Book Review by James Cross

Welcome to our new monthly book review with James Cross.

James is an avid book reader and by avid…..we mean obsessed.  His skills have been put to good use both at Rogan’s Books and Oxfam Bookshop so you are in good hands with his book reviews.

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood-Hargrave  

Kiran Millwood-Hargrave can turn her hand to anything, already a beloved author of children’s fiction, she has just released her first adult novel. Set in 1617 it dramatises the true story of a Norwegian Island which, after losing its men in a horrific fishing accident, becomes an settlement ruled by women.  Things progress peacefully as you might imagine, until a man comes along to ruin it all. And so begin the Vardo Witch Trials.

This novel is immersive and gorgeously written, evoking the bleak cold landscapes while fleshing out warm, real, compelling female characters. There is the horror of the events themselves, but also a beautifully done slow burn romance. She’s instantly declared herself a force in adult fiction.

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

It’s a rare author that can hold your attention for 656 pages and make you laugh and cry on many occasions throughout, but Keyes manages this effortlessly.

Grown Ups follows the three Casey brothers, their wives and children. What makes this book more compulsive is the framing device. It begins with a dinner party where Cara Casey has a concussion and begins to tell everyone the truth. ALL of the truth. We then flash back through a series of family events (birthdays, holidays and such), to piece together how everyone got into those situations.

We see how they relate to one another and at each event over the book, find out how their lives have changed. Her style is bright and fresh and the dialogue painfully real. Keyes is able to be so massively funny and relatable that she can tackle topics such as eating disorders, depression, bankruptcy, extra marital affairs and emotional abuse and still have the book feel hopeful, keeping those pages flying by.

This is a real treat and by the end, you’ll be sad to not spend more time with the infuriating, yet relatable, Casey family!

Also worth checking out this month: Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara, Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

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