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My Phantoms

I think I have found a new fabulous author to read in Gwendoline Riley. Her most recent book My Phantoms is basically a story about a mother and daughter relationship. It is quite brutal in places but it is also subtle. Riley’s observations are extraordinary and I read this book in two days as I couldn’t put it down. Her previous novel First Love was shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s prize in 2017—having enjoyed My Phantoms so much, I’ll be reading it next.

The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey is the story of Erica who moves to a sleepy town on the Australian south coast to be near her son who is in a nearby prison. She decides to build a labyrinth in the yard to help her navigate through the trauma and issues she has carried around most of her life—which you learn about as the book unfolds. You are also introduced to the characters she meets in this little town who help her with the labyrinth. Wonderfully written and well worthy of the Miles Franklin Award.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak is a beautiful book of a love affair between a Greek boy and a Turkish girl during the Cypriot uprising in the 1970s. It’s an enchanting story wound around a fig tree central to the narrative, which tells its own story

Still Life by Sarah Winman—I was only going to write one sentence…I didn’t want this book to end…but that wouldn’t be fair to those who want to know more. Set in both Florence and London and spanning 40 years (1944–1980) you will read about wonderful characters and love each one of them. A life-changing, chance meeting between Evelyn, an art historian and Ulysses, a soldier, in Florence during the war takes you on a journey through these people’s lives that is heart-warming and moving.

In Lean, Fall, Stand Jon McGregor is a master at taking you to a place, often a cold one, and immersing you in that moment. This is the story of a man who is an experienced field worker in Antarctica, but something goes horribly wrong. The consequence leaves him unable to communicate and vulnerable. This is also a story of courage and we learn a lot about what it feels like to be trapped in a body that no longer does what it used to and cannot communicate. It can be a hard read in places … but also uplifting and hopeful. Loved it.

We Were Not Men by Campbell Mattinson—This is a moving and quite powerful story about twin brothers who had to grow up fast after a tragic accident. It is a story about swimming, competing and love, and boys becoming men. I enjoyed it very much and look forward to recommending it. A terrific debut novel. (Due June 21)

A Feather on the Breath of God by Sigrid Nunez— Another winner from this great author. Nunez is a master at writing about relationships and this time it is between a woman and her immigrant parents—a Chinese father and German mother and growing up in a project home in America. The last part of the book is about her and her choices in life which are influenced by her upbringing.  Fabulous.