Anxious People – Fredrik Backman, translated by Neil Smith


Rating: 5 stars

Fredrik Backman has a way of handling the blackest of subjects with humour so that at times the reader finds herself laughing out loud and, very soon after, crying. As in all his books, he deliberately lays trails to mislead the reader, like breadcrumbs deliberately taking a person what appears to be the wrong way in a maze. So Chapter One opens:

A bank robbery. A hostage drama. A stairwell full of police officers on their way to storm an apartment. It was easy to get to this point, much easier than you might think. All it took was one single really bad idea.

Then Backman lays out the basic scenario: a 39-year-old would-be bank robber accidentally starts a hostage drama in a flat in their “not particularly large or noteworthy town”, but when the hostages are released and police storm the apartment they find it is empty.

No one knew where the bank robber had gone.

That’s really all you need to know at this point. Now the story can begin.

Having set all this out in some detail in Chapter One, Chapter Two is very brief and apparently completely unrelated. Intriguing, but unrelated. This is typical of Backman. The reader never knows for sure which breadcrumbs to follow and which to set aside for possible future consideration, just in case of having gone astray. Chapter Three takes us straight into a police interview with one of the eight released hostages, with an increasingly exasperated young policeman out of his depth in such an extraordinary situation. Over the course of the book he and his fellow policeman, who are father and son, and have to resort to Google in their attempts at hostage negotiation, try their absolute best to get to grips with dealing with the hostages and trying to piece together what has happened and where the hostage-taker could now be, which Backman has interspersed with a combination of background details about the two policemen and of the hostages, both in terms of their lives up to this point and of the events of this specific day.

The plot becomes ever more convoluted, in such a good way that I read through Anxious People at great speed, keenly trying to piece it all together and work out not only what had happened but why. It’s an entirely gripping read, never afraid to tackle the darkest subjects or to deal with difficult moral issues, while time and again making me laugh. The characters felt real, as are their efforts to deal with the everyday difficulties of being a decent person.

Backman is sly. Nothing in his books is as random nor as obvious as it appears. Although the focus here is on the current series of curious events in the apartment, the character-driven plot has numerous backstories that link a bridge, suicides, and a peculiar drawing of a frog, a monkey, and an elk. Then, just when it seems as though everything has been sorted out, the author turns everything topsy-turvy with a stunning revelation that would be a major spoiler to disclose and would ruin the fun of discovery. I loved it.

Reviewed by Daisy

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Dear Mrs Bird and Yours Cheerfully – AJ Pearce

I seem to have been unintentionally reading many books lately which are set in Britain, particularly London, during the period from the start of the First World War through to the Second World War. They’ve ranged widely, from the glorious and moving children’s books by Hilary McKay, The Skylarks’ War and The Swallows’ Flight, through Judith Kerr’s autobiographical novels which followed on from When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, the at-times harrowing Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, to the charming first novel Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce.

Dear Mrs Bird

Pan Macmillan

Rating: 5 stars

Dear Mrs Bird is set in London in 1941, with the Blitz at its height. Old friends Emmy and Bunty are sharing a house in badly bombed Pimlico belonging to Bunty’s grandmother – she has moved out to the relative safety of the countryside, while they’ve made the reverse journey to pull their weight in the war effort, Emmy as a volunteer in the Auxiliary Fire Service, Bunty in the War Office as a secretary. (Their childhood sweethearts are also pulling their weight in the Royal Artillery and as a fireman.) But Emmy has ambitions and dreams of becoming a journalist, writing articles about the really important stories of the day, and is constantly working on improving her general knowledge and awareness of current affairs.

I was desperate to learn how to be a reporter. The sort of person who always had a notebook in hand, ready to sniff out Political Intrigue…

Unfortunately, she is daydreaming about becoming a ”Lady War Correspondent” during a job interview and, not paying attention, accepts a position as office junior to Mrs Bird on the problem page of a magazine. Even more unfortunately Emmy soon realises that Mrs Bird has very strong idea about what topics are Unacceptable for the Woman’s Friend magazine to respond to. Desperate to help women who write in pleading for help with their difficulties, Emmy secretly starts to reply to some of them, pretending to be her boss.

