the literary lounge

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  Happy national poetry day 2020. How wonderful that we have a day to celebrate a medium that we all love in one shape or form. I know many of you reading this will have penned a poem at some time, or written a lyric. The former is certainly how I first started writing – … Continue readings

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    ‘I am a woman. I am mixed-race. I grew up in East London and Essex. I am not posh, but I am not going to let anyone tell me that the Bar is not for “people like me”. This is my story.”   Many people will have seen the recent media about the … Continue readings

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    It’s a year ago since we reviewed the first of the Imperial War Museum Wartime Classics, a series of previously out-of-print fiction by the valiant men and women who wrote so poignantly about the Second World War from first-hand experience. It’s with great pleasure that we’ve just finished the latest book, Barbara Whitton’s … Continue readings

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    It’s a funny old world we live in – as we’ve banged on about at various points – full of challenges, which have made us all question everything, pretty much, about ourselves and our planet. Coincidentally, or not, we seem to have been reading a lot of books that focus on journeys, spiritual … Continue readings

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    Most people will recognise Kate Humble from telly. She’s a well-known face; honest, appealing, the kind of person you’d like to sit down and have a cuppa with and chat, knowing you’ll come away enriched by the experience. It’s thus a joy that Humble’s new book, A Year of Living Simply, reflects her … Continue readings

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  If you like comedy, Andy Hamilton will be a familiar name and face. A regular panellist on game shows and an accomplished screenwriter, with such highly rated series as Outnumbered and Drop the Dead Donkey under his belt, Hamilton publishes his novel, Longhand, this month with Unbound. Both a love letter to the lost … Continue readings

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    Author Charlie Laidlaw publishes Being Alert! this month, a satire set in a Britain led by inept PM Winston Spragg, and dealing with a virus that breaks out in China. Sound familiar? Here, Charlie joins us in The Literary Lounge and discusses his book, COVID and the importance and rich tradition of satire … Continue readings

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      We’ve said on several occasions how much we like a good historical novel, and ones paying a nod to the Gothic tradition are of particular interest: Rhiannon Ward (aka crime writer Sarah Ward) ticks both these boxes in the beautifully produced The Quickening. Set in 1925, in a post-World War I world, … Continue readings

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    Inspired by true events, Hazel Gaynor’s The Bird in the Bamboo Cage tells of a group of teachers and children interned by the Japanese during the Second World War. At the heart of the story are teacher Elspeth Kent and ten-year-old pupil Nancy, from whose dual perspectives we witness events. In 1941, the … Continue readings

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    Newfoundland is one of those places that captures the imagination – if, indeed, you are aware of it at all. We love books like Michael Crummey’s The Innocents, which evoke its haunting, savage, challenging, sometimes extremely strange landscape, which really is like nowhere else on earth. That alone would make us like this … Continue readings

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    Helen Fitzgerald’s Ash Mountain adds to the many very good novels set in Australia published in the past few years. A concise book, only 211 pages, it packs a punch and has a lasting resonance. Told from multiple perspectives, the story has at its heart Fran, the single mother, who’s returned to the … Continue readings

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    Hannah Begbie’s Blurred Lines is one of those books that really does spark debate. The premise is very much of the time, building on the he said–she said debate, the issue of consent and the very difficult but important subject of sexual violence. In Begbie’s book, the main protagonist Becky has the ultimate … Continue readings

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    Vintage Crime, edited by novelist Martin Edwards, raids the Crime Writers Association (CWA) archives to bring together some of the best short stories written in the genre, since the organisation was founded in 1953. Edwards, CWA archivist and former chair, has selected work which shows the evolution of crime-fiction writing over almost seventy … Continue readings

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    Emmie Blue and Luke Moreau find each other under the strangest of circumstances, when they’re both sixteen, in Lia Louis’ Dear Emmie Blue. Luke discovers a balloon in Boulogne-sur-Mer, which Emmie released in Ramsgate, containing a secret. Fast-forward fourteen years and the two are best friends. When Luke tells Emmie he has something … Continue readings

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    Eva Mozes Kor’s The Twins of Auschwitz is an extraordinary piece of memoir. Aged ten, Romanian Jews Eva and her sister, Miriam, survived the gas chambers because of one small genetic factor: they were twins. Selected to be part of Dr Josef Mengele’s scientific experiments, Eva and Miriam were ripped from their mother’s … Continue readings

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