The awkwardness of love in middle age: You Are Here, by David Nicholls, reviewed

Zip up Heathcliff in Gore-Tex, give Cathy laugh-out-loud lines, fold in the poignancy of E.M. Forster, embed quaint maps, blisters, a dash of existential terror and heaps of heartache and you have David Nicholls’s latest novel. If Nicholls’s One Day (recently adapted for Netflix) is a bildungsroman, then You Are Here explores learning to love again later on in life. In One Day we had Emma and Dexter, and here we have Marnie and Michael. Michael is a 42-year-old geography teacher living in York, and Marnie is a 38-year-old proofreader from London. Both have endured the casual cruelty of broken marriages and have withdrawn into themselves to avoid future hurt.

The horror of finding oneself ‘young-old’

It’s a familiar tale. Midway through life’s journey, Marcus Berkmann woke to find himself in a dark wood, where the right road was wholly lost and gone. Without a Virgil to guide him through the trials and torments of middle age, he composed a bestselling memoir based on his experiences, A Shed of One’s Own – not so much a divine comedy as a mildly amusing stocking-filler. In his latest book, Still a Bit of Snap in the Celery, he realises he has entered a new age category: the so-called ‘young-old’. It’s easy to picture the delight on the sleepy faces of many a grandparent this Christmas as they wake

An independent observer: Whereabouts, by Jhumpa Lahiri, reviewed

After falling in love with Italy as a young woman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri broke with English and began writing in Italian. Her new novel — a slim and bewitching tale of a woman at her midpoint — she wrote first in Italian and has since translated. The story is told in a series of vignettes, the lengthiest six or so pages. Each is titled with the setting — in the office, at the register, on the street — and paints an exquisite picture of a single soul moving thoughtfully about her city. ‘I don’t share my life with anyone,’ says that soul early on. She lives alone