White Houses by Amy Bloom

Reviewed by Susan Osborne I’ve yet to read anything by Amy Bloom that I’ve not loved. Her writing is both deft and empathetic, pressing all my literary buttons. Spanning a weekend in April 1945, shortly after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, White Houses tells the story of his wife Eleanor and Lorena Hickok, the…

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

Reviewed by Harriet Four years after Emma Healey’s best selling Elizabeth is Missing (reviewed here) comes her second novel, Whistle in the Dark. It’s a psychological thriller of sorts, but don’t expect any murders. This is an exploration of the troubled mind of a mother who can’t solve the mystery of her teenage daughter’s disappearance.…

Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato

Reviewed by Alice Farrant For seven years, Florence, Lucy and Edgar have lived in the wake of Frank’s death. No one mentions Frank’s passing and so Grandmother, Daughter-in-law and Son live under the weight of the grief Frank left behind. When Florence dies Lucy is forced to face a reality she has been avoiding, and…

The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

Reviewed by Alice Farrant Mona lives a quiet life as a dollmaker.  At face value she appears to be an ordinary woman, but in private she runs a side-service helping grieving mothers overcome the loss of a child. As she begins a new romance she is pulled back to her past in 70s Birmingham where…

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

Reviewed by Harriet Asymmetry is defined as ‘lack of equality or equivalence between parts’, a definition that applies both to a theme of this brilliant debut novel and to its structure. As anyone who’s read a review of the book will know, it’s divided into three parts, the first two of which appear to be…

The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox

Reviewed by Annabel When Knox’s debut Sirens, which I reviewed here, was published in January 2017, it caused ripples. Here was a perfectly formed first novel, a crime thriller with a disgraced detective at its heart set in the nighttime economy of Manchester. I described it as ‘The Wire meets Line of Duty in Manchester’. It remained the…

From the Archives: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by Simon Thomas At some point, Helen Oyeyemi will stop being notable for her youth – but, at 29 and with five novels under her belt, that day has not yet come. What should perhaps…

Happiness by Aminatta Forna

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin “You know how it is with white people. You say it’s race, they tell you you are mistaken. Then they say it’s because of your race when you say it is not.” So says one of the characters in Happiness. So it is with great caution that I, from my white…

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

Reviewed by Annabel They say that in Tangier, the local hustlers have clocked all the new arrivals within hours – this is what I was told when I visited Tangier in the 1980s. Every day we stepped outside our hotel, we were met by young men eager to show us the city – via their…

A Long Way from Home by Peter Carey

Reviewed by Harriet A Long Way from Home, as the title implies, is a novel of a journey in more than one sense. An actual physical journey takes up the central portion of the book, which is divided into three related parts, but it’s also a journey to self-knowledge, with all that implies, for one…

All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J Church

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster Elizabeth J. Church’s debut novel, The Atomic Weight of Love (reviewed here), was about an 87-year-old amateur ornithologist whose husband was one of the creators of the atomic bomb. I could see some of its themes – the difficulty of a woman choosing her own path and making it fit into…

The Unbeliever by Oggy Boytchev

Reviewed by Annabel We’re delighted to be the final stop on the short blog tour to celebrate the publication of this book. Oggy (Ognian) Boytchev grew up behind the Iron Curtain in Bulgaria. He developed an interest in spies and spy novels as a child, after hearing propaganda on the radio of a convicted spy’s…

Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce

Reviewed by Helen Skinner It’s 1941 and Britain is at war. Emmeline Lake has always wanted to be a journalist and is thrilled when she sees an advertisement in the newspaper for a job at the London Evening Chronicle. This could be her opportunity to become a Lady War Correspondent. How exciting! To her delight, Emmy…

The Ropewalker and A People Without a Past by Jaan Kross

Translated by Merike Lepasaar Beecher Reviewed by Gill Davies Thanks to the wonderful Maclehose Press I have discovered another writer in translation who deserves to be much better known. Up to now, according to Wikipedia, only four novels and one collection of stories by Jaan Kross have been published in English translations. The two novels…