Johannesburg (Corsair, 2017)
Gin has returned home from New York to throw a party for her mother’s eightieth birthday; a few blocks away, at the Residence, Nelson Mandela’s family prepare to announce Tata’s death…
So begins Johannesburg, Fiona Melrose’s searing second novel.
An irascible mother, an anxious daughter trying to negotiate her birthplace and her past, her former lover, their domestic workers, a homeless hunchback fighting for justice, a mining magnate, a troubled novelist called Virginia – these are the characters who give voice to the city on a day hot with nerves and tension and history.
Set across the course of a single day – that of Nelson Mandela’s death – Melrose’s second novel is a hymn to an extraordinary city and its people, an ambitious homage to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, and a devastating personal and political manifesto on love.
‘An ambitious, beautifully written novel that seems to sing.’ Sarra Manning, Red Magazine
‘Clearly written from the heart, in it we can find much of our own lives… Melrose paints the city beautifully, full of grace, colour and fear.’ Kate Whiting, Glasgow Herald
‘Delicate yet devastating’ Psychologies
‘Beautifully observed’ Mail on Sunday
‘Johannesburg provides evidence of a novelist who can grow inimitable flowers’ Matthew Adams, Spectator
‘Johannesburg … is an assured homage to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (multiple viewpoints, a party, the action taking place over one day, words and phrases that allude to Woolf’s work). No mean feat, it’s also an insightful portrait of a city and country grappling with demons past and present.’ Emerald Street
‘Melrose takes a seemingly ordinary day and renders it into something poignant and moving.’ Image Ireland Magazine
Midwinter (Corsair, 2016)
Father and son, Landyn and Vale Midwinter, are men of the land. Suffolk farmers. Times are hard and they struggle to sustain their property, their livelihood and their heritage in the face of competition from big business. But an even bigger, more brutal fight is brewing: a fight between each other, about the horrible death of Cecelia, beloved wife and mother, in Zambia ten years earlier. A past they have both refused to confront until now. Over the course of a particularly mauling Suffolk winter, Landyn and Vale grapple with their memories and their pain, raking over what remains of their fragile family unit, constantly at odds and under threat of falling apart forever. While Vale makes increasingly desperate decisions, Landyn retreats, finding solace in the land, his animals – and a fox who haunts the farm and seems to bring with her both comfort and protection. Alive to language and nature, Midwinter is a novel about guilt, blame and lost opportunities. Ultimately it is a story about love and the lengths we will go to find our way home.
‘I have rarely read a narrative voice as distinctive as Landyn’s, and the loving depiction of regional English working class masculinity is unusual and timely …. this is certainly not a light-hearted book, but it offers the consolation of some very good writing’ Sarah Moss, TLS
‘Finely judged writing like this comes from a place of instinct, and it marks Melrose out as someone to watch… Midwinter is a great success.’ The Guardian
‘A beautifully perceptive debut’ Psychologies
- The Guardian Book of the Week, Dec 2016
- longlisted for The Bailey’s Women Prize for Fiction 2017