Book Reviews of the Week: 05/10/20

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

Buy Sweet Sorrow from your local Bookseller:

‘Does what Nicholls does best… Again he has pulled off that most rare and coveted of literary feats: a popular novel of serious merit and a bestseller that will also endure.’ – The Observer

Praise for David Nicholls: 

‘Nicholls’s gift is character. There is a sharp empathetic intelligence to his writing that makes his characters real… the clear writing often dazzles with truth… sad funny, soulful.’ – The Observer

‘David has a sublime talent for illuminating the murky causeway that most of us have to navigate between darkness and light.’ – Donal Ryan

‘Nicholls writes with such tender precision about love.’ – The Times

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls 

Nobody writes about love and relationships and the tortuous complications of communication better than David Nicholls (the genius best-selling author of US, One Day and Starter for Ten) and in this coming of age story, Sweet Sorrow, he is once again at his most poignant and brilliant best.

Set in the summer of in 1997, Sweet Sorrow is a love story set against the background of a school performance of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.

Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope. But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.

The price of hope, it seems, is Shakespeare.

This is a story of first love with all its triumphs and agonies. Poignant, funny, enchanting, devastating, Sweet Sorrow is a tragicomedy about the rocky path to adulthood that includes all its pitfalls. It celebrates the power of friendship and the joy of falling in love. Brilliant. 

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls is published by Hodder & Stoughton £8.99 

The White Ship by Charles Spencer

Buy The White Ship from your local Bookseller:

‘How a drunk teenager shipwrecked the monarchy … As colourful and racy narrative history goes, this absolutely gallops. The White Ship whips through a hundred years of complex history from the Norman Conquest to Henry II’ Daily Mail

‘Charles Spencer has shown himself to be a perceptive and lively historian … A gifted storyteller … A complex tale spanning decades, with a rich, but rarely attractive cast of characters, pivoted on one single, tragic winter evening. It is an event and a period of history that should be better known, and now it will be.’ The Times

‘Neglected by popular historians, [Henry I] … has found a master storyteller in Charles Spencer… rooted in excellent historical research, Charles Spencer has written a lyrical, vivid and compelling portrait. He succeeds in bringing to life huge characters from nearly a millennium ago’

I am gripped by this brilliant book. The White Ship sank in 1120, all aboard were killed but one – including the King, Henry I’s only male heir. His death led to crisis – and refusal to accept female heir, Matilda. What happened to the ship? And why? Brilliant.’ Kate Williams, author of Rival Queens

The White Ship by Charles Spencer

In this historical tour de force, Charles Spencer resurrects the extraordinary story of the sinking of the White Ship on the 25th November 1120. An erstwhile staple on the old historical school curriculum, one of the greatest disasters that England has ever suffered has since disappeared without trace. Fortunately, Spencer now sets the record straight and puts the terrible tragedy firmly back on the map and explains in vivid, vibrant detail why its repercussions would change English and European history forever.

Written to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the shipwreck, this extraordinary tale – a sort of Titanic meets Game Thrones – is penned with such verve and gusto that it reads more like a Thriller than a dry historical account, and it is all the better for it. Spencer’s eye for detail, his pen-sharp characterisations and clear enjoyment of the macabre sweep the reader along. Fantastic. 

The White Ship by Charles Spencer is published by Harper Collins £25 

Tennis Lessons by Susannah Dickey

Buy Tennis Lessons from your local Bookseller:

‘A raw, fierce, shockingly honest coming-of-age story’ LOUISE O’NEILL

‘Incredibly funny and honest . . . by turns charming and disgusting and I loved it’ NELL FRIZZELL

‘Brilliant . . . a wonderful writer, hugely talented, very funny and insightful’ ALAN DAVIES

‘Propulsive . . . brilliantly vivid . . . stays in the mind long after reading’ IRISH TIMES

‘A beautifully written and psychologically incisive bildungsroman…the arrival of a young writer to watch’ OBSERVER

Tennis Lessons by Susannah Dickey.

Tennis Lessons is the brilliant coming of age debut novel written by the Irish poet Susannah Dickey. Written in the rarely used 2nd person, it is the story of an unnamed girl growing up in Northern Ireland. Dealing with issues such as female friendships, puberty, bullying and sex, Tennis Lesson’s is a sharp-eyed, lyrical take on the Millennial journey from 3 years old to 27 years old, taking in the all the problems and pitfalls in between. Luscious, funny, poetic (of course) and brilliantly observed. Beautiful. 

Tennis Lessons by Susannah Dickey is published by Transworld £14.99 

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