Cartes Postale from Greece

Victoria Hislop

Reviewed by Shirley Whiteside

As ‘A’ travels through Greece he relays the stories, myths and gossip that he hears. The stories range from funny to touching and scary, and each is a short, self-contained tale. Hislop manages to convey the rhythms of Greeks speaking English without lapsing into parody, which is a relief. The character of the country comes through strongly as do the events that shaped it, such as the Turkish occupation and the atrocities committed during the Nazi occupation in World War II. The current financial crisis is well covered, as are the blood feuds of ancient and modern times [Read more...] in Reviews

The Story of a Brief Marriage

Anuk Arudpragasam

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Arudpragasam’s small miracle of a debut spans a mere twenty-four hours in unimaginable circumstances and yet encompasses an extensive meditation on life and living. Opening with an almost unendurable scene at a clinic where amputations are done without anesthetic or proper instruments, it traces the world of a young man, Dinesh, a survivor whose mother was just one among numberless corpses left behind on a terrible flight from home to this current way station [Read more...] in Reviews

August Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

Pierre Lemaitre, who has won many awards, including the Prix Goncourt for his brilliant Great Swindle, takes a familiar theme – that of a vulnerable woman told she is going mad by the men in her life – and raises it well above the rest. His woman is Sophie, who runs away from her life and the police after several murders she and everyone else believe she committed. Her stratagems for evading her pursuers are clever and convincing. Her gradual understanding of how and why the murders had to happen works well, and her final action is not only understandable but also very cruel [Read more...] in Reviews

Sandlands

Rosy Thornton

Reviewed by Alison Burns

Thornton’s canvas here may be a small one (the environs of one small parish, in the main), but the inner worlds she reveals are various and surprising. In ‘High House’, a charlady speaks kindly of her employer, Mr Napish, who is exercised about flood precautions: he understands the land, which outsiders (‘seedypuffs’, just blowing through) always think is flat [Read more...] in Reviews

Caught in the Revolution

Helen Rappaport

Reviewed by Jessica Mann

It was on February 23rd, 1917 – International Women’s Day – that the working women of Petrograd, about 90,000 of them by the afternoon, downed tools and joined together to march in protest against bread shortages. The next day huge crowds gathered and marched, on the 25th a general strike was in operation, by 27th the army had begun to mutiny. Rappaport allows a chapter a day for this part of the story. It is exciting even though readers know the outcome, and sad, because they do [Read more...] in Reviews

Behold the Dreamers

Imbolo Mbue

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

As the shadow of the coming crisis intensifies, so other problems develop for Neni and Jende. The birth of their second child Timba compounds their financial difficulties while their individual and joint relationships with the Clarks become ever more tangled. Yet Mbue – a Cameroonian herself –notably inclines away from the predictable [Read more...] in Revews

A Quiet Life

Natasha Walter

Reviewed by Alison Burns

Inspired by the life of Melinda Marling, American wife of British diplomacy’s golden boy, the traitor Donald Maclean, A Quiet Life follows the career of Laura Leverett, who follows her heart into a life of secrecy. Travelling to London by sea in January 1939, to stay with cousins in England, self-contained young Laura experiences for the first time the heady freedom of new encounters. She comes from a closed-off family, where disappointment and hidden violence have stunted interest in the world of politics and ideas [Read more...] in Reviews