The twists and turns of the plot are beautifully executed, and AJ Pearce deftly brings a light touch to the grim realities of wartime life in London. She shows clearly the harsh facts of how difficult life is for everyone, whether it’s the two friends or their families and colleagues, all facing new horrors all the time, mostly with a grim determination to somehow get through. The central turning point of the plot is based on the bombing of the Café de Paris in which they are caught up and which changes their futures for ever. I’ve read other fictionalised versions of this appalling night and this one brought home the realities of what must have faced the rescuers vividly, just as it does the feeling of what it felt like to be in the club at the time the bomb exploded. The novel becomes much darker but Pearce manages to steer a careful course through the bleakness and bring humour and humanity to the forefront.

Yours Cheerfully

Pan Macmillan

Rating: 5 stars

With Yours Cheerfully, Pearce has pulled off the tough problem of following a highly successful first novel, with a sequel to Dear Mrs Bird. The action has moved on a few months, and Emmy and Bunty are still living and working in London, still surrounded by the constant stress and danger brought by constantly coping during wartime. Mrs Bird has now left Woman’s Friend magazine, and Emmy is still doing all she can to help the magazine’s readers cope with their problems, but now with the knowledge and blessing of the management and her co-workers. As summer moves into autumn, the government calls upon magazines like Woman’s Friend to help in the recruitment drive to get woman into war work, particularly in the factories, making vital war supplies. A chance meeting with a young war widow, Anne, and her two small children leads Emmy into writing a series of pieces about Anne and her new friends who are working in a factory making munitions while trying to cope with childcare and running households on a horribly tight budget.

Again, Pearce has a light touch, with moments of great humour, but brings home the realities of life in wartime, both for Emmy and her friends in London, and for the young women working so hard under such difficult conditions with the children’s fathers either away at war or dead. Emmy gets deeply involved in her new friends’ struggle to cope and to get a fair treatment from their employers, while she is also trying to cope with arranging her own wedding with Captain Mayhew and the knowledge that at very short notice he is about to leave the relative safety of his army work in England and start an overseas posting.

I really recommend this pair of books – and as ever many thanks to my local library for getting a copy of Yours Cheerfully so soon after publication!

In Praise of Books! In Praise of Libraries!

Daisy Chapter and Verse

Daisy is one of the Chapterhouse directors. She loves libraries, family sagas, and children’s fiction.

When the first lockdown came along in March 2020, I’d just finished reading the books I’d been given for Christmas and for my birthday and was planning a major trip to the library. Alas, the books I’d reserved waited for me on the shelves for many long months, and in the meantime I started rereading old favourites.

Where to start? Some favourite writers, obviously. Comfort reading? Definitely yes: some of the choices I made were comfort reading, but not always, except in terms of my having already read most of the books at least once, but not always in terms of the subject matter.

Kate Atkinson’s long been a favourite of mine, and I rapidly worked my way through all the Jackson Brodie novels, revelling in her attention to details and ability to weave together highly complex strands of plot, all with a light but deft touch, an elegant use of language and gorgeous sense of humour. As I said, not exactly comfort reading in the conventional sense, with some pretty gruesome deaths being investigated by the apparently fearless detective, who must surely have the complex private life of any fictional private investigator. While I was still in Kate Atkinson mode, just for good measure I reread Life After Life – definitely on my personal shortlist for Desert Island book.

Moving through the alphabet, there were a couple of Helen Dunmore books I couldn’t resist rereading (Burning Bright and Mourning Ruby) before alighting on Penelope Fitzgerald’s fabulous books (The Bookshop and Human Voices are particular favourites of mine).

Moving down the bookshelves, Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet series of novels was my next major project; dealing with the fortunes of the members of the Cazalet family:  “elderly” parents, three brothers, their wives and young children and their sister, starting in the between-war period and moving over the course of the series to close in modern times. Again the author handles a huge range of characters, their lives mingling together, in London and at their parents’ home in the country, the difficulties they face trying to keep the family business going in increasingly turbulent and challenging times. The Radio 4 adaptation of the series is a delight, too, if you can find it!

Delving back into children’s books, I was tempted to reread the Harry Potter books, but stuck mostly to older classics including my old favourites by Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden and A Little Princess; the former is the better known of the two and has been adapted into classic films (four times, no less) and various television versions, including a new film released in 2020 (which I revelled in watching) starring Julie Walters and Colin Firth in the central adult roles as Mrs Medlock, the housekeeper, and Lord Craven. To be honest, though, A Little Princess is my favourite of these two Hodgson Burnett books, and the sad tale (riches to rags and back again) of little Sarah Crewe never fails to move me.

