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Book Reviews

Wish You Were Here by Nicola Monaghan (Verve, £9.99)

Nicola Monaghan is Nottingham-based and someone I know but do not be put off by any potential bias I may have, she stands very tall without my recommendation. Her debut novel The Killing Jar won the Betty Task award and is an amazing and disturbing read. She has since published novels, novellas, short stories and screen plays. Wish You Were Here is her second in the Dr Love Mystery Series. The first being the well-received Dead Flowers published in 2019.

Wish You Were Here is a crime mystery set in Nottingham, with a strong female lead, Dr Sian Love, a DNA expert, and ex-copper. The story centres on a child who went missing over fifteen years ago and a young woman who thinks she may be the adult girl. The plot adeptly takes you through a labyrinth of clues filled with contemporary and local references, and the interweave of factual and fictional, adds authenticity, pulling you into the centre of the story. Dr Love has complexity and intelligence and as she develops, the mystery unravels. This is a multi-layered story including celebrity scandals, a German Shepherd dog called Elvis*, undercover policing, the hippie and rave scene, Nottingham, London and Bexhill on Sea, with some class politics thrown in. There is tension and shock, and you will be pleased to hear that I swore loudly, on at least a couple of occasions. This is the second book in a series and the story, and characters easily stand alone. I am not a great reader of mysteries /crime fiction, yet this book reminded me why I used to pick up the odd Ruth Rendall. The story is fully engaging and has a pace and tension which is escapism at its best. The end leaves you with both resolution and curiosity for more.

Which takes me to the Nottingham link. My only criticism of this book is the proposition that Dr Love could go undercover in Nottingham when we all know that we all know each other. Someone would definitely have come up her and said ‘ay up, what are you doing here?’ When Nicola Monaghan was writing this book, she was living down the road from me which is why Dr Sian Love gets the same bus into town as I do. The first novel in this series was based in the Loggerheads, a pub that used to stand off Cliff Road in the centre of town. Wish You Were Here references Broadway, The Old Angel, The Sumac centre amongst many other familiarities, all of which add to an additional level of pleasure for Nottingham readers and are well enough described to become real for those from out of town. Just as Nottingham and the Peacock pub hosted Resnick on our TV screens in the 1990’s, I have hope for Dr Sian Love be visioned off the page. If you are Nottingham-based – it is time you got to know this excellent local writer and if you are out of town and like a good mystery with a great female lead, then this also for you.

Cathy Symes

*A silent tribute to Nicola’s own dog called Elvis

Wish You Were Here is available instore and here: fiveleavesbookshop.co.uk/product/wish-you-were-here/


The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (Penguin, £8.99)

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (Penguin, £8.99) was Five Leaves’ best selling fiction novel last year. Have you read it?
I was mixed about it. If I were to say that one of the main characters in the book was a fig tree that might put you off. It would have put me off, but I went with the flow.
The fig tree in question lived in Cyprus, originally, but was transplanted to a north London suburb by Kostas, a Greek in exile from home.
There he had a youthful relationship with Defne, a Turkish woman, both crossing the boundaries of their ethnic groups, secretly meeting in a tavern run by another couple, who had their own secret. They were gay men. The fig tree was a feature of the taverna, and it had its own views and internal life and its own perspective on the relationship between trees and humans.
Of course it all goes wrong. The conflict between the Greek and Turkish community ends the relationship. And the gay men are… well, spoiler alert, what so often happens in fiction?
Years on, Kosta returns to Cyprus for a conference – trees are, not surprisingly, his special acadamic interest. There he meets Defne again, working to find the graves of the disappeared in the conflict. There is more in their past that they need to revisit than he knew.
This is starting to read like a blurb, but it would be too easy to give more spoilers.
Island of Missing Trees is written as popular fiction, and is in serious need of an editor to get rid of some of the cliched writing. But Shafak tells a good story, and the fate of other characters drew me back to look up the half forgotten but vicious conflict that has kept the island divided.
A companion book if you want to read further is Nicosia Beyond Borders: voices from a divided city (Saqi, £12.99), with pieces by writers on both sides of the last city in Europe that remains divided.

