A useful guide for a few of your gifts or winter reads this Christmas! Many more reviews in our in store booklet and as always, on our shelves!
Good Material by Dolly Alderton
Reading Dolly Alderton is like taking a microscope to your own life, no matter who you are. She knows which parts are painfully awkward, what makes us nervous, what we find beautiful, and as Good Material demonstrates perhaps better than any of her other writing, (if this is possible) she knows romance and heartbreak inside out.
There is a wonderful sense of Nick Hornby about this book, if Rob from High Fidelity had worn merino sweaters and listened to podcasts. We first meet Andy at the end of his relationship with Jen. He is a hopeful comedian on the London circuit. She is a corporate success story. While she is on one end of the phone sounding put together, Andy finds himself drinking with his Mum and deciding to rent a narrowboat in Hackney. This book perfectly covers the seemingly all-consuming side effects of a breakdown – the WhatsApp texts, the rebounds, breaking up with a whole friendship group, and continuing to feel sorry for yourself when everyone else stops. This book may also contain perhaps the first literary use of the term ‘nostalgi-wank.’
A man narrating his own breakup for 300 pages may sound exhausting, but Alderton’s writing get us through: it is ironic, refreshing, and so keenly observed, you can see this author has a direct line going from life and it’s quirks, straight into her bloodstream.
The cast of fully fleshed out characters are the champions of this story, bringing a very real and human London to the page, from the eccentric elderly landlord with an affinity for Julian Assange, to the young girls at the pub who call their flat the ‘het ket crack den.’ This is a 21st century romance, Instagram analytics and all, but maintains the comically heart-warming moments that have made tales of heartbreak so readable for so long. While in parts you may start to feel that this story is heading the way of the hundreds of rom coms before it, I
promise that by the end you will be completely assured of Alderton’s genius. It caught me off guard and convinced me to dump someone. What better review could you want. Thanks Dolly.
Review by Grace Gooda
Available in HB at Morocco Bound 20.00
Trespasses by Louise Kennedy
Whether you find the term ‘debut novel’ to be an exciting new attraction, or an off-putting risk to your valuable reading time, preferring to opt instead for the another Michael Connelly novel, Trespasses is a must read. Winner of Bookseller Magazines book of the year in 2022, and nominee for the 2022 Women’s Prize, we don’t need to convince you of its quality, just to buy it. Louise Kennedy writes with refined expertise, which, a year from its release, has fans begging for another from her.
Set in the Troubles, this is both a feat of 20th century historical fiction, and a gritty romance. We follow Cushla, a 24 year old Northern Irish primary school teacher, who’s severely dysfunctional family is traversing sectarian hostility and the ensuing trauma of the times. Her brother is aggressive and overbearing, her mother is an alcoholic. She is a young woman dealing with things beyond her years, caring for her class of children whose words and actions are a clever device to deliver the reality of the partisan situation through an innocent lens. Every morning they report their personal news to the class, seven-year-olds sharing that “a booby-trap bomb that was intended for a British Army foot patrol exploded prematurely, killing two boys” alongside what they had for breakfast.
The novel peaks when Cushla’s heart ventures outside of her religious boundaries, and the reader will find themselves deeply caring for her, completely on edge through every high stakes decision she is forced to make. This is a love story on a dark landscape, a young woman being swept up by both her harsh surroundings and the consuming distractions of romance. Readers of Claire Keegan should steer towards this perfectly executed story.
Review by Grace Gooda
Available at Morocco Bound PB 8.99
Penance by Eliza Clarke
I cannot stress enough how excited I have been for this books release, ever since finishing Boy Parts a couple of years ago, I have been anticipating Clark’s second novel and this
massively lived up to expectations.
In the fictional northern English town of ‘Crow-on-Sea,’ three teenage girls brutally kill one of their fellow students on the eve of the Brexit referendum.
The novel poses as a true crime book mostly narrated by debased journalist Alex Z. Carelli. The novel uses a series of interviews, podcasts and blog posts to explore what drove these young girls to commit the disturbing crime. The degenerating seaside town is situated somewhere between Scarborough and Whitby; a troublesome cousin of the two. Crow is a tacky and neglected town, full of strange characters and corruption.
The toxic 2000s Tumblr era causes havoc in this story. Each perpetrator is embroiled in their own niche internet fandom and their need for escapism grows more and more worrying. I find books which focus heavily on the internet can often make one cringe, but Clark manages to use it effectively in this novel. The girls become obsessed with folklore and the occult, finding most of their sources from the internet. I find the mixture of traditional lore and modern technology unsettling, yet is probably my favourite horror trope and one which is unsurprisingly being used more and more.
