A Love Story by Émile Zola

Translated by Helen Constantine Reviewed by Harriet Here at Shiny we’ve reviewed several of the new Oxford World Classics editions of the novels of Émile Zola: Money, Earth and The Conquest of Plassans. All three form part of the twenty-one volumes of what is known as the Rougon-Macquart series, published between 1871 and 1893. A…

Pan Books at 70: The SF Edit

Reviewed by Annabel Pan, founded in 1944, published its first mass market paperback in 1947 – Ten Stories by Rudyard Kipling with the famous Pan logo designed by Mervyn Peake and distinctive covers. Now they are 70 years old and Pan have published new editions of twenty of their most celebrated paperbacks with wonderful new…

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Reviewed by Julie Barham The inevitable question is, do we need a new edition of one of Austen’s books? Well, on the evidence of this super book, sent to me by Oxford University Press, I would say that the answer is a resounding yes. A lovely hardback, it has come out as part of a…

Russian Émigré Short Stories from Bunin to Yanovsky, edited by Bryan Karetnyk

Reviewed by Karen Langley In the anniversary year of the 1917 Russian Revolution a number of books have been issued which look at that tumultuous event and its effect on Russia, as well as the aftermath in that country. However, Penguin Classics have recently published a fascinating anthology which approaches the conflict from a somewhat…

The Pitards by Georges Simenon

Translated by David Bellos Reviewed by Annabel By 1934, Georges Simenon had published the first 19 Maigret books, and he temporarily shelved the series, resuming ten years later. He went travelling around the world but didn’t stop writing, trying out a different form. These standalone books would come to be known as his romans durs…

The End of the Web by George Sims

Reviewed by Harriet No, the title doesn’t refer to a predicted end of the internet. This is a 1976 novel, written before such things were even invented. It’s taken from a quotation about death, which is apt because death does crop up a bit in this excellent novel, a British Library Classic Thriller. At the…

Separation Sally Emerson

Separation by Sally Emerson

Reviewed by Harriet I have to admit I’d never heard of Sally Emerson before the publishers offered me a couple of their recent reprints. Though she’s till around and still writing, her six novels were published between 1980 and 2001; since then she has concentrated on travel writing, journalism and anthologising. Separation was published in…

The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin

Reviewed by Harriet Soon after midnight she would wake; and again at half past two; and again at four. As the months went by, I found myself quite distracted by lack of sleep; my eyes would fall shut while I peeled the potatoes or ironed shirts. I remember one night sitting on the bottom step…

The Incredible Crime by Lois Austen-Leigh

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton The Incredible Crime and its author are something of a literary curiosity. Lois Austen-Leigh was the great great-grandniece of Jane Austen. She almost certainly wrote her books at the same desk her more famous ancestor used (now housed in the British Library), and that connection alone is probably enough to raise…

Teenage Writings by Jane Austen

Reviewed by Karen Langley 2017 is turning out to be something of a year of anniversaries: as well as being 100 years since the Russian Revolution took place, it’s also the centenary of the birth of artist and author Leonora Carrington, (more about her here). Both of these events have been gaining considerable media coverage, exhibitions…

A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor

Reviewed by Gill Davies When you were a child did you ever hunt for a lost ball among ferns and leaves and parting them quick to look … come suddenly upon a great toad, sitting there, very ugly and watchful. All the time there, though you didn’t know it, under the leaves. The shock, the…

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (pbk)

Reviewed by Ali First published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale seemed to speak to the generation coming to political awareness in that decade. Back then it could be read as speculative fiction. We read it as a warning, rather than a prophecy, and it has inspired a generation of feminists. Margaret Atwood takes us to…

Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead

Reviewed by Karen Langley Australian-born Christina Stead led a lively and picaresque life, spending parts of her time in the USA, France, Spain and the UK. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that the heroine of this entertaining and adventurous novel draws much of her experiences from the life of her author. Letty Fox: her Luck…

Letters From Klara and Other Stories by Tove Jansson

Translated by Thomas Teal Reviewed by Kate Gardner This penultimate collection of Finnish literary giant Jansson’s short stories has taken 26 years to be published in an English translation, but that is a reflection of our literary landscape, not of the quality of the stories. Jansson was in her 70s when she wrote these, and…

Running Blind by Desmond Bagley

Reviewed by Annabel I’m delighted that the vogue for republishing the best thrillers from the 1960s onwards as exemplified by the books of Lionel Davidson (see Harriet’s reviews here, here and here!) has turned to another star from the past – Desmond Bagley. In our household, I grew up on a diet of action thriller writers…