SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL by Herman Koch; book review

The Dutch author Herman Koch hit the big time with his last novel, The Dinner, an international bestseller examining the nastiness underpinning modern middle-class life, told by a thoroughly despicable misanthropist.

TOUCHED, by Joanna Briscoe; book review

Joanna Briscoe is the latest novelist to be approached by Hammer to write a novella on the theme of the supernatural; an apt choice, since she distills such intense feelings of disquiet in her regular work. She revisits themes of female madness, the insecurities of adolescence and sexual obsession in Touched; but a straightforward ghost story it is not.

Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe; Command and Control by Eric Schlosser; Season to Taste by Natalie Young; The Book of Fate by Parinoush Saniee; The Undercover Economist Strikes by by Tim Harford - paperbacks reviews

When you pick up a Jonathan Coe novel, you know you can expect a frictionless read, a clever plot, a good-natured authorial voice, likeable characters and some laughs along the way. Expo 58 disappoints in none of these particulars.

It's the story of a young civil servant, Thomas Foley, who is selected to oversee the smooth running of the pub at the British area of the World's Fair in Belgium in 1958. With so many nations competing for attention and showcasing technology side by side, in the first icy years of the Cold War, it's to be expected that there will be some espionage shenanigans - and sure enough Thomas is recruited by two comedy Secret Service agents, Wayne and Radford, who prattle inconsequentially in Fifties lingo and finish each other's sentences, while tasking him with keeping a jolly close eye on the Soviet delegate.

Thomas has a somewhat tetchy wife, and child, back at home, and a comedy neighbour who prowls around her, but off the leash in Brussels he finds time for a dalliance with the beautiful Belgian Expo hostess Anneke.

Like most of Coe's male leads, Foley is quiet, mild-mannered, innocent, not unperceptive but lacking in dynamism: a blank canvas, someone to whom things happen rather than a person who makes them happen. Which is fine for the hero of a comic novel (c.f. William Boot in Scoop) - but in this case Coe's comic touch, normally so sure, isn't always quite there. It lacks the vigour and inventiveness of What a Carve-Up, and some of the comic scenes appear to be rather going through the motions.

What it does score well on is a haunting nostalgia for a vanished period, an element which grows stronger as the novel progresses.

 

Outstanding tall stories for short people: the best children's books for the summer holidays

This is a happy book" trumpets the title page of Clara Vulliamy's I ♥ Holidays (Harpercollins, £6.99 paperback), and indeed it is. Three cheerful rabbit siblings take a seaside holiday with Mum and Dad and have a good time doing the usual beach things including putting up with rain. Bright colours and lots of detail make all this very pleasing.

Assata: An Autobiography, by Assata Shakur, book review: Revolutionary from a different time, a different struggle

The revolutionary Black Liberation Army of the 1970s rose out of the ashes of the Black Panther Party to free black people in the United States, this time through armed struggle. The peaceful civil rights movement of the sixties had eliminated segregation but not the racism still endured by African Americans. The United States responded with its white institutional might to bring down the revolutionaries, most notably Assata Shakur.

The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking by Brendan I Koerner; book review

Between the years 1961, when the first plane ever was seized in US airspace, and 1972, the year Roger Holder, an emotionally-ravaged Vietnam deserter, and his loved-up partner in crime Cathy Kerkow seized control of Western Airlines Flight 701, some 159 commercial planes were hijacked in the United States. The Skies Belong To Us is the culmination of four years' research by journalist Brendan I. Koerner, and explores this dramatic and politically embarrassing period of history in vivid detail.

Invisible women: striking gold miners at Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, circa 1855

The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright; book review

‘I had an offer a few days after landing from a gold digger, with £600-700. Since that I have had another from a bushman with £900,’ So wrote a young British serving girl, just arrived in the gold fields of Victoria in the 1850s. She meant offers of marriage, rather than work. There was a shortage of women, so a young, single girl could do much better on the marriage market than she ever could in Britain. As she put it, ‘I have so many chances’.

Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar, book of a lifetime: 'The deadpan formal playfulness still thrills'

In Fort Lee, New Jersey, there used to be a shop called The Book Cave. It was run by two women, one of whom was maybe in her twenties and the other in her thirties, but I can hardly be sure of that because, in my time as a customer at The Book Cave, I was between the ages of 12 and 14 and my perceptions of many things were unreliable, including the ages of women.

The Last Lover by Can Xue, trans. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, book review

While his wife Maria weaves intricate tapestries whose design feels like "dropping into an abyss", Joe manages the Rose Clothing Company in a Western nation known as "Country A".

Implausibly dramatic: Glenn Close from the film 'Fatal Attraction', to which this book is compared

The Disappearance Boy by Neil Bartlett, book review: A world of illusion and self-delusion

Reviewing his first (non-fiction) book Who Was That Man? back in 1988, Edmund White remarked that, "Neil Bartlett has grabbed history by the collar and made bitter love to it." It's been a tendency of his ever since.

Mother Island by Bethan Roberts, book review: Tale of jealous mind makes for gripping thriller

There's little more engrossing than a top-notch psychological thriller. Bethan Roberts's latest novel doesn't disappoint – it's satisfyingly creepy and stimulates that delicious paradox: goose-pimples in summer.

Conversations with My Agent by Rob Long - book review: Recollections of a comedy writer raise a cheer

In 1963 Mel Brooks's comedy partner Carl Reiner wrote the autobiographical Enter Laughing, about being a young TV scriptwriter working on live TV comedy for a showrunner described as "the Ulcer That Walks Like a Man". Forced to write up his ideas just minutes ahead of the performers going in front of the cameras, he found the experience terrifying and exhilarating.

Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
The Independent
 
Independent
The Independent on Google+
i100
i100
i100 on Google+
i Newspaper
 
TheIPaper
The Independent around the web
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    Career Services

    Day In a Page

    Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
    Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
    Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
    Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
    Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
    Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home