Book review – fiction

A big literary beast's descent into incoherence

8 November 2014 9:00 am

Something odd happened between the advance publicity for this book and its printed appearance. Trailed as addressing the troubled history…

The greatest sitcom that never was

8 November 2014 9:00 am

Funny Girl is the story of the early career of the vivacious, hilarious Sophie Straw, star of the much-loved BBC…

The problem when novelists write short stories

8 November 2014 9:00 am

Rose Tremain walks on water. Her historical novels are absolutely marvellous, brilliantly plotted, witty and wise, with some of the…

Michael Frayn’s new book is the most highbrow TV sketch show ever

1 November 2014 9:00 am

Enough of big ideas and grand designs. Instead, here are 30 unusually small ideas from the giant pulsating brain of…

Catherine Parr, whose dangerously reformist ‘Lamentation’ Shardlake must recover, comes over as a sympathetic and attractive figure

The Tudor sleuth who's cracked the secret of suspense

1 November 2014 9:00 am

Some reviewers are slick and quick. Rapid readers, they remember everything, take no notes, quote at will. I’m the plodding…

Cronenberg attempts a teleportation from cinema to fiction. Cover your eyes…

1 November 2014 9:00 am

Following his beginnings as a science-fiction horror director, David Cronenberg has spent the past decades transforming himself into one of…

A Jamaican civil war, with cameos from Bob Marley

1 November 2014 9:00 am

There are many more than seven killings in this ironically titled novel — in fact very long — that starts…

While Holmes is away

25 October 2014 9:00 am

Careful Sherlockians, on returning in adulthood to the four novels and 56 short stories that they devoured uncritically in their…

Imagine Eastenders directed by David Lynch

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Ghostly doings are afoot in Edwardian London. Choking fog rolls over the treacle- black Thames. Braziers cast eerie shadows in…

A jaunty romp of rape and pillage through the 16th century

11 October 2014 9:00 am

The Brethren, by Robert Merle, who died at the age of 95 ten years ago, was originally published in 1977,…

Wave goodbye to the weight-gaining, drunk-driving Inspector Wallander

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Some years ago I met the Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell at the Savoy Hotel in London, where he was…

James Ellroy’s latest attempt to unseat the Great American Novel

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Aficionados of detective fiction have long known that the differences between the soft- and hard-boiled school are so profound that,…

Colm Toibin’s restraint – like his characters' – is quietly overwhelming

4 October 2014 9:00 am

In Colm Tóibín’s much-loved 2009 novel Brooklyn, Eilis Lacy, somewhat to her own surprise, leaves 1950s Enniscorthy (Tóibín’s own home…

If you don’t think this novel is practically perfect, I’ll send you a replacement

4 October 2014 9:00 am

If there were a harvest festival to honour the bounty of the autumnal book crop, the choir would be in…

David Nicholls’ Us: Alan Partridge’s Grand Tour

4 October 2014 9:00 am

Us, David Nicholls’s first novel since the hugely successful One Day, is about a couple who have been married for…

This new translation of Crime and Punishment is a masterpiece

20 September 2014 9:00 am

Subscribers to this periodical, while Mark Amory has been literary editor, must often have felt they were enjoying an incomparable…

Andrew Marr thinks he’s a novelist. I don’t

20 September 2014 9:00 am

It’s September 2017, and our still apparently United Kingdom is in the throes of a referendum campaign. The wise, charming,…

A Troubles novel with plenty of violence and, thank heaven, some sex too

13 September 2014 9:00 am

‘The Anglo-Irish, their tribe, are dying. . . . They will go without a struggle, unlamented,’ Christopher Bland, 76, declares…

It’s not easy for a middle-aged woman to get inside the head of a 12-year-old innkeeper’s son in 1914

13 September 2014 9:00 am

Esther Freud wrote dazzlingly in the first person through the eyes of a five-year-old child in her first novel, Hideous…

Howard Jacobson’s J convinced me that I’d just read a masterpiece

13 September 2014 9:00 am

At first sight, J — which has beenshortlisted for the Man Booker Prize — represents a significant departure for Howard…

When Rachel Cusk went to Greece: would she be nice or nasty?

13 September 2014 9:00 am

Last year in Athens, rumours raced about Rachel Cusk’s creative writing classes at the British Council. Some of the (mostly…

How on earth did David Mitchell's third-rate fantasy make the Man Booker longlist?

6 September 2014 9:00 am

Reincarnation has hovered over David Mitchell’s novels since the birth of his remarkable career. His haunting debut novel, Ghostwritten (1999),…

Improbable, unconvincing and lazy - Ian McEwan’s latest is unforgivable

6 September 2014 9:00 am

The Children Act could hardly be more attuned to the temper of the times, appearing just as our newspapers are…

Ali Smith's How to be Both: warm, funny, subtle, intelligent – and baffling

30 August 2014 9:00 am

Pity the poor art historian writing a survey of painters from Giotto to, say, Poussin. In order to produce a…

In love with the lodger

30 August 2014 9:00 am

Champion Hill, Camberwell, 1922. A mother and daughter, stripped of their menfolk by the Great War, struggle to make ends…