Newest General Fiction Reviews

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Crush by Frederic Dard and Daniel Seton (translator)

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In this story of Thelma and Louise, it's Louise we meet first, through her narration. She's a seventeen year old, telling us of a quite awful and smelly satellite town of Paris she lives in, with the sight of factories and stench of food processing plants keeping her company. She lives at home with her mother, complete with hare-lip, and abusive step-father, and is working at one of those factories until she sees a paradise in their midst – the ever-sunny, sexy and sophisticated life of an American NATO worker and his wife. Impulsively, she asks to be their maid – and indeed moves into the couple's large, messy home. But little does she know what lurks in the shadows in that building, behind their gigantic car and their cute porch swing and al-fresco dining – the unhappiness, and even the tragedy… Full review...

The Cornish Guest House (Tremarnock) by Emma Burstall

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The Cornish Guest House is the sequel to the best-selling Tremarnock which introduced us to hard-working Liz and her disabled daughter Rosie who were adjusting to life in a small Cornish village by the sea. The sequel begins six months after the first book, and Liz and Rosie are happily settled in their new lives and enjoying the warmth of the close-knit community. The village is soon abuzz with gossip, however, as a new couple have just moved in and are planning to open a guest house. The affable and good-looking Luke soon charms the neighbours by immersing himself into village life. His wife Tabitha, on the other hand, seems aloof and reserved. Could she be hiding a secret? Full review...

The Dhow House by Jean McNeil

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Rebecca Laurelson is an English doctor working in an African field hospital in the midst of a political conflict when she is suddenly and inexplicitly forced to leave her post. She goes to stay with her estranged Aunt Julia and her family on Africa's east coast away from the violence and daily blood shed of war, however their lives are full of beach and cocktail parties which contrast greatly to Rebecca's way of living. But the threat of war is on the horizon for Julia's family and their fellow white Africans – terror attacks are on the rise all along the coast and Rebecca knows more about it than the rest of her family. With unrest brewing will the true reason for Rebecca's hasty departure from her post be revealed? Full review...

The Purple Shadow by Christopher Bowden

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Colin Mallory is a young actor in Paris. Colin had been working with a theatre company putting on English language Shakespeare productions. They were popular but unprofitable so Colin is now at a loose end while his partner, Bryony, is off shooting a film. Before returning to London, Colin meets up with Paul Barnard, an art gallery director and his sister's partner. At the Galerie Marion Ducasse, Colin and Paul come across a painting. The portrait of a young woman turns out to be Sylvie Ducasse, the great-aunt of the gallery's owner. Full review...

Beneath The Skin by Sandra Ireland

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Robert Walton is ex-military – a soldier suffering from combat stress and what he now realises is clearly PTSD. He prefers to be called Walt; it's short and simple and Walt likes things that are not complicated. Alys is fragile, damaged and complicated and not the kind of woman Walt is looking for. A taxidermist by trade – a rather macabre one at that – Alys enjoys creating Walter Potter style tableaus in a slightly horrifying tribute to her sole career influence. Alys runs her business from her home, which she shares with her sister, Mouse and Mouse's son William. It's a strange set up and though Walt needs the job – of handyman/gopher/taxidermy assistant must not be squeamish – room and board included, he wonders what he has let himself in for. Full review...

Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop

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Postcards from Greece keep arriving at Ellie's flat addressed to former occupant Sarah Ibbotsen by a man signing himself as 'A'. They may not be for Ellie but she keeps them anyway and displays the pictures of blue sea, beaches and countryside until she can't resist it any longer; Ellie's off to Greece for a break. Just before she leaves home a package arrives from A. Something very different from the fragmented comments on the cards. This is a journal full of the stories told by people he's met while travelling and coming to terms with a love affair that ended almost before it began. So for Ellie the journal becomes her guide book and the journey begins. Full review...

Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith

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Friendships can be funny things, and that is often the case with Precious and Grace. This is their seventeenth book now, and so we have seen their friendship grow and develop a great deal over the years. Both women have grown to understand, respect and love each other, through business hardships, personal difficulties and all their many and varied cases. In their current case the pair have a strong difference of opinions, and yet all is not quite what it seems with their investigation, and so perhaps it is a case of neither one of them being right, and the situation being something else entirely? Full review...

The Doll House by Fiona Davis

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New York City, 2016: Rose has quit her job as a newscaster and investigative journalist – not entirely voluntarily – and now works for an on-line outfit with the self-mockingly clumsy name of Wordmerge. Full review...

