Month: April 2017

The Dark Circle by Linda Grant

Shortlisted for this year’s Bailey’s Prize, the latest novel from Linda Grant is set in post-war Britain. Eighteen year old Lenny and twin sister Miriam are diagnosed with tuberculosis and sent away from their East End London home to a sanatorium in Kent: the Gwendolyn Downie Memorial Hospital for the Care of Chronic Cases of Tuberculosis (known as the Gwendo). Originally designed with wealthy private patients … Read More The Dark Circle by Linda Grant

In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut

Longlisted for the Man Booker in 2010, In a Strange Room focuses on one man’s nomadic life. This novel is comprised of three parts, three journeys made by the South African protagonist, also Damon. Young when we meet him, middle aged by the end, Damon has no tether. Although he returns to Cape Town between trips, it seems to the reader that he only really exists on the road. Each section … Read More In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and bees. Well, I didn’t really get the usual version. My mom, Lisa, is a registered nurse, and she told me what went where, and what didn’t need to go here, there, or any damn where until I’m grown. Back then, I doubted anything was going anywhere anyway. … Read More The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore

I do love a Georgian drama, and Helen Dunmore has written a brilliant depiction of eighteenth century Bristol. Birdcage Walk is so authentic I could smell it. Dunmore’s city is one where women have agency without being too modern and she weaves historical fact into a dark tale of a marriage that is dangerously controlling. The year is 1792 and Lizzie Fawkes is barely more … Read More Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

Receiving rave reviews when it was published in 2015, Laura Barnett’s debut novel is billed as love story in the same vein as One Day and Life After Life. I was interested to see how Barnett had constructed a ‘Sliding Doors’ concept in novel form. I think I was expecting some clever literary trick, but actually this is a straightforward retelling of two lives, just … Read More The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

The Clockhouse Retreat @ The Hurst

Usually when I write up my holidays, I’ve been somewhere a little more exotic than Shropshire! Last week I headed up to The Hurst, formerly the home of playwright John Osborne, now an Arvon Centre hosting various creative writing courses. While the main house is given over to running the courses, the Clockhouse is just across the way and is home to a permanent … Read More The Clockhouse Retreat @ The Hurst

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

In 1936, Stalin attends a performance of Lady MacBeth of Mtensk, Dmitri Shostakovich’s famous opera. Popular up until that point, when Stalin took against the volume of the brass and percussion Shostakovich found himself officially out of favour (I saw this opera a couple of years ago at ENO and loved it. The brass is incredibly loud and trio of suited men in front of … Read More The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence

  Orangeboy has been on my radar since it was longlisted for this year’s Jhalak Prize, and the book has gone on to be Costa shortlisted and recently won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Children. When I arrived at my writing retreat this week it was staring at me from the bookshelf and reading seems like a valid method of procrastination (in … Read More Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence

Lust by Roald Dahl

I love Roald Dahl’s adult short stories. These four new editions are categorised: Lust, Deception, Madness and Cruelty being the themes  (though from this edition alone I can say that all four are fully represented within). In this volume are ten tales of ‘craving and desire’, mostly with a dark twist, and often funny. Each story is prefaced by its original date of publication, … Read More Lust by Roald Dahl

The Mare by Mary Gaitskill

This is one of those books that I just can’t make up my mind about. I think I liked it, but there were times while reading where I wondered where it was going. The novel is mainly told through the point of view of Ginger, a forty odd year old recovering alcoholic, and Velvet, eleven years old at the start of the novel. Ginger lives in upstate … Read More The Mare by Mary Gaitskill