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THE ARCHITECT'S APPRENTICE, by Elif Shafak (Viking, PS14.99, ebook PS5.99) Rating ..... RICHARD III's reputation has been fatally overshadowed by his possible involvement in the disappearance of the two young Princes in the Tower.

Yet the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire routinely began their reigns by despatching entire kindergarten loads of junior relatives.

Elif Shafak's seventh novel opens with one such massacre of the innocents. She tells the story of a young Indian elephant keeper, who rises to become the valued assistant to Mimar Sinan, a prolific builder, who was a contemporary of Michelangelo. Shafak evokes the sights, smells, achievements and terrors of a city where East and West have always met and mingled in astonishing ways.

THIS SHOULD BE WRITTEN IN THE PRESENT TENSE by Helle Helle (Harvill Secker, PS12.99, ebook PS7.99) Rating ..... THIS is the first of the bestselling Danish author's novels to be translated into English.

The story of 20-something year old Dorte is told, rather disjointedly, as a stream of consciousness and flashbacks.

Her family think Dorte is studying at university in Copenhagen but she spends her time pottering around her little bungalow next to the railway line, or shopping for cream cakes and bargains. Lonely she embarks on a series of doomed relationships, including a fling with the station office clerk who lives opposite with his girlfriend.

This is an extremely short novel that's more like an extended piece of prose or poem, in that it has a beautifully lyrical quality.

But although there's a car-crashlike compulsion to keep reading to the end, ultimately, it's an art house book that may disappoint anyone expecting a conventional story-led novel.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 4, 2015
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