Ross Bradshaw

French Braid by Anne Tyler (Chatto, £16.99) and Bourneville by Jonathan Coe (Viking, £20)

Both of these books are intergenerational novels – family sagas if you like, by long-established writers, Tyler from America and Coe from the UK. Coe’s novels are often described as state of the nation novels, and he and we follow the lives of his chosen family down the generations, their lives punctuated by incidents in modern British history – VE Day in 1945, the Coronation of 1953, England’s 1966 World Cup win, Charles’ investiture, his wedding, the funeral of Diana and, finally the anniversary of VE Day, 75 years on.
Tyler starts in 1959 and American history is entirely absent. Her family is unaffected by, don’t talk about, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the war in Iraq… Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Bush one and Bush two, Clinton, Obama, Trump – who they? Mind you, they talk about next to nothing anyway when they meet up, save for whether the traffic on Baltimore’s Beltway is bad or really bad. Nor do they go out much or have a cultural life save for one son who teaches drama and acts. But he’s the outcast who never quite recovered from a childhood trauma when he thought his father did not love him, so he is allowed.
The one real life intrusion in Tyler’s book is Covid, where the – now retired – drama teacher takes in his grandson for a while, the child’s mother working flat out in the health service, and there are tender scenes as the child meets local children but keeps his distance, and is given the task of making masks to involve him in Covid protection. Coe’s book also ends with Covid and the book turns on this from an understated domestic history to a final section of absolute passion when the key character Mary Lamb’s experience of death during the Covid era mirrors that of Coe’s own mother. I shy away from reading Covid fiction, it’s still too raw, but these are the best sections of both books.
Unfortunately Jonathan Coe signals the changes in the state of our nation too well. Early on, in Bournville itself, people drive past a house with its curtains closed. The man who lives there had been caught cottaging, having sex with another man in a public toilet. You can guess that later this will be mirrored by a modern gay affair. This last is the only sex scene in Coe’s book, and it is well done. The family in question is all white… but you can feel the moment coming when one of the younger members of the family has a new girlfriend. People have not met her yet and he passes a photograph around. One person says she looks lovely and, really, you don’t have to wait until – was it Doris? – blurts out about her being Black, naturally in an uncomfortable way. Brexit is there of course… but the scene where a chocolate factory representative (Bournville, remember!) meets a smarmy Labour MP to talk about European trade issues to do with chocolate is overwritten.  I would not say that Labour is completely smarm-free, but this Labour MP… though Coe might have met him in real life. Must ask.
Domestically Anne Tyler’s family changes too. America in the 1950s gradually recedes; the family hardware store is taken over by a woman; the family becomes a little more diverse; the most boring character – an estate agent, naturally – goes to bore the socks off other realtors in their special place in hell; and along comes the gay man. He has kept his secret from the family, but when he is found out by accident he realises that the whole family knew anyway and were not bothered.
And Mercy Garrett, married to Robin, who we meet at the start of the book, gradually moves out. She takes up painting, rents a studio and ever-so-gradually-ever-so-slowly stops coming home. Again, everyone knows, but nobody really talks about it. Her hapless husband organises a fiftieth wedding anniversary party for the family. It’s grim, but not so grim as their other gatherings and Mercy and Robin spend the night together. It’s another tender moment, but in the morning she returns to the studio before breakfast.
Neither of these are the best of the author’s work. But I dug through my shelves to find Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, the only survivor of a period in the early 1980s, when I was regularly reading her work. It’s a family saga set in Baltimore and I remember nothing of it. And I’ll read that again shortly.
Ross Bradshaw
Both books are currently only in hardback, French Braid is published in paperback on 16 March while Bournville comes out in paper in September. Email us on bookshop@fiveleaves.co.uk

After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz, published by Galley Beggar Press

Fragment 147
For someone will remember us / I say / even in another time

After Sappho tells the stories of a group of women artists, feminists, writers, actors, most of them lesbians, networked across Europe and the US but centered mainly on Italy and Paris from the late 19th century up to 1928 (when Orlando by Virginia Woolf was published). Orlando is significant as in many ways this book riffs on the structure of Orlando. Each ‘chapter’ is headed by a fragment of Sappho’s poetry and that too is significant in how the book is written.

Many of the women in the book are wealthy women, but not exclusively and Schwartz tells their stories, parts of their stories, interweaving the characters in both time and space in small chunks. Little sketches. Almost threads. She structures it around fragments of Sappho’s poems… and riffs on those themes. So there is much to discuss about the structure of the book but there is also the history, the rich history.

