The Doll: Short Stories by Daphne du Maurier

Ever since I read Rebecca I’ve been half in love with Daphne du Maurier.  I’ve read quite a lot of her work and she’s such a good story-teller!  Recently I was overjoyed to discover that a new collection of her early short stories had been published in May this year.

‘The Doll’ and the other stories included here were almost all written between 1926 and 1932, and were originally published individually in magazines and journals in the UK and America.  This is the first time they have been published as a collection, and some were only rediscovered very recently. More


The Woman Who Shot Mussolini by Frances Stonor Saunders

I don’t know about you but I don’t read a lot of non-fiction.  In fact, I hardly read any non-fiction books for pleasure until I joined my book group last year.  There’s so much wonderful fiction to read, transporting me to so many imaginary worlds, that I’ve never really wanted to give my time to reading anything else.

But I’ve recently discovered the joy of being introduced to extremely accessible historical non-fiction, which takes me on an equally fascinating journey into the unknown, yet concludes leaving me with a deeper insight into the focus of the book.  Plus I’m not left with fiction based on fact.  I’m left with the sometimes astonishing, sometimes shocking, realisation that these events really happened and are backed up with actual evidence. More

The Seduction of Mrs Pendlebury by Margaret Forster

Rose Pendlebury and her husband Stanley have lived in their house in Islington for twenty-six years and are now retired.  In recent years their street has become filled with young families who throw parties and employ a constant stream of builders.  The Pendleburys have nothing in common and nothing to do with any of their neighbours, deeming them snobbish, until the Orams move in next door.

Rose slowly develops a friendship with Alice Oram but as our omniscient narrator flits between the different characters’ thoughts we discover that Rose faces a constant struggle to combat her own anger, paranoia and irrational behaviour. More

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

This is another book I received recently from Waterstone’s ‘Read and Review’ offer.  It’s also another example of how the scheme persuades me to read books I may not otherwise have picked up: while you obviously don’t have to put your name down for every book, it’s a great risk-free way to try something new (well, risk-free in terms of not spending any money on it… obviously there’s the risk of wasting your time reading it but I rarely hate a book that much).

Prince of Thorns is the first in a new trilogy of fantasy novels.  Fantasy’s something I’ve not really tried before, although I love old sci-fi stories.  This is supposedly a British alternative to A Game of Thrones: again, not something I’m too familiar with but that might give you a rough idea of what to expect. More

On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry

I very nearly bought The Secret Scripture (another Sebastian Barry novel) a few years ago, but decided against it at the time as I hadn’t heard much about it.  On Canaan’s Side is Barry’s latest novel and was being offered free as a proof copy on Waterstone’s ‘Read and Review’ page a while ago.  I put my name down, was chosen to read it before publication, and it arrived in the post a few weeks ago.  Having devoured it, I liked it so much that The Secret Scripture is now right back on my to-read list! More

Quilt by Nicholas Royle

This book demands concentration.  It’s not a long read, only 159 pages, but because of its experimental writing style you do, at times, need to make the effort to commit to it and not drift off!  It’s a book I’d be reluctant to recommend to many people, purely because of this style.

However, I’m always up for a challenge, and there was a certain amount of satisfaction to be found when, maybe halfway through, I ‘got’ it and discovered what the writer was asking of the reader.  And if you enjoy a clever use of language and don’t mind piecing together clues from the fractured sentences to make your own story, then this is right up your street. More