The Lost Lights of St Kilda

Elisabeth Gifford

Reviewed by Shirley Whiteside

Gifford’s writing is lyrical, drawing the reader into the extraordinary world of St Kilda, with its exceptional beauty and close-knit community. She does not shy away from the many hardships of island life, nor the inherent dangers: high winds can blow sheep (and people) over the giant cliffs to certain death. The relationships are finely wrought, the love triangle between Chrissie, Archie and Fred especially [Read more...] in Reviews

Sharks in the Time of Saviours

Kawai Strong Washburn

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

At the heart of its story stand the Flores parents, Augie and Malia, living hardscrabble lives of manual labor and overstretched budgets while tending to their three bright children. Against the wild, abundant background of jungle, surf, volcano and beach, Dean, Kaui and Nainoa grow up in a milieu of love and expectation. Each child is talented – Dean on the basketball court, Kaui in the classroom. But its Nainoa who seems to shine the brightest [Read more...] in Reviews

The Home Stretch

Sally Howard

Reviewed by Zoë Fairbairns

The book surveys historical and international aspects of the domestic labour debate, from nineteenth-century industrialization and the housework-ignoring theories of men such as Adam Smith and Karl Marx, via world wars and their aftermaths, to the gig economies, robotic technologies and outsourcing practices of the present day. It takes in the growth of welfare states, and employment practices which assume that the ideal household contains a breadwinning man and a financially dependent woman who cleans up after him for free [Read more...] in Reviews

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

Deepa Anappara

Reviewed by Rachel Hore

As a one-time journalist in Delhi, Deepa Anappara knows of what she writes, and her prose, richly punctuated by local idiom, is exceptionally vivid. She evokes the variety, individuality and vitality of the characters in Jai’s community with skill and humour, whilst underlining the appalling conditions in which they live. There’s little sanitation and they must join long queues for toilets or simply use the rubbish dump or the street [Read more...] in Reviews

Not at Home

Doris Langley Moore

Reviewed by Elizabeth Hilliard Selka

Doris Langley Moore found time to write six novels between 1932 and 1959, of which Not At Home was published in 1948 and is now reissued alongside her others by Dean Street Press with an introduction by Sir Roy Strong…The story introduces Elinor MacFarren, a botanical artist living alone in a large London house full of beautiful things who, to defray costs, takes a lodger. To summarize the plot briefly, this is a disaster [Read more...] in Reviews

A Stranger City

Linda Grant

* A 2019 Notable Book

Reviewed by Alison Burns

A web of conscious and unconscious interconnections, layered like the often invisible levels of the city’s transport system, links the dead woman with a cross-section of London’s inhabitants. In particular, Chrissie, a young and reckless hospital nurse, who happens to go missing briefly on the same night as DB27; Alan, a film-maker, who makes a TV documentary about them; and Pete, the river-haunting policeman who tries to solve the case [Read more...] in Reviews

Women Talking

Miriam Toews

* A 2019 Notable Book

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

The women’s analysis of what has happened to them, their treatment, their own futures and their children’s, and above all how to absorb these events into their own sense of faith, fills most of the book’s pages, and might seem at times dry. But its territory is so horrific, so stark, so outrageous and contemporary that it magnetizes the reader. Toew’s sensitivity, lucidity, lyricism and wit ensure it [Read more...] in Reviews