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…

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…

The Caravaners by Elizabeth von Arnim

Introduced by Juliane Römhild, with notes by Kate Macdonald Review by Karen Langley, 19 September 2019 Elizabeth von Arnim is probably best known nowadays for her novel The Enchanted April, a warm and delightful story in which a group of women take a holiday in Italy and experience its magic. Her Elizabeth… books, in which…

The House Opposite by Barbara Noble

Review by Elaine Simpson-Long, 12 Sept 2019 It sounds odd to begin a book review with the statement that I do not like contemporary literature. I never have. And it is not because I am a Grumpy Old Woman – I have felt this way all my life. As a teenager working in the library…

Beastings by Benjamin Myers (pbk.)

Review by Kim Forrester, 3 September 2019 Stories told in strong, distinctive voices using sparse, pared-back prose don’t come much better than Benjamin Myers’ Beastings, which has just been reissued by Bloomsbury. Originally published in 2014, this simple tale is essentially a chase novel in which a priest enlists the help of a poacher to pursue a…

The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun by Sébastien Japrisot

Translated by Helen Weaver Review by Annabel, 22 August 2019 I had never heard of Sébastien Japrisot before reading this book, and wasn’t surprised to discover that he has been nicknamed ‘The Graham Greene of France.’ Japrisot, who died in 2003, was an author, screenwriter and director, which didn’t surprise me, for from the start…

Necropolis by Vladislav Khodasevich

Translated by Sarah Vitali Review by Karen Langley, 1 Aug 2019 The Russian Library series from Columbia University Press has thrown up some marvellous treasures of literature from Russia, several of which I’ve previously covered here on Shiny New Books (here, here and here). However, they’ve outdone themselves with this recent release, a marvellous literary…

Picture by Lillian Ross

Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies Picture is Lillian Ross’s 1951 account of the making and unmaking of a John Huston project, The Red Badge of Courage, a film adaption of Stephen Crane’s 1895 novel. It was originally serialised in the New Yorker. Among Ross’s numerous antipathies, according to a piece by Andrew O’Hagan (LRB 41, 13),…

A Stranger in my Grave by Margaret Millar

Reviewed by Harriet Margaret Millar, born in Canada in 1915, lived for most of her life in California with her husband Ken, who wrote crime novels under the name Ross Macdonald. She died in 1994 but still has a loyal following, so it’s great that Pushkin Vertigo are reprinting some of her 27 novels. I…

Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton I’ve enjoyed more or less everything I’ve read in the British Library Crime Classics series (everything has had something to recommend it), but Michael Gilbert’s books have been a particularly happy discovery. I really hope there will be more (there are some spectacularly ugly house of Stratus editions of his work…

Berg by Ann Quin

Reviewed by Helen Parry Until a couple of months ago, I had never heard of Ann Quin. However, I then read that the independent publisher And Other Stories was re-issuing her 1964 novel, Berg, and it sounded very interesting: according to Wikipedia, Berg was influenced by the work of Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett and Anna…

The Kindness of Strangers by Salka Viertel

Reviewed by Lizzy Siddal There are times when an autobiography by someone you’ve never heard of just slots into your current reading stream. Such was the case when New York Review of Books released a new edition of Salka Viertel’s The Kindness of Strangers. With the #germanlitmonth readalong of Roth’s Radetzky March on the horizon,…

The Strange Case of Harriet Hall by Moray Dalton

Reviewed by Elaine Simpson-Long More and more unknown or unfamiliar writers of the Golden Age of detective fiction are being unearthed and reprinted and this pleases me mightily.  Having read and re-read all of Agatha Christie, D L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh to mention just a few, finding new authors coming to light is like…

The Artificial Silk Girl by Irmgard Keun

Translated by Kathie von Ankum Reviewed by Harriet If a young woman from money marries an old man because of money and nothing else and makes love to him for hours and has this pious look on her face, she’s called a German mother and a decent woman. If a young woman without money sleeps…

What Not by Rose Macaulay

Introduced by Sarah Lonsdale with notes by Kate Macdonald Reviewed by Karen Langley The name of Rose Macaulay is not one that will necessarily be well known to the casual reader nowadays. Prolific and extremely popular during her day, she’s one of those women writers of the twentieth century who’ve perhaps become marginalized; there are…

Alice by Elizabeth Eliot

Reviewed by Simon Hurrah to Dean Street Press and their continued Furrowed Middlebrow series, bringing back underrated women writers that most of us haven’t heard of before. Elizabeth Eliot certainly fits that category for me, but after reading Alice (1949), I’ll be keen to read more Eliot. Despite being called Alice, the narrator is Margaret…

No Place to Lay One’s Head by Françoise Frenkel

Translated by Stephanie Smee Reviewed by Harriet When I was first offered this book for review, I turned it down, for reasons that are now not clear to me. Then I had second thoughts and how glad I am that I did. If I say it’s my best read for 2019 that’s not saying much,…

Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald

Reviewed by Harriet Written in just two months while its author was a patient in a psychiatric clinic, Zelda Fitzgerald’s first and only novel found a publisher in 1932. Three thousand copies were printed, but fewer than half actually sold, and for more than thirty years the novel sank without trace. When it was republished…

The Chronicles of Clovis by Saki

Reviewed by Simon Saki is one of those writers a lot of people have heard of but haven’t read – and, as A.A. Milne’s introduction in this reprint (itself a reprint from a much earlier edition) notes, his fans are cautious of sharing so wonderful a gem with those who might not be appreciative. Well,…

The Long Shadow by Celia Fremlin

Reviewed by Harriet How Ivor would have loved being dead! It was a shame he was missing it all. First published in 1975, this very welcome reprint shows Celia Fremlin at her best. A psychological thriller with a hint of the supernatural (or is it?), it’s a real page-turner with the usual brilliantly-drawn secondary characters…

Vanish in an Instant by Margaret Millar

Reviewed by Harriet Why had I never heard of Margaret Millar until I spotted this reprint by Pushkin Vertigo? Because, I suppose, she was one of those people who have their moment of fame and then sink without trace. In fact Millar, who was born in Canada, had a successful career, wrote 27 novels, and…

Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Reviewed by Harriet Do you believe in fairies? Probably at a young age most people would say they did. And together with an idea implanted by popular books and paintings, which presented them as tiny ethereal creatures flitting around on gossamer wings, would come a concept of fairyland, undefined, pretty, vague and hazy. The scepticism…

The Lady and the Little Fox Fur by Violette Leduc

Translated by Derek Coltman Reviewed by Karen Langley There’s been a buzz recently about Penguin’s (re?) launch of their European Writers series, with the first two books by Mercè Rodoreda and Cesare Pavese garnering much online attention. The series has been described as an initiative to promote European literature to British readers; radical, perhaps, in…

The Bright Side of Life by Emile Zola

Translated by Andrew Rothwell Reviewed by Harriet Fans of Monty Python may have a bit of trouble with this title – I’ve had their iconic song stuck in my head for weeks. In French the novel was called La Joie de Vivre – the joy of life – and I’m not convinced that the new…