the literary lounge

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  ‘Can I make you a cup of tea?’ she asked, turning back to face him. Without answering, he raised his arm and struck her a powerful blow in the middle of her chest. He felt the blade slide in and stop as it hit bone. Her blue eyes widened in shock and her mouth … Continue readings

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  A STYLISH NOVEL SET IN POSTWAR TANGIER which pays more than a nod to classic noir – really, what’s not to like? And Christine Mangan’s fictional debut, Tangerine, ticks all those boxes, and much more. Beautifully packaged, with a black-and-white cover model channelling a young Lauren Bacall, the book is a well-crafted mystery, competently … Continue readings

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  Cyrille said the sea was like a patchwork quilt. Fragments of waves joined together by strands of sunlight. He said the sea would swallow the stories of the world and digest them at its leisure in its cobalt belly before regurgitating only distorted reflections. He said the events of the last few weeks would … Continue readings

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  This is that weird time when the climate’s not quite caught up with the changing light. Still, longer days bring that hope of spring and new beginnings. Food-wise, comforting soups and stews give way to salads and lighter dishes made with seasonal ingredients. Now, I don’t eat a huge amount of dairy, mainly because … Continue readings

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  It’s a while since I’ve reviewed a children’s/YA book and I’ve been trying to think why. Some of my favourite books are from childhood – fast-paced, poignant, often funny stories, with kick-ass maverick protagonists, who, after many breathtaking adventures, emerge triumphant. Those are the kind of books that I return to, even now. I’m … Continue readings

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  International Women’s Day 2018 marks great change – women standing up everywhere and saying, ‘we are not invisible … we are present … we are here.’ As women march, strike, shout for equal rights, we hope that this year really does signify the beginnings of a better world, not just based on gender, but … Continue readings

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   … she loved books because they let her exist in different worlds, far from the dusty, hot town in which she’d grown up. In books she could live in London and Crete … she could inhabit the eighteenth century or New Kingdom Egypt. In books she could find tips on how to be a … Continue readings

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  MATT JOHNSON’S END GAME, the last book in his acclaimed Robert Finlay trilogy, opens in 2002 with an assassin stalking his target in the English countryside. From the first line, Johnson drops us into the thick of things and it’s this immediacy, this immersion in the storyline that fans love so well. End Game … Continue readings

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  I love soup. It’s my ‘go-to’ food when I need a little bit of comfort, a little bit of love. Quite simply, soup puts the world to rights. And I’m not the only one, who feels like this. According to food historians, people have been making soup, in one form or another, since around … Continue readings

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  Author Jane Harper undoubtedly struck gold with The Dry, an outstanding piece of crime fiction that garnered well-deserved praise and also introduced the complex character of federal investigator Aaron Falk. In Force of Nature, Falk’s second outing, Harper delivers another finely crafted book, slower paced perhaps than its predecessor, but one in which the … Continue readings

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  ARTIST, STORYTELLER, FEMINIST, WOMEN’S ACTIVIST, wife, mother, Dame, the labels are many and varied for Paula Rego. The Boy Who Loved the Sea and Other Stories, Rego’s first major UK exhibition in 10 years, opened at the Jerwood Gallery in October 2017. The show’s title comes from a short story by Portuguese writer Hélia … Continue readings

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  LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE, Celeste Ng’s new novel, builds on the extraordinary success of her debut Everything I Never Told You. It opens with a momentous event: a house fire in the seemingly idyllic Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights where everything runs to order. The house in question belongs to Mr and Mrs Richardson, model … Continue readings

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  What the devil are those women doing on the wharf?’ Captain Barsley roared, as the dockworker clambered over the side from the rowboat… The man dropped to the deck, eyes round. ‘It’s true! You’re here!’ he blurted out. ‘Of course, I’m here,’ the Captain snarled. But the man wasn’t looking at Barsley. He was … Continue readings

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  The Exbury Egg is a thing of beauty and, after a somewhat epic journey along Britain’s highways, byways and waterways, it has come to rest in the courtyard outside the Jerwood Gallery. Artist Stephen Turner, whose work often challenges the relationship between natural and human-constructed environments, says, ‘an egg is crucial as a way … Continue readings

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  IN THE LIGHT OF SURREALISM #2 and INVERSE REFLECTION, the two exhibitions opening at the Arts Forum this week, draw, consciously or unconsciously, on tenets of surrealism. One of the most influential cultural movements of the twentieth century, surrealism continues to inspire artists today. But what does it mean? ‘I think the word is … Continue readings