Clark dives into the world of true crime but also criticises it. To what extent is it okay to consume content which is based on real life tragedy? With the rise in true crime popularity, we have seen a lot of counter critical responses to it (Death of a Bookseller by Alice Slater, Black Mirror’s Loch Henry). As someone who used to enjoy it, this literature has really forced me to evaluate its morality.
While Penance takes a very different direction to her debut, Clark’s bold voice and wry humour shines through in this story, carving out a secure spot for herself in the literary scene with a style that is decidedly her own.
All hail Eliza Clark, and support Northern authors.
Review by Emma Davison
Available at Morocco Bound HB 14.99
Seeing Other People by Diana Reid
In the lockdown of 2021, Australian author Diana Reid wrote her first novel, Love & Virtue. This debut was received with praises which Reid could be forgiven for basking in for quite some time. However, just a year later, the Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist published her second book: Seeing Other People. Like her first novel, this book deals with a moral dilemma, and follows the people who attempt to navigate notions of right and wrong, while entangled in youth, relationships, power and love.
Charlie and Eleanor are sisters. Charlie ithe younger, an actress, conventionally beautiful and effortlessly sociable. Eleanor embodies the elder sister trope, she has a corporate job and one of those very stable, slightly boring relationships, which ends at the beginning of the book when her boyfriend is unfaithful. This marks the start of a change between the sisterly relationship between Charlie and Eleanor, when they both become enamoured with Helen, a theatre director who lives in Charlie’s flat share of artists. Helens perception of the sisters become central to how they see themselves and how they relate to each other.
With Sydney as their backdrop (the descriptions of the city and how it interacts with its young people are absolutely spot on), the sisters and their peers perform for each other, as young people do when afraid of judgement and trying not to hurt those around them. Ultimately this book scrutinises the contemporary culture of self-care, how it can so easily tip into selfishness, and what happens when what we want clashes with what is ‘right,’.
Diana Reid holds a close lens to our contemporary world, and dissects what it is to be a young person who wants to be smart, yet cool, yet loved and happy and please everyone.
Seeing Other People perfectly balances being a hot summer novel (how it has been marketed) with being an intelligent confronting analysis of our times (what it is). I will read this over and over, especially to escape the long London winter ahead.
Review by Grace Gooda
Available in HB at Morocco Bound 16.99
NON - FICTION
The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell
Nell Frizzell explains so much of what it is to be a woman in this book. Even if content regarding pregnancy and motherhood is not immediately relevant to you right now, the realities she sets out are so thoroughly interesting, you will be hooked just as much as if this was a crime thriller. She discusses everything from the pressure to reproduce, the looming clock of menopause, the absolute injustices of research into female health issues, but in the most accessible way. We’ve heard about the plight of the middle aged woman before, but Nell’s own narrative, her experienced writer’s voice, and her ability to cover so many points of view non judgementally, make this a refreshing read.
Frizzel shares her own panics about contraception and relationships, and her own wait to have children, all the way from Berlin to the Ladies Pond at Hampstead Heath.
You will be outraged, you will cry, you will love your own mother more than ever before. This is the kind of reporting I wanted to shove into the arms of all those on the tube carriage in which I was glued to this book. We must speak about these things until our voices dry out and Frizzell has the mic in hand.
Review by Grace Gooda
Available at Morocco Bound 9.99
Glutton: The Multi Course Life of A Very Greedy Boy by Ed Gamble
As an avid fan of British stand-up comedy, I am over-joyed any time one of the loved comics on the scene decides to release a memoir, absolutely delighting in the details of the life of a stranger and seeing what makes them, them. So of course, the story of Ed Gamble’s life through food is a dream read for me. Celebrated stand up, panel show regular and co-host of mega successful podcast Off Menu, Ed Gamble’s natural talent is clear in this new venture of memoir writing.
I will always say that if you are in a reading slump or not a big reader, memoir is a place to start. It is so easy to be engaged in the realistic and exciting story of a person’s life, especially if you’re a fan of them. Considering this book is by a comic, I was surprise that to find myself shed a tear as early as page 15. This is not due to any dark tragedy, but because of the extremely touching way in which Gamble describes his family, their bonds over food, and memories like his Grandmother’s famous Christmas cooking which cannot be recreated (and should not, he found out only after a disastrous attempt).
From a whole chapter on how good Guinness is, to his first experience with poached salmon (at a much, much younger age than the rest of us), Glutton is full of hilarious yet endearing anecdotes. Gamble writes with the wit, self-awareness and love of food and culture that is so present in his comedy. It will make you love food and much more, love the ceremony of a meal, the memories attached to barbecues, and the way consuming meals brings us together.
Review by Grace Gooda
Available at Morocco Bound in HB 20.00