What we’re reading: Cain, O'Farrell & Downes

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on, or the music we’re loving.


Chris Gordon is reading The Safe Place by Anna Downes

Do you need a novel to take you away from your couch and isolation? Perhaps a book that transports you somewhere warm, lush, tranquil even, while also introducing you to characters that are hanging onto their sanity by a thin thread? Look no further – I have just the recommendation. Anna Downes’s debut novel is a true page-turner. Imagine the coast of France, a place where the sun seems to shine endlessly, now add in two women struggling with their own demons, then throw in a whole lot of cash and insecurity… An ideal recipe for a sinister and thrilling read. The Safe Place is a fantastic escapist read, well-suited for fans of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins. I enjoyed every moment of this novel.


Bronte Coates is reading Indelicacy by Amina Cain

I love a short novel done well, and at 176 pages of elegantly shifting prose, Amina Cain’s Indelicacy perfectly fits the bill. Pitched to me as a ghostly feminist fable, this slippery book has a timeless and slightly surreal quality that keeps the reader hovering on precipice. Vitória is a cleaner who aspires to be a writer. After she marries into wealth and privilege, she discovers her new life comes with its own costs. This work is such an interesting exploration of creativity, class, desire, power and authenticity, and one that surprised and unsettled me.


Tye Cattanach is reading Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

I just finished reading Maggie O'Farrell’s new novel, and absolutely adored it. A fascinating and beautifully imagined speculation on the personal life of Shakespeare and his family, the narrative is told from the point of view of his wife, Agnes, and his son, Hamnet, who died of the plague. O'Farrell writes so skilfully that I was tempted to believe that Hamnet was in fact, a narrative biography rather than fiction. I was completely hooked from the first page and devoured the book in a single sitting. I haven’t stopped talking about it since.

I also binge-watched all three seasons of Penny Dreadful. Normally a show like this would be too gory for my liking, but the storyline is so cleverly written that I didn’t mind. Brave, fierce female characters, vampires, witches, monsters, werewolves and some of my favourite literary characters all thrown in the mix together made for compelling watching.

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Amina Cain

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