Posted on 19th November 2012

Posted by Sophie

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Lightning Rods

Lightning Rods, Helen DeWitt’s second novel, is a deadpan triumph that pulls off one unlikely miracle after another. It is a tirelessly sustained satire that is delivered without the usual easy, self-aware sarcasm and remains genuinely funny even at its most disturbing moments. Despite being a book about sex, Lightning Rods is written in prose…

Posted on 18th June 2012

Posted by Sophie

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Go To Sleep

In Go To Sleep, Helen Walsh deals unflinchingly with post-natal depression and sleep deprivation in lucid and convincing prose that presents the shock of new motherhood with laudable clear-sightedness. Yet, despite the honesty and starkness with which Walsh depicts the fraught interaction between mother and baby, what we are really left with is a bold,…

Posted on 16th April 2012

Posted by Sophie

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The Pink Hotel

The cover of the book is probably an attempt to convey the kitschy complex glamour of Los Angeles, but comes off chicklit; the positive cover copy, from Helen Dunmore and Fay Weldon, actually refer to Anna Stothard’s first novel, Isabel and Rocco, published nearly a decade ago. The Pink Hotel had not received the attention…

Posted on 16th January 2012

Posted by Sophie

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The Red Men

Whilst I was reading The Red Men, I was given the difficult task of explaining the plot to a man who, by his own admission, did not read ‘sci-fi stuff’ and was unimpressed that this novel had been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2008. My summary of the background premise appeared to…

Posted on 11th October 2011

Posted by Sophie

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Show Me the Sky

Nicholas Hogg’s assured debut novel is not so much about the destination of its characters as it is about their journeys. Although this seems like the most facile of clichés, it is also the thread that ties four overlapping but powerfully distinct experiences together. Physical and spiritual odysseys, unfalteringly portrayed, take on a more touching…

Posted on 18th May 2011

Posted by Sophie

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The English German Girl

Holocaust novels, though ‘notoriously tricky’ to write (as author Jake Wallis Simons notes), are not a new phenomenon. Nor are novels about coming of age, or even novels about cultural adaptation; but again, ones that do the genre justice are ‘notoriously tricky’ to get right. To write a compelling novel about all three requires the…