Review: Number 11

4 STARS 2015, Jonathan Coe   Another masterpiece from the writer whom Nick Hornby called ‘probably the best English novelist of his generation’. Just like What a Carve Up! and The Rotters’ Club, Number 11’s plot is wide-ranging, covering a variety of characters who are all ingeniously interlinked, their links becoming obvious as the novel…

Review: Little Fires Everywhere

2 STARS 2017, Celeste Ng   But the problem with rules, he reflected, was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time there were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right. One of the biggest books of the last couple…

Review: Call Me By Your Name

2 STARS André Aciman, 2007   Most of us can’t help but live as though we’ve got two lives to live, one is the mockup, the other the finished version, and then there are all those versions in between. But there’s only one, and before you know it, your heart is worn out. The award-winning…

Review: Anna Karenina

4 STARS Leo Tolstoy, 1878   ‘It’s like this. Suppose you are married, you love your wife, but you are attracted by another woman.’ ‘Forgive me, but I really find that absolutely incomprehensible… It’s as if… as incomprehensible as if, after a good dinner here, I were to go into a baker’s shop and steal…

Review: Murder of a Lady

3 STARS Anthony Wynne, 1931 “There’s something wrong with this house.” Republished for the first time since 1931 as part of the British Library’s ‘Crime Classics’ series, this cleverly plotted novel harkens back to the ‘golden age’ of crime writing, when mysteries like these were simply puzzles to be worked out by the reader, rather…

Review: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

4 STARS Muriel Spark, 1961  ‘Attend to me, girls. One’s prime is the moment one was born for. Now that my prime has begun – Sandy, your attention is wandering. What have I been talking about?’ ‘Your prime, Miss Brodie.’ This short novel, set in the Edinburgh of the 1930s, is a brilliantly structured portrayal…