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5 new books to read this week

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of Blessings by Chukwuebuka Ibeh and The Painter’s Daughters by Emily Howes.


New books to read this week (Composite/PA)

American novelist Leslie Jamison is back with her second memoir, this time putting the spotlight on divorce and motherhood…


Fiction


1. Blessings by Chukwuebuka Ibeh is published in hardback by Viking, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now



This debut novel explores a moving tale of a teenage boy sent away to a strict Christian boarding school after his father discovered him in an intimate moment with the family apprentice. Obiefuna is forced to learn how to survive and love simultaneously while growing up in a deeply hostile environment for LGBTQ+ people. Set in modern-day Nigeria, this heart-wrenching story is told through narratives from Obiefuna and his mother Uzoamaka, exposing the complexities within family relationships. Author Chukwuebuka Ibeh beautifully captures the human cost of conflict between love and politics, where the status quo traps your most personal being. Ibeh crafts touching characters and bonds that leave a lasting impression in this emotional read.


9/10

(Review by Anahita Hossein-Pour)


2. The Painter’s Daughters by Emily Howes is published in hardback by Phoenix, priced £20 (ebook £11.99). Available February 29



Peggy and Molly Gainsborough, the unruly children of an unknown Ipswich artist, run free and wild across the Suffolk fields as their father captures their portraits on canvas. Partners in crime, co-conspirators, they are convinced that nothing could ever come between them. So when Molly starts to lapse into violent confusion, Peggy realises that if she is to keep her sister close, she must guard their shared secret or risk losing Molly to an asylum – even when the Gainsborough star rises and the sisters are launched into polite society. The Painter’s Daughter is an account of the sacrifices that are made for love, even in the face of devastating betrayal. Beautifully researched, written with a lightness of touch which would have delighted the great artist himself, it is a masterful debut that inspires the desire to investigate further, to explore a suggested premise which may never be answered. Yet at its heart, it is a testimony to two women who were never allowed to fulfil their promise. Emily Howes has breathed life into the painted faces of Molly and Peggy Gainsborough; and in doing so, has released them at last from the constrictions of being nothing more than two sisters in a frame.


9/10

(Review by Hannah Colby)


3. Butter by Asako Yuzuki is published in paperback by Fourth Estate, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available February 29



In a Tokyo prison, an elusive serial killer with a taste for the finer things in life gives a rare interview to a journalist. They discuss food. Rika Machida’s attempts to piece together the life and motives of convicted gourmet cook Manako Kajii – accused of seducing and killing lonely businessmen – sets the reporter on a twisting and challenging personal journey. Author Asako Yuzuki’s translated novel is part gastronomical thriller, part cultural examination, in which vivid descriptions of cooking and eating alternate with thoughtful and provoking explorations of difficult themes: gender, misogyny, the media, romance, work, friendship and family. Inspired by a real-life murder case, this unusual book – dark and disquieting, yet moving and life-affirming – asks searching questions about self-identity and how we are shaped by the people and food in our lives. An unexpectedly fascinating look at modern Japanese life and an intriguing read.


8/10

(Review by Tom Pilgrim)


Non-fiction


4. Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story by Leslie Jamison is published in hardback by Granta Books, priced £16.99 (ebook £16.99). Available now



Splinters, the second memoir from award-winning essayist and Columbia University creative writing tutor, Leslie Jamison, recounts an emotionally harrowing chapter in her life – the period in which her marriage fell apart as she became a mother for the first time. Leslie’s memories weave the parts – splinters – of herself together; a mother, a wife, a daughter, a tutor and an artist, which she comes to find are as much dependent on each another as they are isolated. Exploring the human experience of love in its many forms, Leslie depicts the acute emotions that arrived hand-in-hand with first-time motherhood, how she navigated the deep feelings of grief, guilt and failure that stemmed from her divorce, while examining the relationship she has with her parents, and how this has influenced her adult bonds. By exploring her past, she presents the realisations she now finds herself at, drawing the reader in to experience these profound feelings first-hand. It’s an insightful, intimate, and incredibly relatable read about the human psyche and the way we love.


8/10

(Review by Sophie Goodall)


Children’s book of the week


5. Finding Hope by Nicola Baker is published in hardback by Simon & Schuster Children’s UK, priced £12.99 (ebook £6.99). Available February 29



The book is an absolute delight and will enthral any child who reads it. It tells of 10-year-old Ava’s adventures at Whistledown Farm with her aunt and uncle while her parents are in America for two weeks. The prospect of being without her parents and on a farm is daunting for city girl Ava. She dubiously dons her new green wellingtons and cautiously starts her duties with her cousin Tom – who has initial doubts at her presence on the farm. Ava goes from one catastrophe to another, learning the pitfalls and joys of farming life. The two cousins learn a lot together, and Ava falls in love with the animals. It’s a delightful read with lovely illustrations throughout.


8/10

(Review by Joanne Brennan)


BOOK CHARTS FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 24


HARDBACK (FICTION)

  1. Sunbringer by Hannah Kaner

  2. The Fury by Alex Michaelides

  3. House Of Flame And Shadow by Sarah J. Maas

  4. The List Of Suspicious Things by Jennie Godfrey

  5. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

  6. The Island Swimmer by Lorraine Kelly

  7. Garth Marenghi’s Incarcerat by Garth Marenghi

  8. Faebound by Saara El-Arifi

  9. Prophet Song by Paul Lynch

  10. Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros


(Compiled by Waterstones)


HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)


  1. poyums by Len Pennie

  2. Bored Of Lunch Healthy Slow Cooker: Even Easier by Nathan Anthony

  3. Politics On The Edge by Rory Stewart

  4. Pinch Of Nom Express by Kay Allinson & Kate Allinson

  5. How They Broke Britain by James O’Brien

  6. Charles III: New King. New Court. The Inside Story by Robert Hardman

  7. My Mother And I by Ingrid Seward

  8. Empireworld by Sathnam Sanghera

  9. Mad Woman by Bryony Gordon

  10. The Diary Of A CEO by Steven Bartlett


(Compiled by Waterstones)


AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)


  1. Atomic Habits by James Clear

  2. The Island Swimmer by Lorraine Kelly

  3. None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

  4. Unruly by David Mitchell

  5. Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg

  6. The Diary Of A CEO by Steven Bartlett

  7. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken

  8. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

  9. The Fellowship Of The Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

  10. How They Broke Britain by James O’Brien


(Compiled by Audible)

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