Whether we have a sun-soaked summer or a disappointing washout to look forward to, those lazy, hazy days call for a pile of new books to fall into. Luckily, we’re spoilt for choice this summer, with mesmerising fiction about musicians, maddening families and much more on the horizon. Here’s the titles to add to your TBR pile…

Novelist Laura Barnett is back with her sophomore book, Greatest Hits (W&N). Her bestselling debut, The Versions of Us, was one of 2015’s biggest literary talking points, but her second novel more than exceeds expectations and has a far less tangled plot to contend with. Cass Wheeler is one of music’s all-time greats – think Carole King, complete with flowing locks and lyrics inspired by heartbreak – but these days she lives alone and tends to shut the door on the world. Encouraged out of retirement to choose the tracks for a special compilation album, she looks back on her youth, her marriage and her career, and at the decisions and dramas that shaped her life. Explorations of the tough side of fame can feel grating and clichéd – the booze! the pills! the regrets! – but Cass is an endearing, sympathetic heroine and her trials are ordinary and real. Barnett is a master storyteller, bringing to life 1950s suburbia, the possibility of the 1960s, and the hedonistic heyday of the music industry so that you simply can’t wait to turn the page.

Another second-timer hoping to match her initial success is Francesca Segal, author of The Innocents and now The Awkward Age (Chatto & Windus), the latter a look at the ups and downs of blended families. In one corner we have Julia and Gwen, inseparable mother-daughter pairing since the untimely death of Gwen’s beloved father. In the other there’s academically brilliant, arrogant Nathan and his dad James; their arrival in Julia’s home sets in motion a chain of dramatic events. If you can get past the melodramatic storyline (I won’t spoil it for you, but at times it felt contrived) this is a warm, funny book dealing with a most modern matter.

Also dealing with generational strife is Nickolas Butler’s meandering, beautiful The Hearts of Men (Picador, 13th July), which takes as its stage an American summer camp for boys in the 1960s. In 1962, lonely outsider Nelson is befriended by the archetypal cool kid Jonathan Quick; their loyalty to each other sealed by a particular gruesome game of capture the flag. Despite their differences, the two remain close, even as Nelson is sent off to war and returns to take over at the camp he attended in his unhappy youth, and as Jonathan marries and becomes father and grandfather. As the decades pass, the two families remain connected, with devastating consequences. If you’ve read Butler’s brilliant Shotgun Lovesongs, you’ll be familiar with his gentle portrayal of rural American life; if you haven’t, start here.

Continuing with the rural setting, but raising the creepy factor is Jennie Melamed’s Gather the Daughters (Tinder Press, 25th July), a dystopian novel about a religiously-motivated, patriarchal society almost entirely cut off from the outside world. On the island, girls and women are chattel, fathers are sinister figures, marriage takes place almost as soon as puberty occurs, and adults are euthanised once they become a burden. The rules are strict, the life brutal and short, save for one thing; every summer the children are cut loose; they roam the island with complete impunity until the weather changes. A chance discovery on one of those heady days calls into question everything the community is built on; as the daughters rise up, the question is whether they will be strong enough to change their fates. There are elements of this novel that call to mind The Handmaid’s Tale, but Melamed is less concerned with politics and more interested in the psychological impact of living a life without choice or hope. Gather the Daughters is gripping, if disturbing.

Lastly, Julie Buntin’s Marlena (Picador), which comes heralded by a flurry of praise from authors such as Jonathan Safran Foer, does not disappoint. Our heroine is Cat: a thirtysomething with an ostensibly well-ordered life, who has been forever changed by a teenage friendship and the tragedy that destroyed it. Arriving in rural, impoverished Michigan with her newly divorced mother and unhappy brother, beautiful, confident Marlena offers the hope and escape that Cat is craving. But Marlena’s life is anything but a fairytale, and as their friendship develops Cat is drawn in to the seedy, insalubrious underside of her world. Beautifully written and insightful in its understanding of the complex relationship between girls on the cusp of adulthood, this is bittersweet and wonderful all at once.