Wollstonecraft and Shelley come to life again in Charlotte Gordon’s excellent dual biography


“Romantic Outlaws:The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley”
Charlotte Gordon
Pub: Oct 2015

“I must love and admire with warmth, or I sink into sadness”

I first became interested in Mary Shelley – around 1980 – at school when I realised the old black and white film version of Frankenstein was based on her novel. I’d loved Colin Clive’s mad scientist and Boris Karloff’s monster.

Reading the book turned out to be a further revelation. It was gripping and moving, and really quite wonderful. I have re-read it numerous time since. But it would be many years however before I bothered to read another of her books – The intriguing, The Last Man. Not the easiest read, but worthwhile in many ways.

What I did know, even on first reading, was that she was married to Percy Bryce Shelley, and that her parents had been Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Whilst many spoke or knew of Shelley and his poems, fewer mentioned Wollstonecraft of Godwin, and I’ll admit they held little interest to me either, until a chance happening upon a copy of Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women’ at University.

I was immediately taken by the passion in her writing and also by how strange it must have been for readers in the 1700’s reading such words from the pen of a woman. I was surprised she wasn’t a household name.

I managed to track down copies of some of her other works – some I’ll admit I liked much more than others, and also read a handful of biographies: Margaret Tims’ – Mary Wollstonecraft – A Social Pioneer;  Edna’s Nixon’s – Mary Wollstonecraft – Her Life and Times; and Claire Tomalin’s – The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft.[All still sit on my bookshelves].

It was hard not to be impressed by her. Yes she could be contradictory with a small C, and yes she could be floored by affairs of the heart; but frankly so can we all. I have remained a fan.

This rather long preamble is because I had not had a desire to read a new biography of Wollstonecraft until  I saw ‘Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley’ . Charlotte Gordon had decided to link the two Mary’s, to have them live in tandem on the page in a way they had not, tragically, achieved in life.

Gordon’s engaging approach is to take us from birth to death for both Mary’s in alternating chapters, designed, and dare I say plotted, to demonstrate the similarities – as well as some of the differences – between their lives and outlook.

I must confess I knew very little about Mary Shelley’s life, and the level of death she endured in her life from her mother’s death days after giving birth onwards. Nor was I aware of the life-long tensions between Mary and her half sister Claire, and Mary and her father whose own financial welfare seemed to become more important to him than his daughter – although her expected her, through Percy, to provide for it.

It is also impressive to see how she managed to navigate around the pressures of not only being the daughter of Godwin and Wollstonecraft, but also the wife of Shelley.

There is a real love for Mary Shelley, indeed both Mary’s in Godwin’s book. She addresses the accusations – from some – of weakness in Mary Wollstonecraft over suicide attempts over broken hearts, as if in some way such actions undermined her wishes for equality and freedom. As Godwin points out, in some ways Mary would probably seen the act as noble, honourable and principled, not weak.

My favourite new fact – to me at least – from the book is where Godwin says that if you look up the word prostitution is the index of The Anti-Jacobin Review, the entry reads, ‘see Mary Wollstonecraft’. This was just how dangerous and indecent many people at the time and for a good while after her death thought Mary was. She was a danger to the fabric of decent society.

When reading the previous Wollstonecraft biographies I have always been particularly moved by the death (suicide) of Mary Wollstonecraft’s first child, Fanny. Perhaps this in part is due to living in Swansea for many years where Fanny had travelled to end her life. I must admit I had the short clipping from the Cambrian newspaper announcing the death of the unknown young lady taped to my desk for a number of years. Gordon’s biography if anything makes it even sadder. It is hard not to think that she was essentially abandoned by her family. She didn’t have a great mind and that in itself seemed to leave her stranded from the family pack. A cruel fate.

I could write much more: about the romances between Godwin and Wollstonecraft, Godwin and Shelley, and the excitement and tragedy of the times, but I will leave you to do that for yourselves.

If one were nit picking you could argue that has choosing the facts and quotes to fit her romantic outlaw topic, but then again there are plenty of other biographical options out there , on both women, for contrast if you wish to seek them out.

Time to stick Romantic Outlaws on your Christmas list.


