Hotel du Lac – a light escape by Anita Brookner

Although set in a completely different part of France, this book reminded me of Bonjour Tristesse. Perhaps because of its central character – a female left to her own devices trying to find a foothold in idleness.   Narrated by Edith Hope, a middle-aged English writer of clever romance novels, Hotel du Lac opens with…

Amy Sackville’s Orkney – a haunting week by the seaside.

It’s difficult to decide whether the main feature in this novel is the relationship between the honeymooners or the Orkney seascape. This is a novel with a very voyeuristic feel – a nameless young bride with long, silvery hair sits for hours gazing out at the sea. Inside the rented cottage, her husband Richard, a…

All the Beggars Rising: Lucy Caldwell

Being Various was one of my favourite books in 2019, so I was intrigued to read more fiction from Lucy Caldwell. Enter All the Beggars Rising. Written from the point of view of Lara, a middle-aged woman with a chequered childhood, it’s a story about struggling to shrug off the ghosts of the past.  It’s…

Christmas in Austin: A Review

Centred around the four Essinger family as they descend upon their family home for Christmas, this is Markovtiz’s seventh novel and a typically incisive examination of the tensions in familial relationships. With each member of the family given their own turn at the narrative we get an insight into the conflict between living a life…

Big Sur – A Review

Big Sur is the quasi-autobiographical tale of Jack Duluoz who tries to escape his life in San Francisco by seeking solitude in a cabin the wilds of Big Sur. Expecting a lyrical exploration of adventures in the wilderness, I settled down in the dark night at Deetjens on Big Sur with the copy I’d picked…

Melmoth by Sarah Perry: A Review

It’s not very often that the protagonist of a novel is described with disgust but yet manages to elicit our sympathies, but that is just one of the many astonishing things about this wonderful book. The central character is Helen Franklin, a fairly pitiable woman in her early 40s working as a translator in Prague,…

Yiyun Li, ‘A Thousand Years of Good Prayers’

In this collection of short stories, Li examines the reality of daily life in modern China, opening our eyes to a world where society is trying to balance the weight of tradition with the fast pace of modern life. In ‘Extra’, a lonely middle-aged woman finds herself abandoned in a wilderness of strangers, dehumanised and…

Lethal White: A Review

Unsettling from the very start, the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series takes a little while to find its feet. When a mentally distressed young man explodes into Strike’s office requesting help on finding out about a crime he may have witnessed as a child, Strike feels compelled to help, in part due to…

Sylvia

“What the hell is that smell?” “I know, it’s totally disgusting. Like someone rubbed cheese all over themselves and hasn’t had a wash in over a week!” They sat there, giggling over their iced coffees, oblivious to the light June breeze that carried their voices over the empty shopping arcade towards me. I’ve heard similar…

Mole People

  “The victim was found by railworkers at 5am on Monday 6th October at the entrance of the tunnel at Fairford Junction. She is believed to have bled to death due to trauma of the eye area. Police are appealing for any eye-witnesses who were in the area between midnight and 5am to contact them…