily Phillips

I love a literary taboo-buster and here Grazia journalist Phillips draws on her own experiences to unflinchingly unpick infertility and how it feels when everyone is having babies except you. Olivia and Felix have swapped their cool, chaotic central London life for sensible suburbia in preparation for parenthood. But it ain’t happening. They do however get invited to a lot of hideously hip kids’ parties (including one with a refugee theme that reads like an episode of Motherland) as the token “fun” non-parents. Olivia’s marriage, family relationships, career and friendships all come under intense pressure as her quest for motherhood gathers pace. It doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs but Phillips’ wit and warmth shine through.


Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Yes, it’s the Trump book. And it’s totally MENTAL. Even though it’s been all over the newspapers, it’s still worth a read (or listen on Audible, as in my case – it certainly made my dull January jogs go with a bang). Journalist Wolff was allowed extraordinarily unfettered access to the West Wing, where he ensconced himself on a sofa and watched the madness of the first 200 days of Trump’s presidency unfurl. Even if only 50 percent of the reported conversations and anecdotes are true, it’s still a remarkable tale. Two things that really stuck with me – nobody in the Trump camp thought in a million years he’d win (including Trump himself) so no one had a plan (and they still don’t). And the fact that his swamp creature-esque staffer Steve Bannon wore two or three shirts at once under his blazer. Why? No one has the foggiest. You have to laugh,otherwise you’d cry.

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