The third installment in the hugely compelling My Struggle series by the fabulous Knausgaard! I have devoured each book as soon as it has appeared but it is difficult to say why they are so extraordinarily compulsive but they have an intricacy, honesty and vulnerability that makes the most mundane events utterly fascinating.
In Diamond Square by Merce Rodoreda
Another translated novel, reissued by Virago, this time set in Barcelona in the 1930s before, during and following the Spanish civil war from the viewpoint of the ordinary citizens especially Natalia, married then left to struggle through with two children. I was drawn in by the distinctive, matter of fact prose that movingly underlined the life and death struggle faced by women during the war.
The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg
Anyone missing a new Franzen or Eugenides ie, American family angst, might like to try this: a warm, funny, compassionate account of a dysfunctional family with a literally larger than life central character.
The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare
I was lucky enough to hear Philip Hoare speak a few months ago when his passion for swimming, the sea, the sea creatures was manifest and this tranfers to the page. Boundless enthusiasm for the sea and all life therein is shadowed by an increasingly precarious future as it falls prey to human greed and self-importance.
Alas Poor Lady by Rachel Ferguson
I was unsure whether to recommend this one as it had me alternating between tears of anger and those of sorrow but it is totally absorbing and pertinant as the centenary of the Suffragette movement looms. The novel relates the ups and downs on one family consisting of 5 girls and, eventually, one boy during the years from 1870 to 1936. It is the story of girls brought up to hope for one thing only – marriage – and the inadequacy of their upbringing in all other respects. Read it, weep and thank heaven for the Suffragettes. www.lutyensrubinstein