Newest Literary Fiction Reviews

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It Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo and Elizabeth Bryer (translator)

4star.jpg Literary Fiction

It Would Be Night in Caracas illuminates the everyday horrors of modern day Venezuela. It begins with the death of Adelaida Falcon's mother and chronicles Adelaida's coming to terms with her new solitude in this world and her attempts to escape it. Danger stalks the shadows and, in a society where the establishment is crumbling, who can you turn to? Full Review


Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

May 1921. Edie receives a photograph through the post. There is no letter or note with it. There is nothing written on the back of the photograph. It is a picture of her husband, Francis. Francis has been missing for four years. Technically, he has been "missing, believed killed" but that is not something that a young widow can believe. She hangs on the word 'missing', disbelieving the word killed. Full Review


The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

When we first meet Danny and his elder sister, Maeve Conroy, they're both living at The Dutch House with their parents and under the gaze of the portraits of the former owners whose oil paintings still hang on the walls. It's a strange family dynamic: Cyril Conroy is distant and the closest Danny seems to come to him is when he goes out with him on a Saturday collecting rents from properties the family owns. Elna Conroy is loving, but absent increasingly often until the point comes when the children are told that she will not be returning. In other circumstances this might have affected Maeve and Danny deeply, but their primary relationship is with each other. It's a bond which only death will break. Full Review


A Winter Book by Tove Jansson

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Short Stories

Tove Jansson's worldwide fame lasts on the Moomin books, written in the 1940s and later becoming television characters of the simplicity, naivety and sheer 'goodness' that would later produce flowerpot men or teletubbies. Simple drawings, simple stories, simple goodness. What is often forgotten outside of her native Finland is that she was a serious writer…that she wrote for adults as well as children…and that she had a feeling for the natural world and the simple life that not only informed those child-like trolls but went far beyond any fantasy of how the world might be. Full Review


The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

Tove Jansson's short novel about Summer is several worlds away from the Moomintrolls she is most famous for outside her native Scandinavia. Book yourself an afternoon this Summer, and take yourself and The Summer Book somewhere quiet, preferably within sight and sound of the sea, settle back and prepare to be transported. Full Review


Snowflake, AZ by Marcus Sedgwick

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

This is a deep, interesting read unlike any book I've read in quite some time. The novel's story follows a young man named Ash in the process of joining a community of sick people in the curiously named town of Snowflake, Arizona. These people are sick, but it's not a sickness you've heard of. Instead, they're environmentally ill – affected by household chemicals and fabrics, pesticides, static electricity, and radiation – and their only cure is to stay in the town away from the real world. Though it's about a real place, the people in it are fictional. It really is a place apart, quite literally cut off from the outside world – people are even required to decontaminate themselves thoroughly before becoming fully integrated. Full Review


The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Fantasy, Literary Fiction

The Nightjar is an unusual and exciting story. Alice Wyndham lives a normal life in London until she finds a box on her doorstep one morning and her life begins to unravel, fast. From that very moment, her life is flooded with magic, loss, expectation and particularly, betrayal. As everything around her shifts, all that she knows, all that she thinks she knows, must change. Who can she trust? Who must she trust? Who will she trust? More importantly, can she even trust herself? Full Review


Train Man by Andrew Mulligan

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction, Literary Fiction

I came to this book thinking I knew just what to expect, even though it is the author's debut in the adult novel market (hence the more mature name – he used to be an Andy). I thought it simple to sum up, the tale of a middle-aged man who knows too much about train travel having his life turned around in the most pleasant way. I hadn't opened it when I'd shelved it alongside Chris Cleave, and David Nicholls. I expected some whimsy, some warmth and some affirmative loveliness.

More fool me. Full Review


A Perfect Explanation by Eleanor Anstruther

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Enid Campbell was a woman who, on the face of it, had everything. Leading the life of an aristocrat – full of inherited wealth and splendour, glamourous locales and high expectations. Only Enid's life has been plagued by mental illness – undiagnosed, untreated and threatening both Enid and those close to her. After losing custody of her children, Enid sells her son to her sister for £500 – but is this an act of greed, or an act of desperation? Exploring the true story of her own grandmother, Eleanor Anstruther has found the perfect subject for an explosive, moving and beautifully well written debut. Full Review


The Choke by Sofie Laguna

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

There's a dull, dispiriting pang of disappointment that comes when you try something everyone else loves and find out that you're really not into it. Coffee. Ice skating. A new Netflix series. Books are like that, but doubly so. Full Review


Equator by Antonin Varenne and Sam Taylor (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, General Fiction

It strikes me that nobody can speak well of the Wild West outside the walls of a theme park. Our agent to see how bad it was here is Pete Ferguson, who bristles at the indignity of white man against Native 'Indian', who spends days being physically sick while indulging in a buffalo hunt, and who hates the way man – and woman, of course – can turn against fellow man at the bat of an eyelid. But this book is about so much more than the 1870s USA, and the attendant problems with gold rushes, pioneer spirits and racial genocide. He finds himself trying to find this book's version of Utopia, namely the Equator, where everything is upside down, people walk on their heads with rocks in their pockets to keep them on the ground to counter the anti-gravity, and where, who knows, things might actually be better. But that equator is a long way away – and there's a whole adventure full of Mexico and Latin America between him and it… Full Review


