Alice Jolly’s Between the Regions of Kindness takes its title from Naomi Shibab Nye’s poem ‘Kindness’ – ‘how desolate the landscape can be / between the regions of kindness’.

Fourteen years in the making, the novel is a moving, rather beautiful in parts, exploration of loss, grief and culpability. Moving between the Second World War and Brighton and Iraq in the early 2000s, Jolly’s book focuses on the consequences of a decision, made in the blink of an eye, and its impact on a family over four generations.

From the first pages – a raw depiction of the aftermath of one of the most devastating nights of the 1941 Blitz – we follow young Rose as she wanders the ruined streets of Coventry, her distressed daughter, Mollie, in tow, as she searches for best friend, Violet. And, in a moment of sheer panic, overwhelmed by what she’s witnessed, Rose makes a choice that changes everything.

A PEN Ackerley prize-winner, Jolly writes with honesty and her prose is, at times, exquisitely moving. Between the Regions of Kindness is not an easy read: it’s a book that deserves attention; a book that provokes thought; a book that will stay with you for quite some time. Read it.


Between the Regions of Kindness | Alice Jolly | Unbound | paperback | £8.99 |

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Acknowledgements: Cited text from ‘Kindness’ by Naomi Shibab Nye, from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (1994). This review is published as part of the Between the Regions of Kindness virtual book tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater and to the publisher for supplying a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Also of interest: ‘Welcome to the Heady Heights’;Falling from the Floating World’; ‘Blood Orange’; Beton Rouge’; ‘Gallowstree Lane‘; The Lost Man‘; ‘Delia Owen’s Where the Crawdad’s Sing’; ‘The Story Keeper, Anna Mazzola’s Gothic novel‘; ‘Midland‘; ‘A Greater God‘; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘We should all be feminists’; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Film: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) – a Billy Wilder classic?; Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956).

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