Having started to work my way through children’s books, modern award-winning books like Hilary McKay’s The Skylarks’ War called out to be read again, as did some of my really old favourites: Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes was another must-read (there was a fabulous television version in 2007) as were E Nesbit’s Five Children and It and The Railway Children. (Cue more re-watching of the much-loved filmed versions of these.) 

Interspersed with all the children’s fiction, I read psychological thrillers by writers including Nicci French, Minette Walters and Clare Mackintosh. When the library re-opened partially and I could reserve books, I discovered new works I’d never read before by writers like Claire Fuller, Fredrik Backman, John Banville, Emma Donoghue, Anne Enright, Deborah Moggach, Colm Toibin – what a delight to find books by contemporary writers I’d not previously read.

Now the library here has fully re-opened, there’s a whole new world of books out there, just waiting for me to chance upon them as I walk through a safe new one-way system (I never knew there was a back door!). The librarians are marvellous too and know which authors will be likely to appeal to which of their readers. I can’t sing their praises highly enough for their patience and understanding of their customers, whether it’s the families whose children are just being introduced to the world of reading or the 90-year-olds who love having the latest large print and audio versions of books old and new put aside for them. Thank goodness for books and thank goodness for librarians!

The Bookseller – Cynthia Swanson

John Murray Press

Rating: 5 stars

I love a Sliding Doors type of novel, one where two or more alternative plot lines mingle and interweave, and confuse the reader into not knowing which – if any – of the versions is reality. Or indeed whether there are multiple realities.

The Bookseller is Cynthia Swanson’s first published novel. Set in Denver in the 1960s, in the opening storyline in 1962 Kitty Miller and her friend Frieda own a bookshop which is struggling to keep going with the rapid expansion of shopping malls set out of town meaning ever-dwindling numbers of customers make their way to their little shop. But they are such good friends that despite the constant money worries they still enjoy what they do and each other’s company. Kitty lives alone with her cat, Aslan, and has a very close relationship with her parents, who are away on the holiday of a lifetime.

Then Kitty starts to get deeply unsettling dreams, ones which seem so real that each day she finds it increasingly hard to cope with the realities of her life.

In her dreams it is 1963, and Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars; they have a rich and fulfilled life with children, many good friends and a beautiful home. In her dreams Kitty feels at times confused as to who or where she is but finds she automatically seems to (mostly) say the right things to each family member, each friend, each shopkeeper she meets. Swanson is excellent on the 1960s’ period details of how people lived or aspired to live.

The lines between the waking and dreaming worlds inevitably soon start to blur and Kitty in her 1962 world tries to make sense of her dreams, often deliberately going out of her way to find people and places she’s been in her dreaming world. She treks around Denver looking for the house where Katharyn lives, the shops she frequents, the sister-in-law who is a hairdresser. In short, she has become obsessed and, like the readers, feels confused about what is dream and what is reality.

This was an unexpected Christmas gift, and one which I devoured before New Year and thoroughly recommend. I can’t and won’t give away any more of the plot. All I can say is: well worth reading.

Daisy Chapter and Verse

Reviewed by Daisy

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The Time of Green Magic – Hilary McKay

Pan Macmillan

Rating: 5 stars

There’s nothing better, I find, than reading children’s fiction at a time of stress, and the last year has found me reading and rereading large quantities of books aimed mostly at children, but often with quite challenging themes and appealing equally to adults. So I’ve read again classics like A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Railway Children by E Nesbit (and, yes, I watched the classic film again, too, one particularly grey Saturday afternoon), and modern classics like Five Children on the Western Front, with which Kate Saunders won the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2014, and The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay, which won the same award in 2018.

the time of green magic

This new book by Hilary McKay is in a similar mould, tackling the difficulties faced by families trying to blend together, children feeling displaced and unsettled, having to share things and people they are unused to sharing. But in The Time of Green Magic, there’s an added element which gives many unexpected twists and turns to the tale of Abi and her new step-brothers Max and Louis, when they move into an old rented house completely covered in a thick layer of ivy. At least each child has a separate room, but this is in some ways only going to make their coming together more difficult.

