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…

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose

Reviewed by Harriet A kickass debut from start to finish’ screams the cover of this highly readable, somewhat bizarre, debut novel. It’s a book that defies categorisation – perhaps best described as a picaresque coming-of-age novel, it manages to combine urban exploration, the Darknet, secret societies, the exploitation of teenagers, and the life and works…

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting

Translated by Paul Russell Garrett Reviewed by Harriet For me my mother was a scent, she was a warmth. A leg I clung to. A breath of something blue; a dress I remember her wearing. She fired me into the world with a bowstring, I told myself, and when I shaped my memories of her,…

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…

Secret Sisterhood Midorikawa Sweeney

A Secret Sisterhood by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

Reviewed by Harriet The subtitle of this book is ‘The hidden friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf’, which sounds very promising. I’ll start by saying that I found some of the sections worked better than others, but that might have been a matter of how well-informed I was to start with. Overall, though, this…

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards

Reviewed by Harriet Here at Shiny we love our classic crime, and we have been delighted to review a number of excellent novels that have recently made available through the British Library’s Crime Classics series. The editor of the series is of course the indefatigable Martin Edwards, who also manages to be a bestselling author,…

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…

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

Reviewed by Harriet If you’re a watcher of historical TV documentaries, you won’t need introducing to Lucy Worsley, who presents history programmes for the BBC, in which she often dresses up in the costumes of the period. She’s also produced a number of popular history books, frequently tied in to the series she’s been presenting.…

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Reviewed by Harriet It’s every parent’s nightmare – one minute your child is there, next minute they’re gone. My own three-year-old daughter once wandered off in a busy market in central London, and the hour or so before we tracked her down to a nearby police station was one of the most agonising of my…

Maigret Goes to School by Georges Simenon

Reviewed by Harriet Translated by Linda Coverdale What was he doing there? A hundred times, in the middle of an investigation, he’d had the same feeling of helplessness or, rather, futility. He would find himself abruptly plunged into the lives of people he had never met before, and his job was to discover their most…

Aphra Behn: A Secret Life by Janet Todd

Reviewed by Harriet ‘Aphra Behn was a woman who wore masks’. So says Janet Todd at the beginning of this monumental, newly revised biography of Behn, who was a prolific dramatist, poet, novelist and translator, and ‘the first English woman to earn her living solely by her pen’. Born sometime between 1637 and 1643 (though…

Deaths of the Poets by Paul Farley and Michael Simmons Roberts

Reviewed by Harriet The deaths of poets matter to us because they become a lens through which to look at the poems. So say the authors, both poets themselves, in this satisfying, thought-provoking book about – well, about the deaths of poets. It’s structured as a series of journeys the two of them made, in…

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Reviewed by Harriet And if such a gift could come to him at such a time…— he opened his eyes, and yes, there it was, the perfect knowledge: Anything was possible for anyone. Just over a year after the publication of the amazing My Name is Lucy Barton (reviewed here in paperback), Elizabeth Strout has…

Hamlet: Globe to Globe by Dominic Dromgoole

Reviewed by Harriet Dominic Dromgoole was the Artistic Director of London’s Globe Theatre from 2005 to 2016. During this successful period he initiated many memorable achievements, including a 2012 festival in which all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays were staged by companies from all around the world. It went supremely well, but the departing euphoria left…

The Devil and Webster by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Reviewed by Harriet I’d never heard of Jean Hanff Korelitz when her 2014 novel, You Should Have Known, landed unsolicited in my mailbox. I read it with huge admiration and enjoyment, and gave it a very positive review in the very first edition of Shiny [here]. Now it’s 2017, and her latest novel, The Devil…