Whitehouse, David (2015) Mobile Library. Picador. Twelve-year-old Bobby Nusku ekes out a brutal existence with his father, as he archives the life of his long-gone mother. When he befriends Rosa and her mother Val, he finds solace. They escape town in a redundant mobile library and begin an adventure equal to the books that surround them. This dark and original tragicomic road trip is a touching exploration of the diverse makeup of a modern family and the stories that can shape them. Wonderfully engaging tale. Rating: 8.5/10.
Tyler, Anne (2015) A Spool of Blue Thread. Chatto & Windus. On a “beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon” in 1959 Abby fell in love with Red Whitshank. So begins the domestic history of a family and a beloved family home. When Red starts going deaf and then has a heart attack and Abby’s brain starts to “jump the track”, the family converges to take over their care. From the veranda the book spools through the three generations of Whitshank family life, chronicling the myths, shared stories and long-held secrets. Tyler expounds on the mixed blessings of togetherness and ordinariness, where happiness is most always elusive. Warmhearted and poignant. Loved it! Rating: 9.5/10.
Haynes, Natalie (2014). The Amber Fury. Corvus. After Alex Morris loses her fiancé in violent circumstances she moves to Edinburgh, with her grief, to take a job as a teacher of troubled and difficult children at the Rankeillor Pupil Referral Unit. It is with her fourth year class of five intimidating teenagers that she builds a rapport, in her teaching of the Greek tragedies. They become enthralled with the tales of cruel fate and bloody revenge, and she begins to worry that they are taking the lessons to heart only to find herself at the centre of a whole new tragedy. A dark psychological mystery, about compassion and obsession. Gripping. Rating: 9/10.
Nicholson, Virginia (2015) Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes: The story of women in the 1950s. Viking. Virginia Nicholson reconstructs 1950s Britain through the lives of women who lived it. Here are our mothers and grandmothers whose shoes matched their handbags, who were filling in time waiting for marriage, who scrubbed their back door steps, and whose most rampant desire was for a fridge, washer and television set. We meet working girls, students, and housewives who were breaking the bonds of a prescribed life, with a sense of optimism. A social history, with a personal face, with women sharing the most intimate details of their lives. Déjà vu. Rating: 9/10.