Blackberry & Wild Rose by Sonia Velton (pbk)

Review by Helen Skinner, 26 November 2019 It’s 1768 and Sara Kemp has just arrived in Spitalfields, the London parish which has become home to a thriving community of Huguenot silk weavers. Sara is full of hope and optimism, ready to start a new life, but before she’s had time to get her bearings she…

Lake Like a Mirror by Ho Sok Fong

Translated by Natascha Bruce Review by David Hebblethwaite, 21 November 2019 Ho Sok Fong is a Malaysian writer whose short stories have won a number of awards. Lake Like a Mirror is her second collection, originally published in Chinese in 2014. The women at the heart of these nine stories are not in full control…

The Measure of a Man by Marco Malvaldi

Translated by Howard Curtis and Katherine Gregor Review by Terence Jagger, 21 Nov 2019 I was intrigued to see this novel on my doormat: Malvaldi is better known (to me at least) as a writer of crime stories, and I read his Three-Card Monte with pleasure (my Shiny review is here). But that is light,…

Tea at Four O’Clock by Janet McNeill

Review by Harriet, 18 November 2019 The gates of her prison were open, but she lacked the courage to go through them to whatever new country was waiting for her on the other side. I’d only vaguely heard of Janet McNeill before I was offered this 1956 novel for review, but I’m always up for…

An Interview with pony book author Jane Badger

Interview by Liz Dexter, 14 November 2019 Jane Badger started off as a dealer in horse and pony books, becoming known for her extremely extensive website on the subject: https://janebadgerbooks.co.uk/ . She’s even written a history of the pony book, Heroines on Horseback. So it seemed like the natural thing to do when she decided…

Your Duck is My Duck by Deborah Eisenberg

Review by Terence Jagger, 14 November 2019 This, in spite of its slightly silly sounding title, is an interesting and slightly mysterious collection of six short stories. They are all very different, but share a common characteristic, that the author lets the reader into the narrative secrets only gradually, and then not completely.  Some of…

Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas

Review by Anna Hollingsworth, 12 November 2019 My immediate reaction was a desperately deep sigh when, pre-launch, Dana Thomas’s Fashionopolis was trumpeted as a must-read revelatory work on the fashion industry. Surely anyone with even the slightest interest in the world must at least suspect that there is something amiss with fashion; sure, shoppers may…

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver (pbk)

Review by Annabel, 12 November 2019 I read and really enjoyed Paver’s first two adult novels, both ghost stories. The first, Dark Matter was located in the Arctic, which was followed by Thin Air set in the Himalayas, and both were also set in the mid 1930s. Given their similar nature, I preferred Thin Air, which I had read first, particularly…

Akin by Emma Donoghue

Review by Harriet, 7 November 2019 Back in 2010 I read Emma Donoghue’s best selling, prize winning Room. I admired it but I can’t say I enjoyed it. Not only because the story itself, which deals with the experiences of Jack, a five-year-old boy who has lived his entire life trapped, by his rapist father,…

The Memoir of an Anti-Hero by Kornel Filipowicz

Translated by Anna Zaranko Review by Karen Langley, 5 November 2019 It could be argued that Anglophone readers are living in a golden age of translated literature; all manner of smaller publishers are bringing us regular delights in the form of newly-translated works, either modern books or previously unavailable classics. Penguin Books has always included…

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Review by Liz Dexter, 5 November 2019 Amma is a playwright and director who’s moved from the fringes to the mainstream (or has it moved to her?). Yazz is a millennial student, sure of herself and never wrong, who categorises her godparents according to what accompanies their birthday cards. Dominique made a mistake and ended…

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Review by Harriet, 31 October 2019 I’ve reviewed two of Elizabeth Strout’s novels on Shiny here and here and both were brilliant. But possibly my favourite up to now has been her 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, which, in a series of interlinked short stories, introduces the eponymous Olive, a middle-aged schoolteacher living in the…

Find Me by André Aciman

Review by Anna Hollingsworth, 31 October 2019 There are two kinds of novels to which I don’t want to see a sequel. There are, of course, the literary nightmares that I pray I won’t have to revisit and that shouldn’t have come into existence in the first place. Then there are the very special books…

Home Work by Julie Andrews

with Emma Walton Hamilton Review by Annabel, 29 October 2019 Julie Andrews’s first volume of memoir, Home, told us of her childhood, growing up during the war, and her early career on stage in Vaudeville as a child star. This led to her starring in shows in London’s West End and then huge success on…

The Summer Isles by Philip Marsden

Review by Peter Reason, 17 October 2019 The Summer Isles is an account of a single-handed voyage from the south coast of England round the west of Ireland and on to the northwest of Scotland in a small wooden sailing boat. I must declare a personal interest, as Philip Marsden’s voyage followed a course similar…

Inheritance by Jenny Eclair

Review by Laura Marriott, 15 October 2019 From previous reviews (Moving, Listening In) it is no surprise that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new Jenny Eclair novel Inheritance. However, this causes one both excitement and some trepidation. What if this one is a disappointment? What if the author has gone off…

Gloucester Crescent by William Miller (pbk)

Review by Annabel, 15 October 2019 Nestled between Primrose Hill and Camden Town in NW1, it’s hard to believe that Gloucester Crescent (and Regents Park Terrace which joins its ends) was ever considered slightly shabby: you’ll know the road if you saw the film The Lady in the Van. When you look at today’s house…

Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie

Review by Peter Reason, 10 October 2019 Kathleen Jamie is primarily known as a poet, but her prose writing is eagerly anticipated and widely acclaimed. Surfacing is the third in a loose trilogy of prose collections that joins Findings (2005) and Sightlines (2012). I am unashamedly a fan. Findings drew nature and landscapes together with…

Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

Review by Gill Davies, 10 October 2019 This powerful and engrossing novel continues a series of crime novels in which Attica Locke uses plot and suspense to investigate inequality and American racism in the late 20th and 21st centuries. Previous novels examined the lives and history of black Americans as they struggled to establish communities…

Street Art (Art Essentials) by Simon Armstrong

Review by Liz Dexter, 8 October 2019 The Art Essentials series aims to be engaging, accessible, authoritative, richly illustrated and expertly written and conceived, and with a bookseller and book collector who has watched the rise of street art in the public consciousness to write it and the expert designers at Thames & Hudson to…

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Review by Harriet, 8 October 2019 Ann Patchett believes in goodness, arguably a most unfashionable belief in today’s world. In the bookstore she runs, there’s a sign: ‘What good shall I do this day?’ In an Guardian interview [here] in 2016 she was quoted as saying ‘I have been shown so much kindness in my…

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris

Review by Basil Ransome-Davies, 3 October 2019 In his indispensable primer What Is History? E. H. Carr underlines the point that ‘History’ has a double meaning: both the events, or facts, of the past, and the record of those events (‘Prehistory’ describes the time before written records were kept). Facts are facts. Writing is a…