July Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

Just like Rusty Sabitch, the lawyer-hero of Turow’s first and best novel, ‘Presumed Innocent’, Boom presents this woman as a wicked temptress, who plans to sleep her way to the achievement of her personal goals. His own idiocy in succumbing to her wiles is described much more leniently. Once it’s all gone wrong, he isn’t left lonely for long. Along with his self-pity is his more or less miraculous ability to appeal to any woman on whom his fancy might light [Read more...] in Reviews

Mrs Fletcher

Tom Perrotta

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Although middle-aged Eve Fletcher does have sex – a three-way, in fact – with a boy the same age as her college student son Brendan, Eve is no manipulative cradle-snatcher. Moreover, she has boundaries, of a kind. Truthfully, sexually, Eve doesn’t quite know who she is. Does she want women or men, an age-appropriate partner or a younger one? In a novel stuffed with the sexual reference points of our era – MILFs, blow jobs, inter-racial, transgender, porn, sexts, etc – it seems like the contemporary erotic world is both bursting with possibility and intimidatingly vast [Read more...] in Reviews

Protest: Stories of Resistance

Reviewed by Shirley Whiteside

While this is an easy book to dip in and out of, reading it from page one onwards rewards the reader with an overview of the history of British protests, and a sinking feeling as the same issues come up again and again. The poor and dispossessed often protest to their lords and masters about their harsh living conditions; kings and the nobility burden their serfs with extortionate taxes; a legal system is skewed towards the rich and powerful; and men and boys are forced to go to wars they did not start or understand [Read more...] in Reviews

A Secret Sisterhood

Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

Reviewed by Jessica Mann

The authors chose these examples from a long list of author friends, such as Winifred Holtby and Vera Brittain, Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie, Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. These examples of ‘hidden friendships’ are interesting and well described – and they all have an undercurrent of subversion or naughtiness about them. As Margaret Atwood says in her foreword, ‘It was a received opinion throughout the last two millennia, up to and including much of the twentieth century, that… to write seriously was immodest for a woman’ [Read more...] in Reviews

Anything Is Possible

Elizabeth Strout

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

The reader is invited into a quiet landscape of contained people whose secrets, compromises and awakenings are both everyday and universal. Women predominate. One or two who are urged to get away do just that, Lucy [Barton] being foremost among them. Those who stay sink, swim or find their own means of survival [Read more...] in Reviews

The Valentine House

Emma Henderson

Reviewed by Alison Burns

Inspired by the six years Henderson spent in a remote valley in the French Alps, The Valentine House takes its vantage point from a chalet she came across high in the mountains – built in 1858 by Sir Alfred Wills, British mountaineer and judge – and draws on the owner’s writings. The first of Henderson’s main characters – Anthony Valentine, scholarly patriarch of the family’s adored chalet, Arete – grew from these experiences and discoveries. The second, his servant Mathilde, is entirely Henderson’s creation, and into her the author seems to have poured everything she knows and feels about this magical region and its real-life occupants [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...]