Friday, 20 February 2015

Book Reviews: 20 February

The Lady reviews of the latest books available to buy or download now


Books-Feb20-LostAndFound-176THE BOOK OF LOST & FOUND by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins, £12.99; offer price, £11.69)
This tale of doomed love transports readers from the Home Counties to Corsica and Paris, from 1928 to the present day. It is an ambitious feat, but one that is executed seamlessly.

It is told through the eyes of the young protagonist Kate, whose curiosity leads her on her own unexpected path of self-discovery, following the sudden death of her mother and her inheritance of a mysterious photograph. Kate’s character is entirely relatable, prompting readers to wonder what secrets they might find out about their own history if pushed to look.

With vivid, contrasting settings, engaging characters and a shifting narrative, this beautiful book is effortless to read.

For a debut novel, it is exceptional – it will be exciting to see what this talented young author does next.ž
Sarah Fortescue

Books-Feb20-SecondLife-176SECOND LIFE by SJ Watson (Doubleday, £14.99; offer price, £12.99)
Second novels are notoriously tricky, but how to follow a debut as phenomenally successful as Before I Go to Sleep? Watson’s 2011 amnesia blockbuster sold more than four million copies and was made into a film in 2014 with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. To say that its successor has been eagerly anticipated is therefore something of an understatement, and it finds Watson sticking largely to his winning formula.

Our narrator is 40-something Julia, whose respectable Islington existence belies a dark past. Her son, Connor, is really the child of her sister, Kate, and it’s with Kate’s murder that the book begins. In an effort to track down the killer, Julia creates a second identity online, thereby meeting handsome Lukas.

An affair develops – taking us into some unpalatable territory – and it becomes clear that Julia is playing a dangerous game…

Yes, the twists in this tale keep coming until the end, but in the space of its 400 completely implausible pages there are, oddly, few genuine surprises. For a psychological thriller, readers may ultimately feel that neither the psychology nor the thrills actually pass muster.
Stephanie Cross

Books-Feb20-ArabJazz-176ARAB JAZZ by Karim Miské (MacLehose, £17.99; offer price, £14.99)
Winner of an English PEN award, French author and journalist Miské’s first novel is set in multicultural Paris. It offers a convincing portrait of the criminal underbelly of the cafes and backstreets of the 19th arrondissement.

Written in sensuous prose, it delves into the dark psyche of its characters as they confront their greatest fears in the wake of a brutal murder.

While recovering from a nervous breakdown, Ahmed Taroudant discovers the mutilated body of his neighbour – and finds himself the missing link to solving the crime.

A brazenly political crime novel for our times, it tackles hard-hitting and topical themes of religious fundamentalism, drugs and urban alienation.

With a gift for setting, Miské’s narrative twists through the mosques, prayer rooms and synagogues of Paris, where street preachers hustle for power, vendors ply their trade and a male and female detective duo are determined to unveil the mystery.
Anna Savva


Books-Feb20-DavidLodge-176Life and times
QUITE A GOOD TIME TO BE BORN: A MEMOIR 1935 -1975 by David Lodge (Harvill Secker, £25; o„ffer price, £20)
The acclaimed writer’s long-awaited autobiography covers the  rst 40 years of his life in a fast-changing Britain. Growing up in a lowermiddle- class family amid post-war austerity, Lodge went on to excel at grammar school and then at University College London, where he met his future wife Mary (their courtship is evocatively described in one of the most moving passages in the book), and later found success as an academic, literary critic and novelist.

He paints a detailed picture of university life in the 1950s and 1960s. The happy interaction between his thriving work and family environments is a pleasure to follow: he and Mary come across as a real partnership. But he is equally candid and un‰ inching about the great challenges he had to overcome.

The book’s length, at 496 pages, is not really a downside, because of the unfailingly high standard of Lodge’s prose, which is as addictive as ever. This  rst part ends on a high point, and in the second, he hints, he will confront a personal realisation about the Catholic faith, which was so signi cant in his early life and is the backbone of this book.

A fascinating portrayal of a writer’s development and a perceptive account of the changing society he lived in. Philippa Williams


WILLIAM HELBURN: MID-CENTURY FASHION AND ADVERTISING PHOTOGRAPHY edited by Robert Lilly and Lois Allen Lilly (Thames & Hudson, £39.95; offer price, £35.95)
He was the photographer of choice for top New York advertising agencies in the 1950s and 1960s, a hero of the Mad Men age whose revolutionary images and methods made waves in an already vibrant visual landscape. But, often uncredited, Helburn’s work remained anonymous to those outside the industry.


This stylish volume brings together 200 of his editorial and advertising images, many of them not seen for decades. From Dovima to Jean Shrimpton and Cadillacs to cocoon coats, his unique vision captures signature icons and high-gloss glamour of the era.
Juanita Coulson


BLOOD HORSES: Notes Of A Sportswriter’s Son by John Jeremiah Sullivan (Yellow Jersey Press, £9.99; offer price, £9.49)
You needn’t love horses to find this idiosyncratic memoir a joy. At its centre is American sportswriter Mike Sullivan, the author’s father, whose humour and passion shines through but whose disregard for his own wellbeing caused his son deep heartache. Shortly before Sullivan Sr died, he recalled how he’d seen one of the most famous Kentucky Derbys in history, thereby setting the author off on an equestrian odyssey of his own. The result is by turns aff ecting and hilarious, and marked out by Sullivan’s keen eye not just for horsefl esh but also for people.

THE HURRICANE SISTERS by Dorothea Benton Frank (Simon & Schuster, £7.99; offer price, £7.59)
Benton Frank’s latest novel examines exactly what it is to be part of a family, through the stories of stubborn 80-year-old Maisie, her daughter Liz and her granddaughter Ashley. They all have secrets they want to keep hidden, as well as hopes for the future. An entertaining and heart-warming account of female resilience, loyalty and love. Helena Gumley- Mason


Helena Gumley-Mason finds much to enjoy in our pick of first novels

DON’T LET HIM KNOW by Sandip Roy (Bloomsbury, £16.99; offer price, £13.99)
Roy’s sensual debut novel takes us on an unusual family odyssey. Amit is a computer engineer in California who discovers a decades-old letter revealing his mother’s surprisingly mysterious past. Or so he thinks. From the spices and saris of Calcutta, to the drive-throughs of San Francisco, Roy explores one family’s secrets, fears and hopes for the future. As it gathers pace after a somewhat slow start, you will not want to put it down.

THE CHIMES by Anna Smaill (Sceptre, £14.99; offer price, £13.49)
Welcome to London as you have never understood it before: the capital is a world controlled by music and melody; there are no memories and no clear answers. As Simon gets pulled into the heart of the city, he starts to remember snippets of his past, his parents’ faces and what it is he has to do. Smaill’s lyrical novel explores friendship, music and love, while also reminding us of the power of memory. An enthralling read.

LOST & FOUND by Brooke Davis (Hutchinson London, £12.99; offer price, £11.69)
When red-headed (and red-wellied) seven-yearold Millie fi nds herself parted from her mother in a busy department store, octogenarians Karl and Agatha try to help her fi nd her way back home.

Together, this unlikely threesome reconcile the problems of their past and realise their hopes for the future.

An exuberant and cheering tale that will stay with you long after the last page.


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