Book reviews: Flight Behaviour, Bleak Expectations, Shakespeare’s Local

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FLIGHT BEHAVIOUR

BARBARA KINGSOLVER

Dellarobia Turnbow is trapped in an unhappy marriage with two young children and domineering in-laws. Her guilt-ridden tryst with a young lover offers her some distraction from the gnawing poverty and the general drudgery of life.

On her way to one of these clandestine encounters, she chances upon beautiful Monarch butterflies - like “showers of orange sparks” - in her in-laws’ woodland estate.

Accidentally hailed as a visionary, her tale draws the attention of the locals and the media, and soon scientists are looking into the cause of this miraculous phenomenon.

Set in the rural Appalachian backdrop, Orange Prize winner Kingsolver weaves her magic in this beautifully written story that gives an insight into the effects of climate change while touching upon modern American consumerism.

Brilliantly narrated, the book is full of poetic charm.

FABER AND FABER, HARDBACK £18.99

BLEAK EXPECTATIONS

MARK EVANS

Those who haven’t had the pleasure of catching the Radio 4 show will be unfamiliar with the plight of young Pip Bin.

Following the popularity of the programme is Mark Evans’s new novel, a pastiche of arguably Dickens’s most iconic works - Bleak House and Great Expectations.

Written as a collection of memoirs from the brilliant but uncelebrated writer and inventor Sir Philip Bin, Bleak Expectations has all the vital ingredients of a good, old-fashioned Victorian adventure.

Unlikely inheritance, a jovial sidekick and menacing guardians all make an appearance, with Evans shining a satirical light on Dickens’s familiar plotlines.

As Pip’s life continues its downward 
spiral, what results is an engaging and 
highly amusing tale, just the right side of ridiculous.

CORSAIR, HARDBACK £14.99

SHAKESPEARE’S LOCAL: FIVE CENTURIES OF HISTORY SEEN THROUGH ONE EXTRAORDINARY PUB

PETE BROWN

The George Inn has stood by London Bridge since 1542. Or 1475. Or 1380. Its founding date is one of the many controversies and eccentricities of the famous pub, which has seen more than its fair share of history.

Dickens was said to have been a regular, while Chaucer set his Canterbury Tales next door, and Shakespeare was known to pop in from the nearby Globe theatre.

Writer Pete Brown spares no detail when telling the story of the George. His enthusiasm for his subject is infectious and the book is filled with random facts and flights of fancy.

MACMILLAN, HARDBACK £16.99

Pupils reading comics at Leeds Free School in 1973. (YPN).

The highs and lows of teaching in Yorkshire the 1970s