The Women of the Castle

Jessica Shattuck

‘It is our duty,’ Connie said. ‘If we don’t work actively to defeat Hitler, it will only get worse. This man – this zealot who calls himself our leader – will ruin everything we have achieved as a united nation.’ He continued, ‘If we don’t begin to mobilise like-minded people against him, if we don’t begin to actively enlist our contacts abroad – the English, the Americans, the French – he will draw us into a war, and worse. If you listen to the things this man says – if you really listen, and read – it’s all there in that hideous book of his, Mein Kampf; his “struggle” is to turn us all into animals! Read it, really read it, know thine enemies – his vision is medieval! Worse than medieval, anarchic! That life is nothing more than a fight for resources to be waged between the races – this “Master Race” he likes to speak of and the racial profiles he has devised – these are the tools he will use to divide us and conquer’ [Read more...] in Authors and Extracts

Death of a She Devil

Fay Weldon

Reviewed by Zoë Fairbairns

References to the Mumsnet, HMRC, the Charity Commission and Harvey Nichols have a contemporary ring, but beyond that there is little context. The action of the novel rarely ventures outside a corner of Sussex. Has worldwide violence against women diminished? Has the gender pay gap narrowed? Do men take their share of domestic tasks? Have patriarchal religions relinquished their claim to control women’s personal and sexual autonomy? I think we should be told [Read more...] in Reviews

The Orange Grove

Larry Tremblay

Reviewed by Alison Burns

Montreal-based author Larry Tremblay is a theatre director and actor as well as a novelist and short-story writer whose work has been shortlisted for many international awards. In this fine translation from the French by Sheila Fischman, his writing stands comparison with that of Amos Oz, whose sensitivity to the effects of war on individuals has distinguished similar questioning texts [Read more...] in Reviews

April Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N. J. Cooper

Isabelle Grey’s methods are as intelligent and unhysterical as those of her heroine when she lays bare the agonies of families dealing with anorexic children, as well as the absolute destruction caused by sexual abusers, destruction not only of their immediate victims but of all those who didn’t listen to them or who listened and yet couldn’t help. The Special Girls is an absorbing and impressive novel [Read more...] in Reviews

Towards Mellbreak

Marie-Elsa Bragg

Reviewed by Alison Burns

Towards Mellbreak is suffused with love for these people and their place. You see and feel the rain ‘lathered onto the fells, clinging to the clouds like froth’, the snowdrops ‘spread across the lawn, as if a stream had come through’, the mourners crammed into the farm kitchen ‘like a bucket of coals’. It is such an intimate portrait that you don’t want to leave them [Read more...]

March Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

For any reader who wants refreshment from the miseries of damaged children and brutal psychological distress, Philip Gwynne Jones’s The Venetian Game will be ideal. Featuring the British Honorary Consul in Venice, Nathan Sutherland, it explores that most sinister and beautiful city through the activities of a pair of rich, art-collecting brothers and the delightful Dottoressa Federica Ravagnan, an expert in restoration. This is a civilized, knowledgeable, charming antidote to the darker reaches of the genre [Read more...] in Reviews

Here Comes the Sun

Nicole Dennis-Benn

Reviewed by Shirley Whiteside

Dennis-Benn roots the story firmly in Jamaica by using local patois in speech which has a musicality and poetry all of its own. Through Thandi she shows the discrimination against girls with dark skins and the lengths some will go to in order to have the light brown skin that is considered beautiful. It is another desperately sad example of healthy young women being told they are not enough in themselves [Read more...]in Reviews