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The Baby of Belleville, By Anne Marsella

This lifestyle is more dangerous than I thought...

The narrator of Anne Marsella's comic novel is an Italian-American woman who lives in Paris with her aristocratic husband and their newborn son.

The book centres on the trials and pleasures of motherhood: the teething, the first steps, the interfering in-laws. With its alliterative puns, neatly turned witticisms and acronyms such as "SJLYM", which denotes the dreaded phenomenon of "sounding just like your mother", it reads like a diverting article in a lifestyle magazine. The emergence of a subplot concerning a bloody kidnapping, then, is somewhat unexpected; it's as if the mafia suddenly turned up halfway through a Caitlin Moran column.