‘Considering one’s life requires a horribly delicate determination, doesn’t it?’ asks Neve, the narrator of Gwendoline Riley’s slim fifth novel. In the course of an unromantic, ruthlessly exact examination of Neve’s marriage and family history, Riley shapes the narrative into an answer. One might say it takes a similar determination to choose a title shared with novellas by Turgenev and Beckett, but First Love – of a piece but never derivative – has earned their company.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
This 'jaunty narrative raises fundamental questions about the role of popular history. Should this just be a matter of telling tales, as the general public often seems to think?'
@DrLRoach weighs up Charles Spencer's account of the White Ship Disaster.
'Amis clearly belongs to the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do school of pedagogy. More or less everything he says is demonstrably contradicted by elements of his own work, be they here or elsewhere.'
'The bar is set high at the outset, and readers are primed to wonder if Mikhail can make his case.'
Does Alan Mikhail's new life of the Sultan Selim I really overturn 'shibboleths that have held sway for a millennium'? Caroline Finkel investigates.