Books

CONTEMPORARY

CONTEMPORARY

THE FAMILY RETREAT 

by Bev Thomas (Faber £14.99, 320 pp)

Caught up in the rescuing rush, Jess misses a series of huge red flags. The author was a clinical psychologist in the NHS for years and it shows. Gripping

I raced through this beautifully written, emotionally intelligent thriller about domestic violence and how even the most well-intentioned rescuers should check their motives.

London GP Jess is on an unwanted sabbatical from her busy practice after making a few uncharacteristic professional mistakes

London GP Jess is on an unwanted sabbatical from her busy practice after making a few uncharacteristic professional mistakes.

When her husband Rob decides the family should spend the summer in a rented Dorset cottage, Jess isn’t keen but soon feels better than she has in years.

Next door is another family of four, with two children the same age.

The husband isn’t there much but charms them when he is.

When Rob has to leave for work, Jess spends time with the wife but finds her guarded and obsessed with sticking to routines.

When she asks Jess for help, however, all bets are off.

Jess dives straight in, enjoying feeling useful again. Caught up in the rescuing rush, Jess misses a series of huge red flags. 

The author was a clinical psychologist in the NHS for years and it shows. Gripping.

THE LAST DRESS FROM PARIS

by Jade Beer (Hodder £18.99, 384 pp)

This epic love story unfolds in two timelines describing the different but linked worlds of 1952 and 2017.

In 2017 there is nobody Lucille loves more than her grandmother, Sylvie, so when she asks her to retrieve a Dior dress from Paris Lucille cannot refuse. It’s not long before Lucille realises this recovery mission involves eight dresses, not one, and that two are missing. Solving the mystery is going to take longer than planned so Lucille is forced to embrace spontaneity.

In 1952, Alice is the wife of the British Ambassador to France. To the outsider, her existence is a whirlwind of parties, fashion shows and privilege. But the reality is her husband barely communicates and the loneliness is stifling.

When Anne falls in love she is compelled to follow her heart for the first time. Lucille has no idea who Anne is, or why Sylvie is involved, but as she follows the trail she uncovers a secret life full of passion and couture. Fabulous.

This sharp, funny debut stars an unnamed female Harvard graduate protagonist who starts working in Hollywood’s cut-throat television industry in a pre-#MeToo era and it is still very much a man’s world

NOT SAFE FOR WORK 

by Isabel Kaplan (Michael Joseph £16.99, 272 pp)

This sharp, funny debut stars an unnamed female Harvard graduate protagonist who starts working in Hollywood’s cut-throat television industry in a pre-#MeToo era and it is still very much a man’s world.

With a famous feminist lawyer for a mother and an Ivy League education, our girl is ambitious and has high expectations of her new career.

The more deeply entrenched she becomes, however, the more her illusions are shattered and the more she struggles in the toxic patriarchal environment.

She is caught between calling for change or saying nothing.

There is so much to gain and lose from both positions — it’s about working out what’s most important, what success actually means.

I rooted for her as she navigates sexism, abuse, office politics, difficult family relationships and her own personal life. The writing is fresh and stylish and the conversational tone helps the thought-provoking narrative zip along. I loved it.

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