35 Book Review GIRL POWER! March was definitely the month for the ‘fairer

sex’ - be them mothers, business leaders or international women. Later on in the year (7 June) it will be time to celebrate women’s writing in English with the annual Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. The 16-strong longlist has just been released with the shortlist to be announced on 3 April. There’s plenty there to entertain, engross and enliven the mind and hence my suggestions this month are books written by women but suitable for all.

The first both features on the Baileys 2017 Long List and is recommended by local bookshops - Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien and published by Granta Books. Kathy in the Bookshop tells me they have been recommending this since it hit the Man Booker Short List in 2016 and looking at the reviews you can see why. The words “epic,

moving and powerful” keep reappearing. It is a story about China from 1949 to the present day which intertwines fiction with history and how the Cultural Revolution affects the lives of 3 musicians. Kate Saunders in The Times describes it as ‘a magnificent epic of Chinese history, richly detailed and beautifully written.’ Be warned it is long - but by all accounts a compelling read. Next is a book by first time

novelist Joanna Cannon – The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (The Borough Press). It’s high up in the bestseller list at the moment with its striking, simple blue cover and I whipped through it at great speed. It is a funny, dark, observant and an easy read “Part whodunnit, part coming of age… a gripping debut about the secrets behind every door” (Rachel Joyce). The stifling summer of 1976 and the setting of a suburban cul de sac create a nostalgic and powerful backdrop for this beautifully written novel whose main character is an intriguing 10 year old girl who, with a friend, searches for a missing neighbour.

“Vibrant and

funny…imagine Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, set in 1970s English suburbia.”(The Guardian). Angel Dorothy (published by Unbound) by

Jane Brown is one for those who are interested in local history and particularly the fascinating

by Emma Jones

story of Dartington Hall and its beginnings in 1925. This brand new biography tells the story of the wealthy and formidable American, Dorothy Elmhirst, who came to Devon with her political beliefs, her passion for education and support for ‘arts for all’ and how she transformed Dartington into a cultural centre and hub of rural regeneration. And if you want a book about a real-life, modern-day, wonder woman take a look at A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess (published by Pan). Amanda Owen is nothing but inspiring – 1 husband, 8 (now 9) children and 900 sheep and she is barely 42. This book is a warm, down- to-earth account of her life and challenges on a remote North Yorkshire farm throughout the year and is a charming read for any lover of the countryside and a natural life. Finally, a mention

for one of the UK’s most successful and cherished authors.

The Everywhere Bear (Macmillan Children’s Books) is the latest picture book written by the talented and prize- winning author of The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson. The central character is the much loved classroom bear who embarks on an adventure after falling unnoticed out of a child’s backpack. With enchanting

illustrations by Rebecca Cobb and that familiar poetic narrative which appeals as much to adults as to children it’s another surefire hit for this favourite children’s author.

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