Author Query – Miranda Emmerson

I first heard about Miranda Emmerson’s debut novel, Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars, when I was invited to the Big Book Bonanza last September. Miranda was one of the invited speakers and she and the book completely won me over. And that first impression was well deserved, as when I read the novel earlier this year I absolutely adored it. (Full review) It was a wonderful read, with great atmosphere, winning characters and a great plot. (I really wanted to ask Miranda some questions after I finished it and I was thrilled that she agreed to be interviewed for an Author Query. I hope you enjoy the resulting interview and that you’ll check out Miss Treadway and the Field of StarsRead More …

Miranda Emmerson – Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars

Soho, 1965.

In a tiny two-bed flat above a Turkish café on Neal Street lives Anna Treadway, a young dresser at the Galaxy Theatre.

When the American actress Iolanthe Green disappears after an evening’s performance at the Galaxy, the newspapers are wild with speculation about her fate. But as the news grows old and the case grows colder, it seems Anna is the only person left determined to find out the truth.

Her search for the missing actress will take her into an England she did not know existed: an England of jazz clubs and prison cells, backstreet doctors and seaside ghost towns, where her carefully calibrated existence will be upended by violence but also, perhaps, by love.

For in order to uncover Iolanthe’s secrets, Anna is going to have to face up to a few of her own…

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars immediately drew my attention when I first came across it at last year’s Big Book Bonanza. The bright, colourful cover and the mystery posited in the cover copy captured my interest and the short presentation Miranda Emmerson gave about the influences for her story only solidified it. All of this is to say that I went into this book with high expectations—Emmerson met them all and more. Written with a light touch, the book is far more complex and far darker than its bright exterior would have you believe.  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: Crime & Historical Crime Fiction

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. Today it’s time for crime and historical crime fiction books. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …

Sam Thompson – Communion Town

samthompson-communiontownA city in ten chapters.

Every city is made of stories: stories that intersect and diverge, stories of the commonplace and the strange, of love and crime, of ghosts and monsters.

In this city an asylum seeker struggles to begin a new life, while a folk musician pays with a broken heart for a song and a butcher learns the secrets of the slaughterhouse. A tourist strays into a baffling ritual and a child commits an incalculable crime; private detectives search the streets for their archenemies and soulmates and, somewhere in the shadows, a figure which might once have been human waits to tell its tale.

Communion Town is a city in ten chapters: a place imagined differently by each citizen, mixing the everyday with the gothic and the uncanny; a place of voices half-heard, sights half-glimpsed and desires half-acknowledged.

It’s been a while time since I’ve read a contemporary, mainstream work, that could be categorised as ‘literary fiction’, the last one was in August last year, and that one had a strong genre slant, as it was a post-apocalyptic tale. And while Communion Town certainly has genre elements, for me it falls squarely in the literary fiction section—and yes, I agree, literary fiction is as much a genre as speculative fiction, but that’s a wholly different discussion and an entirely different post. This collection of ten stories is difficult to describe in one adjective. Interesting doesn’t do it justice, because it’s more than that, it was a thought-provoking read. At the same time, I found reading it really hard work, having to reread passages quite often and generally reading at a slower pace than I usually do. But while at times a bit of a slog, it was never boring. So I find myself at a bit of a loss as to how to judge this book. Taken separately, I’d say many of these stories are quite good, while those that don’t stand as well alone are enhanced by the whole. However, I don’t know whether I’d say that the collection as such worked for me, mostly because despite all being set in the same city, I kept looking for a further cohesion between the tales, a theme if you will, which they all shared. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it, but I’m not sure whether that’s a failing of the text or me failing as a reader.

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