The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka*
Berthold is a middle aged, largely unsuccessful actor who lives with his mother in her brutalist era council flat; when she dies, he ropes a strange woman into posing as her so he doesn't lose the tenancy. Next door lives Violet, a young Kenyan woman at the start of a global wealth management career - but already her ethics are getting in the way. It took a little while for me to get into this as a lot of it is written in Berthold's voice and he's a bit of an icky character - arrogant, clueless and kind of a lech - but don't let that put you off; it's both madcap and a fierce attack on the current UK government and it made me want to fight.
We Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler*
Andi Zeisler, founder and creative director of Bitch magazine, writes here about the commercialisation of feminism - from the adverts which tell women they won't be free or feisty unless they buy a specific product to the upsurge in celebrity feminism which, she argues, detracts attention from ongoing gender inequality. The topic was hugely appealing to me (feminism! marketing! celebrities! whoo!) and Zeisler's writing is very engaging but, ultimately, she was describing a vicious circle: celebrities steal the limelight away from gender inequality; lots of people are oblivious to gender inequality unless celebrities tell them about it. I came away thinking, "Yeah... but... what do you suggest instead?" The book is also heavily geared to an American audience so a lot of the pop culture and political references were over my head. A very interesting read but not one which inspired me to action.
Clouds in My Coffee by Julie Mulhern*
Ellison, a widowed artist from a wealthy family, refuses to believe that somebody wants her dead despite several incompetent attempts on her life. Her snooty mother thinks it must be Ellison's own fault; her sister is too engrossed in a mid-life crisis to care; and now her eccentric aunt has turned up, too... I haven't read many mystery/thrillers so my frame of reference here is the telly, but this has all the high maintenance country club characters and ludicrously overblown reactions of Columbo; it's an easy read but it did keep me guessing for quite a while (and then kept me reading to see if I was right). This is actually the third in a series of books about Ellison but I hadn't read the previous books and didn't find it a problem - in fact, I'm quite keen to get my hands on copies of them now.
*Provided by publisher or agent for review