Julian Barnes’ latest literary offering is divided into three parts, combining historical account, fictionalized event and personal memoir. Barnes highlights the unpredictability of life in his written contemplation on relationships, from the factors and events bringing two people together and the joy experienced, through to the immense sorrow felt when circumstances unexpectedly change. Connecting stories of 19th century balloon travel and photography with love and grief, Levels of Life is beautifully written and deeply moving in its heartfelt honesty. Highly recommended.
The Fields, by Kevin Maher, tells the story of 13 year old Jim Finnegan, the youngest child and only boy in a large, Irish Catholic family household. Set in Dublin in the mid 1980s, the book sees the adolescence of the lead character coming to an abrupt end following the arrival of the new Parish priest, Father O'Culigeen. Whilst dealing with ongoing abuse and a terminal illness in the family, Finnegan is able to find happiness amidst the turmoil with the older, Saidhbh Donohue. The two begin an intense relationship, which despite the joys of first love, is not without its troubles.
Maher manages to mix humour in with the heavy themes of the book. The comical accounts of chaotic family life offer moments of most welcome respite from the confronting subject matter. An impressive fictional debut, The Fields is a well written and engaging read.
Russell's previous book Swamplandia! is one of my all time favourites, so I was very excited to get my hands on this new book of short stories, a format in which she is extremely accomplished.
From young enslaved women evolving into silkworms to produce silk for their empire, to seagulls meddling with people's fate by stealing small but crucial items from their lives, onto US Presidents who find themselves trapped in the bodies of horses, what sound like fantasy stories are really nothing of the sort, Russell has a wonderful ability to weave together reality and the bizarre to produce something both richly funny and devastatingly sorrowful.
Some stories are stronger than others, but I really love and empathise with her young characters whom are innocent, fragile, and strong at once.
She is such a talent, capturing me with her sense of place and time like few writers can and I'm savouring for more already.
A beautifully crafted dystopian world of conformity and corruption, Wool follows the journey of Juliette on her way from mechanic to sheriff within a post-apocalyptic underground silo.
Wool began as a series of novellas independently published online and went on to became a major success scoring Howey a six figure book deal. Howey still retains the exclusive online rights and recently sold the film rights to 20th Century Fox.
With a refreshing plot that strays away from traditional conventions as each layer is revealed, Wool is a thrilling read full of twists and turns and a triumph of self publishing.
This is another great novel by Maggie O’Farrell. Perhaps it is even better than “The Hand that First Held Mine.” When the patriarch of the family vanishes one morning, Gretta calls in the family to help find him. Each member has their own life issues and problems and each one’s problems are slowly revealed. Their characters are complex and interesting. Put together again in their adult life the children are exposed to and have to deal with the same issues that they escaped from when they left home, as well as their current relationships. The writing is brilliant, engaging and clever. Not to be missed.
Benediction by Kent Haruf
Some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read. This is a novel about mortality, lost opportunities and family - those we are born into and those we create. This is a simple story but Kent Haruf is such a remarkable writer that you become so immersed in the characters and their respective sorrow you grieve along with them. The novel pivots around the terminally ill Dad Lewis, being cared for at home by his wife of fifty years and their middle aged daughter. A younger son has detached himself from the family years before and as death approaches his father has to deal with his regret about never really accepting his son. Set in a small community where everybody cares for each other, this novel will remind you about the fragility of life. A must read.
The main character of this historical Icelandic tale is a murderess. While she awaits her death penalty she is placed with a farming family who are more than reluctant to have her under their roof and surveillance, within reach of their two young daughters. As Agnes, the murderess slowly reveals her version of the events that led to her conviction, Kent gradually teases out the relationships and characters in this amazing true story. This intriguing story is a page turner.
RELEASE DATE: MAY 2013
The Diviners is a gripping, sensational read that presents a completely new story, a historical fiction with about 1 000, 000, 000 twists and constant thrills. A young adult fiction unlike any other I’ve read! Awesome! Fabulous! Frightening!
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City and she couldn’t be happier about it. New York is the city of shopping, fame, actress and movie palaces! Evie has found her place with the glamorous Ziegfield girls and loves the thrills of the rakish pickpockets. However she has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."
Although maybe Will isn’t as crazy as everyone thought, maybe just maybe he’s right. When a series of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. But Evie has a secret, a mysterious power that could save her if it doesn’t get her killed first.
A brilliant book of peril, romance, exploration, mystery and horror, that will keep you clued to the coach.
Recommended for 12+
- Katie McGregor
India Knight (Sunday Times Journalist) has written another hilarious semi autobiographical novel.
Clara Hutt the heroine of Knight's previous novels (My Life on a Plate and Comfort and Joy) is 46 and suddenly has the sad realisation (that many of us 40+ women do) that builders no longer whistle at her as she walks by. This is further exacerbated by the arrival of her friend Gaby from LA who has magically* turned the clock back. Should Clara join suit or face the aging process with good grace...
This is a witty treatise; a blast against the ridiculous confusing messages given to adult women on the cusp of middle-age. It is caustic, scabrous and every so often you will hit a line so funny and true it will make you gasp out loud.
(see - botox, lifts and fillers)
THE HONEY GUIDE BY RICHARD CROMPTON
Listed as the First Mollel Mystery this thriller moves the reader through an exciting and unputdownable story. Set in Nairobi in 2007, Mollel, a single father and retired police officer now dragged back into a strange case of murder. This novel is as fascinating for the way it reveals the real life of Kenya as well as the complex murder trial. A really good read.