First thoughts

The Light Between Oceans

ML Stedman

Doubleday, £12.99,

kindle £7.99

Review: Lauren Turner

When a boat bearing the body of a man and a crying baby washes on to the shores of the isolated island that is home to lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne and wife Isabel, it seems like the answer to the childless couple’s prayers.

Still in mourning for her lost baby, Isabel persuades Tom to make a decision that will change both of their lives. It is no coincidence that the island, off the coast of Western Australia, is called Janus, after the Roman god with two faces.

Tom is still scarred by memories of serving on the Western Front and refuses to discuss his past, while Isabel finds that the desire to be a mother transforms her completely.

ML Stedman proves herself to be an accomplished writer in this, her debut novel. While the premise may be extraordinary, she handles it with sensitivity that prevents the novel slipping into the outlandish.

Like a lighthouse, it shines light on dark places, and its emotional resonance will stay with you for days.

Cuckoo In The Nest: 28 And Back With Mum And Dad. Living The Dream

Nat Luurtsema Hodder & Stoughton, €18.50; Kindle, £7.99Review: Daisy Wyatt

Last year stand-up comic Nat Luurtsema found herself penniless and homeless at the grand age of 28. Feeling the brunt of the recession, she decided to move from her pokey flat in north London to her parents’ house in Watford.

Luurtsema must adjust to being attached to the umbilical cord again. She is endlessly frustrated by her parents’ obsessive cleanliness, bad cooking and adoration of the family cat.

Living in suburbia reminds Luurtsema why she left, but she quickly learns to embrace days spent scouring for bargains in out-of-town shopping centres.

Cuckoo In The Nest is a lively, funny and frank account of living back home. A must-read for those who have found themselves back in the family nest, or anyone who has dealt with a returning cuckoo.

The Leftovers

Tom Perrotta

Fourth Estate, £12.99

Review: Ben Major

American novelist and screenwriter Tom Perrotta is no stranger to success, having had two of his previous novels, Election and Little Children, adapted into Golden Globe-nominated films, so it’s no surprise that his new book is a confidently written story.

It opens three years after a Rapture-like event called the Sudden Departure, in which millions of people worldwide suddenly vanished, and concentrates on the town of Mapleton, where people are still reeling from losing loved ones.

As the new mayor, Kevin Mapleton is charged with helping his community through this trying time while also dealing with the loss of his wife, who has joined the Guilty Remnant sect, an estranged son and a rebellious daughter.

A finely crafted novel that slowly builds to a dramatic conclusion, while exposing how damaged and insecure people can be after an horrific event.


SJ Parris

HarperCollins, £9.99.,

Kindle £6.99

Review: Wayne Walls

England, 1584. Giordano Bruno, an Italian philosopher, cosmologist and ex-monk, is asked to solve the murder of a Canterbury magistrate in order to save the life of the woman he loves.

Though he has powerful friends and connections, Giordano must venture alone and undercover in a foreign land rife with fear of plague and invasion.

The murder, however, proves to play a minor role in a centuries-old conspiracy with much graver consequences.

Loosely based on actual events, SJ Parris excellently paints the image of a desperate time in England, when figures such as Giordano were needed to pull humanity out of the dark ages using scientific, forward-thinking principals.

Being the third book in the series, it doesn’t work as a standalone novel, as it leaves you wanting more of the charming ‘detective’ and his misadventures throughout Europe, which I’m sure we’ll get.

More in this section

IE Logo


Your guide to staying at home


Join us for our International Women’s Day virtual lunchtime celebration on Monday, March 8 from 1pm


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.

Discover the

Install our free app today

Available on