Reviews

Article excerpt

NEW FICTION We're Flying by Peter Stamm. Publisher: Granta Books. Price: PS14.99 (ebook PS9.25) AFTER crafting this skilful and refined collection of short stories, Peter Stamm's name deserves to be up there with great masters of the genre. His magic lies in elevating the interior lives of his characters, everyday people going about their everyday business, into narratives about the very nature of life itself. There is a moment of transformation in each of these sparkling gems of seemingly mundane stories - a man waiting for results of medical tests, a nursery worker deciding to take home a child whose parents are late in collecting him, a young couple moving in together, a tale of unrequited love. When that happens, there really is a moment of take-off, as referenced by the tide of the Swiss writer's stories, translated here by SAT HA Michael Hofmann. His language cannot be faulted and his characters, for all their apparent subtlety, root in the mind. This thoughtful and thought-provoking collection deserves to be widely read. Rating: **** This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith. Publisher:

Headline. Price: PS10.99 hardback (ebook PS5.49) IMAGINE you received an email by accident. Would you delete it or reply? Imagine that email was from a teenage film star as famous as Robert Pattinson. What would you do if your email correspondent arrived in the small town where you lived to shoot a movie? This is what happens to Ellie O'Neill, who lives in the peaceful town of Henley on the Maine coast. Graham Larkin persuades his film's production company to relocate there for his new blockbuster. After a false start at introducing himself to Ellie, Graham finally makes the acquaintance of the 17-year-old he's been sharing his innermost thoughts with. Everything looks to be going swimmingly until an unexpected complication raises its head... Whatever your age, the fourth book from Jennifer E Smith is a perfect read for the beach. Rating: ****

The Mouseproof Kitchen by Saira Shah. Publisher: Harvill Seeker. Price: PS12.99 hardback (ebook PS8.51) AWARD-WINNING film-maker and former Channel 4 News reporter Saira Shah has turned her hand to fiction with her debut novel The Mouseproof Kitchen. Chef Anna and her composer husband Tobias are stunned when their first child, Freya, is born with severe mental disabilities. Immediately they are overwhelmed at the prospect of a lifetime of caring, but they also come to realise what being parents to Freya will mean for their own dream of moving to rural France. However, they take the radical decision to buy a crumbling mansion in Languedoc, complete with a rodent-infested kitchen. This brave novel confronts the seemingly endless highs and lows of caring for a disabled child, and is at times unsettling yet also deeply moving. Shah, whose own daughter has cerebral palsy, says the novel is not autobiographical but her love for her own child is palpable in her heartrending depiction of Freya. …