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25th Jun, 2022

Bookcase: Reviews of The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell and Conversations On Love by Natasha Lunn

James Iles 2nd Aug, 2021

THIS week’s bookcase includes reviews of The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell and Conversations On Love by Natasha Lunn.

A mysterious thriller or a meditation on love – what new book do you want to pick up this week?

Fiction

1. Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder is published in hardback by Harvill Secker, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

In her debut, Rachel Yoder has written a novel unabashedly peculiar and truly unique.

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder. Picture by Harvill Secker/PA.

In its simplest form, Nightbitch is a whip-smart story of early motherhood – but describing it as such is an enormous injustice to Yoder’s torrent of mind-bending prose.

Read almost as a stream of consciousness, a nameless ‘Mother’ grapples with losing her sense of self amongst the constant demands of caring for a toddler.

In doing so, she turns into a dog known as Nightbitch.

This metamorphosis is darkly funny and terrifyingly visceral, yet underscored with piercing truth.

Yoder candidly captures the mental, emotional and physical challenges of becoming a mother, along with the unwarranted weight of social expectations.

A searing portrayal of art and motherhood, Nightbitch is strange, unsettling and wonderful to read.

9/10 (Review by Rebecca Wilcock)

2. The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell is published in hardback by Century, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

The latest thriller from former chick lit favourite Lisa Jewell tells the stories of 19-year-old Tallulah, who goes missing after a pool party at a country mansion, and author Sophie, who finds herself discovering clues to the teenage mother’s disappearance when she moves to the area more than a year later.

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell. Picture by Century/PA.

As Sophie becomes more entangled in uncovering the truth, we learn that Tallulah’s life wasn’t all it initially seems.

Amateur sleuth Sophie seems more of a means to an end than an engaging character, but the urge to find out what has happened to troubled Tallulah is enough to make this a page-turner.

The only thing predictable about the ending is how totally unpredictable it is. For fans of the genre, this ticks all the right boxes.

7/10

(Review by Eleanor Barlow)

Non-fiction

3. Conversations On Love by Natasha Lunn is published by Viking, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Conversations On Love is a mix of memoir and interviews exploring the subject of love in all its forms – from parenting and friendship, to romance and long-term commitment.

Conversations On Love by Natasha Lunn. Picture by Viking/PA.

The book moves from Lunn’s own experiences – of teenage crushes, first dates, marriage and struggles to conceive – to discussions on topics from the power of friendship and being alone, to grief, desire and the idea of soulmates.

As a journalist, Lunn conducts thoughtful interviews with a wide-ranging series of experts, from thinkers Philippa Perry, Susie Orbach and Alain de Botton, to writers Dolly Alderton, Roxane Gay and Lisa Taddeo.

The book flows naturally between profound topics, avoids cliche, and the broad scope of interviewees allows for a range of perspectives to influence Lunn’s thinking – on a subject so complex, yet universal.

8/10

(Review by Jessica Frank-Keyes)

Children’s book of the week

4. Girl (In Real Life) by Tamsin Winter is published in paperback by Usborne Publishing, priced £7.99 (ebook £3.99). Available now

Girl (In Real Life) centres around Eva, a 13-year-old girl and star of a YouTube channel her parents set up before she was even born. Over the years, fans have followed her first tantrum, winced at her adolescent spots and giggled at her funny outfits, but it’s all got a bit much.

Girl (In Real Life) by Tamsin Winter. Picture: Usborne Publishing/PA.

As Eva decides she’s fed up with having zero privacy, she sets about sabotage.

What unravels is a story of betrayal, loyalty, love and loss. Encouraging parents and kids to talk to each other about social media, vlogging, right and wrong, this story is everything a kids’ book should be.

Brilliantly written, Tamsin Winter’s third novel is genuinely hard to put down, funny and also heartbreakingly sad in places.

The storyline tackles modern teenage issues and stirs up a huge amount of emotion, making it a must-have addition to adolescent bookshelves.

9/10

(Review by Claire Spreadbury)

BOOK CHARTS

HARDBACK

1. How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

2. She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

3. The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

4. Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

5. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

6. Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham

7. The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz

8. The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

9. The Black Dress by Deborah Moggach

10. Uzumaki by Junji Ito

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)

1. The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

2. Vaxxers by Sarah Gilbert & Catherine Green

3. My Child And Other Mistakes by Ellie Taylor

4. Everything You Really Need To Know About Politics by Jess Phillips

5. The Great Western Revival by Mirza Masroor Ahmad

6. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

7. Landslide by Michael Wolff

8. Bunnyman by Will Sergeant

9. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

10. Spike by Jeremy Farrar & Anjana Ahuja

(Compiled by Waterstones)

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