RaveThe Guardian (UK)... an excellent premise, and one that pans out almost as heartwarmingly as you’d expect, but with some powerful, moving and sometimes violent surprises en route ... While the journey of self-discovery may be predictable, Miss Benson’s Beetle is a joy of a novel, with real insight into the lives of women, the value of friendship and the lasting effects of war.
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)Chevalier excels at writing about the ordinary human characters who find themselves accidentally at the centre of history ... There are times when the stiff fabric of Chevalier’s research shows through the delicate stitches of plot and character, but she creates a convincing picture of the period. Most impressive are the portraits of individual women like Violet’s mother, made bitter and furious by grief, who either pursue their freedom in small acts of disobedience, or quietly stitch their loss into comfort and beauty for generations to come, leaving no mark or memorial other than a neat set of initials sewn into a cushion.
PositiveThe GuardianThere is actually very little discussion of the effect of all this on men and boys, which is a shame ... one of those books that should be essential reading before anyone is allowed to be a teacher, or buy a child a present, or comment on anything on Twitter, ever again … but my fear is that Rippon is preaching to the choir. That said, all systemising brains out there owe it to themselves to read this calm and logical collection of evidence and science, and all empathisers will understand its importance.
PositiveThe GuardianThe novel is muddled in places, with a few too many characters and the odd bit of stilted dialogue. But it has a wisdom and a harmony that are satisfying, as Cass considers all the years that had, with such incomprehensible swiftness, rolled by and disappeared\'. Who knows where the time goes? People who listen to the words will find one intriguing answer in Greatest Hits.
RaveThe GuardianFleishman Is in Trouble is a remarkable work of ventriloquism ... Fleishman Is in Trouble is so much smarter than a Great American Novel wannabe written by another clever man ... Brodesser-Akner shows great skill as Libby the narrator takes on Toby’s perspective to pass judgment on the women in his life ... What Brodesser-Akner has achieved here, by Trojan-horsing herself into Toby’s point of view, is to quietly reveal the souls of the women in the story. But more than that, to show that all stories—about marriage, love, loss, hope and disappointment—really are universal ... This is an honest, powerful, human story with no apologies. And it will do the \'American Novel\' a power of good.
PositiveThe GuardianDartnell is an eloquent, conversational guide to these daunting aeons of time. He writes of land masses swelling and bursting \'like a huge zit\', and global warming \'triggered by a great methane flatulence of the oceans\'... He adds, in one of many maddeningly intriguing, throwaway footnotes, that humanmade global warming might prevent the next ice age, which sounds perversely hopeful, in a way. I’d like to read a whole book by Dartnell on that subject. All in good time …
RaveThe GuardianThere’s no two ways about it, this is a baffling book. Part thriller, sometimes veering wildly towards fantasy, with a heavy dash of romcom and a sardonic kind of farce, it defies convention ... I was hooked from the opening pages ... While the beginning of the novel is a shockingly funny and satisfying story of one woman’s illness, the latter part is confusing and very odd. Perhaps that is Barrett’s point—that life is ridiculous and uncategorisable and doesn’t wrap up with any neat answers. Is Eleanor possessed, or mad, or the only sane person in town? Is her lover a killer? Is there really a disembodied hand scuttling around seeking its revenge? After reading this book, you’ll be none the wiser, but read it you should; it’s laugh-out-loud horrible and perfectly nuts—you’ll never find anything like it again.
RaveThe GuardianAre you a concerned citizen of the modern world? Do you ever worry that algorithms are stealing your data? Do you secretly have little idea what algorithms and data actually are? Then Hello World is for you ... This book illustrates why good science writers are essential. \'We have a tendency to overtrust anything we don’t understand,\' Fry says. And if we don’t understand it, those difficult questions will be answered by those who do – pharmaceutical companies, malign governments and the like. It’s time to pull back the curtain on the algorithms that shape our lives. Because, as Fry says, \'the future doesn’t just happen. We create it.\'
MixedThe GuardianThere may be truth in this memoir, but not in the traditional sense. But then, her writing is anything but traditional ... The Daley-Ward in the book reinvents herself several times; her story involves drugs, depression, sex work and modelling. She has devised a form that combines first and third person, poetry and prose, upside-down printing, and wincingly honest streams-of-consciousness about sexuality and physicality that sometimes make for difficult reading ... Some readers will be put off by the start-stop nature of this extraordinary narrative. Others will be thrilled by its honesty.
RaveThe GuardianA jolly romp through London in the blitz sounds like an unlikely idea for a novel, but Dear Mrs Bird is full of poignant moments that cut through the froth of its narrator’s voice ... And though at times the book seems like an Evelyn Waugh pastiche crossed with a Radio 4 comedy drama, complete with hilarious misunderstandings and some dodgy dialogue, Emmy is truly charming. When her upper lip finally wobbles, the reader’s will, too ... along the way she shows some grown-up insights as well as true grit ... In the end, the novel’s spirit is madly winning.
PositiveThe Guardian\"[The Book\'s] Mini-biographies paint powerful pictures ... She Has Her Mother’s Laugh is packed full of learning, and years of work. Some of the science around genetic diseases is a little hard to follow, and readers may find the story of Zimmer’s own genome to be too much like navel gazing... But the book offers clear insights into a fast-moving area, and asks big questions.\
RaveThe Guardian\"This lively study explains how embracing embarrassing conversations or exposing situations can improve your life ... She offers several convincing examples ...
Dahl is exceptionally good at describing emotions and the visceral physical sensations that often accompany them, and on the whole her personal anecdotes and her more scientific investigations are pertinent and penetrating. Cringeworthy offers several sensible pointers for readers, perhaps on trains, who would like to overcome awkwardness. But the most passionate advice is to be \'grateful for this odd little emotion and the power it has to connect us … There will always be awkwardness, and the only way to keep it from isolating us is if we start cringing together.\'\
RaveThe GuardianThe literature of sex and the single woman has been in the doldrums since Carrie got married and Bridget had her baby, so three cheers for this warts-and-all portrait of a woman trying to find her place in the world and in her own nuclear family now she is all grown up ... This is a novel about how to step up when your smug married friend suddenly gets divorced, or when your annoying mum really needs you; about 'being there' for people when you don’t even know where 'there' is. It has hope, in spades.
RaveThe GuardianIf this novel is part Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and part We Need to Talk About Kevin, it also contains shades of Lord of the Flies. For this, young Iris is the perfect narrator. She is stroppily resentful of the attention Tilly receives, but fiercely protective of her big sister ... This is a fascinating novel, at once challenging and compassionate, thrilling and thoughtful. It asks tough questions about what happens to people who don’t fit predetermined patterns, and what it means to be normal.