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Review: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

StroutElizabeth Strout’s new novel, My Name is Lucy Barton is set in the mid 1980s where Lucy, a writer, has spent weeks in a Manhattan hospital recovering from a mysterious persistent infection. Her husband struggling to cope running their home and looking after their two young daughters, as well as with his job, unable to visit regularly. She is well cared for, particularly by the rather sad but fatherly doctor, but finds herself increasingly diminished by the nebulous nature of her illness, and her isolation.

Then, one afternoon, she wakes to see her mother seated on a chair at the end of her bed. It is completely unexpected. They have not seen each other for years, nor kept regular contact since her marriage. Her mother has never visited New York. Never been on a plane, nor even travelled in a taxi. But she has come and for five days she sets

Review: The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

noise_cape_150x225It’s been more than five years since the publication of Julian Barnes‘s highly acclaimed last novel, The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize, so expectations of his new novel are inevitably high. The Noise About Time is about composer Dimitri Shostakovich and his attempts to navigate the iron web that has been woven around every aspect of life within Russia first under Stalin then Khrushchev (Nikita the Corncob). Intellectuals, particularly those in the arts were particularly vulnerable, elevated to great heights for providing pride, solace and inspiration to the masses, then sent crashing to earth or worse, for unimagined infractions.

Girl at War by Sara Novic is powerful exposition of the enduring legacy of conflict

GirlAtWarAna Juric exists in a no-man’s land between who she was and who she is. Her attempts to bridge the gap provide the fascinating narrative of Sara Novic’s debut novel Girl at War.The ten-year-old tomboy Ana has grown up in an increasingly partisan Zagreb as Yugoslavia disintegrates. Like many of the children she is still oblivious to the full implications of what is unfolding around them. Instead, she and her friend Luka revel in the increasing disruption to daily life, skipping school when they can, taking it in turns to pedal the cycle-powered electricity generator in the local bomb shelter. The sudden disappearance of one of their school friends is seen first in the context of robbing them of their best goalie.

When her baby sister Rahela becomes desperately ill her parents manage to get her on an emergency international airlift to be treated in America. But as they return from taking her to the clinic in neighbouring Bosnia they are stopped by soldiers at an ad hoc roadblock, demanding their papers. “My parents’ faces grayed as my mother searched the glove compartment for our passports. Giving up our IDs would provide the soldier with the greatest weapon against us: the knowledge of our names. Our last name specifically, the one that carried the weight of ancestry, ethnicity.


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