Five new books to read this week

Five New Books To Read This Week
This week’s bookcase includes reviews of The Key In The Lock by Beth Underdown and The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont.
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Prudence Wade, PA

This week sees The Love Songs Of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers – one of Oprah’s Book Club picks…


1. The Love Songs Of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is published in hardback by Fourth Estate. Available now



Slavery is often referred to as America’s ‘original sin’, but in her remarkable debut novel, poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers begs to differ. She argues the real problem was greed – and her point resonates throughout 800 pages, written so beautifully and lyrically they truly sing. The story of one family’s travails from slavery to the modern day tells much of America’s story, but does so without sentimentality. Ailey Pearl Garfield guides us through this saga – herself the victim of horrible crimes growing up in the 1970s, her attempts to come to terms with what happened to her and her sisters leads her back to the past. She finds that the lines of colour, supposedly the foundation of so much in society, are deeply blurred, but the love passed down by generations of black women never wavers.
(Review by Ian Parker)

2. The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont is published in hardback by Mantle. Available now



Agatha Christie is known for solving mysteries, but her readers never discovered the secret behind her own disappearance. The 11-day period in 1926 when the author went missing provides the basis for Nina De Gramont’s novel, The Christie Affair. The story is not told from Christie’s perspective, but instead from the point of view of her husband’s mistress, Nan O’Dea. The book has mystery, intrigue, love affairs and drama – even before you get to the mysterious deaths at a spa hotel. There are twists you can’t see coming – it’s a treat for fans of murder mysteries, but still leaves you desperate to find out the real truth behind the story.
(Review by Eleanor Barlow)

3. The Key In The Lock by Beth Underdown is published in hardback by Viking. Available now

The Key In The Lock is a neat piece of historical period drama, and a love story with many twists and turns. It covers a 30-year timespan, with the action leap-frogging between 1888 and 1918 – a device that can drag the reader away from a good thread, but it worked well here. It covers an age of great change in society, from the late Victorian era to the horrors of trench warfare in the Great War. Underdown devotes many lines to describing the fighting’s fear and futileness. The main action is located in Cornwall – Ivy has lost her son in World War One, and thinks back to someone else who died in a fire many years before – and there are definite hints of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. It’s a slow-burn and at times a tough read, but it really hots up towards the end and becomes a rewarding tale.
(Review by Mark Davey)


4. Everything Is True: A Junior Doctor’s Story Of Life, Death And Grief In A Time Of Pandemic by Dr Roopa Farooki is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Publishing. Available now

On the face of it, Everything Is True is an NHS doctor’s memoir about working on the frontline during the early days of the pandemic. However, Dr Roopa Farooki’s striking recollections are haunted by grief, following the loss of her sister weeks before the pandemic – and it’s reflected in her tone. The first 40 days of the first lockdown are remarkably well-documented, with chapters and sentences varying in length, giving you a feeling her accounts were scrawled down as they were happening. The memoir recounts how the risks faced by frontline workers were magnified by governmental ineptitude. Her political observations throughout are offset with recollections of mundane tasks as a mother-of-four coping during the pandemic, all the while concerned she could infect them. The phrase Everything Is True appears throughout the memoir and in the last sentence, giving you a sense Farooki wants you to pay attention. Although it frequently makes for difficult reading, the raw honesty in Everything Is True makes it a must-read.
(Review by Ellie Iorizzo)

Children’s book of the week

5. The Secrets Act by Alison Weatherby is published in paperback by Chicken House. Available now

Set at a critical time during the Second World War, this young adult novel introduces the code breakers at Bletchley Park, intertwined with teenage drama. Ellen meets Pearl, a forward, talkative Bletchley local, and the duo’s friendship forms the basis for the story. Alternating between the young women, the story does not delve into the historical significance of the code-breaking, but into the characters and roles of those who work there. A teenage crush and sudden tragedy see the pair of friends thrown (slightly unconvincingly) into a world of spies, navigated by teenagers. The love story, typical of a young adult book, is far from the most interesting aspect of the novel, but the more complex story is twisting and dark, and offers more for adult readers.
(Review by Sonia Twigg)

Book charts for the week ending January 22nd:

Hardback (Fiction)
1. Daughter Of The Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
2. The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
3. To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara
4. The Maid by Nita Prose
5. A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe
6. The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont
7. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
8. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
9. Better Off Dead by Lee Child & Andrew Child
10. Silverview by John le Carré
(Compiled by Waterstones)

Hardback (Non-fiction)
1. Pinch Of Nom Comfort Food by Kay Featherstone & Kate Allinson
2. Bigger Than Us by Fearne Cotton
3. This Is Vegan Propaganda by Ed Winters
4. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith
5. The Lyrics by Paul McCartney
6. And Away… by Bob Mortimer
7. The Storyteller by Dave Grohl
8. What I Wish People Knew About Dementia by Wendy Mitchell
9. Big Panda And Tiny Dragon by James Norbury
10. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
(Compiled by Waterstones)

Audiobooks (Fiction & Non-fiction)
1. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith
2. Windswept & Interesting by Billy Connolly
3. Atomic Habits by James Clear
4. The Kingdom by Jo Nesbø
5. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
6. The Wim Hof Method by Wim Hof
7. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
8. And Away… by Bob Mortimer
9. Will by Will Smith & Mark Manson
10. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
(Compiled by Audible)

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