The Wonder Spot By Melissa Bank

Romance among the piranhas
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The Independent Culture

True, the narrator, Jane, was looking for a soulmate and floundering horribly in the piranha pool of the New York dating scene (Bank's heroines operate in recognisably the same milieu as Candace Bushnell's, only with fewer manicures and a less glitzy contacts book). But Bank's empathy, insight and underdog wit lifted the book on to another level. She's a terrific writer.

The Wonder Spot shouldn't disappoint her fans. It's constructed identically, as a collection of linked yet stand-alone pieces featuring the same narrator, this time called Sophie, dancing in and out of hopeless relationships and watching others do the same. Like Jane, Sophie has an adorable and lovelorn brother. There's even another faceless woman on the cover, insouciantly striding away from the reader - just like GG. But it's darker; Sophie's wit is more self-lacerating, an expression of her alienation. We don't feel, as we do with Jane, that there's somebody wonderful just around the corner.

Bank's great strength is characterisation, and her characters are if anything even more compelling this time around. Creepy lovers, clinging relatives and irritatingly perfect cousins flash through the pages. But her refusal to construct a novel in linear fashion means they flit away, their stories teasingly unresolved. It's the only disappointment.