The Valentine House by Emma Henderson

Reviewed by Annabel Here they come. Here they are. Les anglais, the English, les rosbifs. After a rather attention-grabbling opening, in which the ageing Sir Anthony Valentine writes some extremely purple prose about mountains and valleys in his diaries, Henderson’s second novel settles down to tell the story of decades of summer visitors to Valentine’s…

Tom Tiddler’s Ground by Ursula Orange

Reviewed by Simon One of the authors I’ve been on the look-out for, for years, is Ursula Orange – entirely the responsibility of Scott (from the Furrowed Middlebrow blog) who has championed her in the past. But finding her novels was nigh-on impossible, and I more or less gave up hope. So I met, with…

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore

Reviewed by Harriet I wanted to write about people whose voices have not echoed through time and whose struggles and passions have been hidden from history So writes Helen Dunmore in the afterword of this, her latest novel. I’ve always vaguely known about her writings, but I could never remember if I’d actually read any…

David Jones by Thomas Dilworth

Reviewed by Rob Spence Ask a reasonably well-educated person to name some Anglophone modernist poets, and you are sure to hear the names of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Mention might be made of the Imagist poets, such as F.S. Flint, ‘HD’, and Richard Aldington; you may hear a case made for D.H. Lawrence or…

How to Be Human by Paula Cocozza

Reviewed by Alice Farrant At 35, Mary is single and living in the house she once shared with her partner. She goes to work only to be berated by her boss and comes home to the judgement of her neighbours. Then suddenly, in the midst of her urban depression a fox appears, and strange love…

Mikhail and Margarita by Julie Lekstrom Himes

Reviewed by Karen Langley In this centenary year of the Russian Revolution, much attention is being focused on Soviet Russia and its culture. One author who exerts an eternal fascination is Mikhail Bulgakov; recognised nowadays for his epic work The Master and Margarita, in Soviet times he was probably more known as a playwright since…

A House in Flanders, by Michael Jenkins

Reviewed by Helen Parry In the extreme northern part of France lies the plain of Flanders, a great fertile expanse rolling inland from the sea until it meets a chain of conical hills which, strung out like a necklace of beads, run north over the frontier to Belgium and southwards in the direction of Picardy.…

Rain: Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison (pbk)

Reviewed by Rob Spence I come from Manchester, so I know about rain. Actually, Manchester’s reputation as the rainy city is, as I am overfond of pointing out, a result of a mistake in meteorological analysis made in a study of north-west rainfall in the 1920s. I know, I should get out more. Melissa Harrison…

Gone: A Girl, a Violin, and a Life Unstrung by Min Kym

Reviewed by Harriet For some reason I’ve always been fascinated by child prodigies – people who seem to have been born with an innate talent for something, which very often seems to be music. Min Kym, born in South Korea, brought up in London, discovered hers when she was about five. Interestingly, her choice of…

A Separation by Katie Kitamura

Reviewed by Marina Sofia It is easier to tell you what A Separation is not, rather than what it is. It is not a mystery, although a disappearance features quite heavily. It is not a psychological thriller, although we delve deep into the central character’s psychology. It is not a romance, although there is a…

Kit de Waal – on being mixed race

Kit de Waal is the author of My Name is Leon which was published last year to great acclaim – see our review of the novel here. We are taking part in the blog tour for the paperback release of her novel, and are delighted that Kit has written a short piece for us below. My…

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal (pbk)

Reviewed by Alice Farrant My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal is a powerful story that discusses race, mental illness, and family, through the abandonment of a child. It’s the early 80s, Leon is eight and his baby brother Jake has just been born. As his mother slips into a haze of postnatal depression…

The Lark by Edith Nesbit

Reviewed by Harriet Last year there was a bit of a flutter in the blogging world when Edith Nesbit’s complete works popped up on Amazon for a very low price. The one that caught everyone’s attention was her final novel, The Lark. Several people, including me, felt that this was a prime candidate for Persephone…

Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett

Reviewed by Julie Barham I think that the overwhelming sense or atmosphere of this book is sadness. Nevertheless, it is a faithful picture of life in a town of the turn of the century. This is of course the story of the towns of Stoke on Trent, and there are those who would dispute exactly…

All the Places I’ve Ever Lived by David Gaffney

Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies David Gaffney has earned himself a distinctive reputation as a writer of ‘flash fictions’ – micro-stories, variable in tone and topic but springing from a gonzo imagination – in the collections Sawn-off Tales and More Sawn-off Tales. Anything can happen in 150 words or so. Some of them playfully unpick language.…

Walking in Berlin by Franz Hessel

Reviewed by Rob Spence Berlin is one of my favourite cities, and I have spent a lot of time walking around its fascinating streets. So the republication of Franz Hessel’s guide to the city in a sprightly new translation by Amanda DeMarco is very welcome. Of course, my Berlin is that of the late twentieth-…

Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash (pbk)

Reviewed by Susan Osborne Ron Rash hails from the Appalachians and it’s there that he sets his award-winning novels with their smalltown mountain backdrop similar to Kent Haruf’s Holt, Colorado. He’s also a poet, more evident in this new novel than in previous books I’ve read by him. Above the Waterfall is about Les Clary,…

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin No book could be simultaneously more timely and more timeless than this future classic. The Nix is fun, joyous, exciting and tender; full of both the outrage, anger and giddy momentum of political change and subtle layers of sympathy for the characters at the heart of it. It is inescapably apt…

The Longest Night by Otto de Kat

Reviewed by Gill Davies Otto de Kat is the pseudonym of a Dutch writer (journalist, poet, translator and editor) whose novels are set in Holland and Germany in the period just before and during World War II. Once again I find myself catching up with a writer who I wish I had read before. This…