For me, this was a page turner. Yes, there is some exasperation at the entitlement and wealth of some of the characters. And some of them frankly behaved badly. Our characters were often privileged but almost all of them had escaped abusive fathers, husbands and/or rapists. They found ways to escape and ways to be with each other. To find a way of being lesbian. Some had no resources and were supported by those that did. Throughout the book Schwartz uses an authorial voice that includes us in the ‘us’, like a chorus, I thought. The lesbians in particular, were trying to ‘make us’, make a way of being. They were all brave and I found this very moving.

Interwoven with the stories of the women are snippets about the latest theories on lesbians and legislative attempts to outlaw and silence them. The Italian codes of law affecting women (as property) were an eye opener, but shouldn’t have been surprising. As a reader you get a full sense of the rising feminism, especially in Italy, and the very real dangers to women.

As we get towards the end of the book, we hear the drumbeat of fascism. Some of these women became involved in that and some were annihilated by it. The many different stories here and the times they lived in led me to want to know more and to look things up. In particular I was lead to read a book I should have read long ago, No Modernism Without Lesbians by Diana Souhami.

Fiction or not? It is an alternative way of writing history. Schwartz riffs on facts, on Sappho, on Greek nouns and, I think, on the structure of Orlando. I’ll leave you with this. She refers to the ‘kletic’ in Greek. The kletic poem is one that calls or summons assistance. This book is maybe that. An invocation. A conjuring. I do think this book is about remembering. A colossal sweep that invites us to remember these women. And I’m thankful to the author and to the wonderful Galley Beggar Press for bringing it in to being.

Jane Anger
Illustration: Romaine Brooks called Peter, A Young English Girl – a portrait of the artist Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein)
After Sappho is available here: https://fiveleavesbookshop.co.uk/product/after-sappho/

Elena Knows by Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Frances Riddle (Charco, £9.99)

Claudia Piñeiro is best known as a crime writer, and you can see that in this book as the main character – Elena – takes herself across Buenos Aires on a mission to help solve the mysterious death of her daughter, Rita, who hanged herself in the belfry of a church. This dramatic suicide act happened three times in the author’s home village, I believe. But it was raining and Rita had a phobia about going into the church in the rain. Elena knows she could not have committed suicide, but does she really know? Does she really know anything?

It’s a painful book to read as Elena has debilitating Parkinson’s, being active only in the times between taking her medicine and the book is structured in the times between her pills being taken. Even then, her head is bent down so she cannot see other than downwards – she sees a lot of shoes, but not faces.

Her daughter is her carer, who hates looking after her, who rages against what she has to do as her mother deteriorates. It’s a tough read, with but brief moments of tenderness when, finally, Elena is offered some help by the health service and when – it sounds absurd – she strokes a cat at the home of the woman she has been seeking. For, despite everything, Elena wants to live.

The three main characters in the book are women but this is not a book about women’s solidarity; all of them have been hurt by other women. And by institutions such as the church. The book also talks about things we would prefer to avoid – family carers having no choice but to care for a parent, women having anti-abortion views and some women who are mothers never bonding with their children.

The book is well written, translated sensitively and our bookshop book group found plenty to discuss in the text.

Ross Bradshaw

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey (Peepal Tree, £9.99)

