Book news

  • The Woman in White review – the Victorian classic updated for the #MeToo era
    Sam Wollaston

    This latest Wilkie Collins adaptation strikes a very modern note while hanging on to the original’s gothic creepiness

    This adaptation of The Woman in White begins with a woman in black. She is Wilkie Collins’ best character, Marian Halcombe (played by Jessie Buckley), who has come to see a man called Mr Nash for help. She is wearing black – including veil – because she’s in mourning.

    “The coroner stated that the cause of death was natural, which we know to be a lie,” she says.

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  • Gun Love review – trigger-happy in Trump’s America
    Alexander Larman

    Jennifer Clement’s novel about a trailer-park teen on a surreal journey across a gun-crazed land is superbly told

    Chekhov’s dramatic principle about guns – that if you have one hanging on the wall in the first act, it needs to go off at some point – is followed to the letter in Jennifer Clement’s superb new novel. There are a great number of guns in this book, all of which are described with clinical efficiency, and whenever they are fired, something bad happens. Yet there’s also a great deal of love here; amid the violence and hopelessness of gun-crazed contemporary America, humanity breaks through.

    In the otherworldly Florida milieu that Clement depicts, half hell and half purgatory, nondescript characters flit about, scraping by with dead-end jobs and no prospects. Margot France is no exception, a young woman living in a broken-down car with her 14-year-old daughter, Pearl. At first glance, she is no less of a wreck than her neighbours. A teenager when she got pregnant, she left her well-to-do family in disgrace, fleeing to this place in the middle of nowhere. She brings a sensibility at odds with received notions of trailer park America: Margot and Pearl dine off Limoges china, a family possession, and, in one striking set piece, Margot revives a long-submerged talent on the piano to play Rachmaninov in her local church.

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