A Stranger City

Linda Grant

* A 2019 Notable Book

Reviewed by Alison Burns

A web of conscious and unconscious interconnections, layered like the often invisible levels of the city’s transport system, links the dead woman with a cross-section of London’s inhabitants. In particular, Chrissie, a young and reckless hospital nurse, who happens to go missing briefly on the same night as DB27; Alan, a film-maker, who makes a TV documentary about them; and Pete, the river-haunting policeman who tries to solve the case [Read more...] in Reviews

Women Talking

Miriam Toews

* A 2019 Notable Book

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

The women’s analysis of what has happened to them, their treatment, their own futures and their children’s, and above all how to absorb these events into their own sense of faith, fills most of the book’s pages, and might seem at times dry. But its territory is so horrific, so stark, so outrageous and contemporary that it magnetizes the reader. Toew’s sensitivity, lucidity, lyricism and wit ensure it [Read more...] in Reviews

Table Two and Peace, Perfect Peace

* 2019 Notable Books

Reviewed by Shirley Whiteside

Wilenski draws on her own working experiences to produce an environment that anyone who has worked in an office will recognize. There are the curious routines, petty jealousies, long-running feuds, and power struggles. As the bombing reaches London, these varied women find their own way to cope with life in wartime. This novel provides a prosaic picture of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, leavened by Wilenski’s eye for a telling detail and dry wit [Read more...] in Reviews

The Parisian

Isabella Hammad

*A 2019 Notable Book

Reviewed by Alison Burns

The vicissitudes of Midhat’s adult life are handled with great sensitivity, within a political narrative that is unusually searching. The reader is made to reflect upon and better understand divided loyalties, differing value systems, revolt against patriarchal as well as imperial patterns of behaviour. One of the betrayals in the story is academic in its purpose, but unforgiveably condescending in practice [Read more...] in Reviews

Dear Mona

Jonah Jones

* A 2019 Notable Book

Reviewed by Lesley Glaister

In his immaculately written introduction, Peter Jones, son of Jonah, addresses the question of whether he had any right to publish these personal letters in one of which Len has written: ‘I feel letters are between friends only and I want the lovely personal sacredness of those letters to remain unspoiled by others’ reading …’ Peter admits that this presented him with a dilemma, but explains that he decided to publish because ‘… the quality of the letters just seems too good, and their content too important, to leave them languishing in some archive. The story of Len and Mona should be read; let it be a tribute to two extraordinary people.’ [Read more...] in Reviews

American Dirt

Jeanine Cummins

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Thus begins a journey across Mexico, riding buses and later the tops of goods trains – known as La Bestia, the beast, where injuries and fatalities are frequent. Their company is other strangers of all ages and nationalities whose plights are different but often equally traumatic. Through these fellow travelers – young girls, working-age men, single children – Cummins graphically introduces a panoply of immigrant experience and need. Lawlessness, drug crimes, sexual exploitation and more are pushing each of them away from homes and families. In front of them is the impossible journey to a dream future, a trip which will expose them to thieves, kidnappers, rapists – and also many kind and generous individuals too [Read more...] in Reviews

Right After the Weather

Carol Anshaw

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Neither a thriller nor a sensational piece of crime fiction,this is instead a witty and rather perceptive consideration of relationships both sexual and platonic, a tracing of the arc of life from the midpoint, and thoughts about how early expectations of fulfilment might have to be modified [Read more...] in Reviews