The Last Pier

Roma Tearne

Reviewed by Alison Burns

Preparations for the annual tennis party, complete with Italian ice-cream, vie with the harvest. Golden day follows golden day. Creepy Robert Wilson appears, with boxes of chocolates: is he a friend, or a spy? Carlo Molinello watches Rose, Bellamy watches Rose, Robert Wilson watches Rose. Selwyn keeps disappearing. Agnes is sad, Kitty is sharp, Cecily mystified. And then Cecily makes a mistake [Read more...] in Reviews

bookoxygen doing better than the TLS

The annual VIDA Count shines a light on where women are under-represented in the literary arts. It was the VIDA Count’s revelation of major imbalances at premiere publications both in the US and abroad that partly inspired bookoxygen’s birth. For example:The New York Review of Books covered 306 titles by men in 2010 and only 59 by women; The New York Times Book Review covered 524 books by men compared to 283 books written by women. bookoxygen has held steady to its commitment to devote the lion’s share of its space to writing by women, reviewed by women. bookoxygen isn’t mentioned in the 2014 VIDA Count, but other publications are, including Granta (doing better) and the TLS (not). The VIDA Count link can be found via

The Children’s Crusade

Ann Packer

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Three of the children’s names begin with R (Robert, Rebecca, Ryan) and the fourth is James. Their home is the house that Bill built in Portola Valley, California. Three letter R’s have been drawn in to the cement of the house’s foundation, leaving latecomer James doomed to be forever the outsider [Read more...] in Reviews

Penguin Little Black Classics

Reviewed by Siân Miles

Of the eighty texts, a tenth or so are by women writers, very largely though not exclusively from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. They derive from lesser-known works and contain some appetizing titles not lacking in humour and irony; Mary Kingsley’s contribution, for example is entitled A Hippo Banquet, Kate Chopin’s A Pair of Silk Stockings. Christina Rossetti’s samples include the wryly macabre A Frog’s Fate [Read more...] in Reviews

March Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

The characters and their interaction are one of the delights of this series, as are the descriptions of the landscape and Norfolk’s dramatic weather. There’s a lot of gentle charm and humour, too, particularly when it comes to the unexpectedly practical and money-minded Druid, Cathbad, who has been a friend of Ruth’s for years. This novel won’t shake the world or rearrange your perceptions, but it will give you a lot of pleasure and almost certainly make you feel better about yourself [Read more...] in Reviews

After Birth

Elisa Albert

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Ari’s self-loathing and despair are lifted for a while through her friendship with Mina, the tenant who temporarily moves in next door, a heavily pregnant cool girl (ex-pop singer) who gives birth naturally, thereby allowing Ari to confirm her own medicized experience was a form of rape. When Ari steps in to help Mina breastfeed, she can also impart some of the wisdom and confidence she has painfully gained herself. The two women bond and breastfeed each other babies. Things are looking up [Read more...] in Reviews

We That Are Left

Clare Clark

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

The novel begins in familiar territory and, despite the quality of its prose, never shakes off a sense of predictability or Downtown-esque familiarity. The Melvilles’ tenure of Ellinghurst is shaky, the estate’s future after the Great War endangered by financial problems, an absence of male heirs and a murky line of inheritance. Eleanor, the matriarch of the house, spends her time consulting mediums, trying to contact her beloved Theo in the spirit world. The two remaining children, Phyllis – a nurse during the war – and prettier, more reckless and more spoilt Jessica, must make their life choices in an England stripped of eligible males as well, of course, as servants [Read more...] in Reviews