The Heart’s Invisible Furies, John Boyne

  Some books you can knock out a review in a moment or two after reading them. Others take time to digest and consider and reflect on. And this beautiful, heart-aching, visceral, funny, tragic novel is one of the latter. But as yesterday was the International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia Intersexism and Transphobia  – should…

Reservoir 13, Jon McGregor

This is one of the most unusual and beautiful books I’ve read for a while. Hard to define. Difficult to keep track of people. But beautiful and lyrical. Radio 4 do a slot of “slow radio” sometimes and this book reminds me of that. And of my childhood. And of a familiarity with the country…

Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

Sometimes, you read a short story that leaves you wanting more and makes you wish that the writer had extended it to a novel length. With this novel, well written and crafted as it is, I wonder whether it could have been reduced to a short story. Or began life as a short story or…

Broken Harbour, Tana French

Recipe for a Tana French Dublin Murder Squad novel: Take an atmospheric and intense setting, such as the last remnant of an ancient forest, a secluded mansion or a half completed housing project abutting the sea; insert a handful of characters with intense and golden relationships; raise the pressure and temperature; remove from the oven when those relationships…

A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman

We all know that old bloke on the corner who glowers at us, the one with a face like a bulldog sucking lemons, the one who barks at us for dropping litter or parking in the wrong place. The one who we suspect goes around the house grumbling about the radiators being on. Hell, I fear…

The Humans, Matt Haig

There’s nothing new or original in this novel. Touches of Doctor Who, perhaps. Touches of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime. Touches, indeed, of Eleanor Oliphant Is Perfectly Fine. An outsider struggles to fit into humam society and ultimately fights to understand what it is to be human. Wrap that up with…

Catch Up

For various reasons – Ofsted, toddler, family visits – I’ve not been able to add reviews recently and am about to try to catch-up. Once again. As an aide memoir to myself, to you – and a short cut to adding photos later, the books I’m yet to review are: Autumn by Ali Smith: gorgeous,…

The Likeness, Tana French

I do enjoy Tana French. Her writing style is simultaneously lyrical and languid, full of synaethesia; and, at the same time, credible and realistic. And this, her second novel in the Dublin Murder Squad series, is a delight! I love the way that it follows seamlessly on the heels of In The Woods and Operation Vestal –…

Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood

Once again, a deliciously striking cover for Margaret Atwood’s most recent novel, and the most recent entry into the Hogarth Shakespeare Project… and the first in the project that I’ve read. Now, I have a confession to make before going much further: I’ve never really got Margaret Atwood. I’ve wanted to; I’ve tried to. I…

Nutshell, Ian McEwan

Some books need more of an exercise in imagination than others. A bigger suspension of disbelief. An unborn narrator, for example, is one such. And not just unborn in a metaphorical sense but literally foetal. The narrator of McEwan’s most recent book – recently serialised on Radio 4 – is a third-trimester Hamlet, set in modern London, recounting…

The Trees, Ali Shaw

This book might win the most striking cover award this year: the stunning autumnal russets and reds are gorgeous! But you know what they say about judging books by their covers? As a parent and as a teacher, we trot out that truism time and again but on what else are you going to judge…

Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, Max Porter

Wow! This book is extraordinary. It is strange and bizarre and wild. And has the vividness and opacity of a nightmarish dreamscape. It is literary and visceral, erudite and scatological, mythic and domestic at the same time. Death and grief are such massive topics that you expect a weighty tome to contain them. Yet this…