Cover image for The Painter's Friend by Howard Cunnell

The Painter’s Friend by Howard Cunnell: ‘The Source of Art is the Life of a People’

As regular readers will know, I can’t resist a novel with an art theme which is why I put up my hand for a copy of Howard Cunnell’s The Painter’s Friend. That and the memory of the praise heaped upon his memoir, Fathers and Sons, which explored his own relationship with his father as his …

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Cover image for The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller: ‘This is the end of a long story’

I’m incapable of resisting a novel with a Cape Cod summer setting. Something about families thrust together in unaccustomed closeness, brought face to face with their pasts, usually with a few dark secrets thrown in, plus lovely descriptions of the New England coast. There’s usually one every year and this year’s is Miranda Cowley Heller’s …

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Booker Prizes logo

My 2021 Booker Wish List

When I first started this year’s Booker Prize wish list, I found it a bit of a struggle. Several of the books I’ve loved most this year have been translations – Jhumpa Lahiri’s Wherabouts, for instance – and obviously those don’t qualify. Then I read a novel I wanted to include at the last minute …

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Cover image for People Like Them by Samira Sedira (transl Lara Vergnaud

People Like Them by Samira Sedira (transl. Lara Vergnaud): An unthinkable crime

I wasn’t at all sure I’d read Samira Sedira’s People Like Them. It’s published under Bloomsbury’s crime imprint and I’m a crime watcher rather than a crime reader but it was the quote from Leila Slimani about its exploration of racism which made me think again. Based on a true story, Sedira’s novella is about …

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The Cottage in the Garden (E Sussex)

Seven Days in Sussex and Kent plus One and a Half Books

I’d booked the lovely Cottage in the Garden back in January, calculating that summer self-catering was a safe bet whatever happened with Covid. It’s a delightful rustic cottage full of generous, thoughtful touches: fresh flowers from the garden and the table laid with a welcoming cream tea. It also comes complete with its own wildflower …

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Cover image for Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann: Divinely dysfunctional

Back from Sussex (more of that next week) with Stacey Swann’s reworking of Classical myth, Olympus, Texas, which came with a persuasively thumping endorsement from Richard Russo. Set in the titular small town, Swann’s debut sees the supremely dysfunctional Briscoes brought face-to-face with some harsh facts when two of its members are caught up in …

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Cover image for The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta

The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta: The high price of fame

I couldn’t resist its clever proof jacket, whose wine stain hinted at hedonism (sadly ditched in the final version), and intriguing title so I put up my hand for a copy of Mikaella Clements’ and Onjuli Datta’s The View Was Exhausting. I was also fascinated by the idea of two authors, who turn out to …

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