In her second full-length poetry collection, Claire Askew searches for security and self-assurance within a heavily patriarchal world where institutional power reigns over individuals. Here is fiery free verse that captures beautifully the uneven forces of female empowerment and misogyny. The resolution to this tension is searched for through deftly poetic explorations of dysfunctional relationships, exploitation of the natural world, and interpretations of Salem witch trials.
Some books lead readers gently by the hand and others push them in at the deep end. In her latest novel, The Night-Side of the Country, Meaghan Delahunt opens with a standalone sentence designed to launch you firmly into the post #metoo waters: ‘The days drew in and the men fell hard.’ From that moment on, the novel delivers a highly charged and fast paced read.
Meaghan Delahunt, a small sunburst of a person, meets me on a cold mid-March morning in Edinburgh with a smile and a joke about elbow-bumping, softly deflecting the viral threat of a handshake or hug as only an avid reader of that day’s online news would know to do. On the train and in the Read More
Motherwell is a poignant family portrait, articulately painted by the late Deborah Orr of a life with ‘house-proud’ mother Win and ‘factory-worker’ father John. Orr achieved success as a journalist, becoming editor of the Guardian’s Weekend supplement by 31, and writing a weekly column for two decades thereafter. She was also a child of Scottish Read More
I first encountered the pejorative term ‘Mary Sue’ in a critical review of Samantha Shannon’s Bone Season and can still recall my bemusement; Shannon had secured an impressive seven-book deal with Bloomsbury yet stood accused of creating merely an idealised projection of herself. It is this gendered injustice which Sophie Collins now examines in her Read More
‘Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied.’ Celebrated author Jeanette Winterson takes the first phrase of Millicent Fawcett’s stirring words for the title of her work on the achievements of women since the 19th century. This diminutive book, developed from her 2018 Richard Dimbleby Lectures, appearing flyweight at less than A5 size and only Read More
Following on from her previous novel The Midwife’s Daughter, Patricia Ferguson returns to the sleepy Cornish town of Silkhampton to tell the story of both new and also some familiar characters. Set in the early 1930s, the book revolves around three women, all widely different but drawn together by circumstance into a situation which will Read More
On a book tour of his novel about art and war, Anil’s Ghost, Michael Ondaatje tells a tale of moral responsibility, an Indian fable of a King who wakes up to find a corpse tied around his neck. Every time the King buries it, and the corpse returns; try as he might to dispose of Read More