THE REPUBLIC OF LOVE by Carol Shields (World Editions £11.99, 448 pp)


by Carol Shields (World Editions £11.99, 448 pp)

Love is not always a many splendoured thing; sometimes it’s obsessive, ridiculous, deluded, unrequited and pain-inducing but not the wild, passionate rapture of poets and pop songs.

Shields’ brilliant depiction of matters of the heart celebrates the love-joys and traumas of a sprightly cast, including wilting, but determined, faithfully long-wed oldies.

The two protagonists are Fay, who says things such as, ‘Isn’t love a form of vanity, the wish to be adored, to be the absolute centre for someone else’, is bored with her live-in lover and longs for sexual fireworks.

And Tom, divorced three times, yearning for passionate rapture and sick of soulless brief encounters. Will they meet? Will dreams come true? Funny, sharp, sheer turbo-charged brilliance.

THE FIRM by John Grisham (Arrow £8.99, 496 pp)


by John Grisham (Arrow £8.99, 496 pp)

Young newlyweds, Mitch and Abby, are overjoyed when he lands a dream job with a small law firm — fabulous salary, luxury house, free holidays in the Caymans and a gleaming BMW.

So, what’s the catch? Mitch discovers their house and car are bugged, there’s secret sinister activity on the office fifth floor and several lawyers have come to sticky ends. Sleuthing around, he even finds Mafia connections. The plot hots up: spies, bent cops, jail breaks, car chases, tax dodgers, fake names, prostitutes as spies, guns, drugs . . . phew!

All a bit too pacy for me, I kept losing track of who was who. It will certainly put you off booking a holiday to the Cayman Islands.

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