September reading guide: Miriam Margolyes gets real, Millie Bobby Brown tries out fiction

If you're looking to draw from real-life inspirations, September's new releases has you set.

If you're looking to draw from real-life inspirations, September's new releases has you set. Photo: TND/Allen & Unwin/Hachette Australia/Bloomsbury Publishing

If you’re looking to draw some inspiration as the year wears on, September’s new release list is packed with real-life stories from a star actor, a world-class athlete, and one of Australia’s most famous vagabonds.

If you seeking more of an escape, there’s also an eclectic selection of love stories and mysteries to choose from, with Stranger Things actor Millie Bobby Brown among this month’s debut authors.

Here are 10 books to check out in September.

Terrace Story

Hilary Leichter

(HarperCollins Publishers Australia/$28)

Annie, Edward and their young daughter, Rose, live in a cramped apartment.

One night, without warning, they find a beautiful terrace hidden in their closet.

It wasn’t there before, and it seems to only appear when their friend Stephanie visits. A city dweller’s dream come true!

But every extra bit of space has a hidden cost, and the terrace sets off a seismic chain of events, forever changing the shape of their tiny home, and the shape of the world.

Based on the National Magazine Awards-winning story, Hilary Leichter’s second novel asks how we nurture love when death looms over every moment.

Release date: August 29

Sleepless in Stringybark Bay

Susan Duncan

(Allen & Unwin, $32.99)

When five couples pool their resources to live in a house located where a turquoise lagoon meets the sea, the quirky little offshore community of Cook’s Basin is shocked.

How will 10 people – one in a wheelchair and one with a hauntingly familiar face – survive where the only way in or out is by boat?

Their fears are confirmed when a member of the household is found floating face down in the bay. The police insist the death was accidental, but the bizarre circumstances have locals scratching their heads.
Former journalist-turned-cafe-owner Kate Jackson is curious to discover why a group of retirees in their late 70s would choose such an isolated location. Then a throw-away line in an old magazine story leads to shocking revelations.
Wrapped in the colourful culture of a boat-access-only community, Sleepless in Stringybark Bay celebrates having a go at any age, revels in the magic of the bush and explores the fragility of relationships, old and young.

Release date: August 29

Bee Miles

Rose Ellis

(Allen & Unwin, $34.99)

Bee Miles was famous for being outrageous in public, or, as she said, living’ recklessly’. She shocked and intrigued cities and towns across Australia, but she was no ordinary wanderer.

Born into a wealthy family, Miles moved in Sydney’s literary and artistic circles in the 1920s and 1930s before she took up residence on the streets.

A consummate performer and a perceptive critic, she caught the public’s imagination with her spectacular acts of defiance, emerging majestically from the surf with a knife strapped to each thigh, stopping a country train in its tracks, hitchhiking across remote Australia and drawing large city crowds with her Shakespeare recitations.

Though once voted more famous than the prime minister, she was also repeatedly incarcerated in prisons, confined to mental hospitals and treated brutally by a succession of authority figures, starting with her father.

This is the untold story of the uncompromising and fearless woman who captivated mid-20th century Australia with her spectacular acts of defiance.

Release date: August 29

Bound to Happen

Jonathon Shannon

(Ultimo Press, $34.99)

Tom and Sophie have never met.

Tom is a music student and aspiring songwriter who wholeheartedly believes in ‘meant to be’ and, more specifically, in his turbulent relationship with a far more successful recording artist – even when her sudden overseas tour threatens to upend everything.

Sophie is an astrophysics PhD candidate. To her, the vast mysteries of the universe can be reduced down to cold, hard science.

She knows there’s no such thing as fate or destiny, and not even the handsome undergrad assigned to her research project will change her mind.

Sophie doesn’t know it, but she’s been orbiting Tom all year.

In Sydney-based writer Jonathon Shannon’s debut novel, Tom and Sophie might be destined for each other – if only their meet-cutes were not a series of near misses.

