Born on the same night as a fire-blazed comet hurtles across the sky, Ursula Flight’s story begins as brightly and excitingly as it will continue in Anna-Marie Crowhurst’s charming debut. Ursula is a gloriously uplifting character, and is given a strong narrative voice by Crowhurst. Though the vocabulary keeps in time with its 17th Century setting, The Illumination of Ursula Flight feels like a very modern tale, and the eponymous Ursula is a recognisable heroine.Read More
I begin this review with a confession: I’ve never read Henry James’s perceived masterpeice A Portrait of a Lady and until five minutes ago I didn’t know what it was about. Following a quick read of its Wiki synopsis, I really wish I had read it before Mrs Osmond. In this follow-up to Portrait, John Banville begins where James left off, with the eponymous Isabel in London following her illicit trip to visit her dying cousin, now hatching a rather complicated plan to regain her independence, money, and right a few wrongs along the way. If Portrait was about a wedding set-up, Mrs Osmond is about a divorce set-up, as Isabel herself states: “What I seek is not revenge, but a reckoning.”Read More
The opening sequence of Min Kym’s memoir reads like that of a television drama. It begins with the main action, the reason we’re here in the first place: to read about the former child prodigy violinist’s ordeal when her beloved instrument was stolen from under her feet. It is a smart move for a memoir, and the action, staged as a dream – or rather, a nightmare – reads well. Immediately we are introduced to what will become a regular feature of the book: the personification of Kym’s Stradivarius. “No one comes to tell me whether my violin is alive or whether my violin is dead.” If this is an attempt to emotionally involve this reader, it has worked.Read More
There are some themes developing in Kirsty Logan’s work: fairy tales, the sea, and pure magic. In The Gloaming, her second novel in a catalogue that also includes two short story collections, a contemporary fairy story ebbs and flows across many maritime references, focusing on the water that gives life and takes it away. The magic comes in the form of Logan’s bewitching prose – a partly mythical setting, unique description, poetic language and a thrilling voyage.Read More
I like to describe my librarian working life as one big literary party, yet despite frequent interactions with authors, meeting my heroes still leaves me star struck. Seeing Maggie O’Farrell at this year’s Aye Write was no exception.Read More
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