July Picks

Those who leave & Those who stayFerrante, Elena (2014) Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay. Europa.  The third book in the Neapolitan series is set in the period 1968-1976 and follows narrator Elena into marriage, after she has gained her degree and published her first novel. Living in relative affluence, in Florence, Elena is on the fringes of Italy’s social unrest. She is challenged by the sexual politics of the era and struggles to put her ‘brilliant’ career on hold whilst catering to the needs of her husband and two daughters. Meanwhile her nemesis and lifelong friend Lina is at the forefront of the workers’ movement in Naples, and when she finally throws off the drudgery of factory life to become an entrepreneur she comes once again face to face with her oldest enemies – the Solara Family.  Subversive and visceral. Brilliant. Rating: 9.5/10.

After youMoyes, Jojo (2015) After You. Penguin.  Having enjoyed the movie Me before You I was keen to find out what happened to Louisa Clark after Will Traynor.  After You begins 18 months later, when Lou is failing to obey Will’s last piece of advice to “just live well”. In grief her bubbly feistiness is gone and she’s stuck in a dead-end job. Full of a familiar cast of characters, mismatched strangers and untethered events it takes most of the book for Lou to move on.  Disappointing sequel. Rating: 7/10.

how-to-measure-cowForster, Margaret (2016) How to Measure a Cow.  Chatto & Windus. Tara Fraser, with a new identity, starts a new life in Cumbria.  She seeks to reinvent herself to escape her shocking past. She fights to live a quiet life but her new neighbour and her three old friends are determined to inveigle themselves. Slowly, she discovers the dangers of trying to suppress the past and reject others. Margaret Forster made it an art form of unpicking ordinary and hidden lives. This, her final novel, is both disturbing and painful – Forster at her best.  Rating: 8.5/10.

dryHarper, Jane (2016) The Dry.  Macmillan. When Melbourne-based police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funeral of his childhood best friend Luke Hadler, and that of his wife and son, he has no desire to comfort the town that rejected him twenty years earlier. Kiewarra is in the midst of its worst drought and tempers are fraught in the baking heat, and as Aaron probes into his friend’s murder-suicide he opens up wounds from his own past.  A stunning debut novel – film rights sold, new novel due October.  Highly recommended.  Rating: 9.5/10.

Fool-Me-OnceCoben, Harlan (2016) Fool Me Once. Century. Disgraced former combat pilot Maya Burkett’s husband has been murdered. So how does she explain his appearance on her nanny cam? This question is at the heart of this thriller. Maya launches her own investigation, little knowing it will link to the murder of her sister and to deaths more than 10 years ago, and  bring to the surface deep secrets in her own past and that of the powerful Burkett family. Cleverly paced plot full of twists and turns that leads to an unexpected denouement. Rating: 8.5/10.

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