Eco’s satire on modern media a mini treat

Numero Zero
by Umberto Eco
Vintage, Penguin Random House
Harvill Secker
Pub Date Nov 5, 2015   
The most effective insinuation is one that gives facts that are valueless in themselves, yet cannot be denied because they are true”
Umberto Eco’s latest book is great fun. It’s a satire on the modern media landscape, and the throw away nature events and revelations – that should cause people to take to the streets – instead merely get forgotten as they become tomorrow’s fish and chip wrappers. It deals with the nature of the press, the cliched view of the Italian state and throws in a conspiracy theory or three for good measure too.
It’s 1992 and Colonna, a failed 50 year old writer has come to Milan to meet Simei, a man who has been hired by a rich property and media magnet, Vimercate, to create a new newspaper. The only catch is that the plan is for the newspaper to never see the light of day. He wants a small dedicated staff to create a dozen ‘zero issues’ of a newspaper. The staff will be told it is a sort of proof of concept for the eventual launch of the real thing.
But Colonna is told the truth.  Simei explains that the true purpose of this venture is give their benefactor the leverage to get into the inner sanctum of a small group of the most powerful men in Italy, who for all intents and purposes control the country. To do this they must make sure to expose and unmask some of them in the mock issues. He will then agree to ‘close down’ the paper for the price of entry into their secret club.
The joy of the project is they can choose days and events already long past for the dummy issues.
Colonna’s task will be to pen Simei’s ‘memoir’ of the events of the year.
This is a wonderfully humourus novel with the editorial meetings discussing the content for the proposed paper a perfect fulcrum for the events of the novel.It is a lesson in how the tabloid press operate.
But it is not the only thing happening within the book. One of the other journalists working on the project, Braggadocio, has also gotten hold of what he thinks is a much bigger story involving the death of Mussolini, the CIA, and Operation Gladio – one of the ‘stay-behind’ operations during the cold war. But, he fears that there are people that don’t want him to tell his story.  It turns out his is right.
You could start to think the book is going to become more of a thriller, but  it is more a minor  detour from the book’s satirical heart.
This quite a short novel. It may not be his best – it lacks real depth of character – but it is certainly one of his most fun to read.

Jupiter falls short

Sleeping on Jupiter
Anuradha Roy
Quercus Books /MacLehose Press

Sleeping on Jupiter takes place over five days in the fictional Indian town of Jarmuli, a city situated by the ocean and the home of several famous temples. In it we follow the interweaving strands of a young woman Nomi, returning to a city she left as a child to film a documentary on the area; Suraj, a failed actor and photographer Nomi has hired to assist her; Johnny Toppo, the man running a tea-stall on the beach, who sings the same songs that Nomi absent-mindedly hums, three old women having a holiday together; and Badal, a temple guide in his 20s, who feels put upon, is in lust, and feels life owes him something.

The book gets off to an amusing and engaging start. There is a scene near the start when the three old woman and Nomi are on the same train, sharing the same carriage, and Nomi gets off at a station and seems to be caught at the centre of a violent event which is full of tension. But from that point onwards the book left me a bit unengaged. It didn’t work for me. I failed to really engage in any of the characters – partly because Roy has failed to really flesh them out enough, and because of that I didn’t really care what happened to any of them. And this is a shame as Nomi’s story is a horrible – how can one not feel touched by the abuse and torture of orphaned and war-affected children. But this was a problem, I felt I should have cared more. Yes, I did care about what had happened in her past but I found it harder to care much about her at all now.

Clearly the fact it made the Booker long list meant that others clearly saw something more here than I did. For me though, it is a fairly average novel.

What is a “Traditional Pub” ?

Today’s Morning advertiser has an interview with David Grant (loved his work with Jackie Graham on Todd Rundgren’s ‘mated’)* of Moorhouse’s Brewery talking about the demise of the ‘traditional pub’.

This is something that has bugged me for a little while. It is one of those terms (almost as bad as ‘craft’ preceding the word beer) that seems to get thrown around but not really understood. The implications with the phrase traditional pub is one of the good old days when pubs were ‘real’ ‘proper’ pubs. Fine. So when was this exactly?

