editor's choice



Have you heard of kintsugi? Sydney says.

Ila shakes her head.

It’s the old Japanese art of repairing broken or chipped pottery. They use layers of lacquer, often with powdered gold. Instead of hiding the damage, it’s embraced. It’s treated as part of an object’s ongoing beauty.

I love that, Ila says.”


Rachel Elliott draws us effortlessly into Do Not Feed the Bear, her story of love, loss and family, published by Tinder Press this month. From the beginning we are immersed in Sydney’s story, as she tells us of her first meeting with a dead body at the age of eight; her second occurs when she is ten.

Decades later, Sydney is teetering on the edge, her life framed by a tragic incident when she was just a child that changed everything, not just for her, but for her family, too, leaving them fractured. Her guilt, grief, shame lead her to return to St Ives, albeit a largely fictional one, where matters come to ahead.

But life has a way of sending us curveballs and the people Sydney meets and the unexpected kindnesses that she encounters impact on her in ways that she could never have imagined.

This is a beautifully written book, Sydney’s relationship with death and grief authentic, her observations cutting to the heart of things – delightful, heartbreaking, funny.

Do Not Feed the Bear is a novel that leaves an imprint. Please read it.


Do Not Feed the Bear | Rachel Elliott | Tinder Press | hardback | 8 August 2019 | | £18.99 |

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Music: Cat Stevens, ‘Morning has broken’;  Jason loves Olivia Newton-John, so here’s ‘Sam‘, all about longing; Dusty Springfield, ‘The look of love‘; Stevie Wonder, ‘You are the sunshine of my life‘.

Acknowledgements: Book text quote p. 138 © Rachel Elliott 2019. Many thanks to Anne Cater, as always, and to the publisher for sending a review copy and the jacket image. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.


Also of interest: ‘Rowan Coleman’s nod to the Gothics’; ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’;‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Rememembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘Louise Voss’ The Old You‘; ‘Stephanie Butland, bringing women into focus‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;Permission by Saskia Vogel‘; ‘Helga Flatland’s study of A Modern Family’;  ‘Blood Orange’; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘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); ‘Vanda Symon; ‘Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist‘; Gina Kirkham’

This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.




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