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Our regular book worms have digested another three books for our readers and give their verdicts

Dear Lucy Traitor's Field

worm 

They say don't judge a book by its cover, but you will be instantly captured by Dear Lucy's intricate folk-inspired design. It does not disappoint - the debut novel from the Brooklyn author and Princeton graduate Julie Sarkissian is a work of art in itself.

Lucy has been sent to live on the farm with 'Mister' and 'Missus' by her 'Mum mum'. Following a daily routine of collecting eggs, weeding and feeding the pigs, the young girl finds comfort and protection in comrade Samantha, sent away from home because of an illegitimate pregnancy.

Lovingly crafted, the characters leap out of the page. Sarkissian's clever use of different language styles and narrators also adds an extra dimension to the mysterious tale.

By allowing us to understand the extent of Lucy's learning difficulties and resulting innocence from all perspectives, Sarkissian immerses the reader in the story and also maintains an element of suspense as the truth remains blurred until the end.

Reviewed Sarah Warwick

Reviewed by Angela Norris Written by Julie Sarkissian • Published in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton priced £13.99 (ebook £6.99)


Two books in, and Robert Wilton's series of historical thrillers looks set for success. Like the first, which was set during the Napoleonic war, this book claims to be based on the archives of a fictional shadowy society called the Comptrollerate-General for Scrutiny and Survey whose agents are to be found pulling the strings behind the scenes at pivotal points in British history.

The latest plunges the reader into the middle of the English Civil War with King Charles I a prisoner of parliament and heading for execution, but it is the fate of lesser figures - notably two spymasters facing each other across the battlefields - that occupies this story.

The pair fight a war with coded messages and cold-blooded murders in shabby taverns and besieged cities as the country tears itself apart. Brilliantly written, Traitor's Field brings the sense of melancholy and paranoia - as well as a page-turning plot - familiar to fans of classic spy fiction from the Cold War to the Civil War. .Reviewed by Paul McGurk

Reviewed by Angela Norris Written by Robert Wilton • Published in hardback by Corvus priced £16.99 (ebook £7.25)

Happiness, Like Water 

Chinelo Okparanta's Happiness, Like Water, takes a look at Nigeria through the eyes of an ex-patriate. Her debut collection of short stories paints a vivid picture of Port Harcourt, the people, families, the environment and its people. But her narrators always have one eye on other places, or different ways of living. The United States is the prime destination for many characters, but as the teacher says in "America", it's "an abstraction... a place you go for answers, a place that always has those answers waiting for you".

A sense of place, family and belonging is just as important as the notion of escape across the oceans. Okparanta also tackles the influence that outside agencies, particularly the oil industry, have brought to bear on Nigeria, with a frank look at the damage caused. Vivid and haunting in equal measure.

Reviewed by Laura Temple Reviewed by Angela Norris

Written by Chinelo Okparanta • Published in paperback by Granta, priced £12.99 (ebook £8.26) 26 Life Begins Article written with the kind co-operation of Jo Gavin, Operations Director at Hartford Care (


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