PositiveThe Sunday Times (UK)While the stories could scarcely be more powerful, a tighter edit would have made the book even more compelling. There is too much signposting, too much exposition, too many tangents ... Meriel could easily have removed herself from much of the narrative and let her investigative efforts speak for themselves. Instead, she has treated writing a book as though it’s like solving a maths problem, where you have to show all your working ... Her family story is so fascinating that you forgive any foibles, though. I think some readers will think that there’s a bigger problem; at the book’s close you still do not understand Meriel’s father and what made him go rogue. Yet that feels like Kurt’s destiny, to remain an enigma—even to his daughter.
RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)... powerful ... Press argues convincingly that economic inequality \'mirrors and reinforces\' moral inequality ... Press has given people we rarely hear from a voice; can we bear to listen?
MixedThe Times (UK)Rachel paints herself as an abject failure. She does write really well about the problems that women face in the workplace, from the damage that having children wreaks on their careers to the scrutiny she has endured about her appearance ... Yet I felt this self-deprecation was overplayed: she has written seven books and had a successful career. She perhaps only feels like the unsuccessful sibling because her big brother only ever fails upwards. There is a lot of fun here, though, largely because Rachel is not worried about causing offence. An unembarrassable oversharer, she seems determined to make others blush.
PositiveThe Times (UK)Morton, an accomplished royal writer who doesn’t descend into the hackneyed phrases of some of his rivals, is best known for being Princess Diana’s Boswell ... It is hard not to keep thinking of The Crown reading this, but it is a corrective of the series too, especially when it comes to Margaret’s relationship with Townsend ... There are few fresh revelations here, but the book is a comprehensive and compelling account of two complicated, often lonely lives. And it should perhaps give hope too for a royal rapprochement between William and Harry. Post-marriage, Margaret rededicated herself to her sister, accepting her role as the supporting act to the Queen.
MixedThe Times (UK)At the end of The Organ Thieves, Bruce is still a mere sketch rather than a fully-fledged character, a skeleton rather than a fleshed-out man. Bruce’s son Abraham, who was 14 when his father died, declined to speak to Jones when he came calling. Jones rightly feels it was shocking that parts of Bruce’s body were taken without family consent; should he not have ensured he had their blessing before borrowing his story? And without that human element, the book also lacks a heart ... In its place, there is too much padding. After initially setting out Bruce’s story, Jones takes the reader through a history of medical malpractice, from grave robbers (euphemistically called \'resurrectionists\') to transplant experimentation. This means the book starts slowly, leaving it about 100 pages too long and in need of a much tighter editor. Jones also goes off on some odd tangents, writing about the Apollo missions and the opposition to the draft of Dr Benjamin Spock, America’s favourite paediatrician. It’s a pity because there is a powerful, if painful, story here. Jones just hasn’t quite managed to uncover it.
PositiveThe Sunday Times[Atkins is now one of that rare breed, a middle-class liberal who has seen the true horror of our penal system, so he has done the inevitable: written a book about it ... He wants his pacy memoir, which is imbued with a dark humour but is often heart-breaking, to make the case for penal reform. It does, but who will listen? ... A test of a prison memoir is whether its author is honest enough to have left in the parts that would make their mother wince. Atkins has...He does not shy away from the scatological, either ... This is yet another desperate cri de coeur to improve conditions in our prisons. All previous ones have been ignored, though. It is hard, then, to argue with Atkins’s conclusion: \'The British public has developed a sadistic mindset towards prisons, and fiercely resists any policies that actually rehabilitate offenders.\'I do hope, though, that Buckland has been sent a copy.
Greta Thunberg, Malena Ernman, Svante Thunberg
PositiveThe Times (UK)It makes for a fascinating, if slightly chaotic read, jumping between chapters on Malena’s career as an opera singer, Greta and Beata’s problems, and the climatic havoc humanity is wreaking on the planet. At times, it feels like there is more than one book here. I was not especially interested in Greta’s mother’s mission to \'take high culture down a notch\'; I wanted to understand what drives the teenager who finally got the world to talk about climate change ... The book ends before Greta becomes a global icon — and there are fair questions about how any teenager could handle that, child stars being the archetypal nervous-breakdowns-in-waiting. Yet it strikes me that this 17-year-old may be the true adult among us and the rest of us, always taking more, are the ones who are really behaving like spoilt children.
PositiveThe Sunday Times (UK)Even river geeks will learn a lot from this book ... The picture Lara Maiklem paints of the Thames in her first book, Mudlarking, is...enchanting — even though the pastime it describes is rummaging around in the dirt at its edges ... The one element I felt the book lacked was people: who are the characters beside the river? I am also not convinced it will have wide appeal. It reminds me of that trend a few years ago for books about tree-climbing; most sank with poor sales. Yet I hope it does succeed: it made even a capsized cynic like me feel more sentimental about the Thames. In fact, I am quite tempted to join Maiklem on the riverbed looking for treasure.
Rachel Louise Snyder
RaveThe Times (UK)... a powerful book — part reportage, part polemic — challenging these assumptions, arguing that not only does domestic violence have wider societal ramifications, but that there are ways to prevent abusers killing their victims ... [Snyder] also shows the broader repercussions, the way violence often spills out from the domestic sphere ... She also offers wider solutions ... a call for action, not a cry of despair. Snyder has written not only an admirable book, but one that should spur change. No one could read it and ever again say dismissively: \'It’s just a domestic.\'
MixedThe Times (UK)Kleinhenz’s biography glosses over this ageism and gives too clouded a window into Greer’s world. All the information is here, but it reads like a cuts job, all taken from the archives, not the mouths of friends. The author suggests that those around Greer were afraid to talk, and that she has few real friends anyway, but she did not contact James Hughes-Onslow, for example, the British journalist whom Greer briefly decreed should father her child; instead, she quotes from an article he wrote for The Daily Mail ... I don’t feel I got under Greer’s skin by reading this book. I want to hear from the brilliant, mad, revolutionary genius herself.