5 British Books to Look Out For in the US in February

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Claire Handscombe


Claire Handscombe moved from Europe to DC in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but actually – let’s be honest – because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan, and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives. She also hosts the Brit Lit Podcast, a fortnightly show of news and views from British books and publishing. Blog: the Brit Lit Blog. Twitter: @BookishClaire

Biography, essay, humour, and more: this month’s British books coming to the US are eclectic and interesting.

How To Stop Time by matt haig (Viking, February 6, 2018)

This novel came out last year in the UK, and there was a lot of love for it — I saw it on more than one “best of 2017” book list. Its main character  has been 41 for hundreds of years, and he puts his first-hand knowledge of different time periods to use by becoming a history teacher in London. All he has to do to stay safe is not fall in love, and so naturally… well, you can guess.


Feel Free by Zadie Smith  (Penguin Press, February 6, 2018)

When I interviewed author Nikesh Shukla for the Brit Lit Podcast, and asked him what the last book he’d read that he loved was, it was this “brilliant” book of essays by Zadie Smith.  “It’s just like wearing your favourite jumper, with Zadie,” he says. “As soon as you start reading those words, you’re like: I love you, I love this, I love this dynamic.”


Stickle Island by Tim Orchard (The Unnamed Press, February 6, 2018)

This 1980-set novel sounds like a lot of fun. The residents of Stickle Island must come together to save their Thatcher-threatened ferry, and there’s a cast of characters including “a horny vicar and an even hornier Postmistress”, and a “wildly erratic mainland drug dealer called Carter and his soft-hearted henchman Simp” who come to the island with plans of their own. If you liked The Full Monty, this might be one to try.

The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner (Graydon House, February 13, 2018)

This novel follows Sophie, Emily, Amy, and Melissa, a  group of friends who’ve seen each other through the ups and downs of life since childhood: marriage, motherhood, alcoholism. But what will a secret surfacing do to their friendship?



Wallis In Love by Andrew Morton (Grand Central Publishing, February 13, 2018)

Andrew Morton is well respected as the pre-eminent royal biographer, and he’s got a big year ahead, with this book published in February and Meghan: A Hollywood Princess due out in April. Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée, essentially changed the course of the British Monarchy, so she’s an important figure in understanding the significance of Meghan Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry.