A scintillating dialogue between artists – over @ShinyNewBooks


I’m sharing today a review I have over on Shiny New Books of a beautiful, moving and thought-provoking book. It’s “Letters to Gwen John” by artist Celia Paul, and in it the latter initiates a narrative between herself and the lauded artist Gwen John in the form of letters. Despite the fact that John cannot, of course, reply, Paul sprinkles her book with extracts from writings by John and others who knew her, as well as some truly gorgeous illustrations from both artists. This is a wonderful book which illuminates the life of the woman artist, particularly when she’s so often judged in relation to the men in her life, and it’s a stunning and memorable read. I loved it, and you can read my full review here.

Exploring exile and displacement – over @ShinyNewBooks


I have a new review up at Shiny New Books today which I’d like to share with you, and it’s of a fascinating and very timely work by William Atkins – “Exiles: Three Island Journeys”.

In the book, Atkins explores the lives of three political exiles: Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo, a Zulu king who was exiled to St Helena in the South Atlantic; Louise Michel, a French radical of the Commune, who was shipped off to New Caledonia in the South Pacific; and Lev Sternberg, a Ukrainian revolutionary who was sent to the notorious Sakhalin, off the coast of Siberia. Besides looking at their experiences, as Atkins retraces their journeys he considers the whole notion of exile, as well as encountering his own issues. It’s a really thought-provoking read and you can find my full review here – do take a look! 😀

Exploring a rediscovered Danish author – over @ShinyNewBooks!


I have a new review up at Shiny New Books I’d like to share with you today, and it’s from an author who’s been receiving much acclamation recently as her works have begun to be translated into English. The book is The Trouble with Happiness and Other Stories and it’s by the Danish author Tove Ditlevsen, translated by Michael Favala Goldman.

Ditlevsen’s autofictional Copenhagen Trilogy was released by Penguin in 2019, receiving extensive coverage and praise. I read and loved the first part, Childhood, and so was very keen to explore the new collection of short stories. It’s a wonderful collection of stories, ranging from the more straightforward to the experimental, and the works often cover what I refer to as the domestic tension underlying many relationships. I can highly recommend the book, and you can read my full review here!

Exploring women and crime writing – over @ShinyNewBooks #ReadIndies


I have a review up today over at Shiny New Books, and not only does it cover one of my favourite genres of writing (crime), it also manages to fit in with #ReadIndies as the publisher, Oldcastle Books, appears to be an indie outfit!

The book is called “After Agatha” and it’s by Sally Cline; and the subtitle of “Women Write Crime” should give you a good idea of what it’s about. Cline explores women authors and their writings from the classic days of Christie right up until modern times. Her approach is interesting, as she’s conducted extensive interviews with modern writers and these make up much of her narrative. You can find out more in my full review here!

More #Dostoevsky – over @ShinyNewBooks :D


2021 has been another very odd year, full of pandemic and politics and a world gone crazy. However, it’s also been a year which has seen celebrations of the 200th birthday of the wonderful Russian author, Fyodor Dostoevsky. There have inevitably been New Books about the great man, and I was happy to review a stunning one, “Dostoevsky in Love” by Alex Christofi, for Shiny New Books back in June. However, November saw the release of another intriguing title focused on Dostoevsky’s life and influences, and that is “The Sinner and the Saint” by Kevin Birmingham, which I’ve again covered for Shiny.

“Sinner…” is an intriguing work which looks at the genesis of Dostoevsky’s great work, “Crime and Punishment”, in particular through the lens of the influence of a real-life criminal, Pierre Lacenaire, a French murderer from the early part of the 1800s. The book is a fascinating read, and you can find my full review here!

A lost novella from a feminist icon – over @ShinyNewBooks! #simonedebeauvoir


I have a new review up on Shiny New Books today which I’d like to share with you, and it’s of a fascinating and moving novella which has recently surfaced from an author who’s been something of an idol of mine for much of my life – Simone de Beauvoir.

Beauvoir is of course probably best known for her “The Second Sex” and her series of memoirs, but I absolutely love her fiction too. “The Inseparables” was never published in Beauvoir’s lifetime, but it tells the story of a pivotal friendship in her life, one she also revisited in “Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter”. The novella makes wonderful reading, and this edition is enhanced with some lovely additional material. Do pop over and have a look at my review – it’s here! 😀

An evocative and atmospheric look at summers past – over @ShinyNewBooks #WITMonth


After a couple of posts which moved away from #WITMonth, I want to share today a review I’ve done for Shiny New Books of a wonderful book which has been garnering a lot of love lately – “Three Summers” by Margarita Liberaki.

Set in Greece between the wars, the story follows three sisters over the summers of the title as they grow and change, make decisions which will decide the paths of their lives, love and lose, and explore family secrets. It’s a wonderful read, beloved in its native land, and the recent attention it’s been getting is much deserved. You can read my thoughts here! 😀

A lyrical look at a lost life – over @shinynewbooks @PushkinPress @Bryan_S_K


I have a review up on Shiny New Books today which I’m really happy to share with you, as it’s from a favourite publisher, author and translator! The book is “An Evening with Claire“, the author is Gaito Gazdanov, the translator Bryan Karetnyk and the publisher Pushkin Press!

Gazdanov is one of my favourite recent discoveries; an émigré Russian author who slipped out of the limelight after a fascinating career and life, he’s been rediscovered thanks to the wonderful translations of his work by Bryan Karetnyk which have been issued in lovely editions by Pushkin Press. I’ve reviewed all of them so far, and the newest one is a real treat as it’s Gazdanov’s first published work. It was a delight to read and cover it, and you can read my post here.

Now I just hope that Bryan and Pushkin will turn their talents in the direction of his novel “Night Roads”, as I would love to read that one soon…. ;D

The passions of a great Russian author – over @ShinyNewBooks #dostoevskyinlove


I’ve been lucky enough to read some wonderful non-fiction titles for Shiny New Books recently, including Friday’s “Monica Jones…” and the recent look at Paris during the 1900-1950 period. Today I want to share another marvellous book which knocked my socks off – “Dostoevsky in Love” by Alex Christofi.

Dostoevsky is, of course, one of my favourite authors (Russian or otherwise) and so I was intrigued to see what this book would have to say about him. It turned out to be a brilliantly constructed, totally engrossing and very moving take on the great author’s life, and particularly his loves, using many of Dostoevsky’s own writings. I absolutely loved it – check out my full review here! 😀

The shining stars of the City of Light – over @ShinyNewBooks


I have a new review up at Shiny New Books today which I want to share with you, and it’s a book which turned out to be a particularly interesting read! Paris, the City of Light, holds a great fascination for me, as do its writers and artists. So when I was given the chance of reviewing a book which explored the creatives passing through Paris in the first half of the 20th century I jumped at the chance – and this is it!

Twentieth Century Paris (1900-1950) – A Literary Guide for Travellers by Marie-José Gransard takes a look at the city in what was a golden age. From Josephine Baker to Jean Cocteau, James Baldwin to Ernest Hemingway, the place was bursting at the seams with brilliant, creative people. It wasn’t all glitter, though, as characters like Jean Rhys and George Orwell found poverty did not go down well there.

The book is a fascinating read, and made me wish for a time travel machine! You can read my full review here. 😀

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