Best reads 2007: Diana Procter

2007-12-05 00:00

THE Observations is Jane Harris’s first novel and what a superb debut it is. Set in Scotland in 1863, the tale is narrated by Bessy Buckley, a feisty young Irish girl with a past that she is desperate to escape. There’s enough mystery and intrigue in The Observations to keep readers guessing, but it is Bessy’s compelling narrative that makes this book a triumph. She is by turns bawdy and rollicking, then poignant and touching, and often very funny. Harris’s skill as a writer and her ability to sustain Bessy’s voice convincingly throughout ensures that this is a ripping good read.

Another debut novel that hit the spot was Roopa Farooki's Bitter Sweets, a multi-generational tale of double lives, deception and dissemblance. It has been described as “a zingy fruit salad of a novel — refreshing, colourful and occasionally sharp to the taste”. That pretty much sums it up.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the return of everyone's favourite chocolatier Vianne Rocher in Joanne Harris’s The Lollipop Shoes. Vianne is now living in Paris where she has to deal with an identity thief who has mastered some pretty dark arts. It’s a delicious treat for readers who are prepared to let a little magic and a fair amount of chocolate into their lives.

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