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Whichbook of the week

A personal introduction from a Whichbook reader to a book you may not have met before

Cove

Cove

A story of a man adrift at sea and his battle for survival against the elements is reminiscent of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, but this slim novella reads more like a prose poem with its lyrical imagery, economy of style and stanza-like layout. The shifts of tense and fragmentary thinking-aloud narration evoke the man’s disorientated state of mind, immersing the reader in a stirringly profound experience.

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

The Crime Writer

The Crime Writer

This book gripped me from the first page to the last. Set in 1964, Patricia Highsmith, the crime writer of the title and already famous, is attempting to live inconspicuously in a Norfolk village in order to cope with her inner demons. If you are a fan of Highsmith, or interested in the craft of the biographer, you may enjoy the book even more than I did - but I can't believe that's possible. I can't recommend it too highly.

Posted by Rosemary Bullimore - more details

Distant Light

Distant Light

A strange and unsettling story - with the feel of a fable. Are the abandoned village and the surrounding hills and gorges real or is this some landscape of the mind, the subconscious? Who is the narrator - and what is his relationship to the solitary child in the house across the valley? Lots of questions. This magical tale invites you to meditate on them - and, in turn, think about the meaning of life - and your own existence in the world.

Posted by Fiona Edwards - more details

The Devil and Webster

The Devil and Webster

Never was the road to hell paved with better intensions! Set on a fictional New England campus called Webster College, this is a devilish satire on the modern day student protest culture and identity politics. When freedom of expression is under attack from calls to censor and ‘no platform’ speakers by professing offence against views considered politically incorrect, this is a timely and equally pertinent subject for the UK as well as America.

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab

Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab

A sad but tender story of love in many forms: between friends, parent and child, heterosexual and homosexual. Sidhala grows up in Trinidad always aware that she is different but it is only after many years living in Canada she finds the courage to make a fundamental change. Great characters, wonderful descriptions of lush Trinidad contrasted with the climatic harshness of Canada. A great read tackling a difficult subject.

Posted by Frances Bell - more details

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars

Part mystery, part love story, this novel takes the reader on a whistlestop tour through the streets of 1960s London - a different side of London life than is usually portrayed. Following Anna Treadway in her quest to find a missing actress, I became almost giddy. Brings alive the seldom seen side of our capital city from the perspective of its immigrant population.

Posted by Wendy Smith - more details

Central Station

Central Station

Tel Aviv has become a central space port in a post-singularity solar system in this cyberpunk novel. Though light on plot, it is dense with imaginative mind-bending concepts such as data vampires, post-mortality packages and robot religions – with some humorous nods to Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide, thrown in for good measure. Great fun for all lovers of world-building fiction and virtual reality games players.

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits

Drugs, groupies, creative differences, breakups and breakdowns - it's all laid bare in this fictional biography of a reclusive singer/songwriter. Cass Wheeler is all my favourite female artists rolled into one: ambitious and gutsy but with a childlike vulnerability. I can neither hold a tune or a guitar, but this book let me live the Rock 'n' Roll lifestyle. A companion CD by musician Kathryn Williams makes this a truly unique experience.

Posted by Wendy Smith - more details

The Aeronaut's Guide to Rapture

The Aeronaut's Guide to Rapture

Can be read, with satisfaction as three separate, equally fascinating stories featuring three people trying to survive in an impossible situation. But what makes this book really special is the appearance of the author as, like Prospero in The Tempest, he intervenes with possible redemptions. A book to love or to hate I think.

Posted by Rosemary Bullimore - more details

The Gurugu Pledge

The Gurugu Pledge

Mount Gurugu is an unforgiving backdrop and home to hundreds of Africans seeking asylum in Europe. The currency of the novel adds to its potency. Its serious content is tempered by the spark of hope of a better life for all the mountain’s inhabitants. It’s impossible not to be saddened by the plight of those stuck in the mountainous no-man’s land, yet the sense of solidarity is uplifting too.

Posted by Michelle Jenkins - more details

Sour Heart

Sour Heart

Reading like auto-fiction, these coming of age stories are narrated by second-generation daughters of Chinese immigrants to the USA in the 1990s. The sweet and sour tales could easily have lapsed into misery memoir, but the harrowing intimate details of family life on the seamy side of New York are offset by the humorous candour of the child narrators. Just to flag - there is strong language and very explicit scenes of a sexual nature.

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

The World Without Us

The World Without Us

If you want to read about a community that is completely messed up, this is the book for you. One act, the birth of a child, has a profound effect upon the whole neighbourhood. It is like a pebble being thrown into a lake, sending ripples to all sides. This is because there is a secret about the birth of this child, which is not really a secret, especially not to those who made it a secret. This story is about consequences.

Posted by David Kenvyn - more details

The Transition

The Transition

The subject matter of this novel is entirely different to The Handmaid's Tale. However reading both novels certainly gave me a bilious feeling in the pit of my stomach. What is 'out there' watching us? How will our lives turn out? Are we controlled? Let me be like Karl - a chancer in life whose world is turned upside down by The Transition but who is determined to bring it down and expose it for what it really is! An unusual and quirky read.

Posted by Karen Pugh - more details

Room Empty

Room Empty

Love, friendship and the lack of it, is the sometimes tragic background to teenage anorexic, Dani's, frank account of her possibility of recovery. I guarantee that Dani will infuriate you, but you will also be cheering for her and her beloved Fletcher all the way.

Posted by Rosemary Bullimore - more details

The Gallows Pole

The Gallows Pole

Smell the soot, taste the wild garlic, listen to the Yorkshire tongue. You are now in 1767 when the Cragg Vale Coiners defy the establishment. The harsh reality of life on the unforgiving land is about to descend into violence. And to ascend into myth ...

Posted by Nicole Cornell - more details

The End of Eddy

The End of Eddy

Set in a post-industrial wasteland of Northern France, this unsentimental portrait of life in a white underclass community surviving on welfare is also an unrelentingly grim coming of age memoir. The narrator’s outsider status is established from birth as an effeminate boy trying to blend into a brutal macho culture in order to avoid constant bullying. The uncomfortable reading experience is balanced by the inspirational message of the account.

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

Children of Earth and Sky

Children of Earth and Sky

Prepare for a long straight sitting! In imaginary places not far removed from Renaissance Europe and Turkey, ordinary people are pushed towards extraordinary destinies. How they cope, evolve and pay the price is what we are made to care about. And I cared so much I didn't want the story to end ...

Posted by Nicole Cornell - more details

Find Me

Find Me

Themes include: genuine horrors of a dystopian society swept by plague affecting only USA, and of a human mind trying to protect itself, real hope as a teenager battles to keep her trust in the power of family love alive despite her own dreadful past. Plus more! An amazing read for those not afraid of a challenge.

Posted by Rosemary Bullimore - more details

Rotten Row

Rotten Row

A collection of interconnected short stories which illuminate life in contemporary Zimbabwe. Stories of violent crime, corruption & so called justice, based loosely around the road of the same name in Harare. From the first story of a hangman to the gossiping women in a hairdressers sharing the news of the stabbing of a friend, we meet vivid characters painted with pathos & surprising humour. Gave me a real insight into another world.

Posted by Dot Cameron - more details

A Ghost's Story

A Ghost's Story

This story takes us into the shadowy world of seances which were hugely popular in nineteenth century Britain and the New World. The contraptions and tricks that were used are all uncovered but the difference with this telling is that it’s seen from the viewpoint of a ghost called Katie. She’s personable, would desperately like people to believe in her and she's in love. I believed in her and I think you will too.

Posted by Janet Scott - more details