Patience is a virtue… After thirty-five years, the tiny team at Peepal Tree has finally hit the big time, with their novel Mermaid of Black Conch winning the Costa Book Award at the same time as their Green Unpleasant Land, on the links between slavery and country houses, is debated, well, attacked, by the paragons of virtue at the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph. I’m not sure if the DM/DT are angry that someone has noticed these links or whether they are angry that someone did not think such links were a good thing…. This less than two years since Roger Robinson won the TS Eliot Prize for poetry with Portable Paradise, Peepal Tree’s previous best seller.
For Robinson, his portable paradise, stitched into his family memory is “white sands, green hills and fresh fish.” He could easily have been describing the small island of Black Conch. There, in 1976 David Baptiste was out in his boat doing a bit of leisurely fishing, in his favourite quiet area, playing his guitar and smoking the odd spliff. And it is there he finds an audience – the mermaid who comes to listen. To be honest I had doubts about the book in advance, well, mermaids… but I was hooked. As indeed was the mermaid who would get caught by some Yankee sports’ fishermen. Roffey’s description of their struggle – or rather the struggle of the two white men, first the son, then the father – to reel her in was gripping. They had to be tied into the “fighting chair” as they would to bring in, say, a marlin. But this was a mermaid. Their crew of local fishermen were aghast, they wanted none of it, but the father could see the money that the mermaid would bring him.
The mermaid is hung up on the dock but is rescued by Baptiste who takes her home, putting her in his bath. However, this was no ordinary mermaid for she was Aycayia, one of the original residents of the Caribbean who had been condemned to roam the sea for thousands of years by a spell. She speaks no English, remembering only a few words of her original language. Nor does she know anything about clothes, of cooked food or of, well, how to go to the toilet when you no longer live in the sea. The book is earthy. Aycayia gradually turns back into a woman – her scales fall off, her tail rots, her feet and hands become less webby, but she never quite loses her mermaid characteristics including her odour of the sea.
Here the other two main characters of the book appear – Arcadia and her born-deaf son Reggie, who communicates in sign language. Arcadia is the only white person on the island, the last of the Rain family which once owned most of the area. But Arcadia speaks the Caribbean dialect of Black Conch, which suffuses the book. She comes to the door with a poetry book by Derek Walcott in her hand. The father of her child is Black. She has no interest in her estate, selling it off cheaply in parcels, bothering little about collecting rent, but there is still the issue of the rich woman on the island being white. Arcadia and Reggie help Aycayia – Arcadia teaches her English, Reggie sign language. She becomes his friend.
How does all this work out? I can’t do spoilers here but can a mermaid really adapt to life in the small town of St Constance on Black Conch? What do the neighbours think – it’s not like you can keep the whole incident a secret. So read the book. It’s the best novel about fish since Moby Dick.
Despite my reserve because of the subject I was able to suspend belief and cared about all the characters and whether the growing love (OK, a bit of a spoiler) between David and Aycayia could possibly work. There is drama in that Aycayia still feels the call of the sea and those who condemned her to live forever in the sea are watching and angry.
This is Monique Roffey’s seventh book and the one that will have made her name, being already shortlisted for other prizes. She will be reading and being interviewed by Deirdre O’Byrne at a Five Leaves online event on 14 April.

The book is available here:fiveleavesbookshop.co.uk/product/the-mermaid-of-black-conch-a-love-story/

Ross Bradshaw

Dead Land by Sara Paretsky (Hodder, £8.99)

Crime writer Sara Paretsky has caused me many late nights and forced me to lie in many lukewarm and colder baths down the years. She writes short, often wittily-titled, chapters that have a cliff-hanger component that make you think “I’ll just read one more…” again and again. Her latest paperback, her 24th, is no exception.
Paretsky’s female Private Eye is V.I. Warshawski and her milieu is Chicago. Dead Land is up to date with a throwaway comment about the legal problems of a couple of Trump’s advisers and a sub-plot about armed militias and people believing right-wing conspiracies. But some things don’t change: her support group of an elderly doctor and a cranky neighbour and her frustrating relationship with a local journalist. And the basic storyline of big money ruining her city. Somehow you just know that if Warshawski turns up at a small community meeting about Chicago maybe redeveloping a shoreline wildlife park that dark money has changed hands, someone will be bumped off and that Warshawski will be in peril. Formulaic? Maybe, but you get to know the city – you can almost hear the planes coming in to land at O’Hare – and in this book she causes you to search your memory about what the Chicago School of economists were up to in Chile in the 1970s because the past is never just the past. The Chicago Boys – as they were called – have a lot to answer for.
Chicago is of course not Nottingham but is it really true that heads of Council departments (in this case Parks) go round with hired muscle and police protection? Maybe, it is America… It’s certainly scary when she includes the sentence, justifying her unofficial crime fighting that “Chicago police clear only 17% of our homicides each year.”
If I had a criticism it is that like other semi-formulaic books (I’m thinking of Robert Parker) there comes a moment when you feel you have had enough; enough of Warshawski’s neighbour Mr Contreras and her guardian angel Charlotte Herschel (both of whom must be about 105 by now), her running to the Lake with her dogs, the mentions of her opera-loving late mother and her late Chicago policeman father.
But after a few books away, this is what drew me back, comfort reading, and the promise of a bath that starts off hot and ends lukewarm at best.
Ross Bradshaw
Orderable here: fiveleavesbookshop.co.uk/product/dead-land-v-i-warshawski-20/

