What We're Reading - 13 September 2019

Opinion - Books Friday, 13 September 2019

The BookBrunch team reveal what's on their bedside tables


David Roche
I remember with affection Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale, so have been looking forward to catching up with her latest book Once Upon a River (Doubleday). This is traditional, meandering storytelling in the best sense, and I am enjoying being swept along.

Julie Vuong
After reading David Nicholls' Sweet Sorrow (which burrowed into my heart and will live there forever), I picked up The Divers' Game by Jesse Ball (Granta), which is released 3 October. It's stark and dark and a complete world away from the warmth of Nicholls' writing. I'm not yet immersed in Ball's world of ghettos and segregation, but the book is full of interesting ideas about power and inequality.

Lucy Nathan
I'm half way through Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Corsair). It has been a huge hit in the US, with good reason: its descriptive passages are lush and gorgeous, evoking the North Carolina marshland perfectly, and Kya is a remarkable, spiky, touching main character. I can't wait to see where the story goes.

Nicholas Clee
Dominion by Tom Holland (Little, Brown) is about an abstract concept: the pervasive influence of Christian philosophy. But it is the work of a storyteller, and in addition to being instructive and thought-provoking, offers great entertainment.

Neill Denny
Still on Jennifer Potter's The Jamestown Brides - detailed, 17th-century social history is not subject matter to be rushed, I'm afraid. The more I read the book, the less I realise I know about American history and what those early settlers/colonists/invaders went through. What gradually becomes obvious is that the patterns laid down almost 400 years ago still influence a superpower. Elsewhere, I was pleased to note that one of my earlier choices, On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming, was longlisted for the Baillie Gifford prize this week. It certainly gets my vote.

Jo Henry
The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer (Penguin). Mrs Armitage (we never learn her first name) has three husbands in her past and one in her present, plus numerous children - though still only in her 30s - when she has a breakdown in the linen department at Harrods. Based closely on the author's turbulent relationship with John Mortimer, this seems to me to be a very angry book, a raging at the limited horizons of women in the Sixties - although the author herself was of course a successful and well regarded writer.

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