The Boy In The Field, by Margot Livesey (Sceptre £17.99, 272 pp)
THE BOY IN THE FIELD
by Margot Livesey (Sceptre £17.99, 272 pp)
This is the kind of book you ration yourself reading because you don’t want to get to the end.
It opens dramatically with a badly injured teenager being found by three siblings walking home from school.
The previously solid Oxford suburbs never feel the same afterwards and Matthew, Duncan and Zoe start to see what’s hidden in everything from their parents’ marriage to their own identities.
I loved the boho-intellectual setting; their solicitor mother does classes in Ancient Greek and Dad is a hipster blacksmith.
The best character is Lily the dog who always knows what to do. A gripping, beautifully written novel showing the light and shade of modern family life.
The Readers’ Room, by Antoine Laurain (Gallic £14.99, 176 pp)
THE READERS’ ROOM
by Antoine Laurain (Gallic £14.99, 176 pp)
J’adore Antoine and his contemporary French comedies. In this, Violaine, a pretty and clever book editor, heads up the eponymous room at her publishers’ office.
They scan unsolicited manuscripts for signs of genius, and Sugar Flowers is so good it’s a smash hit and listed for a literary honour.
Except there are two big problems. The writer has vanished and the book’s plot, a murder thriller, exactly echoes some real-life killings.
Is there a connection between author and murders and how do they link to Violaine?
The plot blends mystery with comedy to great effect and, as ever, Laurain has fun at the expense of his countrymen.
The literary world appears in all its mockable glory.
Long Live The Post Horn!, by Vigdis Hjorth (Verso £10.99, 208 pp
LONG LIVE THE POST HORN!
by Vigdis Hjorth (Verso £10.99, 208 pp)
In theory, a novel about a Norwegian trade union’s responses to an EU free-competition postal directive might not sound very promising.
In practice though, it’s a wry and thoughtful take on contemporary life and love.
PR consultant Ellinor feels distant from her boyfriend and her family — it’s like she’s looking on at her own life.
Then, when the death of a colleague pitches the postal directive brief on to her desk, her detachment becomes a determination to defend Norway’s letterboxes.
She starts taking an interest in life again — it’s all about communication, see . . .
Full of gorgeous Scandi gloom and bleak truths about human relationships, this often very funny novel is perfect for moody autumn.