Small Hours

Jennifer Kitses

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Tom and Helen’s relationship is already founded on a number of poor choices and secrets. Tom still hasn’t managed to find the right moment to share with Helen the fact that he has a love child with an ex-mistress. And Helen hasn’t totally forgiven herself for arm-twisting Tom into having two daughters when he didn’t want children, as well as pushing him to move out of New York City, to a small town in the Hudson Valley with a commute time of 90 minutes [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

May Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

In Love Like Blood Mark Billingham takes on so-called honour killings. One of Tom Thorne’s colleagues, on compassionate leave after the murder of her partner, involves him in an off-the-books investigation into a series of murders she believes have been carried out by killers paid by the parents of young people who are seen to have broken their cultural or religious taboos. At the same time Thorne’s partner, Helen, is trying to uncover some particularly horrible child-sex abuse. Carefully researched and judiciously plotted, this is an important novel, as well as a thriller with all Billingham’s characteristic wit and perception [Read more...] in Reviews

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

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...]