Lillian on Life by Alison Jean Lester*
Lillian is a woman of "a certain age" who drifts between recollections of her past relationships, current sex life, years in Europe and family entanglements. In telling her story, she never plays coy or blurs her behaviour - she is upfront about her personal ethics, her passions and her regrets. I was a little uncomfortable with how much of her own sense of self seemed centred around the men in her life but, then, for all that she urges readers to form their own identity, I guess that was part of the point. I came away from this book thinking that not much had happened in it but, on reflection, Lillian has packed a lot into her life and it was refreshing to read such a light, unapologetic take on life's big emotions.
Moving by Jenny Eclair*
This follows three interlinked people through significant times in their lives: the old lady reminiscing as she prepares to sell the family home; the naive rich student falling in love with the scruffy downstairs neighbour; the spoilt, lazy man returning home to visit his dying mother. Interesting character studies, some horrifying (but sometimes horrifyingly understandable) behaviour and a dollop of nostalgia mix to make this very readable. The only downside was that I didn't like any of the characters. Not one of them. Which made it hard to care about the outcome.
Fishbowl by Bradley Somer*
Usually I feel really bad about writing negative reviews ("What if the author sees? Their feelings! Their poor feelings!") but when you start your book with a chapter all about how very, very deep and very, very clever your premise is you're kind of inviting your readers to turn on you. This isn't very, very deep or very, very clever but it is the kind of book which becomes a cult hit because stoned youngsters think it is. At 36 and not in the least bit inebriated, I found it full of tediously familiar caricatures and one really pretentious fish.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon*
The first book I've read in under 24 hours since Matilda was born. Admittedly, it's a short book and she was having a sleepy growth spurt sort of a day but the important thing here is that I kept choosing to pick up my Kindle rather than scrolling through Twitter. This is a YA book about a girl who is allergic to the outside world; she is very accepting of her isolated life indoors until a cute, funny boy moves in next door... You already know how this story is going to end but Maddy is a really likeable character with a clear, witty, honest voice and I very much enjoyed reading her story.
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
First published in 1926, this is the story of a forty-something spinster who decides to leave her brother's home and move to the countryside. Once there, she finds herself making a pact with the devil and becoming a witch. I really enjoyed the Victorian household section and the part about Lolly settling into village life - when all the witchcraft starts (the part I was actually looking forward to) it started to feel a bit fan fiction for my liking. Still, it was interesting to see how concepts of the supernatural - and attitudes towards unmarried women - have changed in the last ninety-odd years.
*Provided by the publisher or agent for review