Release date: August 30

The Idealist

Nicholas Jose

(Giramondo Publishing, $32.95)

Jake, an Australian defence analyst, is torn between his support for the people of East Timor, whose commitment to independence in the face of mounting violence he has experienced personally, and his responsibility for and complicity in the actions of his government.

When he is found dead in the garage of his Washington home, his wife Anne is determined to see justice done.

Set in Australia, East Timor and Washington in the lead up to the East Timorese independence referendum in 1999, The Idealist explores the entanglement of private and public life.

Nicholas Jose’s first novel since 2005,The Idealist is a political mystery, a portrait of a marriage, a reflection on friendship, and a study of a personality as it breaks down under pressure.

Release date: September 1

Oh Miriam!: Stories from an Extraordinary Life

Miriam Margolyes

(Hachette Australia, $34.99)

In the follow-up to her bestselling memoir This Much is True, Britain’s naughtiest national treasure is back and as outrageous as ever.

From being escorted off BBC Radio 4’s Today program for sharing her uncensored opinion on UK politician Jeremy Hunt, to declaring her love to Vanessa Redgrave; from the Tales of the Unexpected TV series to Graham Norton’s sofa.

Oh Miriam! promises to take readers inside Miriam Margolyes’ head and heart for one of this year’s most irrepressible, hilarious and moving reads.

Release date: September 12

Nineteen Steps

Millie Bobby Brown

(HarperCollins Publishers Australia/$28.99)

It’s 1942, and London remains under constant threat of enemy attack as the second world war rages on.

Three years into the war, Nellie Morris is grateful to hold onto remnants of normalcy in her job and nights spent at the local pub.

But after a chance encounter with Ray, an American airman stationed nearby, Nellie becomes enchanted with the idea of a broader world.

Just when Nellie begins to embrace an exciting new life with Ray, a terrible incident occurs during an air raid, and the consequences are catastrophic. As the truth about that night is revealed, Nellie’s world is torn apart – but when it seems all hope is lost, Nellie finds that love and happiness can triumph.

Inspired by the Stranger Things star’s family history, Nineteen Steps is an epic story of longing, loss, and secrets by debut author Millie Bobby Brown.

Release date: September 12


Emma Ling Sidnam

(Text Publishing, $32.99)

Laura is tired of being asked where she’s really from. Her family has lived in Aotearoa New Zealand for four generations, and she’s ambivalent at best about her Chinese heritage.

But when she’s asked to write about the Chinese New Zealander experience for a work project, Laura finds herself drawn to the diary of her great-great-grandfather Ken, a market gardener in the early years of the British colony.

As she begins to write a version of Ken’s story, a family secret that soon comes to light spurs Laura to go on her own journey of self-discovery, sexuality and reckoning with the past.

Written by fourth-generation Asian-New Zealander, law and literature student Emma Ling Sidnam, Backwaters is about the bittersweet search for belonging.

Release date: September 26

The Only Girl in Town

Ally Condie

(Hachette Australia, $19.99)

What would you do if everyone you love disappeared? What if it was your fault?

Once, July Fielding had her loyal best friend Alex, the one who always had her back. She had Sydney, who sometimes seemed to know July better than she knew herself. And she had Sam, who told her she was everything and left her breathless with his touch.

Now, July is alone. Every single person in her small town of Lithia has disappeared.

July’s only chance at unravelling the mystery of their disappearance is a series of objects, each a reminder of the people she loved most. And a mysterious message: GET TH3M BACK.

Release date: September 27

Bloody Minded

Alex Dowsett

(Bloomsbury Publishing, $28.95)

Imagine competing in the world’s most brutal cycle races, knowing that a crash could be fatal.

Alex Dowsett is one of Britain’s greatest cyclists, having ridden Grand Tours and Classics for elite teams, and previously holding the World Hour record.

All of this was achieved despite being Dowsett being the only top sportsperson in the world with haemophilia A; a condition that could lead to spontaneous or trauma-induced excessive bleeding.

Dowsett describes how the condition blighted his young sporting life, but boosted his determination to succeed. Every professional cyclist requires courage, but Dowsett takes fearlessness to another level in a sport where injury and suffering are a given.

Release date: September 28

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