First thoughts




One Hundred Names

Cecelia Ahern
HarperCollins, €8.99;
adobe ebook, €16.66; Kindle, £5.99
Review: Natalie Bowen

Cecelia Ahern adds to her impressive back catalogue of engaging, successful chick-lit with her ninth novel, One Hundred Names.

Set in Dublin, it is the tale of Kitty Logan, an overly ambitious journalist trying to repair her wrecked career. When her editor and mentor Constance dies from cancer, Kitty is tasked with finishing her last story as a tribute, but all Constance leaves is a list of 100 mysterious names.

The ensuing quest to find these people and puzzle out their link is the trunk of the novel but Ahern throws in gentle criticism of modern journalism and public backlash through Kitty’s personal life to develop a rounded story.

Taken separately, many of the narrative tropes are cliché, particularly the likeable best friend/ex-lover Steve, and there is plenty of humour and heartbreak, but Ahern avoids cloying sentimentality by focusing on character, just as Kitty learns to do.

The Vintage Teacup Club

Vanessa Greene
Sphere, €10; 
adobe ebook, €5.49; Kindle, £3.99
Review: Laura Temple 

If you regularly find yourself craving for a piece of china in a shop or glossy magazine, then former book editor Vanessa Greene’s debut novel is for you.

A chapter in and you’ll find not only your vintage heaven, but three new friends.

Florist Maggie is heading up the biggest event in her career while also dealing with a blast from the past, her ex-husband.

Meanwhile, mother of two Alison is trying to get her dream business venture off the ground, but financial troubles at home look set to put pressure on her marriage.

Finally there’s Jenny, 26 and happily planning the perfect wedding. Then her mum makes a reappearance.

These women are strangers until one Saturday at a Sussex car-boot sale, where they find themselves drawn to one particularly perfect tea service and decide to share it.

As comforting as your favourite brew and a good gossip, you’ll want to join the club.

Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries

Jon Ronson
Picador, £8.39, Kindle £7.49
Review: Dean Haigh 

Ronson is a man of many talents. An accomplished documentary film-maker and radio presenter, he’s best known as a journalist and non-fiction author.

This anthology of previously published articles, from the Guardian, GQ and other publications, follows last year’s acclaimed The Psychopath Test and comprises the best of Ronson’s writing from the past decade or so.

As in all of the author’s full-length works, the driving force behind each of the 24 pieces here is his fascination with strange behaviour, the human mind and alternative thinking.

Highlights include the writer’s visit to the Alaskan theme town of North Pole, where it’s always Christmas, to investigate a high school massacre plot; his going behind the scenes of Noel Edmonds’s Deal Or No Deal; and an especially disturbing account of the Jonathan King trial.

Laura Lamont’s Life In Pictures

Emma Straub
Picador, €13.99,
adobe ebook €16.74, Kindle £6.74
Review: Ben Major

This debut novel by the New York City author follows a woman’s life over five decades, from her childhood in sleepy Wisconsin to her rise to Hollywood stardom. It lifts the lid on all the glitz and glamour of the early 20th century film industry, revealing Elsa’s transformation from a nobody into Laura Lamont, the Oscar-winning actress of the 1930s and 1940s, with titillating views into the creation of a star.

But the most satisfying moments in the book spring from her marriages, the second of which is to a powerful producer, who is only one of the many cogs that keep the industry thriving.

Straub nearly pulls off a wonderful novel about a topic that piques most people’s interest, but she fails to offer any new insights into the machinations of Hollywood, veering away from the extremes of human nature, and leaving the story feeling a little rote.

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