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5 new books to read this week

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain and Circus Of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal.

Prudence Wade
Wednesday 19 May 2021 15:40

Stormy weather calls for a new book…

Fiction

1. Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon is published in hardback by Merky Books, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Dark, magical, and incredibly satisfying, Sorrowland is a fantastical tale that grapples with America’s history of racism and marginalised communities. Vern, a black woman with albinism, rebels against her remote community held in the grip of a religious cult. Still a teenager, she escapes the compound where she grew up and gives birth to twins in the woods. Both hunted and haunted, Vern discovers her body changing as she develops frightening extra-sensory powers. Amid her struggle for survival with two uncanny children in tow, there is a wider mystery looming, threatening to become a matter of life and death. This gripping gender-bending yarn from UK-based American author Rivers Solomon is yet another fine offering from Stormzy’s #Merky Books.9/10(Review by Emily Pennink)

2. Circus Of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal is published in hardback by Picador, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

The kaleidoscopic world of the Victorian circus, at once enchanting and grotesque, is vividly brought to life in Elizabeth Macneal’s second novel. Young flower-picker Nell, ostracised by her village due to a body speckled by birthmarks, is kidnapped by a travelling circus run by fame-hungry ringmaster Jasper and his haunted war photographer brother Toby. She meets and bonds with a colourful cast of performers – bearded woman Stella Brunette the giantess, little person Peggy – who are both exploited and empowered by their circus lives. This intriguing tension is carefully explored amid a gripping tale that tracks the fortunes of the troupe – their loves, hopes and fears. Macneal’s complex characters allow her to question how society treats difference, the price of power and vanity, and the pursuit of self-determination. At turns dark, joyous, frightening and heartbreaking, Circus Of Wonders makes for an absorbing read.8/10(Review by Tom Pilgrim)

3. The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain is published in hardback by Quercus, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

Fewer than two years after Erin Kennedy’s husband jumps to his death from their fourth floor apartment – in front of multiple witnesses – she is up in court charged with her husband’s murder. Erin believed Danny was her ideal man, and their life in a sleepy seaside town on Long Island perfect – but it was all built on an untruth. Gripping and engrossing, The Perfect Lie grabs the reader from the first page. The final twist, although it does not quite live up to the novel’s initial promise, is well thought out and cleverly written. The Perfect Lie is a page-turner that will keep you guessing until the very end.7/10(Review by Megan Baynes)

Non-fiction

4. The Lost Cafe Schindler by Meriel Schindler is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £20 (ebook £13.99). Available now

The story of The Lost Cafe Schindler begins with four coffee cups discovered amongst the belongings of Meriel Schindler’s late father. From there, Schindler sets about the painstaking process of researching and telling her family’s fascinating history – a story of Jewish life in the Tyrol before and during two world wars. There are countless subplots – such as a family doctor in Linz who treated a young Adolf Hitler’s mother and earned the Fuhrer’s gratitude – though the coffee cups themselves date from the family-owned cafe in Innsbruck, opened in 1922. The same Tyroleans who feasted there would welcome the Nazis across the border, and stand aside as the business was stolen from the family. The scale of the crimes committed during these years can never be fully comprehended, but through tales like these they become relatable and the sense of loss, shared. Schindler builds her story patiently, tracking her own journey in unravelling it, taking the reader down the same road of discovery.7/10(Review by Ian Parker)

Children’s book of the week

5. Noah’s Gold by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, illustrated by Steven Lenton, is published in hardback Macmillan Children’s Books, priced £12.99 (ebook £7.49). Available now

Full of mischief and adventure, Noah Moriarty is pretty much like any other young boy – and is based on author Frank Cottrell-Boyce as a child. Noah’s Gold tells of the adventures of being shipwrecked on a remote island. Readers find out what it’s like to be stranded without food and resources, with only a group of fellow schoolchildren and a bunch of ruthless robbers for company. But, worst of all, the author shows you how desperate it is to be left without modern life’s essential: the internet. You get to feel how awful life is when you have to resort to writing letters, or, if you can work out how to use them, telephone boxes. With a nod to classics like Lord Of The Flies and Treasure Island this is a rip-roaring tale of buried treasure.8/10(Review by Roddy Brooks)

BOOK CHARTS FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 15

HARDBACK (FICTION)1. Circus Of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal2. Six Tudor Queens: Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir3. Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro4. Left You Dead by Peter James5. The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper6. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint7. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir8. The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz9. Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard10. The Royal Secret by Andrew Taylor(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. Operation Pedestal by Max Hastings2. Slug by Hollie McNish3. Making It by Jay Blades4. The Power Of Geography by Tim Marshall5. Pinch Of Nom Quick & Easy by Kay Featherstone & Kate Allinson6. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy7. Hold Still: A Portrait Of Our Nation In 2020 by Patron Of The National Portrait Gallery8. Yearbook by Seth Rogen9. Guinness World Records 2021 by Guinness World Records10. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. Orwell Collection by George Orwell2. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman3. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig4. Tooth For A Tooth by T. F. Muir5. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab6. Little One by Sarah A. Denzil7. Atomic Habits by James Clear8. Just My Luck by Adele Parks9. Yearbook by Seth Rogen10. Summer At Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain(Compiled by Audible)