American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Review by Anna Hollingsworth, 21 January 2020 Let’s face it: anything involving human tragedies, poverty, despair, abuse and crime offers a wealth of material for a novelist of any genre. At the risk of sounding cold-bloodedly utilitarian, the stories of the thousands of migrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico border every year fit the bill…

Happy Ever After by C. C. MacDonald

Review by Basil Ransome-Davies, 21 January 2020 Adultery. It crops up everywhere. Few grown-up pastimes are as popular as disobeying the sixth Commandment. Where would novels, plays and movies be without it? It’s transgressive, it’s exciting, it motors the story. Historically, it has been far more tolerable for men than for women. A man needs…

Merry Christmas from the Shiny Eds!

Just over two weeks to go till the big day, and the Shiny editors are starting our Christmas break. We’ll return in the New Year; our next reviews will appear here on 21 January. We will still appear on social media though, highlighting some of our favourite posts of the year. Meanwhile we’d like to…

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (pbk)

Review by Annabel, 12 December 2019 This short novel told in letters took me pleasantly by surprise. Within pages I was hooked, and I read it in one extended sitting, shedding a tear along the way as I followed the story of the developing friendship between two lonely middle-aged people.  Tina and Anders are separated by…

The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo

Translated by Louise Heal Kawai Reviewed by Harriet, 10 December 2019 This delightful reprint from Pushkin Press is widely viewed as one of Japan’s greatest murder mysteries. Amazingly this is its first English translation, expertly done by Louise Heal Kawai. First published in 1946, it recounts events said to have taken place in Okamura, a…

The final two Maigret novels by George Simenon

Maigret and the Informer, translated by William Hobson Maigret and Monsieur Charles, translated by Ros Schwarz Reviews by Basil Ransome-Davies, 3 December 2019 Simenon was a supercharged writing machine, a prodigious figure whose élan vital drew him to adventure, travel and – in Wikipedia’s genteel idiom – ‘romantic involvement’ with any number of women (often…

Sorry for the Dead by Nicola Upson

Reviewed by Harriet, 27 November 2019 Here at Shiny we are great admirers of Nicola Upson’s books – her most recent novel, Stanley and Elsie, was reviewed here, and we’ve also covered two of her Josephine Tey crime novels here and here.  These were numbers six and seven in this on-going series, and now we…

The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North

Review by David Harris, 26 November 2019 A new book by Claire North is always a very special event in my reading calendar, and William Abbey didn’t disappoint. In something of the same vein as the Flying Dutchman, this is a tale of a man cursed after an act of selfishness. William Abbey is a mediocre doctor in…

Blackberry & Wild Rose by Sonia Velton (pbk)

Review by Helen Skinner, 26 November 2019 It’s 1768 and Sara Kemp has just arrived in Spitalfields, the London parish which has become home to a thriving community of Huguenot silk weavers. Sara is full of hope and optimism, ready to start a new life, but before she’s had time to get her bearings she…

Lake Like a Mirror by Ho Sok Fong

Translated by Natascha Bruce Review by David Hebblethwaite, 21 November 2019 Ho Sok Fong is a Malaysian writer whose short stories have won a number of awards. Lake Like a Mirror is her second collection, originally published in Chinese in 2014. The women at the heart of these nine stories are not in full control…

The Measure of a Man by Marco Malvaldi

Translated by Howard Curtis and Katherine Gregor Review by Terence Jagger, 21 Nov 2019 I was intrigued to see this novel on my doormat: Malvaldi is better known (to me at least) as a writer of crime stories, and I read his Three-Card Monte with pleasure (my Shiny review is here). But that is light,…

Tea at Four O’Clock by Janet McNeill

Review by Harriet, 18 November 2019 The gates of her prison were open, but she lacked the courage to go through them to whatever new country was waiting for her on the other side. I’d only vaguely heard of Janet McNeill before I was offered this 1956 novel for review, but I’m always up for…

An Interview with pony book author Jane Badger

Interview by Liz Dexter, 14 November 2019 Jane Badger started off as a dealer in horse and pony books, becoming known for her extremely extensive website on the subject: https://janebadgerbooks.co.uk/ . She’s even written a history of the pony book, Heroines on Horseback. So it seemed like the natural thing to do when she decided…

Your Duck is My Duck by Deborah Eisenberg

Review by Terence Jagger, 14 November 2019 This, in spite of its slightly silly sounding title, is an interesting and slightly mysterious collection of six short stories. They are all very different, but share a common characteristic, that the author lets the reader into the narrative secrets only gradually, and then not completely.  Some of…

Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas

Review by Anna Hollingsworth, 12 November 2019 My immediate reaction was a desperately deep sigh when, pre-launch, Dana Thomas’s Fashionopolis was trumpeted as a must-read revelatory work on the fashion industry. Surely anyone with even the slightest interest in the world must at least suspect that there is something amiss with fashion; sure, shoppers may…

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver (pbk)

Review by Annabel, 12 November 2019 I read and really enjoyed Paver’s first two adult novels, both ghost stories. The first, Dark Matter was located in the Arctic, which was followed by Thin Air set in the Himalayas, and both were also set in the mid 1930s. Given their similar nature, I preferred Thin Air, which I had read first, particularly…

Akin by Emma Donoghue

Review by Harriet, 7 November 2019 Back in 2010 I read Emma Donoghue’s best selling, prize winning Room. I admired it but I can’t say I enjoyed it. Not only because the story itself, which deals with the experiences of Jack, a five-year-old boy who has lived his entire life trapped, by his rapist father,…

The Memoir of an Anti-Hero by Kornel Filipowicz

Translated by Anna Zaranko Review by Karen Langley, 5 November 2019 It could be argued that Anglophone readers are living in a golden age of translated literature; all manner of smaller publishers are bringing us regular delights in the form of newly-translated works, either modern books or previously unavailable classics. Penguin Books has always included…

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Review by Liz Dexter, 5 November 2019 Amma is a playwright and director who’s moved from the fringes to the mainstream (or has it moved to her?). Yazz is a millennial student, sure of herself and never wrong, who categorises her godparents according to what accompanies their birthday cards. Dominique made a mistake and ended…

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Review by Harriet, 31 October 2019 I’ve reviewed two of Elizabeth Strout’s novels on Shiny here and here and both were brilliant. But possibly my favourite up to now has been her 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, which, in a series of interlinked short stories, introduces the eponymous Olive, a middle-aged schoolteacher living in the…

Find Me by André Aciman

Review by Anna Hollingsworth, 31 October 2019 There are two kinds of novels to which I don’t want to see a sequel. There are, of course, the literary nightmares that I pray I won’t have to revisit and that shouldn’t have come into existence in the first place. Then there are the very special books…

Home Work by Julie Andrews

with Emma Walton Hamilton Review by Annabel, 29 October 2019 Julie Andrews’s first volume of memoir, Home, told us of her childhood, growing up during the war, and her early career on stage in Vaudeville as a child star. This led to her starring in shows in London’s West End and then huge success on…