A Word in Your Ear: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood <br></br>The Eyre Affair

Christina Hardyment
Tuesday 10 December 2013 02:14
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American women's thinking about women has come a long way since Nancy Friday's My Mother, Myself tore apart the institution of motherhood. Rebecca Wells's full-blooded Louisiana romp Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Macmillan, c. 3hrs, £8.99) celebrates powerful mothers as well as feminine friendship in this tale of how a daughter is brought to understand her mother – and herself – by reading a scrapbook kept by her mother and her friends ever since they were little Catholic girls swearing blood-sisterhood nude under the moon. I'd have preferred a more generous abridgement, but the energy and interpretive sensitivity with which the author herself reads compensates for the emaciated storyline.

The announcement that Sherlock Holmes has been made an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry makes one hesitate to describe Jaspar Fforde's hugely enjoyable The Eyre Affair (Isis, unabridged, c. 11hrs, £18.99 mail order 0800 731 5637) as fantasy. His characters zip between books and a brilliantly conceived parallel universe in which we are still fighting the Crimean war in 1985, and the war against crime's greatest challenge is abductors of characters from classic fiction. I put life on hold while I listened to reader Gabrielle Kruger throwing herself heart and soul into the story, convincing as both its irresistible heroine Thursday Next of Special Ops' Literary Detective Division and the villainous, shape-shifter Acheron Hades.

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