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Fiction picks and pans

NikST
 
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
"Enjoyable quasi-historical romp about a closed society. Reminiscent of Mario Vargas Llosa, a little dumbed-down."
The Road
The Road
"Unusually both book and film are very good, if very bleak. Still they are very different, not least because the book provides a more personal and private experience."
The Einstein Girl
The Einstein Girl
"Ingenious, evocative and deeply mysterious story about a very special patient at the dawn of the Nazi era. Outstanding."
Room
Room
"Spooking tale of incarceration, exploiting interest in recent real-life cases to mainly good effect (although truth in this case is stranger and more disturbing than fiction)."
Her Fearful Symmetry
Her Fearful Symmetry
"The supernatural rears its ghostly head in this long-awaited and rather disjointed follow-up."
Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern
Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern
"Pleasant and original tour of German history and culture, with many surprises along the way."
The Help
The Help
"Domestic servants in the American South during the early 1960s. Poignant tale of civil rights and prejudice."
Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall
"Mantel's somewhat leisurely winner set in a believable Tudor England. Very good once you get into it."
The Angel's Game
The Angel's Game
"Gothic melodrama brought off (just) by approachable, unassuming style."
Three Cups Of Tea
Three Cups Of Tea
"Charming account of life on one of the world's most troubled borderlands."
The Slap
The Slap
"Australian attitudes and vices analysed through the prism of a mildly scandalous incident. Patchy but perceptive."
Alone in Berlin (Penguin Modern Classics)
Alone in Berlin (Penguin Modern Classics)
"Bleak but wholly convincing German novel about a couple's doomed rebellion against Nazi rule, penned just after World War II."
At Home: A short history of private life
At Home: A short history of private life
"Amusing and amble through domestic history: charming if not tremendously profound."
Lustrum
Lustrum
"Where was I? Ah yes, The Prologue... Sadly Lurkio does not feature in this thrillerish romp through Ancient Rome. A must if you enjoyed 'Imperium'."
The Children's Book
The Children's Book
"Assured, if lengthy saga about Edwardian England seen through the prism of children's literature."
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (Millennium Trilogy Book 3)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (Millennium Trilogy Book 3)
"Enjoyable and grittily convincing thriller from Sweden. As always Larsson packs a serious social message."
City of Thieves
City of Thieves
"Epic tale of war and survival in wartime Russia."
The Host
The Host
"Meyer lurches off into sci-fi territory, albeit of the spooky haunted variety. Some fans may be puzzled."
The Little Stranger
The Little Stranger
"Waters turns to the supernatural in this often painfully slow story set in  the aftermath of the Second World War."
The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones
"This old chestnut returns to the bestseller lists care of the movie. Quite an interesting angle on a family coping with the loss of a teenage daughter. But maybe a bit too soft-in-the-middle for some."
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy Book 1)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy Book 1)
"First in the now famous Millenium trilogy by this sadly deceased Swedish journalist and campaigner."
Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris
Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris
"Engaging historical guidebook to the city on the Seine."
Daughters of Shame
Daughters of Shame
"Gripping and angry story about the plight of women in Pakistan."
One Day
One Day
"Hornbyesque tale of growing up and growing apart, told over a series of anniversaries."
Solar
Solar
"Even McEwan's fans are divided about this somewhat unlikely contrivance, which combines humour, science and murder. For me, a decided curate's egg."