March 1, 2018

Buzz: Praised by Kit de Waal, Tor Udall and Emma Flint. 


This is a heartbreaking ache of a book: it explores some harrowing themes, opens doors to experiences we should all be aware of, and is gripping and terrifyingly tense. But there’s a joy glowing at the heart of Home that elevates it above your average tear-jerker or page-turner. A joy that belongs to four (and-a-half) year-old Jesika.

The story is told through little Jesika’s eyes. Words and facts are presented as she perceives them, rather than how they are. So the ‘mould’ on the wall becomes ‘moles,’ a ‘chest infection’ a ‘chesty fecshun,’ and one of the opening lines reads: “My fayvrit green pen is on the windysill, where I hided it from Toby, and I take it and squeeze ahind the telly to get to the peeling-paper.” 

It takes a little while to adjust to this idiosyncratic narration. At fir...

October 5, 2016

Neat, lean, smart. When I try to describe this book I keep coming back to how impressively sparse it is. Targeted, intense and precise, it has all the tension of a mystery while posing as many questions as any literary great.

Lib is a nurse, or more specifically a ‘Nightingale’ trained by none other than Florence during the Crimean War. Now she’s been hired to watch over a mysterious 11 year-old girl. Anna O’Donnell has apparently not eaten a bite of food in 4 months, and is being hailed as a miracle by her Catholic community. Lib is to join forces with a nun to watch over the girl 24 hours a day, to either verify her story, or unmask a fraud. The nurse herself has no doubt at all it will be the latter.

For me The Wonder started like an inversion of the classic Henry James ghost story Turn of the Screw - but instead of a governess arriving at the children’s home all too ready to believe in...

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