Arts

Books: Five new books to read this week

 Metamorphosis by Penelope Lively

FICTION

:: Metamorphosis by Penelope Lively is published in hardback by Fig Tree, priced £20 (ebook £9.99)

PENELOPE Lively's latest treasure trove is a compilation of previously published stories, bookmarked by two new lengthier tales. Together, they map her journey as a friend, parent and lover – but most importantly as a writer. She asks the question: what does it all amount to? Lively has mastered the art of her craft with each story encapsulating its own vividly imagined universe, leaving the reader with a sometimes sombre, often challenging moral sentiment. Tales range from one set in the Devonshire countryside to an Egyptian airport, a bus ride through central London and a journey back to ancient Rome. Metamorphosis covers such a wide range of locations, characters and styles with ease and elegance. A witty and grounding collection of 26 stories that inspire you to embrace life's teachings and everything we leave behind.

:: Are We Having Fun Yet? by Lucy Mangan is published in hardback by Souvenir Press, priced £16.99 (ebook £13.01)

GUARDIAN TV columnist Lucy Mangan's debut novel is written in diary form over the course of a year, seeing Liz deal with her 40th birthday, a dishwasher on the fritz, the potential break up of a friend's marriage and the perils of motherhood – along with a lawyer husband who truly thinks he pulls his weight. Liz battles a young boss, her nemesis in the PTA and her own self-doubt while nurturing her children: self-possessed and potential sociopath Evie, five, and sweet Thomas, seven. Her eternal goal is for a little peace and quiet. Mothers will smile with recognition at the dilemmas, rotas and pitfalls of modern parenting. Mangan's trademark wit runs through the book, with the children at the heart of it. If you're the target audience, you will love the humour and humanity – let's hope you can find a moment to yourself to actually read it.

:: Riccardino by Andrea Camilleri is published in hardback by Mantle, priced £16.99 (ebook £8.99)

ANDREA Camilleri asked for Riccardino, the 28th and final chapter of his esteemed Inspector Montalbano series, to be locked away until he died. The Italian author passed in 2019, and in his final hurrah the quirky Sicilian detective tracks down a motorbike-riding assassin. Montalbano is especially invested in the murder as hours earlier he was awoken by the future victim, who somehow misdialled his number. Who he really meant to call is key to unravelling the truth, and here Montalbano is ably assisted by Camilleri as he inserts himself in the narrative. While the case is another intriguing one, shot through with dark humour and vividly illustrated by Montalbano's many idiosyncrasies, the metafiction approach does not work altogether convincingly and derails the tale towards the end – although devoted fans will inevitably be charmed regardless.

NON-FICTION

:: The Book Of Hope: A Survival Guide For An Endangered Planet by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams is published in hardback by Viking, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.99).

CAN hope save our planet? Dr Jane Goodall, the naturalist, conservationist and UN Messenger of Peace, suggests so. Since 1960, when she first set off to the forests of Gombe in Tanzania at age 26 to make revelatory discoveries about chimpanzees, Goodall has devoted her life to nature. This vast breadth of knowledge and experience undoubtedly shines through in The Book Of Hope – a series of conversations with co-author Douglas Abrams. In a time where many feel hopeless about the ice caps melting, fires blazing, animal extinction, political turmoil, prejudice and the effects of Covid-19, Goodall presents hope not just as wishful thinking, but as the impetus to act. Abrams challenges her largely positive message with a healthy dose of scepticism – the book might lack suggestions for how to get world leaders to make real change rather than empty promises, but it certainly succeeds in instilling you with enough hope to consider the power of your own actions more.

CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE WEEK

:: I'm Sticking With You Too by Smriti Halls, illustrated by Steve Small, is published in hardback by Simon & Schuster Children's, priced £12.99 (ebook £4.99). Available now

THIS follow-up to 2020's I'm Sticking With You is a lovely expansion of the original buddy story. In the first book, Squirrel realised although Bear's company could be overwhelming, he really did love having him around. This time, Chicken wants to join them and form a musical band, and initially Bear and Squirrel reject him before realising three doesn't have to be a crowd. Fans will find it quite strange to see their beloved Bear and Squirrel acting so unkindly, but it's ultimately another heartfelt message of accepting people's differences and letting go of your own selfishness – told in Halls' masterful sing-song rhyme ideal for early readers or parents telling a bedtime story. Small's clean, distinguishable style shows children's illustrations can evoke huge feelings without having to be too exaggerated.

BOOK CHARTS: HARDBACK (FICTION)

1. The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

2. Silverview by John le Carré

3. The Haunting Season by Bridget Collins, Natasha Pulley and more

4. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

5. Dune by Frank Herbert

6. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

7. Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

8. The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

9. The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa

10. Sharpe's Assassin by Bernard Cornwell

(Compiled by Waterstones)

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