Two Recent Historical Fiction Heavyweights: Golden Hill v North Water

Golden Hill by Frances Spufford and North Water by Ian McGuire are both novels written by academics who have brought their considerable historical prowess to the field of fiction.  Interestingly, both books in their way are frontier stories, exploring the borderline...

A Brief Affair by Margaret Leroy

I'm a big fan of Margaret Leroy and think she's a little under-rated – her prose has the poetic, luminous quality that I associate with writers like Helen Dunmore and the delicate worlds  she conjures into existence have a depth and resonance that belies their...

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

  An uneasy yet ultimately rewarding novel,  The Trouble with Goats and Sheep offers a lethal look at human frailty that is softened but not blunted by childhood nostalgia, by the heat of a long ago summer and by a sense of our own complicity – that we are as flawed...

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

  Grief is the Thing with Feathers is a refreshingly original read.  It is a slim volume that packs extraordinary literary punch.  To use Max Porter's own words it, "…eats sorrow, unbirths secrets and has theatrical battles with language and God." The shadow of Ted...

I’m Reading: Brexit – What the Hell Happens Now? by Ian Dunt

Brexit – What the Hell Happens Now? By Ian Dunt If you are an unashamed Remainiac like me, Ian Dunt's analysis of how we extricate ourselves from the European Union following the referendum in June 2016 is a compulsory read. Even if you voted to leave, it is a...

I’m Reading: My Name Is Leon by Kit De Waal

My Name Is Leon by Kit De Waal Told from the point of view of a nine year old boy in care, My Name is Leon is the only book I have read in the last twelve months that has left me feeling utterly shaken at the end, uncertain of where to put myself. It's spell-breaking,...

I’m Reading: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry Sarah Perry's novel is a brilliant evocation of the Victorian age: its preoccupations about science, religion and superstition all find subtle expression in this wonderfully gothic tale of a young widow with an interest in archaeology,...

I’m Reading: The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney Winner of the 2016 Bailey's Prize for Fiction, Lisa McInerney's debut novel is a theatrical tour de force: she captures with brio the voice of her young antihero, the drug dealing Ryan, and through him we are allowed a glimpse...

I’m Reading: Shambala Junction by Dipika Mukherjee

Shambala Junction by Dipika Mukherjee A spirited account of one of the darker consequences of poverty in India, where babies are sold to orphanages for $25.00 then put up for adoption by wealthy westerners who pay $35,000 for the privilege. An unsentimental yet...

I’m Reading: The Muse by Jessie Burton

The Muse by Jessie Burton Having been slightly under-whelmed by The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton's stratospherically successful first novel, I approached her second book a little warily. It tells the story of a picture that was painted during the Spanish civil war and...