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

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When you've had a heart attack and frightened the hell out of not just yourself, but your husband, your children – if they had known - your mother and your best friend, you imagine that some long overdue TLC is about to come your way. You're thinking cards, flowers, being waited on hand, foot and finger and even though the imminent influx of culinary gifts are likely to be low fat, low sugar and taste like the box they came in, they're coming, right? And you'll probably get a couple of months off work and not even have to think about the laundry. Or the housework? Or taking the twins to school? Right? Right???? Full review...

Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

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Finlay Montgomery, like her grandmother Eloise before her is a very powerful and gifted psychic. Sensitive to the unseen, unheard and unknowable, she spends her days among the dead. Visited, bothered, harassed and sometimes taunted, Finlay does her best to manage the gifts that Mother Nature has sought to bestow. But life is not that simple and studying for your degree is testing with five other visitors in the room who are all trying to get your attention in the loudest and most distracting way possible. Full review...

Thirty Days by Annelies Verbeke

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Thirty Days doesn’t seem to know what it is about. The novel follows Alphonse, a Senegalese painter decorator living in the Flanders region of Belgium with his girlfriend and childhood friend Cat, who is recovering from cancer. Verbeke puts a major emphasis on their intimate but often volatile and unsteady relationship, as they try to navigate a new lifestyle in a small town, away from the city. However, there are several other storylines which vie for our attention: Alphonse’s troubled clients who treat him as a sounding board and therapist, his experiences of racism as a black man in a rural area, Cat’s difficult, warring parents, the couple’s elderly neighbour Willem who is obsessed with war graves and has a knack for appearing at precisely the wrong moment, and an illegal refugee camp in field trenches a few miles away. Full review...

The Oldest Game by Sue Leger

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Moving and eye-opening story of a Romanian woman trafficked into Amsterdam and forced to work as a prostitute. Sue Leger gives us all pause for thought here. Full review...

Men Like Air by Tom Connolly

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One April in Manhattan, the destinies of four very different men are about to collide. Nineteen year old Finn has just arrived in the city along with his volatile girlfriend Dilly, determined to even the score with his older brother Jack for abandoning him in the UK in the aftermath of their parents' deaths. Across town, successful gallery owner Leo Emerson is haunted by loneliness, unsettled by the contrast between his life and that of his brother in law and oldest friend William, who is content in both his faith and his marriage. When Finn wanders in to Leo's gallery, a series of unexpected and interconnected events unfold, changing the lives of all four men together. Full review...

How I Became a Drifter by Christmas Philip

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Fictionalised autobiography told in a stream-of-consciousness style. An unconventional voice speaking of the universal search for love and acceptance. Full review...

My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry

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Autumn 2000. Newly married lawyer Lily and her artist husband Ed have a small apartment in London. Fresh from the honeymoon, they're still settling in to their new roles, and their neighbour Francesca and her 9 year old daughter Carla help to take the pressure off a little bit. Full review...

The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies

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Clashes of cultures or cultural enrichment? Xenophobia or embracing diversity? Today's hot topics focus much on cultures meeting and notions of foreignness, especially in the context of migration. As such, Peter Ho Davies could not have chosen a more current and thought-provoking theme for The Fortunes: through four different stories, the novel documents some of the history of Chinese people in America over more than century. From railroad workers, laundry owners, and prostitutes to film stars and adoptive parents, The Fortunes tells tales of searching for identity on both national and personal levels. Full review...

The Art Teacher by Paul Read

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Patrick Owen managed seven years at Highfields Secondary School without punching a pupil in the face. A mediocre teacher, stuck in a struggling school ruled by violent pupils, Patrick goes home every night to an empty flat, and an existence filled with reminders of his life as a faded rock star. When one pupil over steps the mark, a brief mistake plunges Patrick into a world of danger, violence, and the glare of the media. Full review...

The Bertie Project: A 44 Scotland Street Novel by Alexander McCall Smith

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Catching up with old friends is a pleasure, and it's good to be back on Scotland Street, finding out what everyone is getting up to. Irene is back, of course, from her travels to the middle-east. Bruce has fallen in love, Matthew and Elspeth have triplet troubles, and somebody has an extremely unfortunate accident… Full review...

Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

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This is the debut novel from Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, but you would never know it. It is an accomplished, unusual, poetically written story about a young Japanese girl, Yuki Oyama, who has lived most of her life in New York. As such, she feels an outsider: the American girls at school ignore her and she finds the rituals of her parents' home suffocating. Her father has hopes of her studying medicine, but the only thing Yuki enjoys is art. Full review...

Owl Song at Dawn by Emma Claire Sweeney

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Maeve Maloney runs the Sea View Lodge guest house that her parents ran before her. The house has harboured many memories for Maeve over the past 80-years-plus, most of which she's managed to keep at bay. However, her suppression is endangered when Vincent comes to call. Far from being an ordinary guest, Vincent is a link to that past Maeve thought she'd outrun but now has to relive. Add that to trying to teach Steph and Len to fib effectively and life becomes very difficult indeed. Full review...