Abi retreats into books in her attic room, Max and his best friend mend bikes and wash cars to earn some money, little Louis feels lonely and keeps watching out of his bedroom window for owls, leaving food on the windowsill to encourage them to appear. What comes to visit him, though, is something so extraordinary that any reader is likely to feel bewitched. And Abi finds at times her books seem to be coming to life in remarkable ways. Even Max sees faces at the window.

McKay brings true magic to the story – it’s gripping, heart-warming, thrilling and tense, but The Time of Green Magic is also very funny on the challenges the children face, individually and together. The real and the fantastical blend; the struggles of the parents aren’t ever over-looked, but the main focus is always definitely on the children and the magic which suddenly enters their lives. The power of family and friends is always handled sensitively, as is the struggle of first love or infatuation.

I loved this book and will be passing it on to adults and children alike.

Daisy Chapter and Verse

Reviewed by Daisy

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The Five – Hallie Rubenhold

Penguin Random House

Rating: 5 stars

If you are like me, then you’ll have only the vaguest and most pop-cultural knowledge of Jack the Ripper. It’s the “Jack the Ripper stalked the streets of Victorian London and murdered prostitutes”. It’s the leery, sensational “take” that glamorises violence, especially against women, and especially especially about women assumed to be sex workers.

the fiveThe Five isn’t about Jack the Ripper. It’s about the five “canonical” victims who are assumed to have been killed by him. It’s about women in Victorian society. It’s about poverty and deprivation and the terrifying ease with which people can slide from a comfortable life into desperation – especially women deemed to have lost their place in society by no longer fitting into the Victorian ideals of virgin, wife, mother. It’s about the profound suffering people were opened up to in a society where to be poor and desperate was to be deemed lazy and a moral failure. A society in which sleeping rough was often more attractive than the workhouse. Even though it’s about a time long past, it feels like a very timely book.

It goes through the victims one by one, tracing what we know of them from their parents to their ends. Although the book is clearly grounded in some very detailed scholarly research, it’s written in an engaging narrative manner, the facts fleshed out to give an imaginative and immersive picture of the lives of these women, their struggles. Rubenhold isn’t shy to speculate – and is clear when she is doing so – as to the likely feelings, motives and concerns of these women and those around them, and that gives the book a warm, human and sympathetic tone.

I couldn’t recommend this book more, not just as a fascinating deep-dive into Victorian society, but as an antidote to the kind of gawping, sensationalised representations of not just the Ripper and his murders but also general leeriness towards murder, and the fetishising of the psychology of the murderer. It’s a book that tells us directly about society then, but also indirectly about us now: we need reminding that there are more than just gory headlines in the past. (And before you cry, ‘That’s Not True!’, check out this piece about the Jack the Ripper Museum in London and the tasteless exhibits there.)

Louise CAV ReviewsReviewed by Louise

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The Lying Room – Nicci French

Simon & Schuster

Rating: 5 stars

Neve Connolly’s life is in the middle of being turned upside down. She and her husband Fletcher are stressed and worried about her daughter Mabel, who is about to start at university, and is clearly struggling with a major eating disorder. Amidst her worries about her family, Neve’s recently gone part-time at work, and to really complicate things she has been having an affair with her new boss, Saul:

In the last few weeks she had travelled into another country, where the rules no longer applied. She understood with absolute clarity that what she was doing was wrong. She was deceiving Fletcher but she wasn’t going to deceive herself.

Then early one morning she receives a text:

I’m free until midday. Come as soon as you can.

Hurrying to Saul’s flat, she finds he’s been murdered. Her reaction to this leads to a chain of events that spirals well out of her control, as she tries to keep up appearances at work and with her family and friends and colleagues. Her life, which is always busy, with Mabel and sons Rory and Connor to look after, and a constant whirl of social events with old friends, three of whom she’s worked with ever since they were in their late twenties and not long out of art school. They all get involved in the police investigation into Saul’s murder, with the detectives, particularly DCI Hitchings, turning up frequently and unexpectedly at the office, at Neve and Fletcher’s home, and even at Neve’s allotment. And as the investigation proceeds, Neve finds that she’s not the only one who’s been lying about relationships and events. The problem is, for Neve and for the police, who is still lying and who is telling the truth? Or who is telling any part of the truth? And who is covering up the truth to protect whom?

the lying roomNicci French novels at their best are compelling page-turners, and The Lying Room is one of the finest yet! Two of us read it in the space of just three days, both utterly gripped by the complex and twisting plot and by the struggle to make out who is telling the truth, and who is lying. Who should Neve trust? Should anyone trust Neve? When we compared notes afterwards, we each revealed moments when French had had us absolutely perplexed, trying to work out who the dangerous killer was, and as to how on earth the Connollys were going to survive the ordeal. We both felt there was definite room for a sequel, with tiny moments of doubt as to Neve and her family’s safety and ability to go forward with life.

