Long Bright River by Liz Moore

In choosing fiction, my preference is for narratives driven by emotion rather than action – I want to be in a character’s head and to know what they are feeling, as opposed to being a bystander, ‘watching’ what happens to them.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore is very much an action-driven story. It tells of two sisters, Mickey and Kacey, whose lives begin in the same troubled home but then take very different paths . Kacey lives on the streets of Kensington, Philadelphia, addicted to heroin, and doing what she has to do to feed her habit. Mickey also knows the streets of Kensington but that’s because she joined the police force. Although the sisters are estranged, Mickey keeps an eye out for Kacey. When a string of unsolved murders occur – the victims all young women with drug habits – Mickey fears for her sister. Continue reading

Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth

I could make my review of Emma Jane Unsworth’s latest novel, Adults, all about gin, because the (23) gin-related scenes are glorious. For example –

‘OH MY GOD.’
‘What?’
‘GET ME A GIN, MOTHER.’
She gets me a gin. I am in the same position when she comes up: calcified. I take the gin without moving my face or indeed any part of myself.

and

‘Right,’ says my mother. ‘Do you want a gin?’
‘Yes please,’ says Nicolette. My mother runs off.
‘Don’t let her make you a gin,’ I say. ‘You’ll never get out of bed again. She does all-inclusive-package-holiday measures.’

But a review of gin scenes probably won’t inform your decision about whether to read this book. Actually, knowing my blog readers, it might… Continue reading

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Okay, next time I mention that I’m planning on reading a thriller can you please stage a ‘reading intervention’?

I won’t go into the detail of You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, short of saying it’s the standard middle-class-women-go-psycho thriller. Continue reading

The Not the Wellcome Prize Blog Tour: Sara Stridsberg and Ian McEwan

I’m thrilled to be part of the ‘Not the Wellcome Prize’ blog tour, hosted by Bookish Beck.

Books considered for the prize have a health theme. My contribution is The Faculty of Dreams by Swedish author, Sara Stridsberg, and Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan. Continue reading

The Yield by Tara June Winch

Where to start with this big story, plump with important themes, lush language, and rich history? No review that I will do of Tara June Winch’s novel, The Yield, will capture all the elements of this book, so instead I will focus on the two parts that drew me in – the experience of grief, and the meaning of words. Continue reading

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

When I was sixteen, I visited my grandma one afternoon and, on arriving at her house, found her in tears. The last of the ‘Old Girls’ had died. The ‘Old Girls’ were her life-long friends – a group of women who had met during the War and stayed close for decades. They always referred to themselves as the ‘Old Girls’, even when they were young women. And so suddenly, my grandma was the last Old Girl. It was deeply shocking for me because, until that moment, I had never really thought about friends dying.

This is the subject of Charlotte Wood’s novel, The Weekend. Three friends in their seventies gather for a last weekend at the holiday home of their mutual friend, Sylvie, who has recently died. There’s former restaurateur Jude, organised and bossy; Wendy, an acclaimed intellectual, who continues to write; and beautiful, flighty Adele, a renowned actress whose work has dwindled to almost nothing.  Over the course of the weekend, the dynamics of their relationships are revealed, and the absence of Sylvie felt.

This was something nobody talked about: how death could make you petty. And how you had to find a new arrangement among your friends, shuffling around the gap of the lost one, all of you suddenly mystified by how to be with one another. Continue reading