I say this because to have any meaning the ‘traditional pub’ has to pick a point in time when this perception of these real and proper pubs existed. Are we talking about the smoke filed pubs of the 70s with a bar (mostly for the men) and a separate ‘Lounge’ area for the ladies? Maybe 19th century ‘Beer houses’ where you were basically in someone’s living room, drinking from a tapped barrel on a table? What is your point of reference? If you were born in the 90’s a tradition pub to you might well be an ALL Bar One. If you were born in the 1930’s it might be an immediately ‘post-war’ pub that you see as ‘traditional’.

Your making it more difficult that it needs to be you say. Really it’s simple: It’s a pub, not a BAR. But a lot of these ‘pubs’ HAD and possibly still have ‘bars’ – see my 70s point above, so it’s not that simple.

Maybe it’s just pubs that aren’t part of a big chain? Only that wouldn’t really fit in with many of those looking back to their vision of the traditional pubs in the days when they were all owned by breweries. They were chain pubs. At least until the late 80s when the government stepped in to cut the brewers’ pub monopoly. In reality this was merely the start of pubs moving from all being owned and controlled by the breweries to a situation where they were all owned and controlled by Pubco’s instead. Different name, but much the same outcome if you ran a pub.

Am I just being contrary? Maybe I am. I grew up in pubs – in pubs that many would probably describe as ‘traditional’. I do understand what people are trying to say when they profess a love of the ‘traditional’ pub. It’s often based on that idea, that cozy village pub, real fire, low beamed roof, that is the heart of the local community. Yes? No?

My point is that my traditional pub is not necessarily your traditional pub or David Grant’s traditional pub, for me it is entirely dependent on your age and your points of reference.

*It’s not THAT David Grant.

Ofcom kills off ATVOD

The UK’s Communications regulator, Ofcom, announced today that it is bringing the regulation of Video on demand (VoD) services back in-house. Since 2010, it has acted as a co-regulator of such services, with the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) taking the lead role  in regulating editorial content for video-on-demand services, and Ofcom acting as back up and appeals body.

According to today’s announcement as of From 1 January 2016, Ofcom will take sole responsibility for regulating video-on-demand programme services.

This announcement doesn’t really come as much of a surprise to me. Indeed, the only surprise is that it has taken this long. Given the amount of times that Ofcom has overturned ATVOD decisions to designate services as on-demand programme services (ODPS), (at a rate of around 2-1, and almost as a matter of course since 2012) this was always on the cards.

Tonight’s Booker

So, The 2015 Booker Prize is awarded tonight.  I arrive at this date having finished four of the six short-list novels.

Hanya Yanagihara (US) – A Little Life

Anne Tyler (US) – A Spool of Blue Thread

Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) – The Fishermen

Tom McCarthy (UK) – Satin Island

The Bookies have it as a three way race with early favourite Yanagihara, just ahead of the two books I haven’t read:

Sunjeev Sahota (UK) – The Year of the Runaways, and

Marlon James (Jamaica) – A Brief History of Seven Killings

Typically, the Booker goes to something I haven’t read at the time of the award, so it would seem a good bet that Sahota or James will win.

Of the four I have read, which would I choose?

Quite a difficult choice. Yanagihara’s book is certainly impressive, but it also lacks an overall believability; Tyler’s is faultless for over three quarters of its length but suffers structurally and also seems to lack that certain something that makes her very best work stand out; and McCarthy’s is one of those marvelous self knowing ‘literary’ novels designed to delight and annoy in equal measure.

I’d love Tyler to win. My heart wants her name to be the one read out this evening. My head wants McCarthy’s read out. He’s the bookie’s outsider. I like his invention, his playfulness and his humour. However, if Yanagihara’s book carries the day, I won’t be too disappointed. She is an undoubted talent and the positives from her book by far outweigh the negatives. So, the winner is Marlon James – A Brief History of Seven Killings then …

Booker 2015: small town tragedy is literary success

Did You Ever Have a Family
Bill Clegg
Random House UK, Vintage Publishing
Jonathan Cape
Pub: Aug 2015

“It occurred to me that night and since that we no longer live in a town, not a real one anyway. We live in a pricey museum, one that’s only open on weekends, and we are its janitors”

Clegg’s debut novel is the story of the aftermath of a tragedy. Set in a small Connecticut town the central event is a wedding – or at least that what it should have been. A house explosion on the morning of the wedding of June Reid’s daughter Lolly kills Lolly, William, Lolly’s fiancé, June’s boyfriend, Luke, and her ex-husband Adam. Through June, friends, family and others who encounter June, we learn of what happened before and in the immediate aftermath of the explosion: how people look to apportion blame; how guilt and ‘what if’s ‘ can eat away at you and make the living seem as if they too are dead, at least emotionally, how selfishness and stubbornness invade us all; and about the power of grief and loss can starve us of life.

