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2nd Aug, 2021

Bookcase: Reviews include The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris and I Couldn’t Love You More by Esther Freud

Evesham Editorial 14th Jun, 2021

THIS week’s bookcase includes reviews of The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris and I Couldn’t Love You More by Esther Freud.

This week sees one of the biggest debuts of the summer from Zakiya Dalila Harris…

Fiction

1. Grown Ups by Marie Aubert, translated by Rosie Hedger, is published in paperback by Pushkin Press, priced £12.99 (ebook £8.99). Available now

Grown Ups by Marie Aubert, translated by Rosie Hedger. Picture: Pushkin Press/PA.

Grown Ups by Norwegian author Marie Aubert tells the story of 40-year-old architect Ida, who is single and struggling with the realisation that her chances of having children are rapidly deteriorating.

A short but impactful read, Grown Ups questions the meaning of womanhood and the changing dynamics of a couple once a child is introduced into the household.

As Ida’s relatives gather at their family cabin for her mother’s 65th birthday, some news from her sister Marthe sees tensions between the siblings rise, building to an almighty family feud.

Exploring the modern themes of dating apps and egg freezing, this is a real page turner with the impressive ability to be both hilarious and devastating.

9/10

(Review by Sophie Morris)

2. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Publishing, priced £14.99 (ebook £10.49). Available now

It’s impossible for Zakiya Dalila Harris’ hotly anticipated debut to escape comparisons with the movie Get Out, as it’s a horror-style take on what it means to be black in America today.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris. Picture: Bloomsbury Publishing/PA.

Nella is a young black woman working at an all-white publishing house – an industry Harris used to work in – and some of the behaviour Nella puts up with is uncomfortably realistic (Harris has spoken about the book being inspired by personal experiences).

Things take a turn when another African American woman is hired at work: the Other Black Girl.

She starts thriving in situations Nella has always struggled in, and Nella receives a note telling her to leave the company – or she’ll regret it.

Harris builds tension like no other – you’re hugely invested in Nella’s success, and the twist at the end is simply brilliant (read: terrifying).

It’s by no means a perfect novel – the occasional flashback tends to disrupt the pace, and there are a few too many loose ends – but it will definitely be one of the biggest reads of the summer, and for good reason.

8/10

(Review by Prudence Wade)

3. I Couldn’t Love You More by Esther Freud is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Publishing, priced £16.99 (ebook £11.89). Available now

From her first novel Hideous Kinky, Esther Freud has been writing about mothers and daughters and the difficulties, bonds and mysteries of their relationships.

I Couldn’t Love You More by Esther Freud. Picture: Bloomsbury Publishing/PA.

I Couldn’t Love You More interweaves the struggles and relationships of three generations of women: Aoife, Rosaleen and Kate. Rosaleen’s relationship with sculptor Felix Lichtman initially feels like liberation from the restraints of a backward-looking Catholic Ireland, but it ends in betrayal and abandonment.

Freud takes a kaleidoscopic approach to storytelling, shifting timeframes and points of view, meaning the start of the book requires concentration.

At the story’s heart are the pressures of the Church and bad priests on unmarried mothers, their treatment by nuns and the consequences for the shamed women and their babies.

While this subject isn’t new if you’ve seen Philomena or The Magdalene Sisters, Freud brings empathy to the story, her own mother having escaped this fate, simply by not going back to Ireland after her pregnancy began to show while unmarried. Claustrophobic lives with lack of agency prompt difficult consequences for each generation of women, who have to wrestle control back to protect those they love.

8/10

(Review by Bridie Pritchard)

Non-fiction

4. Real Estate by Deborah Levy is published in hardback by Hamish Hamilton, priced £10.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

Real Estate is the third and final book in writer Deborah Levy’s Living Autobiography series. Levy is turning 60: she finds herself in Paris on a writing retreat, her youngest daughter is flying the nest, and she is re-evaluating what home means having split with the father of her children in her 50s and moved into an apartment of her own.

Real Estate by Deborah Levy. Picture: Hamish Hamilton/PA.

Levy muses on how far this is from her fantasy, and it is a privilege to be granted access to her thought process.

So many paragraphs are worthy of being highlighted and heavily underlined; Levy manages to make even the most mundane things seem beautiful, her observations astute and unique.

Fans of the series thus far will not be disappointed; this is an absolute treat.

9/10

(Review by Frances Wright)

BOOK CHARTS

HARDBACK

1. The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley

2. Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

3. Dead Ground by M. W. Craven

4. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

5. Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

6. The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz

7. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

8. Still Life by Sarah Winman

9. Uzumaki by Junji Ito

10. Circus Of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)

1. The Power Of Geography by Tim Marshall

2. Hold Still: A Portrait Of Our Nation In 2020 by Patron Of The National Portrait Gallery

3. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

4. Go Big: How To Fix Our World by Ed Miliband

5. You Will Get Through This Night by Daniel Howell

6. Ancestors by Alice Roberts

7. Operation Pedestal by Max Hastings

8. Rememberings by Sinead O’Connor

9. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

10. Pinch Of Nom Quick & Easy by Kay Featherstone & Kate Allinson

(Compiled by Waterstones)

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