The Narrow Land, by Christine Dwyer Hickey (Atlantic, £8.99)

It’s 1950 in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, towards the end of summer, a time when the holiday lets end and the summer only residents return home. Two of the latter are Jo and Edward Hopper, he the Hopper whose paintings would eventually sell for up to $92 million but also an artist whose paintings of meditative (or possibly depressive) solitude have been described as the painter of the Coronavirus era.
In that period Hopper was struggling to paint, to find the combination of buildings, people and shadows that would inspire him. His health was not great. Jo – his wife – had been an artist and in the novel she bubbles over with anger that her talent was never recognised. Edward tries to be kind, but makes it clear that she had little to offer. Their marriage reads like a nightmare, he, depressed, she, well…”… in any given group she will sooner or later find an enemy – usually another female… she has always irked people, rubbed them up the wrong way, frequently insulted them or swiped back at an insult where none had been intended.”. Oh dear. This was marriage as car crash, literally too as Edward tries to stop her driving on public safety grounds which led, like virtually any spoken word, to periods of brooding silence or repetitive anger and outrage.
Into their barren lives come two ten year old boys, neighbours along the beach. One, Michael, is a wartime orphan taken out of Germany, a boy who knows little of his parents or past other than horror. The second is Richie, himself a lost boy, whose father was killed in the war and who resents his mother starting to take up with another man. The boys are meant to get on with each other, perhaps to help each other. They don’t.
But to the suprise of the childless Hoppers, they like the boys and the boys like them, with Michael becoming a near daily visitor to Jo. For once, everyone has a friend. Michael becomes less scared and in Edward Richie finds someone he can talk to (and, boy, he talks) who will actually listen. Even the awful Jo, usually so divorced from any feelings other than resentment, changes when looking at Michael – “… the feeling comes on her again, under her breastbone, between her ribs. A feeling that is one second of joy, two seconds of grief. And she knows then: what has been removed is loneliness and what has been added is love.” Can such a feeling sustain?
The novel comes to a head during and after a huge garden party organised by Richie’s mother. The problems of each of the main characters hang over us as the author views the party from different perspectives, as she does throughout. The recent war also hangs over the party – many of those attending also lost family or were wounded or were Vets, and the word Korea is on people’s mind. And we know that the long summer is ending, which, for Katherine, Richie’s sister, brings dread as this underplayed but interesting character knows she has not got long to live.
For everyone, the party will soon be over.
Ross Bradshaw
The Narrow Land is available for £8.99, post free, from bookshop@fiveleaves.co.uk

The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury, £8.99)

“Jesus,” Celeste said later when I was trying to tell her the story. “It’s like you’re Hansel and Gretel. You just keep walking through the dark woods holding hands no matter how old you get. Do you ever get tired of reminiscing?”
Celeste, in Ann Patchett’s novel, newly out in paperback, is the wife of Danny,  the narrator and brother of Maeve, the Hansel and Gretel of her remark. She is not happy that her husband is so hung up on his sister and the “Dutch House” about which he talks constantly – the house of their shared childhood. It was the Dutch House because it had been the property of the Van Hoebeeks and the siblings’ parents had bought it, leaving the mansion unchanged – the same Van Hoebeek family paintings on the wall, the same furniture, the same Dutch books on the bookshelves.
The one addition was a portrait painting of Maeve aged ten, which graces the cover of the book. The painting itself has a backstory, something more to reminisce about.
The children were not the only people obsessed with their shared past. The family servants Sandy and Jocelyn, and Fluffy, who had an affair with Danny and Maeve’s father and had to leave hurriedly, all flit in and out of each other’s lives over the fifty years of the story, dreaming of a past when they were all together before the wicked step-mother came into the House.  Andrea – the step-mother – was a cuckoo, evicting everyone once her new husband had died. Nobody really understood their attraction and nobody really knew what had happened to his first wife, the mother of the children, other than vaguely that she had gone to India. Was she even alive? We would find out.
Danny and Maeve were thrown together. She takes a job beneath her talents and stays there, and stays there for decades with just the hint of a possible romance with the firm’s owner.  Danny goes to study medicine at Columbia. They’d been cut off from their inheritance as their father left everything to the step-mother save for a line in his will saying the Estate would support him through his education – and medicine offered the longest and most expensive course so he could get at least some of the inheritance. Having become a doctor he realises that his real interests lay in following his late father into the property business, initially buying broken-down property in broken-down Black slums knowing that eventually gentrification would happen. Not that he was a bad landlord at all. He’d learned how to treat people right from his mother who would let people off their rent and sometimes bring food for her tenants if they were going through a particularly hard time.
So what do we learn over the fifty years? I’m not sure, in the end. Many people look back on their past, the roots of their happiness or unhappiness in childhood, but few park up outside the house they were brought up in just to look at it over and over down the decades. Towards the end, everyone still lving is back in the Dutch House (it would be too much of a giveaway to explain how) and Sandy says “The ghosts are what I come for. I think about Jocelyn when I’m here, the way we were then. We were all so young… We were still our best selves.”  Maybe that, then.
Ann Patchett is a successful American novelist. Finding the town she lived in without a bookshop, she opened one, using her own fame as a magnet to attract customers and visiting writers. She is best known for Bel Canto, after this it is definately on my TBR list.
The Dutch House is available from bookshop@fiveleaves.co.uk for £8.99 post free in the UK.
Ross Bradshaw

