The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Reviewed by Alice Farrant The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker is the retelling of The Iliad from the perspective of Briseis (Brih-SAY-iss), once Queen of Lyrnessus and then slave and concubine to Achilles. From my understanding of The Iliad (I should admit now that I’ve not read it) and Wikipedia, Briseis falls in…

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Reviewed by Alice Farrant There are books you enjoy and then there are the books that consume you. Authors whose work brands you, generating literary musing that lasts well beyond the final pages of their novels. Donna Tartt, Ford Madox Ford, Richard Yates, Sarah Moss, Elena Ferrante… Ottessa Moshfegh has joined the ranks of literature…

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…

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Reviewed by Alice Farrant “We can get the Times to write something. Or that nut from the Observer.” “Wait, what… what nut from the Observer?” “Frank something? The one who’s so in love with his typewriter. This is just the sort of thing that would outrage him!”    You’ve Got Mail [1998] It is no…

New People by Danzy Senna

Reviewed by Alice Farrant Maria and Khalil are the perfect couple, “King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom”. Maria is a successful scholar, writing her dissertation on the Jonestown Massacre, while Khalil benefits from the dot-com boom as his business takes off. They are even picked to star in a new documentary on people…

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…

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 Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

Reviewed by Alice Farrant The number of women my brother Matthew killed as far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six. When her husband dies Alice is forced to move home to live with her brother, Matthew. The year is 1645, the civil war rages on, and Matthew hasn’t spoken to Alice…

Stay with Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

Reviewed by Alice Farrant Akin’s father has died and Yejide is coming home. Set against a backdrop of political turmoil, Stay With Me is a powerful commentary on motherhood, love, grief, tradition and culture in Nigeria during the 80s and 90s. Flitting between past and present, the novel follows protagonist Yejide and her husband Akin…