Lee Miller’s War

(editor) Antony Penrose

Reviewed by Jessica Mann

As she travelled eastwards with American Army, Miller recorded the Alsace Campaign and – the subject for which her reporting is best remembered – her arrival at the concentration camp, Dachau, on the day after it had been liberated. Her photographs are mesmerizing and she describes her experiences in simple, unadorned and unaffected language which is a pleasure to read except when the horror of what she is describing wipes out any aesthetic satisfaction [Read more...] in Reviews


Paulo Coelho

Reviewed by Alison Coles

The good news for Coelho is that, as with The Alchemist, this book is a simple and soulful parable. At a time when so many things appear complicated and insoluble, part of Coelho’s appeal must lie in the simplicity of his message. Adultery tells a story which demonstrates Coelho’s take on a metaphysical ‘truth’: in order to return to your present place, psychologically stronger and in a better soul state, you have to embark on a journey with no guarantees of a good outcome [Read more...] in Reviews

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Richard Flanagan

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Bracketing the dark heart of the novel, which pulls no punches in its descriptions of the conditions and the suffering, are the non-chronological pre- and post-war experiences of its central character, Tasmanian-born Dorrigo Evans, a surgeon by profession and a major during the war. Among a large group of Australian soldiers who surrender to the Japanese, Dorrigo finds himself the ‘big fella’ in charge of the troops at one of the hellish camps. Thus is borne in on him in particular the impossible dilemmas of good and evil, life and death, guilt and responsibility, honour and shame that are the towering themes of this searching novel [Read more...] in Reviews

Stay Up with Me

Tom Barbash

Reviewed by Sara Maitland

The thirteen stories are fairly tightly themed (or slightly ‘samey’, depending on how you take this): so they lack a wide emotional range, but gain a consistent ‘view’ of the emotional terrain Barbash feels we are ‘all’ somehow travelling through: the ways we try and usually fail to connect with one-another; the ways we negotiate our own space in the world. When the cover blurb of a book uses the term ‘bittersweet’, it usually means ‘mawkish-but-intelligently-so’, but actually he slips along the edge of sentimentality with extraordinary grace [Read more...] in Reviews

Above Sugar Hill

Linda Mannheim

Reviewed by Alison Burns

‘During the Harlem Renaissance, Sugar Hill was where Harlem’s elite lived: Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Adam Clayton Powell Jr, Ralph Ellison, Willie Mays, Zora Neal Thurston, Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes…But, by the time I was growing up, in the 1960s and ‘70s, Sugar Hill and Washington Heights were pretty much the way they are in these stories – filled with run down apartments and gunshot streets, heroin heated over flames and walls weeping with condensation.I wanted one thing: to get out.’ [Read more...] in Reviews

August Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

Although my heart sank at this aspect of the novel, I need not have worried. Viner’s plot is far more wide-ranging than most serial-killer thrillers, and he has created some excellent characters, both among the good and the bad. He also has important points to make about fathers and daughters, and the uses to which the proceeds of crime are put [Read more...] in Reviews

Lucky Us

Amy Bloom

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Eva is a late-bloomer of a character. Avoiding formal education, she is nevertheless resourceful and bright, hence the job reading Tarot cards. Bloom endows Eva with wry humour and a kind of doggy solidity but not much more. Her vagueness in this picaresque world of horrible surprises that somehow don’t cut too deeply only adds to the general sense of uncertainty. When, late on Eva, feels angry enough to confront her mother, sparks momentarily fly. But then it’s back to dealing with what comes along – which turns out ultimately to be forgiveness and restoration [Read more...] in Reviews