Paperback Reviews: All That’s Bright And Gone; The Other Bennet Sister; Hauntology.


The Other Sibling Bennet

Janice Hadlow (£8.99, Pan).

Mary is the middle sister of Bennet in Pride and Prejudice: bland, socially untalented, left behind as the lives of her sisters continue. In her debut novel, Hadlow redresses the balance by giving a voice to Mary and putting her at the centre. From her viewpoint, the first part says “Pride and Prejudice” evoking pity for this neglected character by illustrating how her father avoids her, her mother compares her to the other children, and her sisters leave her alone. The rest, two years later, takes place. However, Mary, unmarried and dependent upon others, is determined to have a life. Instead, she cultivates her soul, experiences kindness, and learns to embrace herself as she is, denied the advantages of attractiveness. Slightly altered by Hadlow to make them more or less sympathetic, several characters from the original appear. The book is new, but respectful of Austen on the whole, and honors her sophisticated prose and social criticism.


(Crooked Lane, £ 13.47) by Eliza Nellums.

Siobhan, the mother of six-year-old Aoife, is hospitalized after a nervous breakdown outside a shopping mall. Her uncle, Donny, an attorney, looks after her while her mother is away. Aoife gets the feeling that if she can overcome the mystery of the death of her older brother Theo, Siobhan can somehow come back. Convinced that Theo was killed, she set out to investigate with her imaginary friend Teddy and eight-year-old Hannah. The death of Theo is not the only mystery for which she must deal, however, and the investigation of the girls threatens to upset a few apple carts. Aoife, as a detective, is brave and clever for her generation. She has a complex vocabulary for a 6-year-old girl as a storyteller and a precocious way of looking at the world. But Nellums maintains enough of the viewpoint of a child to make it plausible while providing a sense of real danger to the story.


Merlin Coverley (£ 12.99, Oldcastle).

Hauntology is a topic that resonates with Britons of a certain age in particular, but depending on who you speak to, the exact definition varies. “shorthand for the way the past returns to haunt the present.”shorthand for the way the past returns to haunt the present.”a nostalgia for the pop cultural artifacts of our recent past.”a nostalgia for the pop cultural artifacts of our recenes. Painlessly, though still leaving space for discussion of 1970s folk horror, Nigel Kneale, and the sometimes amusing Scarfolk website, it sets out the philosophical foundation of this obscure discipline.



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