Anna of Kleve – Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir

Review by Julie Barham, 20 August 2019 It is well known that Henry VIII had six wives – and none more mysterious than the one that he married virtually unseen, and parted from almost immediately. Alison Weir’s wonderful series of biographies of these women, queens, continues with the story of Anna, usually known as Anne…

Scrublands by Chris Hammer (pbk)

Review by Kim Forrester, 20 August 2019 Fans of Jane Harper’s The Dry will love this debut crime novel by Chris Hammer. As well as a similar setting — a drought-stricken country town in Australia —Scrublands is similarly fast paced, full of unexpected twists and turns, and an ending you won’t see coming. But the tale is more complex…

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Review by Harriet, 15 August 2019 Having been blown away by Colson Whitehead’s 2016 prizewinning novel The Underground Railroad, (reviewed here by another of our team), I was delighted to see that this new work was due out this summer. Delighted but also a bit apprehensive – could it possibly measure up to the brilliance…

One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan

Translated from the Tamil by Aniruddhan Vasudevan Review by Anna Hollingsworth, 15 August 2019 An author hardly tops any lists of most hazardous jobs, but looking at the whirlwind that Perumal Murugan has endured, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking so. When One part woman was published in Tamil in 2015, the local Kongu Vellala…

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Review by Basil Ransome-Davies, 13 August 2019 I’m no great fan of fiction written exclusively in the present tense, for all its reputed ‘immediacy’; I generally fancy novels with a past. But that’s not to say it can never work. I more than once laid aside The Chain to do something else, only to be…

The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds by Stephen Rutt

Review by Liz Dexter, 8 Aug 2019 This charming and perceptive book opens with a gut-wrenching account of taking off in a very small plane from Kirkwall in Orkney, travelling to North Ronaldsay. But how has the author got to this point? Well, he got into birdwatching through his father seeing his first Cetti’s warbler:…

The Perfect Wife by J P Delaney

Review by Annabel, 8 August 2019 I recently read J P Delaney’s first psychological thriller, The Girl Before, (which Harriet reviewed here) in advance of a crime panel event he was speaking at. The event was excellent and JP was fascinating to listen to talking about his second novel Believe Me, which was inspired by…

Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson

Review by Anna Hollingsworth, 6 August 2019 If Dr Frankenstein’s creation took the form of a book, Frankissstein is what I imagine it would look like. There’s a transgender doctor harvesting body parts for a rogue researcher, there’s a Welsh sexbot investor, and there’s Mary Shelley making love and writing her way across Europe with…

Putney by Sofka Zinovieff (pbk)

Review by Susan Osborne, 6 August 2019 Sofka Zinovieff’s Putney is a subtle novel which explores the fallout of sexual abuse all wrapped up in an engrossing piece of storytelling, accessible enough to offer an absorbing, intelligent summer read. When young composer Ralph visits the Putney home of a successful novelist keen to see his…

Necropolis by Vladislav Khodasevich

Translated by Sarah Vitali Review by Karen Langley, 1 Aug 2019 The Russian Library series from Columbia University Press has thrown up some marvellous treasures of literature from Russia, several of which I’ve previously covered here on Shiny New Books (here, here and here). However, they’ve outdone themselves with this recent release, a marvellous literary…

A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio

Translated by Ann Goldstein Review by Gill Davies, 30 July 2019 It is 1975, somewhere in the south of Italy. A thirteen year old girl drags a suitcase and a bag of shoes up the stairs of a tenement building in an unknown town. She is about to meet  – and live with – people…

This Really Isn’t About You by Jean Hannah Edelstein (pbk)

Reviewed by Max Dunbar There’s a common British anecdote that goes: ‘We had some American friends here on holiday, and on the third day they drove to Stonehenge!’ The idea behind it is that because the UK is a small island, even driving to the next village seems like an epic poem. But Americans grow…

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

Reviewed by Harriet He wished that he could just once hear his sister play a solo again. Or help his sister pin up the hem on a dress she’d made. Or have a goodnight peck on the cheek from his mother – the most intimacy she could manage. They were not a family who touched.…

The Frayed Atlantic Edge by David Gange

Reviewed by Peter Reason David Gange is historian at the University of Birmingham and has a passion for mountains and wild water. Well before The Frayed Atlantic Edge was published, I came across him on Twitter and through his blog,  Mountain, Coast, River, much appreciating his stunning photographs from the western coasts of the British…

Picture by Lillian Ross

Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies Picture is Lillian Ross’s 1951 account of the making and unmaking of a John Huston project, The Red Badge of Courage, a film adaption of Stephen Crane’s 1895 novel. It was originally serialised in the New Yorker. Among Ross’s numerous antipathies, according to a piece by Andrew O’Hagan (LRB 41, 13),…

The Body Lies by Jo Baker

Reviewed by Gill Davies The prelude to the main events of the novel is a random, terrifying sexual assault on the central character. She is a young writer, with a well-received debut novel, living in south London in a small flat with her husband Mark, a teacher. She is working in a bookshop, trying to…

This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook

Edited by Clare Farrell, Alison Green, Sam Knights, and William Skeaping. Review by Peter Reason There cannot be many followers of Shiny New Books who are not aware of the activities of Extinction Rebellion. Reports of the shutdown of London bridges and the later occupation of five major London sites for ten days, and of…

Tragedy, Farce and the Future: the Red Circle Minis

Reviewed by Karen Langley As I’ve explained in my Bookbuzz feature, the Red Circle Minis are three slim volumes of original writing published by Red Circle Authors. Each book is by a writer who’s either Japanese or living in Japan, but the works are being issued in English initially as an attempt to widen the…

Red Circle Authors: An unusual and innovative venture

Feature by Karen Langley Japanese literature has a long and rich heritage stretching from early works like The Pillow Book (990s) and The Tale of Genji (early 11th century) to modern masters such as Murakami. Some of my personal favourites, such as Yukio Mishima, hail from the 20th century, but Japan continues to be a…

The Quarter by Naguib Mahfouz

Translated by Roger Allen Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth On the rare occasions that someone uncovers unpublished work by a deceased writer, publishing takes an archeological turn. An unpublished manuscript, like a mummified pharaoh or a Stone Age tool, can prove to be a gift from beyond the grave – for literature lovers and no doubt…

Selfies by Sylvie Weil

Translated by Ros Schwartz Reviewed by Karen Langley The selfie might seem to be a very modern phenomenon; the sight of people constantly stretching their arms out and craning to get a snap of themselves in a special location or with a famous person has become commonplace. We live in a modern age characterised by…

Cari Mora by Thomas Harris

Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies The day my review copy of Cari Mora arrived I spent the afternoon strolling on Morecambe’s splendid promenade. The view across the Bay from the Naples of the North is elevating even in dull weather. Hitting Morrisons for a light shop, as you do, I was overwhelmed at the entrance by…