Brief Loves That Live Forever

Andreï Makine

Reviewed by Siân Miles

From the Stygian darkness of a State-run Soviet orphanage in the early and pre-Brezhnev years, the narrator of Brief Lives That Live Forever, a literally ground-breaking novel, tells a tale of smashed stones turning into nuggets of gold. The orphans are roughly fed and sheltered with the aim of their becoming manual labourers. Coarsened, boys and girls alike, by the expectation of a limited future, some of the children nevertheless retain a fathomless and inalienable understanding of, as well as a sensitivity to, the invisible yet omnipresent possibility of love [Read more...] in Reviews

Go Set A Watchman

Harper Lee

Reviewed by Charlotte Moore

Though there are flashbacks and references to the 1930s, the Mockingbird era, Watchman is set twenty years later, at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. Jean Louise, an independent, modern woman working in New York, returns to Maycomb, Alabama for her annual visit to her father Atticus, now seventy-two and crippled, but still a lawyer and the town’s most respected citizen. The childhood home has gone- an icecream parlour stands in its place – but Jean Louise assumes that this is still the Maycomb of her youth. She is wrong [Read more...] in Reviews

One Night, Markovitch

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

Reviewed by Elizabeth Hilliard Selka

At a glance, this novel delightfully revisits the plot of The Taming of the Shrew: luscious and feisty Bella (geddit?) is allocated to decent but ordinary Yaacov Markovitch in a fictionalized account of a real-life scheme which helped young women escape Nazi-dominated Europe by marrying them to Jewish men who came to Europe for the purpose, with the proviso that once in Palestine they would immediately be divorced and free to live and work [Read more...] in Reviews

July Crime Round-Up

N.J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

Three of this month’s other novels are written by men in the voice of women. Jonathan Freedland, a serious journalist who has published bestsellers under the name Sam Bourne, explores a possible future in which China has taken over from the United States as the world’s superpower and planted garrisons on American soil. I was reminded of Daphne du Maurier’s entertaining Rule Britannia (1972), in which she imagined the UK taken over by America after the failure of the European Union. At this time of uncertainty over the Euro and the possible exits of some of the member states, it seems suddenly topical again [Read more...] in Reviews

All Together Now

Gill Hornby

Reviewed by Zoë Fairbairns

A fondness for bland, unattributed, middle-distance editorializing is one of the less comfortable aspects of Gill Hornby’s novel of choral life in an English village, All Together Now. Far more acute are the parts where the book sets aside the philosophizing and generalized observations, and concentrates on the singers as individuals [Read more...] in Reviews

The Insect Rosary

Sarah Armstrong

Reviewed by Shirley Whiteside

Armstrong skilfully plants clues as to the reason for Bernadette’s breakdown, slowly revealing what happened that last summer at the farm. The flashback scenes are well written as the loyalty of the sisters is tested. Bernadette’s ten-year-old voice is particularly strong as she struggles to understand what the grown-ups are trying to hide [Read more...] in Reviews

June Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

I had great pleasure in discovering that, unlike so many other crime novels published at the moment with ‘girl’ in the title, Wilson’s deals with a child. This is ten-year-old Molly Jackson, who is convinced that she is really Phoebe Piper, who went missing from a family holiday several years before and who has never been found. Molly could be forgiven for any strategy she invented to make sense of her tricky life, and she is an appealing and resourceful girl [Read more...] in Reviews