The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

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Special Agent Will Trent is back. Collected by his partner, Faith, to attend the scene of a rather brutal murder, Trent queries why the GBI has been called in to what would usually be a standard homicide investigation for Atlanta PD. Arriving at the scene, their boss, Deputy Director Amanda Wagner is somewhat characteristically pacing and barking orders; the victim is none other than ex-cop and all round bad egg, Dale Harding. There is a lot of blood, presumably due to the door-knob and spindle sticking out of Harding's neck. Full review...

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

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If you're going to go pioneering across unexplored lands, at least be prepared to accept what you seek – namely, what you've never seen before. That lesson seems quite obvious, but back in the time of 1885 Allen Forrester is a little too naïve to heed it. A career soldier, he is tasked with scouring the potential of the Wolverine River that threads south to the shores of Alaska, even though the Russians (who of course used to own the Territory) have had all manner of lethal encounters with those already living there, and even though a major stretch of the river has to be traversed in winter when entirely frozen over, as the cliffs either side are too impenetrable. Allen leaves a much younger, new bride behind – and right from the get-go his journals force him to pen words about strange happenings, strange encounters and things of legend coming to life. Like I say, what he's never seen before… Full review...

The First First Gentleman by Gerald Weaver

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Anyone picking up The First First Gentleman might be forgiven for snorting with laughter and making a sarcastic comment about how timely and potentially satirical it sounds. In a way they’d be right – but probably for different reasons. Full review...

Wild Life by Liam Brown

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Adam Britman goes from a man with it all to homeless in the sniff of a line. While looking for somewhere to sleep Adam comes across an alternative community in the local park. They've come together and created structure (including an unofficial allotment) out of the disorder that's normally equated with living on the streets. It seems perfect so Adam joins them, but perfection can sometimes be an illusion. As for walking away… that's not going to be easy. Full review...

Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant

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Paul is lots of things. A writer. A famous name (or at least he was a few years ago). A bit of a snob. A cheapskate. A ladies' man. And a liar. Oh boy, is he a liar. He fibs, he exaggerates, he omits, he tells porkies. Not about the really big stuff, nothing that will hurt anyone, just a few mistruths to see him through. It's for keeping up appearances, really. Full review...

The Trouble with Henry and Zoe by Andy Jones

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Stop for a moment and look down at your belly, in the centre you should have something that looks a little bit like a button. It may be an innie, or an outie, but just consider it for a few moments. Do you feel better? Nope, you shouldn't do as all that navel-gazing does is make you over think things. However, without the concept a million romantic books would never be written as without the human compulsion to destroy things around them, how can any tension arise? Full review...

The Republic of Love by Carol Shields

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The Republic of Love is a mesh-like novel, peopled with a huge cast of characters interwoven in familial, friendly, neighbourly and romantic relationships. Winnipeg, the city in which virtually all the action in Shield's novel takes place, ties them together. The story follows two single, thirty-something characters, Fay and Tom, who live opposite each other and have a complicated array of mutual acquaintances but don't know each other. Shields alternates between their two points of view as they are slowly drawn together. This is a domestic novel in the best sense; there is a focus on the beauty and mundanity of ordinary people's unremarkable lives in an unexceptional city, from Fay's satisfaction in the pop sound and toasted crumb smell of her twin slice toaster, to Tom's ungainly Saturday morning jogs. Full review...

Out of Practice by Penny Parkes

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In a last-ditch attempt to save her failing marriage, GP Holly Graham relocates to the charming village of Larkford with her family to work at the local practice. She finds life as a village doctor very different to her previous role in a busy city hospital, and falls in love with the close-knit community and its quirky residents. But just as Larkford is beginning to feel like home, Holly is hit by a bombshell that threatens to destroy everything she has worked so hard to achieve. Can she rise to the challenge and fight for what she loves? Maybe she will discover something about herself in the process. Full review...

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

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Meet Ted Flask. A middle-aged, gay Los Angelino, he has the one love of his life. While the fall-out of relationships with men sends him to therapy, he can rely on Lily, the Dachshund. They've been together through thick and thin, ever since the little pup – the runt, no less – seemed to pick Ted out. Ted's sister's unusual marriage was almost marred by Lily being under the surgeon's knife, at great expense – but on the whole they have life sorted. He tries to write, but Friday night is board games, Saturday night is movie night, and Sunday night is pizza night. Oh, and yes, Lily talks to Ted, either in FULLY! CAPITALISED! EVER! EXCLAMATORY! BARKS! or in regular speech. Oh, and yes, Lily has an octopus on her head. Full review...