Philippe Sands – East West Street
Alexandra Shulman – Inside Vogue
Alan Johnson – The Long and Winding Road
Sebastian Barry – Days Without End
Yuval Noah Hariri – Homo Deus
Thomas Hocknell – Life Assistance Agency
The Riverside Bookshop blog
New in – catch them before they go:
Susan Hill, The Travelling Bag
Eimear McBride, The Bohemians
Sebastian Barry, Days without End
Yuval Noah Hariri, Homo Deus
Paddy Ashdown, Game of Spies
Alan Johnson, The Long and Winding Road
Johnny Marr, Set the Boy Free
Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down
Daniel is an American academic married to a reclusive former film star, and living in rural Ireland. His happy second marriage to Claudette has produced two young children, to add to the ones he left in California and never sees. But he seems happy enough, until he hears a radio interview from 1986 with one of his exes – the big Ex, as it turns out. He decides to find out what happened to her, and risks his current relationship and everything else in the process.
As we find out more about how Claudette came to run away from her career, and the consequences of Daniel’s investigations, O’Farrell introduces voices from characters we instantly believe in and want to know more about. One of the most memorable scenes in the novel concerns a small child being taken to a children’s dermatology clinic, “for kids who are inflamed with eczema, head to foot, kids for whom normal clothes and unbroken sleep are impossibilities”. It is beautifully written, funny, touching and desperate. The action moves easily between current day Donegal and Paris, international film sets in the 1990s and the Scottish Borders in the 1980s (among other places).
This turned out to be a perfect holiday read for me, with a pacy plot and thoughtful things to say about long term adult relationships. I have read all of O’Farrell’s novels and enjoyed this one the most. A selection on the Radio 2 Book Club, it’s already a swift seller in our shop. If you’re a fan of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections or A M Homes’s May We All be Forgiven, I predict you will love this.
Review by Bethan
Sort your Christmas book presents with a signed copy of one of the following – all of these are now in store:
Buy while stocks last – when they’re gone they’re gone!
We now have signed copies of the acclaimed new book by Grace McCleen in stock. A novel about faith, innocence and sin, the lyrical prose also evokes the rhythms and beauty of the natural world. In The Offering, a charismatic psychiatrist believes he can unlock Madeline’s memory by taking her step by step through the preceding year, when her father moved the family to an island he was certain God had guided them to. McCleen’s third novel was praised in The Guardian by poet and author John Burnside as “wonderfully suspenseful and deeply moving… full of insights about the nature of madness”, while the Independent on Sunday described it as “strange and beautiful”.
It wasn’t much fun being a gay kid in Thatcher’s Britain during the Eighties – especially not for Damian Barr, growing up in an aggressively straight community in a Lanarkshire village. His parents separate in 1984, the day that ‘the blonde woman with a man’s voice’ is seen by the young boy rising from the rubble of The Grand Hotel in Brighton – bombed by the IRA – and taking control. In her he recognises another outsider, a survivor, and this encourages him to work hard and make a better life for himself. I laughed, cried and got angry but I didn’t want it to end.
At the Riverside, we do our best to get signed copies of the best new books – see below for our current selection, including Levels of Life by Julian Barnes. As Barnes said in his Booker acceptance speech for The Sense of an Ending, the physical book “has to look like something worth buying and worth keeping” in this digital age – and an author’s signature only accentuates the pleasing form of a beautiful new hardback.