Sceptre Books

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There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett: A poignant tribute

Australian writer Favel Parrett’s beautifully expressed When the Night Come  made quite an impression on me when it was published in the UK back in 2014. It was its Antarctica setting that first attracted me but it was Parrett’s gorgeous writing that left me wanting more. It’s clear from its dedication that There Was Still …

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Body Tourists by Jane Rogers: ‘Death where is thy sting’

I’m not one for dystopian fiction but Body Tourists caught my eye because of its author. I’ve enjoyed several of Jane Rogers’ novels, including her last one, Conrad and Eleanor, which neatly reversed gender roles in the story of a long marriage. Her new novel is set in a near future where scientists have developed …

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The Language of Birds by Jill Dawson: Lord Lucan – the nanny’s story

I’m a fan of Jill Dawson’s writing. Her last novel, The Crime Writer, was a wonderful piece of literary fan fiction, a perverse love letter to Patricia Highsmith. However, when I read that The Language of Birds was based on the notorious Lord Lucan affair I dismissed it. I’m old enough to have seen far …

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Memories of the Future by Siri Hustvedt: ‘One story has become another’

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you’ll know that I’m a Siri Hustvedt fan. Sixteen years after I first read it,  What I Loved remains one of my favourite contemporary novels. It’s more accessible than the complex, intensely cerebral The Blazing World, her last novel published five years ago. Memories …

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Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller: Love and war

I have a history with Andrew Miller’s writing: I loved Ingenious Pain so much that I included it in my One-Hundred-Book Library and Pure came a close second. It’s not that his other novels haven’t been enjoyable but Ingenious Pain was so inventive in its premise and so beautifully executed that I’ve been left mildly …

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The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells (transl. by Charlotte Collins): Death and how to survive it

This may sound obvious to seasoned readers of literature in translation but one of the things I’ve learned to look out for is the name of the translator as well as the author. The penny dropped when I noticed how many of the translations I’d enjoyed were by the late Carol Brown Janeway. Now I’d …

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Before Everything by Victoria Redel: A gorgeous paean of praise to friendship

Every now and then a book comes along about which it’s hard not to gush. Victoria’s Redel’s lovely Before Everything fits that bill for me. I was very much attracted by its premise – five women, friends since school, come together when one of them is dying – but I hadn’t expected the bonus of …

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In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist (transl. Henning Koch): A grief observed and endured

Acclaimed poet Tom Malmquist’s book comes labelled by the publisher as a piece of ‘auto-fiction’ – a novel based on the author’s life rather than a memoir. Already garlanded with prizes in the author’s native Sweden, it’s the story of Tom whose partner Karin dies a few weeks after the premature birth of their daughter, …

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