I have always loved Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives’ Tale. I now have an equal fondness for Sathnam Sanghera’s Marriage Material (Heinemann, £14.99), which is a reworking of the Black Country classic translated to a Punjabi corner shop in Wolverhampton. Every bit as rich and sad and comic as the original.
Meanwhile, back in the subcontinent, M.J. Carter’s The Strangler Vine (Fig Tree, £14.99) follows the trail of the Thuggees, the throttling sect of Kali-worshippers, and comes up with a startling denouement. Is it a thriller, or an anti-colonial satire or Wilkie Collins with saris? Irresistible any way you take it.
If you loved Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn, you won’t be able to remain indifferent to his Nora Webster (Viking, £18.99). Tóibín is now in full view as Ireland’s greatest novelist since John McGahern, and this is his best yet. The ache of a widow’s grief is rendered with such an unadorned intensity that you might not think the book could be entertaining too, but it is.