PositiveEvening Standard (UK)It’s as pretentious as it sounds, but redeemed by moments of humour, giving the book an intellectual rom com feel ... English is not Guo’s first language but her style makes an impact – she writes in short sentences, almost like haikus, making it feel abrupt and unsentimental, with lots of direct speech ... As the title suggests, it is more discourse than plot-driven novel, which at times feels leaden with too much analysis of emotions. But overall, the impression is of a story told with charm that will leave you in a ponderous mood.
RaveThe Evening Standard (UK)... honest, moving and funny. A passage where [Heawood] realises she will always worry about whether her daughter is warm enough made me cry, but she never mentions her, or her daughter’s father by name, calling him only The Musician. The book is more about her experiences and will help other women who have to deal with insensitive health visitors assuming that their baby has a \'daddy\'. And although she puts a lot of effort into not hating The Musician, I felt exasperated at his behaviour ... There are a few celebrity cameos. She interviews Goldie Hawn and Jodie Foster, who come across as kind, but then Heawood knows how to play the Hollywood publicity machine, \'kiss arse\' and write in a way that’s sharp enough to impress but not offend ... Heawood has a good sense of humour, but is never bitter or cruel. Above all, she has written a tender book about parental love that she and her daughter should be proud of.
RaveThe Evening Standard (UK)LeÏla Slimani’s novels are described in France as \'livres chocs\', meaning books that scandalise. She ventures into dark corners of the psyche, describing base impulses that many are ashamed to even think about ... Sex and Lies tells the stories of 14 of these women and two men, from a range of backgrounds. Slimani, a former journalist, reports their words directly — they need no embellishment. As an account of sex lives, it is as revealing as American journalist Lisa Taddeo’s bestseller Three Women, but it has a more urgent political mission ... Sex and Lies tells devastating stories in a spare style, but it’s not all bleak — Slimani is too clever and nuanced for that. It’s a positive sign that the people she speaks to refuse to be cowed by the repressive regime ... There is a quiet revolution under way where behind closed doors people are having sex with whoever they want ... Like Adèle did before it, this slim pink book of impassioned pleas, and of human impulses that resonate, is one step to more women breaking free.
PositiveThe Evening Standard (UK)Much of the ground covered will be familiar to anyone who has read Laing’s other books—loneliness, alcoholism, gender relations and technology all loom large ... Laing is at her best when you feel her connection to her subjects—the section on Derek Jarman is outstanding ... Every essay is rich with forensic research, but never feels weighed down by it. There’s too much heart in Laing’s writing for that. She creates an atmosphere through detailed descriptions of particular moments and everyday actions ... Laing is no naive bluestocking—she is well aware that art isn’t a magic bullet ... She wants art to be unsettling, and it is a demanding read at times; it’s dense, but tempered by humour. As a result, this is also a thought-provoking, inspiring collection that you can go back to whenever the weather takes a funny turn.
RaveThe Evening StandardWhen a woman gets to her mid-thirties, society expects her to have reached certain milestones: a fulfilling job, a career even, and to have settled on a partner and be seriously thinking about children. This, 37-year-old Jessie Burton’s third novel, is an intelligent investigation into these pressures and their psychological impact. Her particular skill is to explore this in a way that is engaging, entertaining and moving ... With her bestselling debut novel The Miniaturist, Burton proved her ability to create enticing worlds, and she does it again here ... Connie reveals how being a lesbian has made her life more difficult but her sexuality is never sensationalised. Because Burton never judges; rather she lays out a variety of ways of being and the challenges that may come with making honest choices. This is a novel that feels intimate, delving into the mechanics of relationships that women have both with others and with themselves. It’s also a riveting story that will keep you guessing until the end.
RaveThe Standard (UK)This is an ambitious book that creates more questions than it answers. Levy doesn’t patronise her readers and she is able to pull off such scope because of her humour and ability to evoke a mood.There are lyrical passages about lake swimming, cold white wine and pasta restaurants in Soho alongside intense psychological probing of childhood, parental duty and sexual attraction. It’s clever, raw, and it doesn’t play by any rules.