27 Aug 2021

The Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Since I read this epic American novel, it has been longlisted from the Booker prize. The judges this year wanted to ensure that the books listed for the award were enjoyable to read - and this one certainly is. And a good lockdown read, as it is long, rich with characters and story - and explores plenty of interesting places, including a nice piece in New Zealand.

10 Aug 2021

The Impossible Resurrection of Grief by Octavia Cade

“Can you watch something die and let it die?” The global mismanagement of the Covid pandemic, and consequential human deaths. The plundering of the environment, and consequential deaths of humans, non-human and ecosystems. The decades of spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing global warming and multiple natural disasters, causing deaths of humans, non-humans, communities, and environments. I often imagine the desperate frustration of those scientists, those ignored Cassandras with libraries full of prophesies, who must watch helplessly as their worst predictions unfold. This desperation is what The Impossible Resurrection of Grief is about.

29 Jul 2021

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

A retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette set in 1920s Shanghai, including an enemies -to friends - to lovers - to enemies relationship, LGBTQIA+ rep and social commentary around colonialism and prejudices, this is a Young Adult novel with enough depth to capture adult readers as well. Plus, a strange river monster.

15 Jul 2021

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

17 year old diarist Cassandra records life living in genteel poverty in a rundown castle sometime in the 1930s. Her Father, who once wrote a seminal book hasn't published a word since and spends his days in seclusion in the gatehouse doing crossword puzzles. His wife, Cassandra's stepmother Topaz, once the muse of the London art scene also has no income so Cassandra, her sister Rose and brother Thomas live happily but well below the breadline and have resorted to selling furniture to the vicar for food. The only person in the household who seems capable of earning an income is Stephen the gardener, whose affection Cassandra does not return.

14 Jul 2021

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

A long summer weekend in a Midwest American college town. Wallace, a graduate student in biochemistry from a poor background, has had a months long experiment fail at the last hurdle. Was it sabotage? Are his colleagues out to get him? Or is he really, as his advisor constantly tells him, not good enough to be there?