As is identified from the book’ s title this is a book that is about family – how we love, how we hate; how we are born into one family but then can also start our own; how families can make us strong, and how they can bring us down; how we are ultimately defined by them.

Whilst June has lost a daughter, a boyfriend and an ex husband; she is not the only one suffering. There is: Luke’s mother, Lydia, who herself had had a strained relationship with her son and can longer be reconciled with him; William’s parents; Cissy someone who knew William as a young boy; and Silas a young local stoner who had worked for Luke and is haunted by his own knowledge of what happened.

This book made me think back to 2013’s Booker longlist and Donal Ryan’s excellent book “The Spinning Heart” which also employed this method of storytelling (indeed as did his follow up novel) It is a method of storytelling , that if done well, as it is here allows you to see a bigger picture, you are not confined to one right or ‘true’ version of events. Like Ryan, there is a plainness to much of the dialogue and inner thoughts, but also a real sense of emotional honesty and believability.

Clegg, a successful US literary agent, has shown himself to be a talented storyteller – although judging by the praise for his best-selling memoirs this is perhaps no surprise.

Like Ryan, Clegg has failed to make the Booker shortlist, and as with Ryan I feel this was probably an error.

“Some tress love an ax … she disagreed and though instead that the tree gets used to the ax, which is nothing to do with love. It settles into being chipped away at, bit by bit, blade by blade, until it doesn’t feel anything anymore, and then, because nothing else can happen, what’s left crumbles into dust”

Review copy supplied by Random House / Netgalley

Doomed I tell you …

[Wrote this yesterday but then wasn’t going to post as Ian Clark wrote a piece that summed up much of my thinking and was better worded, but then thought, I’ve written it, why not just post it]


Yes. In case you missed the news Jeremy Corbyn is the new Leader of The Labour Party. As you can see the news that “veteran left winger” Corbyn had basically kicked the arse of the three other candidates for labour leader had resulted in this calm, balanced and measured tweet from our PM. Yep, forget cistISIS, it’s Jezza and the Labour Party you need to worry about. Whatever you do don’t answer the door to them. If you do they will put your family to death #fact [either that or that’s complete and utter bollocks]

I didn’t vote in the labour leadership contest. I’m not a member of the party and didn’t do the £3 registration to let me vote. Corbyn would not have been my choice to lead the party. But, that was actually one of my reasons for not registering. Given the options and the policies and views expressed by the four candidates, I would have found it hard to pick anyone. It seems a lot of people felt the same. It was, of course, the reason why people fought to get Corbyn on the ballot because they feared otherwise you’d have three candidates all saying slight different versions of the same thing. He got on, and yet they still did.

Corbyn took hold of the campaign early on – by a sneaky tactic: actually expressing opinions about stuff: saying what he thought, without running it by a committee of 30 people checking every syllable of every word to make it as bland, soulless and lifeless as possible. Burnham, Cooper and Kendall in response said nothing; no, this is not true, but it might as well be, as very quickly their combined campaigns became more focused on ‘anyone by Jeremy’  and less about why anyone should actually vote for them instead. Corbyn set the agenda.

To be fair to Kendall and Cooper, when they could break out of their own ‘we need to talk about Jeremy’ shackles they tried to set out what they might do as leader, even if this fell on mostly deaf ears outside the parliamentary Labour Party. Burnham meanwhile seeing a bandwagon jumped on and quickly started selling himself as the Corbyn Lite option. He came second.  I think he has shown himself to be willing to do anything to win. Some might find this admirable. I find it shallow. I’m glad he’s not leader.

So, back to Corbyn. Is western civilisation as we know it know in immediate peril? Should we be stocking our cellars or cupboards with supplies for the apocalypse? Seriously you’d think so if you read our papers today or glanced at twitter, and to be fair to the PM, most of this scaremongering tosh is coming from inside the Labour party not outside. As the old saying goes, with friends like these who needs enemies.

