LITERARY FICTION

LITERARY FICTION

DINOSAURS by Lydia Millet (Norton £14.99, 240pp)

DINOSAURS 

by Lydia Millet (Norton £14.99, 240pp) 

Forty-five year old Gil, traumatically orphaned as a child and the inheritor of a fossil fuel trust fund, buys a house in Phoenix, Arizona, and walks west all the way from his Manhattan apartment to help recover from a brutal romantic break-up. Once there, he discovers his friendly next-door neighbours live in a glass-walled house where he can literally (and metaphorically) observe their domestic lives. 

He becomes part-babysitter, partmentor to the son, ten-year-old Tom, and, in helping him against bullies, Gil discovers he can salve his millionaire guilty conscience by doing good. 

Millet frequently tantalises us with the spectre of dark deeds (are Gil’s motives pure?) but the possibilities dissolve and instead current secrets are unpeeled, Gil’s past is revisited and ghosts laid to rest. 

This gentle, redemptive novel follows a damaged, trusting man as he heals through human connection and requited love. It may lack conventional drama but it leaves a warm afterglow and an optimism that lingers. 

QUEEN HIGH 

by C.J.Carey (Quercus £16.99, 432pp) 

This sequel to the acclaimed Widowland returns to a dystopian 1950s Britain which, thanks to collaboration by King Edward VIII and Queen Wallis, is a Protectorate of Germany. 

Two years have passed since protagonist Rose Ransom was secretly involved in the assassination of the German leader and she is still ‘correcting’ classic novels for the Culture Ministry, rewriting women as submissive and classified by a caste system. 

Her bosses also recruit her to track down dissident poets hiding among the increasingly active Resistance. 

Then she is sent to interview the now widowed Queen Wallis, who’s desperate to return to America and privately asks Rose to track down a secret document she claims will destroy the Protectorate she helped create. 

Rose’s double life unravels as Carey coldly and cleverly controls the release of who knows what, reflecting the ruthless surveillance techniques of a totalitarian regime where no one trusts anyone. 

SHE AND HER CAT by Makoto Shinkai and Naruki Nagakawa (Doubleday £10, 160pp)

SHE AND HER CAT 

by Makoto Shinkai and Naruki Nagakawa (Doubleday £10, 160pp) 

Even if talking cats aren’t your saucer of milk, bear with this little book in which troubled souls and their feline companions are interlinked in four compassionate and touching stories. 

It began life as a five-minute animation of the story of Chobi, an abandoned cat rescued by young Miyu, who is struggling to live alone for the first time. Chobi falls in love with his owner and leads her to reconnect with life. 

In this expanded book version, Chobi then befriends a cat, Mimi, who is nudging an aspiring artist to create, and Mimi in turn links to Cookie, whose owner is consumed with grief over the death of a friend. 

The final pairing sees rough, tough stray Kuro drawn into the domestic comfort of an elderly carer. 

Narrated by the animals and set in the outskirts of Tokyo, with noisy train tracks, tiny flats and hidden gardens, it’s slyly witty, sentimental and sweet — cat lovers will lap it up. 

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