BOOK REVIEW / Books recommended

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The Independent Culture
Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories by Jenny Uglow, Faber, pounds 20. Readable and rigorous biography of the 19th-century novelist with a talent for life. Review by Sue Gaisford, 6 February.

The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt, Hodder & Stoughton, pounds 8.99. Sinister, elegantly written first novel about a young woman's life in New York. Review by Justine Picardie, 13 February.

Sentimental Journeys by Joan Didion, HarperCollins, pounds 15. Clever and singular musings on the heart and mind of America. Review by Natasha Walter, 30 January.

Swing hammer swing] by Jeff Torrington, Secker & Warburg, pounds 8.99. Deep and affecting novel about Glasgow life, and winner of this year's Whitbread Book of the Year Prize. Interview by Marianne Brace, 30 January.

The Dictionary of National Biography edited by C S Nicholls, Oxford, pounds 65. Expensive but marvellous compendium: more than a thousand lives rescued from oblivion. Review by Robert Winder, 30 January.

I am the Clay by Chaim Potok, Heinemann, pounds 13.99. Dramatic and solemn novel describing a rescued boy's improvisations during the war in Korea. Review by Tim Jackson, 23 January.

In The Highest Degree Odious by A W Brian Simpson, Clarendon Press pounds 35. A revelatory study of the British Government's use of detention without trial during the Second World War. Review by Ian McIntyre, 2 January.