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…

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…

Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life by Rose Tremain

Reviewed by Harriet I’m a huge admirer of Rose Tremain’s brilliant novels, and very fond of childhood memoirs as a genre, so this one was a must for me. It’s the story of growing up in a world that might seem comfortable and privileged, but one with many uncomfortable spikes under its apparently smooth surface.…

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

Reviewed by Harriet We’ve reviewed two of Laura Lippman’s novels in Shiny, here and here. One was a police procedural and the other a standalone – Lippman’s output is fairly evenly divided between the two. She’s known as a crime writer, but if that’s not your genre of choice, don’t dismiss her novels, which rise…

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Reviewed by Harriet I forget everything between footsteps. ‘Anna!’ I finish shouting, snapping my mouth shut in surprise. My mind has gone blank. I don’t know who Anna is or why I’m calling her name. I don’t even know how I got here. I’m standing in a forest, shielding my eyes from the spitting rain.…

The World Broke in Two by Sam Goldstein

Reviewed by Harriet This enthralling multiple biography is subtitled ‘Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, and the year that changed literature’. The year is 1922, and the claim is a large one which can only be fully substantiated by referring to writers who are not major players here: in that year, James Joyce…

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

Reviewed by Harriet I have certain reservations about novels in which the central character is someone who really existed. Sometimes it works really well, as for example in the case of Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea, or the Josephine Tey novels of Nicola Upson. Other times, though I won’t name names, I’ve been a bit…

Lullaby by Leila Slimani

Translated by Sam Taylor Reviewed by Harriet Moroccan born novelist Leïla Slimani is not the first woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, though she’s only the 13th woman to do so since the prize was established in 1903. Her novel, Chanson Douce, now translated as Lullaby, is however the first…

Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann

Reviewed by Harriet Most people probably think that the presence of black people in Britain began with the large influx of nearly 500 who came over from Jamaica in 1948 on the MV Empire Windrush. Before that, we may have a vague idea that the relatively small number of black people who appear in 18th century…

Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith

Reviewed by Harriet Subtitled ‘A Christmas Crime Story’, this is a remarkably accomplished and fascinating novel by a writer better known under her other pseudonym, Anthony Gilbert. It was much praised when it appeared in 1933: Dorothy Sayers called it ‘powerful and impressive’ and wrote of the ‘fine inevitability in the plot structure which gives…

Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson

Reviewed by Harriet Nine Lessons is the seventh of Nicola Upson’s crime novels featuring the mystery writer Josephine Tey (1896-1952). I normally have a few reservations about the seemingly fashionable trend of making real writers the subject of fictional books, but I’ve been a fan of Josephine Tey’s brilliant crime novels for as long as…

Shaun Greenhalgh Forgers tale

A Forger’s Tale by Shaun Greenhalgh

Reviewed by Harriet The subtitle of this fascinating book is ‘Confessions of the Bolton Forger’. Does that ring any bells? If you were keeping half an eye on the news ten or so years ago, you could not have missed the story, which exploded all over the media. A quiet, pleasant-seeming man in his mid-forties…

The Other Woman by Laura Wilson

Reviewed by Harriet A couple of years ago on Shiny I reviewed Laura Wilson’s The Wrong Girl. That was a tense psychological thriller centring on family relationships, and so, in a sense, is this one. It’s certainly a page-turner – I whizzed through it in record time – but it’s in a very different mode.…

Questions for Laura Wilson

Questions by Harriet   Harriet: Hi Laura – thanks for agreeing to answer some questions. I really loved The Other Woman and have some questions specifically about that. But first, our readers always enjoy hearing about how peoples’ writing lives began. When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? Laura: I don’t…

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

Reviewed by Harriet I’ve always admired Maggie O’Farrell’s fiction, and greatly loved her most recent novel, This Must Be the Place, which I reviewed on Shiny last year. I didn’t know much about her personal life, though, so I seized on this recently published autobiographical work hoping to fill in the blanks. Well, let me…

Sugar Money by Jane Harris

Reviewed by Harriet Jane Harris is not exactly a prolific novelist. Five years passed between the publication of her debut novel The Observations (2006) and her second outing Gillespie and I (2011). Now her many fans will be breathing a sigh of relief that the waiting is over for her third, Sugar Money, just published.…

Questions for Jane Harris

Questions by Harriet Hi Jane – I really loved Sugar Money (as I did your other two novels). We’re very grateful to you for agreeing to answer some questions. First of all, the thing everyone always wants to hear – how did you become a writer? Hi Harriet. Thanks so much for asking me to…

Roffey Tryst

The Tryst by Monique Roffey

Reviewed by Harriet This is a remarkable book by any standard. It’s marketed by the publisher, Dodo Ink, as a literary erotic novella, which sounds about right, as long as you remember the emphasis on the literary bit. There is certainly a huge amount of vivid, sometimes violent, sex here, but it’s about as far…