What we’re reading: Winman, Stubbins & Moreno-Garcia

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.


Alexa Dretzke is reading Still Life by Sarah Winman.

Step away from a world of Covid and into the embrace of Sarah Winman’s new novel Still Life. Let it take you to Florence at the end of World War II and let its big-hearted storytelling keep you in its thrall. Ulysses, a young soldier in 1944, is in Italy where he meets art historian Evelyn Skinner, and their fleeting connection leads to an unexpected event that will have life-changing consequences years later when Ulysses is back in England.

Written with Sarah Winman’s evocative style and confident hand, Still Life transported me to Florence, the U.K. and back to Florence again. I loved Ulysses and his disparate band of wonderful companions. I was cocooned by history, art and friendships that were loyal and true. This gem of a book will transport you far away and you will love every moment.


Lian Hingee is reading Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

Last year I discovered Silvia Moreno-Garcia after a reviewer described her book Mexican Gothic as ‘part du Maurier, part del Toro’. It was a beautifully written book that almost hit the mark perfectly for me. What I particularly enjoyed – apart from the exquisitely rendered descriptions that dumped me so completely into the story that I always emerged feeling vaguely sticky – was the inclusion of Mexican folklore. So when I stumbled across Moreno-Garcia’s earlier work, Gods of Jade and Shadow, and saw that it was all about the Mayan underworld, I bought it immediately.

Casiopea Tun lives a Cinderella-esque existence as a servant in her grandfather’s imposing estate in the small town of Uukumil, but she dreams of escape to the city where she can embrace the new, modern world of 1920s Mexico. When she inadvertently frees the Mayan god of death Hun-Kamé from the prison her own grandfather has been keeping him in, Casipoea is catapulted into a world people by sorcerers, demons, supernatural entities, and a war between two bloodthirsty brothers.

Gods of Jade and Shadow had everything that I loved about Mexican Gothic: a plucky heroine, an engrossing mystery, a pacy narrative, and incredibly immersive world-building. But it was also a brilliant introduction to Pre-Columbian mythology, and left me deep-diving into articles and essays about Mayan history and traditions. Highly recommended for anyone who loves to read books that blur the line between reality and fantasy.


Fiona Hardy is reading In My Defence, I Have No Defence by Sinead Stubbins.

From its first pages, this book transformed a dire forty-five minute wait for toast in a cafe into an excuse to bask happily in the relentless comedic intimacy of Stubbins’ writing.

She skewers every life moment with relatability so sharp it’ll make you want to retell these stories to everyone around you, every essay sparking a conversation, a joke, or a memory. Not as good as Sinead’s, sorry, but alas she took the lion’s share of the funny in the world.

Still Life

Still Life

Sarah Winman

$32.99Buy now

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