Go, Went, Gone

Jenny Erpenbeck

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

There is nothing disparaging about Richard’s involvement with these survivors, instead curiosity, instinctive empathy and a large measure of self-scrutiny as he comes to understand their stories and losses, and the Kafka-esque impossibility of their situations as, trapped in a thicket of supposedly humane rules and laws, they are systematically repressed and crushed [Read more...] in Reviews

The Red Beach Hut

Lynn Michell

Reviewed by Alison Coles

Lynn Michell captures the gentleness and purity of both characters, and their innocent yearning for something to fill their separate emotional vacuums. So far so good – we have been privy to the pure side of their relationship, their intentions, but it is not long before we view how the world sees them, and labels them, and impugns the worst of motives to them. For this is the theme of the novel, it is about how the world leaps with speed to judge [Read more...] in Reviews

Manderley Forever: The Life of Daphne du Maurier

Tatiana de Rosnay

Reviewed by Jessica Mann

Daphne had ignored tradition all her life, remaining in Cornwall rather than accompanying her husband on his various postings, conducting lesbian love affairs (with, among others, Gertrude Lawrence) and wearing trousers and even trouser suits long before they were regarded as acceptable. ‘It’s people like me who have careers who really have bitched up the old relationship between men and women. Women ought to be soft and gentle and dependent. Disembodied spirits like myself are all wrong’ [Read more...] in Reviews

Love and Other Consolation Prizes

Jamie Ford

Reviewed by Rachel Hore

Ford ably and movingly dramatizes Yung Kun-ai’s pitiful childhood as ‘neither pure Oriental or Causcasian, nor fully American or Chinese’. In China in 1902, this five-year-old bastard son of a white missionary and a Cantonese girl witnesses his mother suffocating his new-born half-sister because the woman has only ‘soups made from mossy rocks and …boiled shoe leather’ to feed them on [Read more...] in Reviews

September Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

Lagercrantz is a much better writer than Larsson, and The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye is well structured and well paced. Lisbeth Salander is still angry, tormented, and preternaturally able to survive physical injuries that would kill anyone else. As this novel opens, she is in prison and contemptuous of the staff’s submission to a sadistic inmate. One of the inmate’s victims is a gentle, beautiful victim of honour violence, who eventually hit back and killed her persecutor. Salander, hating cruelty and bullying as she always has, must intervene [Read more...] in Reviews

A Skinful of Shadows

Frances Hardinge

Reviewed by Shirley Whiteside

Set at the beginning of the English Civil War, Hardinge’s new novel follows the trials and tribulations of a teenage girl called Makepeace, who lives in Poplar, then a small village outside London. Makepeace and her mother, Margaret, are reliant on the charity of relatives to put a roof over their head and food (however meagre) on their plates. Hardinge paints a grim picture of Makepeace’s life in a village that is Puritan in all but name. The outlandish names of its inhabitants – Fight-the-Good-Fight, Spit-in-the-Eye-of-the-Devil, Sorry-for-Sin, Miserable-Sinners-Are-We-All – offer an insight into the kind of society in which Makepeace lives [Read more...] in Reviews

Stay With Me

Ayobami Adebayo

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

With expert pacing, Adebayo slowly peels back layers of truth about Akin and Yejide’s marriage, to reveal the substrata of lies on which it is built, and on which it will founder. Stay With Me is a story of yearning, guilt and gut-wrenching loss, yet it is expressed with remarkable restraint and delivered in the simplest of language. Sometimes it’s illuminated by folk tale; often the somber tone is diluted by the comic, chorus-like contributions of a coterie of secondary female characters [Read more...] in Reviews