the literary lounge

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  Everything can have drama if it’s done right. Even a pancake.” – Julia Child   FOR AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER, PANCAKE DAY – or ‘Shrove Tuesday’, as it’s also known – has been a much-anticipated date in my diary. This year it falls seemingly early on Tuesday 28 February, but I’ve already … Continue readings

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  It’s a pressure cooker round here, mate. Little things become big things faster than you expect. You’d know that though. –Scott Whitlam to Aaron Falk, The Dry   JANE HARPER’S STYLISH DEBUT, THE DRY, is one of the best crime novels we’ve read in a very long time. Set in Kiewarra, a small town … Continue readings

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  WHAT IS IT ABOUT GILMORE GIRLS THAT SO CAPTURES OUR IMAGINATION? Why do we love it so much? Is it the location, the magical town of Stars Hollow? The weird and wonderful characters, such as Luke and Lane, who inhabit it? The family and friendship dramas that are so very, very familiar? The phenomenal … Continue readings

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  IT’S ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO COME ACROSS AN AUTHOR who we’ve never read before, for no other reason than life’s too short and there are too many good books out there waiting to be devoured. It’s particularly so, if that author fits into the mystery/crime genre, one of our not-at-all guilty and rather favourite … Continue readings

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  ‘I DON’T WANT TO PRODUCE WORK that is a pleasant distraction, then you move on to something else. I would actually like it to … stop their day. To make it an encounter,’ comments artist Marcus Harvey. And, without a doubt, that’s what his art has done since Myra (1995), his portrait of Myra … Continue readings

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  ALL OF US HAVE A FIRST FORBIDDEN BOOK – the one that we never forget, the one that sat so enticingly on the top shelf far out of the reach of small hands. In my case, it was Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls, a big fat white elephant of a book that called … Continue readings

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  SET IN THE AILING TOWN OF BRIDGEFORD, ‘a tiny, inconsequential dot on the landscape of Britain’, where businesses are closing, the streets are littered with scratch cards and local spirit is at all-time low, Gill Hornby’s latest novel, All Together Now, focuses on the power of music to unite. As the town struggles, it’s … Continue readings

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  STEPHEN KING ONCE WROTE that an opening line should scream: ‘Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.’ ‘[I]t is a little like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar.’ Well, Chris Whitaker in his first novel, Tall Oaks, certainly does all that: we’re gripped right from the start. From the very … Continue readings

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  THERE’S A SCENE IN RELATIVITY, Antonia Hayes’ poignant novel, in which 12-year-old Ethan spies a tattoo – E=mc2 – on the arm of Mark, his newly discovered father. ‘What’s that?’ he asks. ‘What does it stand for?’ And after further probing, Mark reluctantly admits that he’d had it tattooed when Ethan was born. ‘It’s … Continue readings

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  WE, WHO ARE FORTUNATE ENOUGH to live in democracies, accept freedom of speech and the civil liberties that we enjoy as our natural and inherent rights. But we are lucky: these rights are, in fact, privileges. Raif Badawi: The Voice of Freedom, Ensaf Haidar’s moving love letter to her activist husband, brings this point … Continue readings

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  THE FAITHFUL COUPLE opens in San Diego, in 1993, where twenty-something Neil is trying, somewhat half-heartedly, to chat up a girl he’s met in the hostel in which he’s staying. He’s unsuccessful, as he’s more interested in Adam, the young man sitting nearby, obviously eavesdropping. The girl wanders off, but Neil and Adam’s friendship … Continue readings

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One of seven children, award-winning novelist Grace Burrowes grew up in central Pennsylvania, reading and roaming the countryside on her horse, Buck. Many years and several degrees later, Grace was a successful child welfare attorney, with more than twenty manuscripts under her belt, when she met Deb Werksman, editorial director at Sourcebooks Casablanca, in a … Continue readings