Church, Elizabeth J (2016) The Atomic Weight of Love. Algonquin Books. In 1941 Meridian Wallace begins her ornithological studies but is soon entranced by physics professor Alden Whetstone. Deferring her own career path she marries Alden and follows him to Los Alamos where he is engaged in top secret work on the atomic bomb. As a wife she is lonely and grieves for her lost freedom and academic life. She channels her energies into studying a family of crows in the wild canyons of New Mexico, where one day she meets Clay a young Vietnam veteran. This debut novel spanning several decades is as much about the evolution of love and womanhood as it is about political and cultural change. Poignant, powerful and unsentimental. Recommended Rating: 9/10.
Watson, Richard (2016) Digital vs Human: How we’ll live, love and think into the future. Scribe. Futurist Richard Watson explores the relationship between people and technologies. Whilst new technologies developed by a small number of designers and developers will in most cases transform our future, whose interests are being served? Are Silicon Valley and large corporates manipulating and stealing our future? Being human is not a logical problem and we need to look at ourselves, at our higher human needs, to reclaim and craft our own digital future. Insightful. Rating: 8.5/10.
Walker, Martin (2016) Fatal Pursuit: A Bruno, Chief of Police novel. Quercus. In this 9th book in the Bruno series the intrepid policeman goes in search of a very valuable vintage car – a Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic, lost somewhere in southern France during World War II. Bruno soon discovers that some cars are worth killing for. Bruno’s village life offers up its challenges, but there is always time for a girlfriend, a good bottle of wine and a fabulous meal. Lacks the depth of storytelling of the earlier novels but comfortable all the same. Rating: 7/10.
Disclafani, Anton (2016) The After Party. Riverhead Books. Following the tremendous success of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls Disclafani has again explored the constraints of female sexuality and social class. In 1950s Houston, amidst the rustle of debutant balls and garden parties, we meet life-friends Cece and Joan. Compulsively devoted to Joan since childhood Cece has been either her minder or her partner in crime, but as Cece starts a grownup life Joan drifts increasingly out of reach. Story of the agony, joys and boundaries of female friendship. Delicious. Rating: 8.5/10.
Tyler, Anne (2016) Vinegar Girl: The Taming of the Shrew Retold. Hogarth Shakespeare. Kate Battista is an early childhood assistant and housekeeps for her eccentric scientist father and younger sister Bunny. On the shelf and not meeting her potential she is manipulated into a green card marriage. Kate does not measure up to Shakespeare’s Shrew, indeed her forthright manner is rather tame by comparison. For all that it is a lighthearted romp but not Anne Tyler at her best. This new publishing trend for modern renderings of classic Austen and Shakespearean plots by famous authors has been a mixed bag, generally trite with something lost in the reimagining. Rating: 7/10.