Book review – fiction

Jeeves and Bertie Wooster by Roger Payne. [Bridgeman Images}

Bertie takes on the Black Shorts: Jeeves and the King of Clubs, by Ben Schott, reviewed

1 December 2018 9:00 am

In 2016, inspired by reports that Donald Trump’s butler had recommended the assassination of Barack Obama, Ben Schott wrote a…

Uwe Johnson at his desk [Getty]

Uwe Johnson’s Anniversaries is an astonishing achievement

24 November 2018 9:00 am

The most striking and difficult aspect of this novel is its incredible scale. How can a reviewer best discuss an…

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Heredity is only half the story

27 October 2018 9:00 am

The Romans invoked Fortuna, the goddess of luck, to explain the unexplainable; fortune-tellers study tea leaves to predict the unpredictable.…

Car On Country Road, Dartmoor, UK

The road trip from hell: A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better, by Benjamin Wood, reviewed

27 October 2018 9:00 am

A lingeringly strange atmosphere hangs about Benjamin Wood’s third novel, in which the settings and paraphernalia of a new wave…

Sally Rooney. Credit: Jonny L. Davies

A friendship in flux: Normal People, by Sally Rooney, reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

‘Marianne had the sense that her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn’t…

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Deep in the forest’s mysteries: The Cloven, by Brian Catling, reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

Brian Catling’s great trilogy takes its title from The Vorrh, his first volume. This final book fulfills all the promises…

The burden of freedom: Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan, reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

It’s 1830, and among the sugar cane of Faith Plantation in Barbados, suicide seems like the only way out. Decapitations…

Sebastian Faulks (Rex Features)

Hoping to find happiness: Paris Echo, by Sebastian Faulks, reviewed

8 September 2018 9:00 am

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a serious novel must be in want of a theme. Paris Echo soon…

Christopher Priest (Getty Images)

All things lead to 9/11: An American Story, by Christopher Priest, reviewed

8 September 2018 9:00 am

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 many writers spoke of feeling immobilised. The scale of the attacks and the world’s…

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A paean to lesbian love: Aftershocks, by A.N. Wilson, reviewed

8 September 2018 9:00 am

The polymath writer A.N.Wilson returns to the novel in Aftershocks, working on the template of the 2011 earthquake which devastated…

Caught between fascism and witchcraft: All Among the Barley, by Melissa Harrison, reviewed

25 August 2018 9:00 am

All Among the Barley, Melissa Harrison’s third ‘nature novel’, centres on Wych Farm in the autumn of 1933, where the…

Too much American angst: the latest short stories reviewed

25 August 2018 9:00 am

In ‘A Prize for Every Player’ — one of 12 stories in Days of Awe, a new collection by A.M.…

The plight of the returnee: A Terrible Country, by Keith Gessen, reviewed

18 August 2018 9:00 am

If the 20th century popularised the figure of the émigré, the 21st has introduced that of the returnee, who, aided…

Unlucky in love: Caroline’s Bikini, by Kirsty Gunn, reviewed

18 August 2018 9:00 am

‘The most interesting novels are a bit strange,’ Kirsty Gunn once told readers of the London Review of Books. ‘They…

From the Iliad to the IRA: Country, by Michael Hughes, reviewed

18 August 2018 9:00 am

Recently there has been a spate of retellings of the Iliad, to name just Pat Barker’s The Silence of the…

The horror of post-Brexit Britain: Perfidious Albion, by Sam Byers, reviewed

4 August 2018 9:00 am

Edmundsbury, the fictional, sketchily rendered town in which the action of this novel takes place, is part of a social…

Shades of Rear Window: People in the Room, by Norah Lange, reviewed

4 August 2018 9:00 am

A girl at a window, hidden behind curtains, watches three women in a dimly lit drawing room in the house…

A suffragette sequel: Old Baggage, by Lissa Evans reviewed

28 July 2018 9:00 am

Lissa Evans has had a good idea for her new novel. It’s ‘suffragettes: the sequel’. She sets her story not…

Born again: My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh, reviewed

28 July 2018 9:00 am

The new novel by the author of the 2016 Booker shortlisted Eileen is at once a jumble of influences —…

Shades of the Mitfords: After the Party, by Cressida Connolly, reviewed

28 July 2018 9:00 am

At the beginning of After the Party, Phyllis Forrester tells us she was in prison. While inside, her hair turned…

A cold archaeological gaze: In the Garden of the Fugitives, by Ceridwen Dovey, reviewed

28 July 2018 9:00 am

Visiting Pompeii, it is hard to miss the garden of the fugitives. It is on every other postcard in the…

Foreign bodies galore: the best new crime fiction

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Ghosts of the Past by Marco Vichi (Hodder, £18.99) is unashamedly nostalgic in tone. The title could not be more…

Crudo, by Olivia Laing, reviewed

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Olivia Laing has been deservedly lauded for her thoughtful works of non-fiction To the River, The Trip to Echo Spring…

An agent from the Freedman’s Bureau separates freed slaves from an angry mob at the end of the American civil war. Credit Getty Images

A Shout in the Ruins, by Kevin Powers, reviewed

23 June 2018 9:00 am

We’re in Virginia, in the 1850s. A girl called Emily is tormenting her dog, Champion, and her father’s teenage slave,…

A rare photograph by Bernice Abbott of Lucia Joyce dancing in the 1920s

Lucia, by Alex Pheby, reviewed

23 June 2018 9:00 am

In 1988, James Joyce’s grandson Stephen destroyed all letters he had from, to or about his aunt Lucia Joyce, the…