Lauren Molyneux curls up with a good book to review the latest best sellers
TOP TIP: Prepare yourselves for dark twists and turns – you won’t be disappointed.
Tash, daughter of a Russian oligarch, is new to all this. She’s been thrown in at the deep end in England and feels alien in her new boarding school. She’s baffled by her fellow classmates, with their strange rituals and Instagram obsessions, and she’s trying to figure out why certain girls with unhealthy eating habits are regularly being called to spend time with the headmaster in his house by the lake.
Tackling ideas surrounding feminism, anorexia, addiction, image, depression, heritage, politics, privilege, peer pressure, philosophy and power, Oligarchy might only be 209 pages long, but it certainly packs a punch.
If you’ve read anything by Scarlett Thomas before, Oligarchy might not be immediately familiar. The style of narration doesn’t give the author away in the same way her other texts might, but it’s just as enjoyable as any of her other work, and her signature flair with philosophical themes and big questions is still very much there.
Expertly capturing all of the teenage angst we regrettably remember experiencing, mostly in cringe-worthy moments that are, at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious, Oligarchy might be a story about schoolgirl diets, trends and romances, but it will be enjoyed by even the most grown up of grown-ups, as it’s also so much more than that. This is a black gem of a book.
TOP TIP: Anyone who enjoys reading about the Pendle witches or local history in general is sure to enjoy this.
Fleetwood Shuttleworth is mistress of Gawthorpe Hall. She’s married well and is now pregnant for the fourth time, though to date she has no living children and her husband is anxious for an heir. Alice Gray, a young midwife, crosses her path by chance, and from that moment their lives will never be the same again.
When Alice is swept into the whispers of witchcraft that are quickly sweeping the county, Fleetwood risks her title, the family’s reputation and everything she has in order to help her. As the famous trials of the Pendle witches approach, her stomach grows steadily bigger and she finds herself in a desperate race against time to save both of their lives.
Raising questions surrounding fate and destiny and addressing attitudes towards femininity and the concept of womanhood, Stacey Halls writes beautifully, her prose at times reading almost like poetry. Pendle Hill is the backdrop for this thoroughly well-researched historical novel.