A gripping read, with a rich cast of credible characters and vividly drawn scenes – we both thoroughly recommend it.

Daisy Chapter and VerseReviewed by Daisy

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The Binding – Bridget Collins

The Borough Press

Rating: 3.5 stars

I was lured into Bridget Collins’ The Binding because of my own long-standing interest in book history and medieval bindings, so I have to admit a degree of prejudice in my expectations when I took this book home and discovered that it was not about magical medieval bindings, but set in a zeitgeisty cod-Victorian fantasy world. Nonetheless, I dived in.

the binding

The Binding tells the story of a young man named Emmett Farmer who is… a farmer (a joke that does not go unemployed in the book itself) but who, after a long and unexplained illness, receives a mysterious summons to be apprentice to a bookbinder. In this world, a bookbinder is one who can exorcise memories from a subject, and bind them into a book. It’s a sort of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Victoriana remix. Bookbinders are outcasts, and their magic is suspect, but Emmett has been chosen for some reason and must follow the calling. Then, of course, he finds a book which bears his own name…

The Binding rests on a fantastic idea, and it’s explored in great detail in the book, which is a huge part of its appeal. First, we see ‘binding’ as a mode of dispatching traumatic memories, a form of medicine, and of healing. But as Emmett travels to the town from his rural bindery, we meet those addled by selling too many of their memories, and those coerced into giving their memories up. As one might expect, giving up a memory isn’t as simple a healing process or as much of a freeing panacea as it initially seems.

There’s lots to recommend The Binding: in many places the writing is truly beautiful, and the whole concept behind the book is captivating. At its heart, also, is a simple, human story. But there were lots of things about it that left me wanting more. Many of the characters came in broad strokes, from an aloof and unscrupulous binder to a wicked serial-rapist aristocrat to an innocent little chambermaid. Nor did Emmett himself – or the other narrator who takes over for the final portion – have a particularly strong or distinctive voice. There’s a romance at the centre of the story, too, and although we are told it is passionate, it’s strangely lacklustre and heatless on the page. The book cover compares it to Sarah Waters, but I didn’t find the same ratcheting sexual tension in the pages of The Binding and it made the romance feel emblematic rather than real and involving.

Nonetheless, I’d heartily recommend The Binding on the strength of the great idea that underpins it and the enjoyable and – for want of a better word – quaffable ease of the prose. You’ll never look at a book the same way again.

Louise CAV ReviewsReviewed by Louise

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Agent Running in the Field – John le Carré


Rating: 4 stars

Le Carré is the old fox of British fiction. His novels of spying, intrigue and terrorism have spanned my reading life from The Spy Who Came in from the Cold in the ’60s to this current blast against Brexit, Putin, Trump, Johnson, and the whole rotten world order where ideology is lost to money. The old cry that genre fiction suffers from literary snobbery never diminishes. But if you think le Carré’s novels are about spying and not human nobility and frailty you miss the point of his work.

agent running in the field.jpg

Nat is forty-seven. A spy, a traditional agent runner who has graced the stage for a little too long. He is brought home to his long-suffering, pro bono lawyer wife and traditionally feisty and difficult daughter for a pension and badminton. But he is given one last chance in what is now an underfunded, crumbling SIS Russia section. After decades of somnolence Russia is now a huge threat. Nat is to take charge of the Haven, a nest of ageing and largely used-up Russian double agents in a peeling house in Camden Town. The only spark of life is the brilliant probationer, Florence, who is building a case against an obscenely rich oligarch. How far do you think she’ll get with that when half London is owned by Russia?

Nat, rather weirdly, befriends Ed, a twenty-something who inhabits the fringe of the spectrum and challenges him to badminton matches. Ed is in the media – but we don’t believe that, do we? Nat tells Ed that he’s a businessman and, though they have little in common except visceral hatred of Brexit, they meet twice a week.

