Tag Archives: Fiction

Review – Sweet Caress by William Boyd

Is the central character based on Lee Miller?


Amory Clay – She did it her way

Combining fiction and uncredited photos to reflect the narrative is a smart, fun route making a believable photo-journalist who was at many defining events through the 20th century.

Amory Clay recounts her life through a series of journals linked to her later life in the Scottish highlands. From society portraiture, Berlin pre-war and Vietnam she was on the periphery of so many global defining events until you remind yourself she is a fictional character.

This is a clever, well-written book and like all the best authors Boyd makes it look so easy.

A mesmerising read.

Sweet Caress by William Boyd published by Bloomsbury.

Available in hardback and paperback from all leading bookshops and online.


Review: A Better Man by Leah McLaren

Leah McLaren's A Better Man







There has been so much in the press recently about calculating husband’s misleading courts about their assets in divorce courts in the UK. Leah McLaren’s second novel, A Better Man is a searing insight into one modern marriage where the husband coolly and coldly calculates that by improving his behaviour his wife will be likely to receive less in a divorce settlement.

Not sure if McLaren  realised how prescient  this novel would be, but great timing. Nick is a bored, dissatisfied schemer who has everything on paper but is as shallow as water dripping onto their smart kitchen work surface. Maya, his wife is an obsessive nurturing mother who is isolated after leaving her role as a family lawyer to concentrate on bringing up their children. Her skills as a lawyer come in handy when she finds out Nick’s improved behaviour is part of a strategy to leverage as much money from the divorce as possible.

This an incisive, well-written novel dissecting a modern marriage.  Told mainly from Nick’s perspective the novel illustrates how you can have all the money in the world but it ain’t necessarily going to make you happy or satisfied.

A Better Man by Leah McLaren is available to buy online and at all good bookshops RRP £7.99

This novel was reviewed as part of the BritMums Book Club. All views are my own.

The Buddha In The Attic – Julie Otsuka

The Buddha In The Attic – Julie Otsuka


Some of the best things come in small, slight packages. The Buddha In The Attic ticks these boxes.  A collective, lyrical narrative about Japanese mail-order brides travelling to the US recounting very different stories and experiences as a collective narrative in such a slim book is no mean feat. It left me and the other members of the @BritMums Book Club wanting more.

The book tells us in a very short time how difficult and challenging it must be to be removed from one culture and thrown into a completely different one. Stories of love, abuse, abandonment, wealth, poverty and great hardship are told in gentle, poetic strokes. The Japanese experience  at this time in the US was quite diverse until the internment of Japanese nationals after Pearl Harbour. Then it was consistently cruel ripping people from their communities. Absolutely terrifying. A great read.

Exterior of Daunt Books Fulham Road, London


For the rest of  summer reading I’m looking forward to Otsuka’s first novel When the Emperor Was Divine and Damian Barr’s Maggie and Me brilliantly serialised on BBC Radio 4 recently. Damian’s Biography charts his life while growing up under the shadow of Margaret Thatcher. Anyone as charming and funny as Damian deserves to be read and this will be my non-fiction reading over the next couple of weeks.

You can catch Damian talking about Memoir Writing  with members of BritMums here and find out about his Literary Salon –  a great idea.

Disclaimer:  As Editor of BritMums Book Club I recieved a  review copy of the book for free (as do the first 100 UK based members who sign up for a review copy). I will be buying a copy of Maggie and Me from my local independent book shop and  thank Jen Howse from Jenography and Co-founder of BritMums  for introducing me to another interesting author.

The Buddha In The Attic by Julie Otsuka published by Penguin £7.99 RRP  UK Sterling

Honour – Elif Shafak




Honour Elif Shafak UK Paperback



This week on @BritMums the first discussion started on Elif Shafak’s novel Honour. Set in Turkey and London during the 1970s and present day it explores the nature of family secrets and what constitutes “Honour” in some cultures. How far would you go to protect your family honour within a community? It’s a beautifully  written, rich novel to read in terms of characterisation, description and the immigrant experience  but ultimately for me it stresses that most of us are “outsiders” and/or “others” (including me).


Shafak is smart  and has a great love of language regularly speaking at global cultural events such as TED Talks, but she is also a craftswoman as first and foremost it is a heart-rending novel. The chain of events and the importance and legacy of shared family history for many is meaningfully shared. I don’t want to give too much about the great storyline as you can read that in the broadsheet reviews online. However, I would highly recommend this novel for anyone looking for a thought-provoking read. I haven’t stopped thinking about it.




Penguin Books kindly sent me a preview copy as Editor of the BritMums Book Club. The Book Club provides the first 100 BritMums Parent Bloggers to register on a monthly basis with a preview copy. If you are a Parent Blogger and haven’t already joined you can register here. Link to the novel above is a substantial review from a reliable broadsheet. I don’t have any link with TED Talks but it is worth knowing about as they have so many inspiring speakers and you can access the films for free – no brainer really!