The Testaments: The Sequel You Didn’t Know You Needed?

3 STARS Margaret Atwood, 2019 CONTAINS SPOILERS   You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you. In many ways, The Testaments is the exact opposite of The Handmaid’s Tale. There, we were claustrophobically confined to one character’s limited viewpoint. Here, we move rhythmically between three different ones. There,…

White Teeth: the Debut Author’s Hysterical Realism

3 STARS Zadie Smith, 2000   Shiva shook his head. ‘I been out with a lot of white birds, Samad. A lot. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it ain’t. Two lovely American girls. Fell head-over-heels for a Parisian stunner. Even spent a year with a Romanian. But never an English girl. Never works. Never.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Too…

Review: Winter

5 STARS Ali Smith, 2017   It’s always such a wonderful moment when one reads the exact right book at the exact right time. For me, Winter was such a book, read in the last days of last year. The first book I read in 2018 was Autumn, and the last book I read in…

My 2018 in Books: Hits and Misses

I have read 100 books this year, of which 49 were for university (where, unsurprisingly, I study English Literature) and 51 were for pleasure. 2018 was a great year in books for me, with loads of new discoveries and enjoyable reads. It was also the year I became more comfortable rating books 2 or 3…

Review: The Death of the Heart

5 STARS Elizabeth Bowen, 1938   “How can you know what she’s like when she’s alone?” This short quotation encapsulates the novel. How can we know what any other person is really like – when they are alone, inside the privacy of their own mind and heart? It is the story of characters struggling to…

Review: Bring Up the Bodies

4 STARS Hilary Mantel, 2012 I loved Wolf Hall, and its successor Bring Up the Bodies was just as wonderful. The story flows on beautifully from the previous book. Settle down for a literary treat, back in the world of Thomas Cromwell… Soon Calais was in an uproar. Letters flitting across the Narrow Sea. Master…

Gift Guide: 10 Types of Readers and Books They’ll Love

There’s (almost) no problem that a book can’t solve, and that includes the quandary of what to buy for the difficult person on your Christmas list who can come up with no ideas except Amazon vouchers. But fear not, because I have put together a gift guide, matchmaking 10 types of reader with personal book…

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…