The novel is modern in its concerns. The Foreign Secretary (Johnson) is “pig-ignorant”; the Cabinet are tenth-rate; Trump, a neo-fascist, is Putin’s “shithouse cleaner”. Le Carré believes that Brexit is a twin-pronged plot by British posh boys who see filthy lucre for themselves and Russia, aided by their puppet Trump, in breaking up Europe. Keep this thought in mind as the web develops. It’s the whole point.

Le Carré’s style is as crisp, honed and clear as ever. But in a novel set in 2018 I’m afraid his vintage shows through alarmingly at times. An editor should have dealt with many of the time warps. A few examples at random:

Young girls and their swains splash and chatter.

A Caribbean-born receptionist addresses Nat as “Mister Sir Nat”.



Not immune to female charms.

Doing something “hush-hush”.

Twenty-somethings having regular girly lunches at Fortnum’s. (Perhaps they do. If they ever did.)

It is in Nat’s relationship with Florence and his daughter that we can feel the author’s age showing through most clearly. Younger readers may be angered, but they should forgive this in an eighty-eight year old and survey the bigger picture. All such awkwardness could have been removed by a modern editor, of course. But perhaps le Carré won’t be edited. I don’t know.

The plot involves a “sleeper” who wakes, an MI5 clerk who spies through idealism, dirty politics, and a rather contrived love match. There are unlikely coincidences and a hurried incredible denouement.

A great read with flaws. I hope he writes for at least another ten years.

CAV Profile RichardReviewed by Richard

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The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read – Philippa Perry

Penguin Life

Rating: 4 stars

the book you wish your parents had readThe parenting book du jour, Philippa Perry’s The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read, promises that, through kindness, compassion and understanding, you can avoid ‘screwing up’ your child. It takes a big-concept rather than task-specific approach (e.g. there is only one chapter on ‘behaviour’ and no chapters on things like ‘bedtime’ or ‘potty-training’) and comprises six sections: Your Parenting Legacy, Your Child’s Environment, Feelings, Laying a Foundation, Conditions for Good Mental Health, and Behaviour: All Behaviour is Communication.

Certainly it’s easy to see why this is the big parenting sensation of the moment. Its prose is clear and concise, its message is simple, and it offers many great examples of how its philosophy (I would avoid saying ‘methods’) has benefitted families. It’s a quick read, it’s not burdened down with jargon or complex theorising about why the way it recommends is the right way, and it is an enjoyable and interesting as well as a useful read.

I’m writing with some degree of bias, since I am a new parent and this book heartily recommends doing many of the things that align with my own personal preferences; most notably, it is very strongly against sleep training, which I cannot bring myself to do despite the recommendation of more “traditional” parenting advice outlets. Hurrah! I’m off the hook. It is also broadly in favour of a more liberal and permissive style of parenting than an authoritarian and routine-based one, which suits me better in terms of my own lifestyle and preferences for organising myself, so I think I was always going to be warmly disposed to the message of this book.

And the message of the book feels very current: it is about compassion, understanding and adapting with your child. It is not a guide to how to get your child to fit in with you, or another routine (@ Gina Ford), or how to ‘train’ them to behave. In fact, it is more about training parents to engage with their child as another human to connect with rather than an as-yet-unformed adult to be shaped.

So, in the main, I thought this was an accessible, warm, sensible and highly practical parenting book. There were a few moments, however, that jarred with the praise of the book as ‘warm’ and ‘encouraging’. There is a fair amount of commentary along the lines of “If you do x y z you will inhibit your child’s potential for future happiness” or emotionally stunt them in some other way – one does not expect a parenting book to be without warnings – but sometimes patronisingly followed with or preceded by “Now, don’t throw this book away in a temper if you have been doing x y z – there is always time to change your ways.” The assumption that a reader who had been acting contrary to the book’s advice would have a ‘fit of temper’ seemed condescending and also like a sort of smart-Alec trick: if you disagree with me, I know I’ll be making you angry, and if you are angry that only means I’m right. I thought the book would have been better, felt warmer, and felt more collaborative with its readers without this.

Overall, though, I would strongly recommend to anyone. It is as much about our relationship with our own parents as with our children, and contains much interesting food for thought.

Louise CAV ReviewsReviewed by Louise

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