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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Publisher: Pan Macmillan Price: PS16.99 (ebook PS6.59) AT the opening of A Little Life, Malcolm, Willem, JB and Jude, all in their early twenties, have arrived in New York, and are attempting to translate the ambitions and friendships formed at college into a harsher world.

Each are wrestling with their own dilemmas: privilege and pennilessness, parents too doting or too absent, but it is Jude, already on his way to becoming a ruthlessly effective lawyer, who appears truly unable to escape the events of a horrifically traumatic past.

Their lives unwind over the next three decades and more than seven hundred pages, and as their relationships deepen and increase in complexity, Jude comes to dominate the narrative, battling his past as the other characters buoy him up.

As we learn, piece by piece, about the abuse to which he was subjected, Yanagihara deftly explores how the experiences of childhood unfold inexorably down the years, and whether individuals have the capacity to ever truly overcome them.

This is no simple redemption story, and she continues to plunge Jude back into the pit from which others are trying to free him.

The characters' unswerving devotion to each other can feel unrealistic, their success in their respective fields - Willem a movie star, Malcolm an international architect, JB exhibiting at MoMA - improbable.

Yanagihara has created a fairy tale, but the novel's ultimate accomplishment is in failing to provide us with a fairy tale ending.

Above all, it is a novel in praise of the sustaining power of friendship. Rating ....

The Sunshine Cruise Company by John Niven Publisher: William Heinemann Price: PS14.99 (ebook PS6.64).

WHAT do you do when you're a 60-year-old middle-class housewife and your comfortable suburban lifestyle is destroyed by your husband's eye-watering death in a secret sex dungeon? If you're Susan Frobisher, you recruit your down-at-heel best friend; a wheelchair-bound, obese, octogenarian nymphomaniac from a care home and a straight-laced amateur dramatics fan to rob the local bank. John Niven's sharp satire follows the quartet as they scarper to the south of France with millions in loot, trying to keep ahead of blundering British detectives and the Russian Mafia. It is profane, raucous and at times makes you wince, yet comes with an undercurrent of tenderness that steers it away from slapstick.

If you like your humour dark and your jokes filthy, this is for you.

Rating ....

The Sisters by Claire Douglas Publisher: Harper Price: PS7.99 (ebook PS4.99) DEBUT authors seem to have dominated the fiction charts this year; from The Miniaturist to the success of The Girl On The Train, fresh voices have caught the public's imagination.

Douglas won the Marie Claire Debut Novel Award with this psychological thriller about a girl named Abi, who is making a fresh start in Bath after the death of her twin sister, Lucy.

One day she meets free spirit Bea and her brother Ben, who she is immediately drawn to. She is welcomed into their circle of friends but relationships quickly sour and weird things start to happen.

Tension oozes from every page and the different narrative perspectives (from Abi and Bea) keep you guessing until the end about the characters' motives.

This is a hugely enjoyable and addictive read that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Rating ....

Every Night I Dream Of Hell by Malcolm Mackay Publisher: Mantle Price: PS12.99 (ebook PS6.47). Available: August 27 WHEN Nate Colgan accepts the job of 'security consultant' with the Jamieson organisation, one of Glasgow's most feared gangs, he doesn't realise what he's getting into.

Times are tough for the firm, what with their leader and his sidekick both safely locked up in Barlinnie. Matters are not helped by the fact Nate's appointment coincides with the execution of a minor, yet key, member of the enterprise.

Someone wants to send them a message. A new gang has arrived in town, from Birmingham of all places.

Seeing an opportunity to move in on the Jamieson's turf, they threaten to annihilate the Glasgow firm's power. And Nate has other troubles to contend with, in the shape of Zara Cope, his ex-lover who mysteriously wants to re-enter his life.

This is Malcolm Mackay's fifth novel and if you like your crime fiction boiled to within an inch of its life, this morally complex, twistyturny tale won't disappoint. Rating ....

NON-FICTION Think Like An Engineer: Inside The Minds That Are Changing Our Lives by Guru Madhavan Publisher: Oneworld Publications Priced: PS12.99 (ebook PS11.11) WE remember the name of penicillin-discoverer Alexander Fleming.

But who now recalls Margaret Hutchinson? It was she who combined her knowledge of fermentation research and petrochemical process engineering to mass-produce the contents of Fleming's tiny petri dish.

Thanks to her ingenuity, substantial quantities of antibiotics were available in 1944 to treat the wounded from the Normandy Landings. Biomedical engineer Guru Madhavan's book has many more fascinating illustrations of how engineers have enhanced our lives - including David Koon, a bereaved father, who campaigned successfully to have GPS phonetracking capability installed as part of the US emergency services' response to calls.

Yet Madhavan also hints, intriguingly, that terrorists and fundamentalists may be drawn disproportionately from the ranks of engineers. Ironic then, that this section of the book, about engineering's downside, is the part that lacks rigour. Rating ....

TOP TENS HARDBACKS 1. The Taming Of The Queen, Philippa Gregory 2. Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee 3. The Girl On The Train, Paula Hawkins 4. Hello Life, Marcus Butler 5. Early One Morning, Virginia Baily 6. Rick Stein: From Venice To Istanbul, Rick Stein 7. Claude: Lights! Camera! Action!, Alex T Smith 8. Katy, Jacqueline Wilson 9. Percy Jackson And The Greek Heroes: Percy Jackson's Greek Myths, Rick Riordan 10. The Fool's Quest: Fitz And The Fool, Robin Hobb (Charts compiled by Waterstones) PAPERBACKS 1. Village Of Secrets: Caroline Moorehead 2. Paper Towns, John Green 3. The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim 4. The Missing And The Dead, Stuart MacBride 5. All The Bright Places, Jennifer Niven 6. Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest And Colouring Book, Johanna Basford 7. Girl Online, Zoe Sugg 8. Us, David Nicholls 9. Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt And Colouring Book, Johanna Basford 10. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 29, 2015
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