Apprenticeship by Peter Gill

Reviewed by Harriet Born in Cardiff in 1939, Peter Gill is a distinguished theatre director and playwright. But he started his career as an actor in the early 1960s, working first at the Royal Court Theatre and later at the Royal Shakespeare Company. It’s this later event that forms the foundation of this book, in…

The Hazards Of Good Fortune by Seth Greenland

Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies The title of Seth Greenland’s book harks back to William Dean Howells’ 1889 New York novel of business and politics A Hazard of New Fortunes. The fortune of Greenland’s title harnesses both its meanings in a classically American equation, both luck and riches. Jay Goldstone, the novel’s lead character, was born…

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Reviewed by Alice Farrant There are books you enjoy and then there are the books that consume you. Authors whose work brands you, generating literary musing that lasts well beyond the final pages of their novels. Donna Tartt, Ford Madox Ford, Richard Yates, Sarah Moss, Elena Ferrante… Ottessa Moshfegh has joined the ranks of literature…

Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale

Reviewed by Annabel I took this novel on holiday to Somerset with me. We were renting a barn in one of the villages next door to Weston-Super-Mare, where Eustace, the protagonist of Patrick Gale’s new novel grows up. However, we only went into WSM the once: the tide was way out, exposing the estuarine mud…

Spotlight on Publishers: Myriad Editions

Annabel asked Myriad Editions’ Publishing Director Candida Lacey some questions… Annabel: Your company website has an intriguing strapline, ‘Publishers of fiction, graphic books and atlases’. Tell us a little about Myriad Editions and how it began? Candida: Myriad was set up in 1993 by the late Anne Benewick, formerly an editor at Pluto Press, and…

I Only Killed Him Once by Adam Christopher

Reviewed by David Harris This is the final outing, as far as I’m aware (though it would be nice to have more), for Ray Electromatic, Adam Christopher’s wise-cracking, Chandleresque robot detective and hitman. Ray’s investigations (and assignments) are made more difficult by the fact that his memory tape only lasts for 24 hours. After that…

The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman

Reviewed by Julie Barham This is the debut novel written by Tracy Borman, who is a popular historian and Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. The research is therefore impeccable, the feeling for the age is genuine and ought to be experienced, and the writing is extremely engaging. As a first published foray into fiction, this…

The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser (pbk)

Reviewed by Kim Forrester There’s something about Michelle de Kretser’s silky prose combined with her superbly drawn characters and her forensic eye for detail that makes The Life to Come  —the Australian writer’s first novel since winning the Miles Franklin Literary Award with Questions of Travel in 2013 — truly sing. Throw in fierce intelligence and sparkling wit…

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

Reviewed by Annabel Becky Chambers’ third novel is set in the same galactic milieu as her first two. It can be read as a standalone and marks her out as a shining star in the latest generation of space opera writers. In her marvellous debut, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, we travelled…

The Town by Shaun Prescott

Reviewed by Harriet This is how things are going to be from now on. This is how they’re going to stay. History can end, you know. It doesn’t have to keep going. In this strange, bewitching novel, a young writer comes to live in a New South Wales town. He has a project – he’s…

Learning to Die by Thomas Maloney

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Three decades of life promise a quarter-life crisis: your 20s are on their way into your 30s, you’re forced to reflect and look back, and, too often, to ignore what you have done and instead panic over all the things you haven’t. The characters in Thomas Maloney’s Learning to Die embody…

City of Light by Rupert Christiansen

Reviewed by Karen Langley The city of Paris exerts an eternal fascination; chic and glamorous, the haunt of revolutionaries and intellectuals, and stuffed with romance, it can be many things to many people. There are claims that it’s known as the City of Light because of its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment, or…

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

Reviewed by Annabel The first thing you need to do with this sparkling debut novel is to suspend your disbelief. Just accept that time travel was invented by a quartet of four women in 1967 and run with it. That done, you can sit back and enjoy this complex story which incorporates a clever murder…

Johannesburg by Fiona Melrose (pbk)

Reviewed by Eleanor Franzén There seem to be a lot of rewrites out these days; many of them are about myth and legend, like Kamila Shamsie’s Women’s Prize-winning Home Fire, but some are reworkings of more recent literature. Fiona Melrose’s second novel, Johannesburg, isn’t precisely a rewrite, but it takes many of its cues from Virginia…

The Idiot by Elif Batuman (pbk)

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth In his The Idiot – the original – Dostoevsky set out on a mission to depict “the positively good and beautiful man.” The namesake, Prince Myshkin, has a goodness and open-hearted simplicity to him that others take as an absence of intellect and insight; and it makes him the perfect guinea…

To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine

Reviewed by Annabel When punk happened, although I was the right age – in my later teens – I’d already diverted off into prog rock, (I know!). So, I never consciously listened to the Slits, but I was aware of a girl punk group who hung out with the Sex Pistols. Now, decades later, such…

The Bright Side of Life by Emile Zola

Translated by Andrew Rothwell Reviewed by Harriet Fans of Monty Python may have a bit of trouble with this title – I’ve had their iconic song stuck in my head for weeks. In French the novel was called La Joie de Vivre – the joy of life – and I’m not convinced that the new…

How to Change your Mind: The new science of psychedelics by Michael Pollan

Review by Peter Reason ‘The soul should always stand ajar.’ It is fitting that Michael Pollan introduces his latest book on the resurgence in interest in LSD, psilocybin and other psychedelics with this epigraph from Emily Dickinson. For, as he concludes in this entertaining and informative book, exploration of alternative states of consciousness can have…