March Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

For any reader who wants refreshment from the miseries of damaged children and brutal psychological distress, Philip Gwynne Jones’s The Venetian Game will be ideal. Featuring the British Honorary Consul in Venice, Nathan Sutherland, it explores that most sinister and beautiful city through the activities of a pair of rich, art-collecting brothers and the delightful Dottoressa Federica Ravagnan, an expert in restoration. This is a civilized, knowledgeable, charming antidote to the darker reaches of the genre [Read more...] in Reviews

Here Comes the Sun

Nicole Dennis-Benn

Reviewed by Shirley Whiteside

Dennis-Benn roots the story firmly in Jamaica by using local patois in speech which has a musicality and poetry all of its own. Through Thandi she shows the discrimination against girls with dark skins and the lengths some will go to in order to have the light brown skin that is considered beautiful. It is another desperately sad example of healthy young women being told they are not enough in themselves [Read more...]in Reviews

The Dollmaker

Harriette Arnow

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Born to farm, Gertie’s greatest ambition is to set up herself, her husband Clovis and their five children on their own piece of land, in a sound house, within their own community. And this dream of life, made concrete in the form of The Tipton Place, is almost within her grasp when pressure from Clovis, Gertie’s own mother and convention force her to abandon it. It’s wartime, Clovis has been called up but is now working in a factory in Detroit, earning decent money, and the pressure is for his wife to pick up sticks and join him in the accommodation he has found [Read more...] in Reviews

The Disappearance of Emile Zola

Michael Rosen

Reviewed by Zoë Fairbairns

Living as a fugitive in suburban London gave Zola much to contend with: fear, homesickness, anger and loneliness, as well as the contradictions of celebrity – he needed to be incognito, yet he yearned to be recognized. Then there was the terrible cooking: ‘Their vegetables are always cooked without salt, and they wash their meat after they’ve cooked it.’ The distasteful personal habits of some Crystal Palace women were another irritant – apparently they dropped hair pins in the street [Read more...] in Reviews

Lincoln in the Bardo

George Saunders

Published by Bloomsbury UK/Random House US

George Saunders’ new novel – ‘a luminous feat of generosity and humanism,’ according to Colson Whitehead – tells the story of a grieving president as he spends the night in the cemetery where his beloved son lies in rest.
Now The New York Times has released a companion film to the book, a co-production with Plympton, Sensorium and Graham Sack, directed and written by Graham Sack. George Saunders collaborated on the adaptation.
For Saunders – and Lincoln – fans, the film visualizes Lincoln’s haunting experience – and gives voice to the ghosts that populate Saunders’ evocative tale. It’s available on nytimes.com at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/09/books/review/lincoln-in-the-bardo-george-saunders.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0 and in the NYT VR app, which is free and available to download on the Play Store and App Store.

January Crime Round-Up

N.J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

Hyper-vigilant like all children of abusive parents, Ali Land’s Milly has an excellent insight in other people’s secrets and behaviours. She knows when she is being manipulated and she is herself a brilliant manipulator of other people. Her voice is beautifully rendered and her own behaviour is absolutely convincing. This is a most impressive novel... [in Reviews]

Behold the Dreamers

Imbolo Mbue

*A 2016 Notable Book

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