Barbara Love

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August Blue

Twice nominated for the Booker Prize and admired for her inventive fiction, Levy (Real Estate; The Man Who Saw Everything) typically writes challenging books that appeal to fans of the work of Rachel Cusk and Ali Smith. Her latest, a more conventional novel, is well told and affecting.

That Reminds Me

Published earlier in the UK, Owusu’s slight novel was awarded the 2020 Desmond Elliott Prize for debut fiction. Short chapters, some merely a paragraph in length, propel the narrative. Don’t be fooled by its slight size, however; this poetic story packs a big emotional punch and will engage a range of readers.

Falling Hour

It is no small thing to spend time inside the troubled mind of this restless man. Read this debut for the author’s poetic sensibility and for his insightful observations on a wide range of interesting topics. Consider it time well spent.

Old God’s Time

Admirers of Claire Keegan and Niall Williams will appreciate the Irish humor that masks deep sorrow. This novel’s words are well chosen, the sentences dazzle, and they all come together in a beautifully told, piercingly sad story.

Elizabeth Finch

With a little too much ado about Julian (the author’s namesake?), Barnes blends fact and fiction as he has done before into an imaginative whole.

The Slowworm’s Song

This novel about a life derailed early and the long shadow cast by the Troubles gathers strength as it unfolds; recommended for readers of serious fiction.

Factory Girls

From the author of Big Girl, Small Town, this novel is a wonder; the heroine is cheeky, the humor dark, the dialect thick, the sorrow palpable. Fans of Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast and television’s Derry Girls will find much to love.


The pandemic provides a lens through which Hildyard’s narrator assembles a pastiche of memories. This quiet, well-written novel, which has a surprise ending, is worth a look.

Companion Piece

As she demonstrated so strikingly in her seasonal quartet, Smith keeps her finger on the pulse of our chaotic times. It’s no surprise that she would take on the current pandemic (with a nod to an earlier one) and handle it, as usual, with aplomb.

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