Nights of the Creaking Bed by Toni Kan

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Short Stories

Nights of the Creaking Bed is a collection of short stories by Toni Kan. The series of stories tell of the lives and lusts of an assortment of characters living in and around Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria, in this collection, is imbued with its very own heart of darkness. Danger stalks the shadows and people are killed for nothing more than a wrong look. Kan writes with a vitality and passion that allows these cynical stories to achieve a glimmer of hope. Full Review


The Resurrection of Jesus by Yancey Williams

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

In March 1990 two police officers entered Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They left with thirteen famous paintings by Rembrandt, Degas and Vermeer. The frames remain empty to this day: whilst there might have been rumours about the whereabouts of the paintings, even promises that the case was about to be solved, the paintings are still missing. Yancey Williams has a theory, which he delaborates on in his novel The Resurrection of Jesus, and whilst his suspects might seem unlikely, who's to say that he's wrong? Forget the assertions that it was down to the Mafia and meet Jésus Ángel Escobar and Hiram Johnny Walker Quicksilver. Full Review


In The Full Light of the Sun by Clare Clark

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

In 1930's Berlin, three people obsessed with art find themselves swept up into a scandal. Emmeline, a wayward young student, Julius, an anxious middle-aged art expert, and Rachmann, a mysterious art dealer, live in the politically turbulent Weimar Berlin, and soon find themselves whipped up into excitement over the surprise discovery of thirty-two previously unknown paintings by Vincent Van Gogh. Based on a true story and unfolding through the subsequent rise of Hitler and the Nazis, the discovery of the art allows these characters to explore authenticity, vanity and self-delusion. Full Review


The Phoenix of Florence by Philip Kazan

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Deep in the Tuscan countryside of fifteenth century Italy, Onoria survives a massacre that destroys her family and home. Alone in the forest, she meets a band of soldiers who, believing her to be a boy train and develop her – and the determined Onoria becomes a mercenary – desperate to avoid any situation in which she may feel vulnerable again. Along the way, she meets ex-soldier Celavini, whose journey to Florence sees him investigating two brutal murders. As he digs further and uncovers links to his own family history, Celavini must revisit the past he shares with Onoria, in the hope that they can lay the ghosts of their shared history to rest, before it's too late... Full Review


The Great Wide Open by Douglas Kennedy

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

Douglas Kennedy's The Great Wide Open has been described as epic by just about everyone, and it often feels as though that was the intention. Though the novel often feels like a pastiche of the great American novel – epic in scope, preoccupied with matters of money and literature, fixated with New York – it often feels more like Kennedy is trying to reverse-engineer the concept altogether. Initially, the novel presents itself as an intimate study of family drama, in the latter half of the novel it smoothly turns to examining the turn of American society since the 70s, and the rapid rise of the hyper-capitalist neoliberal values that have dominated the west since the election of Ronald Reagan. Though it takes place over a twenty-year period between the 70s and the 90s, it notably always keeps one an eye on the present day (Trump, of course, makes an inevitable and slightly incongruous cameo) such that what happens links subtly into current affairs without ever explicitly referencing them. Full Review


Deviation by Luce d'Eramo and Anne Milano Appel (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Autobiography, Historical Fiction

For those of you who have read books of life in the Nazi camps – and of course, for those of you who have not – this can be considered a next step. It begins, after all, with someone escaping Dachau and fleeing her work assignment during a bombing raid, and you'd not blame her one minute, as her career was deemed to be cess-tank cleaner and sewage unblocker by the Germans. In Munich, she stumbles on help to get her to what seems to be a camp for non-native civilians to look for work, or company, or transport elsewhere, either official or otherwise. But then the next chapter sees her going back into the camp next to Dachau once more, and by then eyebrows are being raised. Full Review


The Hidden by Mary Chamberlain

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

When Barbara Hummel arrives, determined to identify the mysterious woman whose photograph she has found among her mother's possessions, Dora and Joe find their worlds upended – and are swiftly forced to confront their pasts. Revisiting their time on the Channel Islands during World War II, Dora remembers a time when she concealed her Jewish identity, and Joe, a Catholic Priest, remembers a time when he hid something very different. In this story of love, loss and betrayal, it remains to be seen whether a speck of light can diffuse the darkest shadows of war… Full Review


The Reckoning by Clar Ni Chonghaile

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

As the blurb says, In a cottage in Normandy, Lina Rose is writing to the daughter she abandoned as a baby…the whole of Chonghaile's second novel is a series of letters addressed to Diane. Lina is now in her seventies and Diane is a mother herself. They have met just once since Lina gave her up for adoption. It was not a good meeting. Full Review


Frieda by Annabel Abbs

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Married to English Professor Ernest Weekley, aristocrat Frieda Von Richtofen finds herself stifled by the confines of married life. Visiting family in Munich, she becomes captivated by the ideas of revolution and free love. Meeting the penniless writer D.H. Lawrence, she finds herself drawn into a passionate affair and a tempestuous relationship, changing the course of both their lives, and unleashing a creative outpouring that will change the course of literature forever. Full Review