Natural flights of the human mind, by Clare Morrall, hardback by Sceptre, pounds 14.99.
With her debut novel, Astonishing Splashes Of Colour, Clare Morrall picked up a Booker shortlisting. Her new offering proves this was no flash in the pan.
Morrall deftly draws the reader in with this touching story of two misfits whose accidental meeting brings them both back to life.
Peter Straker lives a life of carefully constructed routine, alone in a disused lighthouse, where his only company is two cats and the voices of 78 people he believes he killed 24 years ago.
When Imogen Doody, a school caretaker aggressively chasing her own solitude after a string of tragedies in her past, inherits a dilapidated cottage nearby, the two find themselves unwittingly and unwillingly brought together as they repair the damage.
The discovery of an old plane forces them to confront their pasts, the 25th anniversary of the deaths approaches, and their isolation and nascent friendship are threatened.
Morrall delicately balances the strands of the story, playing on the possibilities, teasing the reader with half-understood knowledge, before bringing them to a moving climax.
Poignant without being sentimental, it's also surprisingly funny, and never less than believable.
TETE-A-TETE: THE LIVES & LOVES OF SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR AND JEAN-PAUL SARTRE, by Hazel Rowley. hardback by Chatto & Windus, pounds 20.
The bizarre and often turbulent story of France's most famous 20th Century literary couple is told in this revelatory and entertaining book.
Sartre (1905-80) and De Beauvoir (1908-86) were free-thinking intellectuals who were lovers and soul-mates for half a century, although they never married and had an amazingly open relationship.
As exponents of existentialism ( freedom tempered with responsibility ( they did what they …