Sun dog, By Monique Roffey

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The Independent Culture

Roffey's debut novel, written seven years before her Orange-prize shortlisted second, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, is remarkable not for its plot - which navigates her lovelorn central character, August's present-day reality in a Shepherd's Bush delicatessen with the ghosts of his past - but for the richness with which Roffey brings ordinary scenes to life.

The real achievement of this debut is her evident relish and aptitude for words, with which she infuses a painterly three-dimensionality into characters and scenes.

Structured around the seasons, it is a family drama and love story - flecked with magical realism and absorbing on all counts - but best read for the pleasure of sinking into Roffey's lusciously rendered everyday world.