Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson is one of those authors who I have been aware of but avoided for a while. I put my hands up, it was and has been deeply unfair of me. Like that chap in the village I grew up in who always crossed the road when he saw my mother to avoid talking…

Harvest, Jim Crace

I loved this book, for so many reasons!! It is the story of a week in an unnamed village in an unspecified part of England at an unspecified period. And I loved the timelessness of Crace’s prose: his narrator’s language is lyrical and deeply informed by the landscape but not archaic or faux-authentic. If we…

A Tale For The Time Being, Ruth Ozeki

I have an opinion. Just the one, but an opinion nonetheless. And my opinion is this: that most writing is, at least in part and at least tangentially, about the writing process itself. Books about books, about creation, about reading, about interpretation. How much reading do we come across in books? Ozeki seems to share…

The Testament of Mary, Colm Tóibín

I was hugely looking forward to this novel – although at 100 pages, novelette may be a more apt title – which failed to win the Man Booker prize last night. It is the story of Mary. That Mary. Mother of Jesus, Bearer of God, Theotokos, the Madonna. Of all figures to try to give…

Maggot Moon, Sally Gardner

When we got the books for the Carnegie Shadowing in school, there was a lot of excitement that this was a book about a dyslexic, in the voice of a dyslexic, written by a dyslexic. Obviously, in an educational environment, it was … enticing. And, whilst that is all true, that is only minor part…

A Greyhound Of A Girl, Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle is a great writer. He wrote The Commitments which is a fabulous book and one of my favourite films of all time! He wrote Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha which is a fantastic evocation of a ten year old boy’s childhood. Roddy Doyle does voices extremely well. He creates the voices of children…

In Darkness, Nick Lake

In Darkness is Nick Lake’s debut novel and an extraordinarily powerful one at that. Set in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, the novel is literally set in darkness: our narrator, Shorty, is entombed in the remains of a collapsed hospital as rescuers lose hope of finding any survivors. In the darkness and rubble,…

Weight of Water, Sarah Crossan

This is an odd little gem of a book. It is a debut novel by Sarah Crossan written in verse – free verse – rather than prose; but deals with the realities of a very credible modern situation. As such, the disjunct between a contemporary situation and the language does parallel the disjunction and disconnection…

Midwinterblood, Marcus Sedgwick

This is my second foray into Marcus Sedgwick’s writing: White Crow, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal a couple of years ago was the other. And this is by far superior, more beautiful, more powerful, more poignant. This book is shortlisted for the Cilip Carnegie 2013 and tells the tales of Eric and Merle. Tales. Tales…