Books: In Brief

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The Independent Culture
In Other Words: New Writing by Indian Women, ed Urvashi Butalia & Ritu Menon, Women's Press pounds 6.99. The best stories here are born of Indian particularities - extremes of wealth and poverty in Shama Futehally's 'Portrait of a Childhood'; loss of one's own language to the coloniser in 'No Letter from Mother'. Yet it is the verve and authority with which these writers use the coloniser's language that makes the collection so pleasurable. Verity Mason

The Rationalist by Warwick Collins, Heinemann pounds 9.99. An 18th century physician divides his time between crude amputations, brooding over Hume and surprising liaisons with a genteel widow. More debate about than evidence of intellect and great souls, and much period posturing in the dialogue, but highly diverting. Maggie Traugott

Towards Jerusalem by Denise Robertson, Constable pounds 14.99. Triumphant conclusion to the Sunderland trilogy. They're all here: martyred Anne, distinguished Howard, decent Frank, Stella the sex-pot: Labour Maguires and Tory Brentons 'so mixed-in together' in post-war Britain that 'you didn't know who your enemies were'. J B Priestley-style story-telling remains an honourable tradition. Verity Mason