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Becoming to the screen

Did you love Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming as much as I did? The Netflix documentary based on her book and life starts today, 6th of May, on Netflix. I’ll be watching! Here’s our review of her book.

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We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

An American house of horror

I’m finding that bitesized, escapist fiction suits my concentration levels these days and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, perfectly fits the bill. The story of two mysterious sisters living with their ailing uncle in a grand, ivy-covered Vermont house is unsettling from the word go. We Have Always Lived in the Castle was Jackson’s – the American queen of ghost and horror stories – last and, many think, best novel.

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Normal People on screen

Remember Sally Rooney’s dazzling, multi-prize-winning novel Normal People? The BBC and Hulu just released a TV-series based on the book and rave reviews are flooding in. You can find our review here. Watch the series or read the book or even both. Just don’t miss this gem of a love story! Here’s the trailer.


I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

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I Feel Bad About My Neck

A bit of light distraction

As I’ve just found out, I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron can always be pulled out of the bookshelf and re-read. It’s the American screenwriter’s (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle) laugh-out-loud collection of essays about divorces, moustaches, the power of hair-dye, losing your eye-sight, why it’s pointless to bring a book to the hairdresser, and, yes, neck skin. Comic genius Ephron (the only woman in the White House JF Kennedy never made a pass on) knew a thing or two about turning tragedy into comedy and in her mid-sixties wrote a blisteringly honest book about ageing. She didn’t believe in upbeat books about old age. ‘Why do people write books that say it’s better to be older than to be younger? It’s not better.’ It might not sound like it but believe me when I say you’ll feel better after laughing your way through this book.

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron is published by Doubleday, 228 pages.

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And you thought home isolation was bad…

Getting a perspective sometimes make things feel better. These great books should do the job.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The ultimate ‘hard times’ book, written during the Great Depression. Classic Steinbeck with unforgettable characters.

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. Remember this one? A heart-wrenching but also very funny memoir by the Irish-American author who grew up in extreme poverty in Limerick, Ireland.

Blood River – A journey into Africa’s Broken Heart by Tim Butcher. A gripping non-fiction story of a journalist’s journey through Congo, one of the most dangerous countries on earth.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Set in Korea during the Japanese occupation, this family epic vividly describes the one-bowl-of-rice-a-day-existence.

The Five – the Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold. Being a poor, divorced or single woman in Victorian times is the last thing you’d ever want to be after reading this superbly researched Baille-Gifford prize winning non-fiction book.

…and, of course, ANYTHING Charles Dickens.

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Women’s Prize for Fiction short-list 2020

Just what we need right now. A curated selection of books by smart women in the know, the judging panel of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020. There’s a one time winner of the Booker Prize (Bernadine Evaristo) and a two-time (possibly a third?) winner of the Booker Prize (Hilary Mantel). There’s the wonderful Jenny Offill whose books (Weather and Dept. of Speculation) we love. And then there’s our recent favourite, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. Good choices judging panel!

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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The Bell Jar

A feminist mind unravels in this intense American classic

Esther Greenwood hasn’t washed her hair for three weeks. Personal hygiene seems futile when the days glare ahead ‘…like a white, broad, infinitely desolate avenue.’ This sombre path is walked by one of literature’s most infamous characters in The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. The iconic writer’s portrayal of a young woman’s mental breakdown ties in perfectly with our Read With Your Teen challenge. Time to put your preconceptions on hold while sharing cross-generational thoughts on the novel’s oft-cited morbid self-obsession and stirring feminist observations.

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American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

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American Dirt

A troubling page-turner

Sixteen people at a family birthday party are mowed down by gunmen in the shocking opening scene of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. The sole survivors, Lydia and her 8-year-old son Luca, flee towards ‘el norte’ with Acapulco’s most feared narco baron, Javier Crespo Fuentes, and his henchmen at their heels. Sounds like an action film? Yep. And that’s both the appeal and the trouble with this gripping Mexican refugee novel.

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Hamnet by Maggie O' Farrell

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A triumphant tale of grief, love and motherhood

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell is O’Farrell’s take on ‘what might have happened’ around the death of Shakespeare’s only son Hamnet. It’s her first foray into historical fiction and an ambitious choice of subject matter, but she pulls it off triumphantly with this poignant tale of grief, love and motherhood.

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