Book reviews: Ways Of Going Home, Little Known Facts, The Chessmen

Book Cover Handout of Ways Of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra, published in hardback by Granta, priced �12.99. Available now. See PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Granta. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews.

Book Cover Handout of Ways Of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra, published in hardback by Granta, priced �12.99. Available now. See PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Granta. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews.

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Ways Of Going Home

Alejandro Zambra

Rising through the ranks of Latin American literature is Alejandro Zambra, a writer from Chile who has won over critics with his captivating work.

His award-winning first book, Bonsai, has been praised for its stylish and deeply moving prose. His latest novel, Ways of Going Home, is no different.

Translated into English by Megan McDowell, the story’s backdrop is 1980s Chile during dictator Pinochet’s regime.

Our boy narrator sets the tone from the get-go with his naive, almost humorous account of a major Santiago earthquake, made even more charming by Zambra’s poetic touch.

But it is this event that has a huge impact on the boy’s life – it’s where he meets and later falls in love with Claudia.

In the latter part of the book as a grown man trying to revive his marriage, Claudia returns to the neighbourhood and soon his world is rocked to its core. Thought-provoking and inspiring, the book also echoes some of the author’s own nostalgia of growing up during that turbulent time.

Granta, Hardback £12.99

Little Known Facts

Christine Sneed

Christine Sneed’s debut novel follows her short story collection Portraits Of A Few Of The People I’ve Made Cry, which was the Chicago Writers Association’s Book of the Year in 2011.

Little Known Facts charts the trials and tribulations of the children of Renn Ivins – a renowned Hollywood actor-turned-director – as they deal with living in his rather large shadow. Will is trying to forge his own identity, something that proves tricky when he has his father’s wealth to fall back on, and has to compete with his overachieving sister Anna, who seems unperturbed by her dad’s status but they are both compelled and repelled by Renn, and find it difficult to escape his influence.

Sneed manages to expose the underbelly of fame and fortune while steering clear of Hollywood’s gaudy facades, presenting a well-observed look at how stardom affects families.

Bloomsbury, Paperback £12.99

The Chessmen

Peter May

The final part in a best-selling trilogy of crime thrillers by journalist-turned-novelist Peter May finds former cop Fin Macleod running into old friends on the bleak but beautiful Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides.

The discovery of a body and a plane at the bottom of a lake starts a murder hunt, with the plot moving backwards and forwards through the decades – and a long-buried secret coming to the surface.

May does a good job of evoking old memories from Macleod’s misspent youth, but the constant shuttling between the present day and the mystery’s roots stops the story building up a head of steam until the very end, where several twists are crammed into the final pages.

Despite that, it is an enjoyable story and fans of the first two books will love it.

Quercus, Hardback £14.99

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

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