Alex Peake-Tomkinson

Surprise package: Tackle!, by Jilly Cooper, reviewed

Jilly Cooper, queen of the British bonkbuster, has turned her attention to football for her 18th novel. She was inspired after sitting next to Sir Alex Ferguson at lunch one day. She also thanks Kenny Dalglish, Alan Curbishley and ‘my wonderful neighbour’ Tony Adams in her acknowledgements. Her friend, the former home secretary Michael Howard,

The house in Ghent haunted by Hitler

In 2000, the author Stefan Hertmans was disturbed to discover that the house in Ghent he had lived in for more than 20 years and restored from dilapidation had once been home to a Flemish collaborator with the SS, Willem Verhulst. On the pink and brown marble mantelpiece which Hertmans had become so fond of

Too many tales of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

A book about hedgehogs is not the obvious next step for Sarah Sands, the former editor of Radio 4’s flagship news programme Today, and before that editor of the Evening Standard. But then Sands has had a rough time of it lately. In The Hedgehog Diaries, she recounts the death of her father, Noel, the

Divine revelations: I, Julian, by Claire Gilbert, reviewed

Claire Gilbert considers Julian of Norwich to be the mother of English literature, and believes she should stand alongside Chaucer. What seems indisputable is that Julian was the author of the first work written in English by a woman. This rather wonderful fictional autobiography was published to coincide with the 650th anniversary of Julian first

Too close to home: Nonfiction, by Julie Myerson, reviewed

Julie Myerson has, somewhat confusingly, written a novel called Nonfiction. The confusion of course is the point, because this is her squarest attempt so far at auto-biographical fiction. The French author Serge Doubrovsky is widely credited with writing the first ‘autofiction’ when he published Fils in 1977. Autobiographical novels have proliferated ever since, notably by

Christina Patterson overcomes family misfortunes

The journalist and broadcaster Christina Patterson’s memoir begins promisingly. She has a talent for vivid visual description, not least: ‘We are a pink and navy family. Two pink girls, a navy boy and a navy wife.’ Her early family holidays in Sweden, where her mother is from, are full of lingon-berries, hammocks and mini-golf. She

Women of the streets: Hot Stew, by Fiona Mozley, reviewed

For a novel set partly in a Soho brothel, Hot Stew is an oddly bloodless affair. Tawdry characters drift in and out of each other’s lives but rarely seem to capture the author’s full imagination. Fiona Mozley’s first novel, Elmet, concerned a self-sufficient family living in Yorkshire and occupying ‘a strange, sylvan otherworld’, and was

Gay abandon: Islands of Mercy, by Rose Tremain, reviewed

Rose Tremain has followed her masterly The Gustav Sonata with an altogether different novel. In 1865, Clorinda Morrissey, a 38-year-old woman from Dublin, arrives in Bath and sells a ruby necklace in order to set up Mrs Morrissey’s High Class Tea Rooms. Mrs Morrissey believes that ‘the future was going to be perfumed with raspberry