The Offing, by Benjamin Myers (Bloomsbury, £8.99)

A recent call out on Twitter for cheerful fiction brought a range of suggestions to brighten up what has sometimes been a pretty morbid selection of novels in the bookshop. One of those suggested was The Offing by Benjamin Myers (Bloomsbury, £8.99 postfree from bookshop@fiveleaves.co.uk)  and it is a cheering and easy read. But not happy-clappy.
Even better, it is set in Robin Hood’s Bay – which would have been my holiday destination again this year, a two weeks’ reading and walking holiday. This might be the nearest I get to it.
The Robin Hood’s Bay of the book is not the one so many of us are used to, a former fishing village whose picturesque, tiny houses clinging to a disintegrating cliff landscape which is now largely a cottage-to-rent holiday village.
This story is set immediately after WWII. One Robert Appleyard – destined to go down the pit – walks off after leaving school in his pit village to see at least a little of the world to at least put off the inevitable for a while. It’s not quite As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning though. Walking by footpath, aimlessly, rough camping by night, a day labourer when he can get a job, he ends up walking down towards the sea near Robin Hood’s Bay. There he meets Dulcie Piper, a much older, slightly dotty, well-off intellectual drop-out, and her dog, Butter.
He offers his labour but, for reasons never clear to him or to her,  he is taken under her wing and stays for a while. Robert knows only the natural world and how to fix things, he knows nothing of culture or of good food. Dulcie, in this period of rationing, has contacts so Robert gets tanned and becomes less of a skinny rat as he rebuilds a broken-down studio on her land and eats (and drinks) well for the first time in his life. He knows nothing of conversation either, which suits Dulcie who talks with him, or at him, non-stop, dropping all sorts of hints of past lives led, of adventure, but also of sorrow.
She’s also outspoken and quite crude, shocking young Robert with lines like “You’re going to have to loosen up…  Look at you, you’re stiff as a lighthouse keeper’s prick.” She had been a friend of DH Lawrence, knowing “Bert” in Mexico. One of the books she gives the literate but unread Robert is a copy of Women in Love dedicated to her. Yet the more Duclie reveals, the more she holds back. At night in the studio Robert works through the books she loans him, particularly struck by John Clare, not least as Robert, too, knows of the natural world.
At the  little church above Robin Hood’s Bay he finds tombstones for drowned sailors facing out to sea, for those lost at sea, and what he later discovers are “maiden’s garlands”, carried at the funerals of unmarried girls – he had found one in the debris in the studio he is renovating. (This is actually the  real Old St Stephen’s Church, worth visiting for its garlands, box pews and gravestones.)
Also in the studio he finds a manuscript of poetry by one Romy Landau which…
The Offing – the local word for the skyline where the big sea meets the sky – is an effortless read and is one of the shop’s best selling lockdown novels.
Post free from bookshop@fiveleaves.co.uk
Ross Bradshaw