Is it likely that Corbyn and Labour will win the next General election? Probably not. Then again, a few month ago it wasn’t exactly likely that he’d be elected leader, and outright on first ballot at that too, either was it. Unlikely doesn’t mean impossible.

But, here’s an idea. How about all the people that “know better” in the Labour party just shut the fuck up for a few months and see how the man does. Why not respect the outcome of a vote where he poled over 50%.

Yes some prominent members have said they just don’t have enough in common with Corbyn to have served in his cabinet. It some ways this is fair enough – if clearly a calculated move. Others are more transparent and have clearly skulked off in the hope that ‘when’ (because they see no other outcome) he fails they can say proudly that they are not tarnished, they didn’t get involved. This is what I call the no I in team brigade. Those who are in the party but are not really going to try and contribute whilst Corbyn is Leader.

The Party’s membership grew by 14,500 in under 24 hours after the announcement of Corbyn’s victory. I’m sure not all these were pro-Corbyn, but in an age where people have stopped joining political parties, this is impressive. Maybe all these folks would have joined if Cooper, Burnham or Kendall had won too – who knows. I doubt it, but we’ll never know. But they have joined. In most organisations a headline “almost 15,000 new members sign up in a day as new leader appointed’ would be a celebratory event. You’d be saying incredible. It is and people should say so. You may not understand it but it doesn’t stop it being impressive.

A Corbyn Labour party may well turn out to be a unmitigated disaster, but it might not. The odd thing is it seems to me that there are an awful lot within as well as outside of the Labour party who seem more afraid of this outcome than of the more popular ‘we all doomed Capt Mainwaring’ scenario.

This book saves lives delays associated death and raises relative scepticism.

Doctoring Data: How to sort out medical advice from medical nonsense
Malcolm Kendrick
Pub: August 2015

‘Cholesterol lowering may change what is written on your death certificate, but it won’t change the date.’

I decided to take time out from Booker reading to read the latest book from Macclesfield GP, Malcom Kendrick. His last book was entitled ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’, where he took aim at the perceived medical wisdom that lowering your cholesterol was good for you.

In this latest book he aims wider and tries to:

  • alert readers to look beyond the headline and surface of any medical claim to find the evidence behind the claim
  • association does not mean causation: Just because something is associated with a condition/diseases is not the same as saying it causes or automatically results in that condition/disease.
  • recognise the difference between relative and absolute risk in claims: “If the absolute risk is hidden away, then you can confidently assume that it is so vanishingly small that the authors chose not to highlight it, as it would significantly weaken their message.”
  • beware of the words: words ‘lives saved’, or any version thereof: “You cannot save a life, all you can do is delay death.’ You will also know that anyone who combines the words ‘saved’ and ‘life’, or any version thereof, with regard to a clinical trial, is no longer a scientist. They have effectively – if unconsciously – become a drug salesperson. However academic they may claim to be.”
  • look for the mortality effect:  does treatment  ‘cure’ a supposed symptom but shorten your life? If it does not state the mortality effect it is because it was negative.

This is a highly entertaining read, with views on cancer screening, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, mastectomies, and high cholesterol and more – and how the expert opinion and guidelines on all of these have been formed, fascinating. Even covering my favourite –  the old fashioned method of moving the goal posts:

“Narrowing the boundaries of ‘normal’ is a technique used in many different areas of medicine. When I graduated in medicine, a high cholesterol was 7.5 mmol/L. Then it became 6.5, then 5.5, now it is 5. Or 4, if you have had a heart attack or stroke. In the latest US guidelines ‘optimal’ cholesterol level for healthy people is 4.4 mmol/L (In US units this is 170 mg/dl). By driving the definition of high cholesterol ever downwards, we have reached the point where more than 85% of people now have a ‘high’ cholesterol level, which needs to be lowered. This is fine so long as you do not question the inherent nonsense that the vast majority of the population can possibly have a dangerously high level of something. Ever come across the concept of ‘average’ guys?”

The most interesting claim/fact in the book? “in no statin study done has there been an impact on overall mortality in women. None, ever.”

I apologise for picking out Cholesterol based data but as one of those with ‘high’ cholesterol, and not having read his previous book, these were of particular interest to me. But a lot of the hard evidence for claims made in relation to some of the other highly diagnosed and prescribed medicine areas are also demonstrated to be equally flimsy, or at least enough that you should do your own research and digging before being blindly corralled  into taking a handful of pills for the rest of your life.

