February 2010 Book of the Month shortlist: a trio of feisty, witty women
The start of the year is so dispiriting, we need a healthy shot of feistiness to keep spirits up and inner fires burning. So, all three of this month's shortlisted authors are suitably outspoken, witty and tough-minded. They cut to the chase. You know that, faced with a grim, wet morning, they would neck a whisky, sum up the wintry gloom in a pithy soundbite and get on with the job. But which one's new book would you choose as our February Book of the Month?
Read about the books and then VOTE for the one you'd most like to be our February Book of the Month.
An Education by Lynn Barber
We've admired the clear-sighted, crisp style of Lynn Barber's interviews for years. TillyBookclub met her at a recent book launch and reports that she's not at all the Demon Barber of her nickname, but softly spoken, self-effacing and smiling. Her memoir kicks off with her extraordinary run-in with a con man when she was just 16, then chronicles her career through the old-style Fleet Street and her experience of her adored husband's terminal illness. It is brisk, sharp and enjoyable – just as you would expect.
Critics say: "Lynn Barber writes beautifully, with a frankness that is occasionally devastating and without an iota of sentimentality or self-pity as she tells her story, which I defy you not to be gripped by – parents, class, sex, love, dodgy blokes, Oxford, Penthouse, and the rest. There isn't a boring sentence in the entire book, which isn't something you find yourself saying very often." India Knight
The Rapture by Liz Jensen
Liz Jensen's books are masterpieces of twisted originality and psychological insight – especially War Crimes for the Home and The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. And they're funny, too. She's been nominated for the Orange and Guardian prizes, and inspires a devoted legion of fans. The Rapture is a more straightforward thriller but with a trademark Jensen twist. Bethany is a 'devil-child' in a psychiatric ward, who predicts natural disasters with wild delusion. Or so the psychologist Gabrielle (also a wounded, damaged soul) believes... Pacy, plotty and passionate about our future, this is a page-turner with brains.
Critics say: "A masterclass on how to write an engaging thriller about a relevant contemporary issue while still respecting the reader's [intelligence]... You'll be gripped." Irvine Welsh
You Don't Have to Be Good by Sabrina Broadbent
Sabrina Broadbent is quite a dark horse in fiction. Despite publishing three novels, her Amazon pages aren't yet full of reviews – although you may have come across her journalism. She is a teacher and writes directly and engagingly about a wide range of issues, from divorce to education policy. Her novels are equally thoughtful and clever, and the subtle wit and emotion imbued in these tales of seemingly normal life have inspired critics to call her a British Anne Tyler. In this novel, a childless middle-aged woman disappears, causing her extended family to fall apart and many mysteries to come to light.
Critics say: "Broadbent's writing is funny and spry, and her characters nicely unconventional." Independent on Sunday
Vote for your choice by Sun 31 January and then join our book club discussion on Tues 23 February.
Last updated: almost 2 years ago