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Three books we’ve read recently and what we thought about them

Three books we’ve read recently and what we thought about them

The book that twenty of our subscribers found in their deliveries as an extra surprise this month, Lioness is one of the best books we've read this year. Exploring power, privilege, family wealth and female frustration, the story is focused on a woman's mid-life awakening after her husband's dodgy business deals threaten to upturn their comfortable and curated life. 
As intelligent as it is seductive, Lioness will elicit as much contemplation about capitalism and modern womanhood and the failures of feminism, as it will furious page-turning.  — Laura Brading

If you’re a fan of the podcast Sentimental Garbage, you’ll be familiar with Caroline O’Donoghue’s funny and smart banter on books and culture. Her podcast topics often draw from the recent past of the 90s, 00s and 10s. Think: the novels of Marian Keyes, Bridget Jones (on page and screen) or Sex and the City.  Her third novel for adults, The Rachel Incident, mines her own university years in the 2010s for an endearing Irish coming-of-age story.

Rachel and James work at a bookstore in Cork. After they move in together, their friendship blossoms and intensifies quickly. Rachel’s new boyfriend, James Carey, is renamed simply because, “the moment he told me his name I said: Sorry, I already have one of those.” We watch Rachel and James as they invent a shared world of personal jokes and form a bond that begins a lifelong platonic love story.

Rachel has a crush on her married professor, Dr Fred Byrne, but her imagined seduction does not go to plan. The novel weaves a story involving closeted James, Dr Byrne, his wife Deenie and Carey which tangles together their careers, their finances, book launches, adultery, contraception, family planning, coming out, publishing schedules, script writing, break-ups as well as the ‘incident’ of the title. 

It’s funny, scandalous, heartfelt and nostalgic and we think you’ll love it. — Cassie Stroud

After the Funeral by Tessa Hadley 
A new short story collection by Tessa Hadley that has been described as "impeccably literary, emotionally satisfying, yet unexpectedly unsettling"? Yes, please!

Mostly about women at odds with someone or something in their lives, the 12 stories that make up this collection illuminate the enduring conflicts between responsibility and freedom, power and desire, convention and subversion, reality and dreams. 

Hadley writes about her characters in a way that recognises their deep interiority but also understands the surface-level detail of their lives. What feels mysterious or just out of reach to the reader, is magnificently illuminated thanks to her psychologically penetrative writing (one learns so much about oneself through the process). Reading Hadley is always a rare and expansive experience and After the Funeral is no exception. Nothing short of mastery here! — Laura Brading

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