Mari’s Book Club

If you're looking for something extra to read (as well as Baby, Baby and The Labyrinth Year, which we hope you’ve bought and read!) some reviews of others you may enjoy, from Mari Howard… 


Mari HowardSeptember 1, 2020

Conversations with Friends
by Sally Rooney

Faber & Faber , 2018

Paperback: £6.00 (Amazon)
Ebook: £4.68 (Kindle)

When I finished reading Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, I thought that is the saddest novel ever. When I re-read it some years later, I felt the same. Now Sally Rooney has updated my list: Conversations with Friends is up there with Tess, the saddest tale – though not ‘told by an idiot, full of… Read More

Mari HowardAugust 13, 2020

Stranger at St Brides
by Debbie Young

Hawkesbury Press, 2020

Paperback: £8.99
Ebook: £2.99

Stranger at St Brides (a school story for grown-ups) is the second in a series by my writing friend, Debbie Young, and here she is really into her stride. Whatever we think of Public (boarding) schools, packed with the local and the overseas offspring of doting parents who can do without their teenage daughters for… Read More

Mari HowardJuly 20, 2020

Normal People
by Sally Rooney

Faber & Faber, 2019

Hardback: (Amazon) £8.93
Paperback: (Amazon) £4.50
Ebook: (Kindle) £4.28

I watched the television adaptation of Normal People before I read the book. If this mistake was shared by a large audience then many, like me, could’ve initially understood the main point of this story as mainly significant looks and glances, and episodes of “having sex”. Most indoor scenes were filmed in half darkness, the… Read More

Mari HowardJune 4, 2020

Bird Summons
by Leila Aboulela

Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2019

Hardback: £16.99
Ebook: £3.99 (Amazon Kindle)

The book I have just finished reading, Bird Summons, by Leila Aboulela, is unusual, deeply thoughtful, and obviously inspired by the author’s combined knowledge and interest in politics and faith. Aboulela is a practising Muslim, born in Cairo and raised in Khartoum. She now lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. She studied economics at the University of… Read More

Mari HowardMarch 6, 2020

Flight Behaviour
by Barbara Kingsolver

Faber & Faber, 2013

Paperback: £9.99

‘Living systems are sensitive to very small changes…’ so says Dr Ovid Byron, lead scientist of a group investigating the strange appearance of pretty much the whole population of Monarch butterflies to a farming area of the Appalachians in Tennessee, when they should have flown, as usual, to overwinter in Mexico. I wrote this review… Read More

Mari HowardFebruary 28, 2020

The Natter of Knitters
by Debbie Young

Hawkesbury Press, 2020

Paperback: £2.99
Ebook: Kindle £1.99

Here’s another escapade for Sophie Sayers, the young woman who’s recently moved to the Cotswold village of Wendlebury Barrow. This time, the story’s conveniently contained in an envelope-sized format, great for slipping into a birthday card to your retail-therapy friend or old-school-chum (or others!) I recently enjoyed this mini-volume as a relaxing break between two… Read More

Mari HowardJanuary 2, 2020

Where are the Grown ups? and Unsettled
by Ruth Badley, and by Barbara Kingsolver

Inglebooks and Faber & Faber, both published 2019

Paperback: £7.99 (Where are...) £8.99 (Unsheltered)

This review tries to cover the latest two books I’ve read recently: Where are the Grown-ups and Unsettled. They’re very much not a pair, so don’t expect one to cover both memoir and the challenges of change… Interestingly, I love both these books – which are very different– but disagreed with a great deal of… Read More

Mari HowardNovember 28, 2019

Self Portrait
by Celia Paul

Jonathan Cape, 2019

Hardback: £20.00
Ebook:

I love this book, and began reading it avidly the day it arrived. Celia Paul is an artist, a painter, and, as the book documents, we learn what it can be like when creativity is the driver in your life.  “You need to give yourself completely, while at the same time seeing things from a… Read More

Mari HowardSeptember 16, 2019

An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

One World , 2019

Paperback: £8.99 paperback

It’s a really personal choice: why we read, what we read, and when… Reading the Amazon reviews, I was struck by the number of readers who  said they ‘couldn’t engage with the characters’  Or that ‘the characters all do far too much overthinking,’  or ‘talk too much the same’ or ‘are too articulate about their… Read More

Mari HowardSeptember 12, 2019

Secrets at St Bride's
by Debbie Young

Hawkesbury Press, 2019

Paperback: £7.99
Ebook: £1.99

Here’s a relaxing read for any of us who have enjoyed school stories or even wondered how, if not given to the National trust, a stately home can occupy its retirement years. Debbie Young (Author of the Sophie Sayers cosy mysteries) has now created a girls’ private boarding school just a mile or two down… Read More

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