Good read.

Booker 2015: Yanagihara’s picture of a damaged life shows she’s a talent to watch

A Little Life
Hanya Yanagihara
Pan Macmillan

“I also wanted there to be an exaggeration of everything, an exaggeration of love, of empathy, of pity, of horror. I wanted everything turned up a little too high.”

Hanya Yanagihara’s new novel (her second), “A Little Life” is currently bookies favourite to win the 2015 Booker Prize. Given the bookies record of being way off mark most of the last decade with their picks this favouritism should probably be taken with a huge pitch of salt.  There are many things to be said about this novel, but one thing is for sure: it is hard to argue with Yanagihara’s quote above – emotionally everything is ramped up to 11 in this novel. An alternate title for the book could well have been Love and Pity.

The book starts off as a tale of four men – Willem, Malcolm, Jean-Baptiste and Jude –  who become friends at a small Massachusetts college, and who aspire to great things. Willem, an aspiring actor, hails from a poor farming family, and is the only surviving child of four; Malcolm, an aspiring architect, from a wealthy new York family; Jean Baptiste (JB), an aspiring artist; and Jude, an aspiring lawyer whose background seems more than a little murky. We start of leaning a little bit about each of the four, and wonder what direction the book will go in.

This four-way focus is – sadly in my view – jettisoned also immediately in favour of becoming sort of the Gospel of St Jude (Patron Saint of Hope and impossible causes). This occurs with what becomes a leitmotif in the novel – Jude cutting himself (in a self harm way).As the book progresses the reasons for this coping mechanism become clearer and Jude’s past has left him severely damaged – both physically and mentally. He is a man in almost constant pain – “his body owns him, not the other way around.” As we delve further into Jude’s past we see a picture of continuous horrors. This misery could become quite relentless very quickly were it not balanced with an exploration of love and friendship – primarily with Willem.

In many ways this is a book about love, friendship and the life-long relationships, as well as our scars – both emotional and physical – that blight and shape our lives. Self perception and self worth and how we see ourselves and others is also a strong theme – not just how we talk and interact with one another but also, as demonstrated in the relationships JB has with the three others, through art.  It also explores the interesting question of how much do you really need to know about another person to be in love with them and happy with them. Is it really important to know every detail of someones life before you?

All this is genuinely fascinating but its overall effect is partly neutered by some decisions Yanagihara takes. Firstly, everyone, and I mean Everyone, is or  becomes successful in this book: JB, Willem, Malcolm, Andy, Harold. No one fails and just end up working in the local public library or convenience store, they’re all VERY successful.

There is also an unflinching niceness to all the people she has surrounded Jude with. Bar a few minor excursions into nastiness all the people who love Jude, do so at almost saint-like levels. With the best intentions in the world, this doesn’t ring true. In real life Jude would have succeeded in alienating and pushing away most, if not all of these people. You need an impressive sense of masochism to remain friends with someone like Jude for the length of time the characters in this book do. His past may mean he deserves undying love and affection, and as a reader it is hard not to think so too, but in reality that isn’t how the world works. And that feeling kept creeping back into my thoughts through-out the novel. It almost as if Yanagihara has decided we need this level of saintliness from everyone else to balance Jude’s pain and misery. Despite this, the book still never feels like it is selling out Jude himself though, which is admirable. “What was happiness but an extravagance, and impossible state to maintain partly because it was so difficult to articulate? He couldn’t remember being a child and being able to define happiness: there was only misery, or fear, and the absence of misery and fear, and the latter state was all he had needed or wanted”

Some US reviewers have described the book as a masterpiece: It’s not, far from it, but there is something compelling about it all the same, and I’ll admit I spent much of the books final 100 pages in tears (not something I do very often). That the book had the ability to do this, almost despite itself and my reservations, is worth praising. It’s a long book – pushing 800 pages, but I had no problem getting through it, I wanted to know whether the inevitable was indeed inevitable.

Yanagihara is certainly a talent to watch, and I will look forward to whatever she writes next. Do I think this is the Booker winner? No, although I wont be surprised if it makes the short-list.

Review copy provided by Pan Macmillan/Netgalley