Five new books to read, including John Le Carré and Roddy Doyle

Five New Books To Read, Including John Le Carré And Roddy Doyle
This week’s bookcase includes reviews of Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo, Silverview by John Le Carré, and Life Without Children by Roddy Doyle
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By Prudence Wade, PA

October continues to be a huge month for books, with new releases from Elizabeth Strout and John le Carré…


1. Oh William! By Elizabeth Strout is published in hardback by Viking. Available October 21st



Profound is a big word, but Elizabeth Strout’s writing has such gravitas and feeling, and she conveys truths of human behaviour in a way that’s so simple yet moving, that ‘profound’ is genuinely suitable. In Oh William! Strout returns to Lucy Barton (hero of earlier works, My Name Is Lucy Barton and Anything Is Possible) who is dealing with grief, and increasingly, the requests of her ex-husband, William. In his 70s, William is first battered by betrayal and then by an unexpected family secret, leading him to ask Lucy for support.

With astounding clarity, what ensues is Lucy capturing the nuances of an up-and-down relationship lived across decades, complete with the baggage of children, divorce, humiliation, stubbornness and regret. Strout gently explores whether it’s possible to ever fully understand another person, and thoroughly outlines the fallibilities we all contain. Oh William! is full of light, space and an incredible directness you can’t avoid – it’s quite spectacular.
(Review by Ella Walker)

2. Life Without Children by Roddy Doyle is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape. Available now



Ten stories by Roddy Doyle in one book – what a treat for fans of the Booker Prize-winning Dublin author. The short stories are told against the backdrop of the pandemic and portray many of the sad, desperate, heart-rending emotions sparked by the virus. The titles of some of the chapters give clues to Doyle’s take on events, written mainly over the past year – The Curfew, Gone, Nurse, Masks and The Funeral. But through the darkness of the stories, Doyle’s lyrical style of wit, passion, and occasional obscene outbursts, shine through.

The stories touch on many of the tragic scenes witnessed all too often over the past year, from an exhausted nurse losing a patient, to a son who can’t attend his mother’s funeral. Doyle hammers home the agony, cruelty and desperation forced on everyone by the lockdowns, but with his trademark storytelling skill – and a wonderfully uplifting final few pages.
(Review by Alan Jones)

3. Silverview by John le Carré is published in hardback by Viking. Available now


Published posthumously, John le Carré’s novel Silverview is a discerning exploration of the modern Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) past and present. Julian, a high-flying City trader turned local bookshop owner, finds himself caught in a security breach after befriending the baffling Edward Avon, a Polish immigrant and ex-head agent.

The slow pace of life in a small seaside town is disrupted by a controlled urgency from the Service, shrouded in secrets and layered with deception. From the Belgrade station in the Bosnian War to the present-day Service network, le Carré weaves a poignant story of love and loyalty.
(Review by Rebecca Wilcock)


4. Manifesto: On Never Giving Up by Bernardine Evaristo is published in hardback by Hamish Hamilton. Available now

History-making Bernardine Evaristo may have become the first black woman to win the Booker prize in 2019, but as her new book Manifesto: On Never Giving Up shows, she is far from an overnight success. Evaristo describes a childhood that involved being tormented with racism, years living in precarious housing and some undesirable girlfriends and boyfriends along the way, but she eventually found her place in the spotlight.

Each chapter number is translated into Old English, Yoruba, Irish, German and Portuguese – a touching nod to the languages of her ancestors, of whom Evaristo is clearly very proud. It is intimate details such as these that make this raw and emotive book more memoir than manifesto. It is a powerful account of how Evaristo got to the top of her game – it’s moving, but there’s also much humour and joy to be found in some of herfrank and exposing anecdotes.
(Review by Elspeth Keep)

Children’s book of the week

5. Empress & Aniya by Candice Carty-Williams is published in paperback by Knights Of Media. Available now

With three chants of a spell on the eve of their 16th birthdays, newfound school friends Empress and Aniya switch bodies for the day – and what happens next changes one of the girls’ lives for the better. Queenie author Candice Carty-Williams has created two intelligent and confident teenage girls from different backgrounds, ones you would not expect to be conventional friends, but who nevertheless go on to form a close sisterly bond.

You’ll be moved by this touching story about friendship, kindness, and resilience, and it’s almost impossible not to shed a tear. We can only hope there’s a sequel to discover what is next for Empress and Aniya.
(Review by Sharron Logan)

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