Short reviews of four short books

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

I enjoyed the way Barnes reflected on the creative process, the ownership of art, and its meaning under a totalitarian regime. There was a bunch of superb one-liners that stopped me in my tracks but the structure of the book made for tiring reading and as a result I wasn’t curious beyond what I read. This is the kind of book that I imagine I will look back on with more interest than I experienced as I reading, purely for Barnes’s perspective on art and ownership.


New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

New Boy is the second book I’ve read in the Hogarth Shakespeare series (the first was A Gap in Time. Hag-Seed and Vinegar Girl are on my radar). I was initially attracted to Chevalier’s school playground setting – truly, playgrounds can be vicious places and eleven-year-olds, merciless. However, the school setting and analogies seemed heavy-handed by the end and the important inner dialogue of the main characters suffered from being kept within the realms of what eleven-year-olds might think. As a result, the motivations for their actions were clumsy.


Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali

Such a melancholy story! I had no expectations when I started this book and knew nothing about it but was intrigued by an email from the publisher –

As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to imprison journalists and political dissidents, and the country’s plans for EU membership gets more complex, a long-forgotten novel has enjoyed a remarkable revival and become a cultural connection in the divided country … Author Sabahattin Ali, a fiery socialist and critic of the repressive government of his time, died under suspicious circumstances at the Bulgarian border in 1948 as he attempted to flee Turkey. He has now become an icon of resistance for today’s Turkish youth.

The story is simple but the theme timeless – is it better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all?


The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am by Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold

While I enjoyed the message of this novel (live life to the fullest), the story pushed my capacity for ‘quirky’ to its 2017 limit. It’s darkly humorous but many of the details that I think were pitched as funny were simply heartbreaking.


I received three books from the publishers, via NetGalley, in exchange for honest reviews (The Noise of TimeRandom House UK; New BoyHogarth; Madonna in a Fur CoatOther Press).

7 responses

  1. I loved The Noise of Time, but then I have a soft spot for Julian Barnes. I’m going to get back to the Hogarth Shakespeare series eventually. I’ve read Shylock Is My Name and The Gap of Time, both of which I found middling.

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