Alex Clark

Quiet desperation

Andrew Miller’s seventh novel, and the first since Pure, which won the Costa Book of the Year award, is an intensely curious affair; thick with material detail from the outset, it announces itself as a novel of closely observed and relished realism. But before too long, one begins to suspect that its specificity — much

Man of many worlds

By the kind of uncanny coincidence that would tickle his psychogeographically minded friends Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd, Michael Moorcock’s publishers have recently moved offices to the same corner of London occupied by his latest novel, The Whispering Swarm; and just as their rather swanky embankment premises are called Carmelite House, so does the religious

Is no one having fun?

Who’d be young? Not 25-year-old Tamsin, if her behaviour is anything to go by. A classical pianist who’s never quite going to hit the heights, she devotes herself to playing for the residents of an old people’s home. She’s also acquired a boyfriend, Callum, a teacher several years her senior, for whom, when Christmas comes

Sink or swim

The Lost Child begins with a scene of 18th-century distress and dissolution down by the docks, as a woman — once a slave in the West Indies, for a time a weaver and now an itinerant single mother dubbed ‘Crazy Woman’ by those who might toss a coin in her direction — finally gives up

Hock and partridge help fascism go down in 1930s London

Anthony Quinn’s fourth novel, set in London’s artistic and theatrical circles in 1936, is not the kind in which an anguished protagonist sits in lonely contemplation for 80 pages at a stretch. It moves along at a clippy pace, introducing us to a succession of appealing characters and throwing in a lurid murder for extra