Book reviews: New reads from Henry Hoke, Natasha Solomons, Leigh Hodgkinson, Ann Patchett and Dr Nighat Arif

Open Throat by Henry Hoke
Open Throat by Henry Hoke

1. Open Throat by Henry Hoke is published in hardback by Picador, priced £14.99 (ebook £8.49).

IN THE movies, lions are typically rapacious, merciless predators who exist only to kill and feed, devouring any humans unlucky enough to cross their path. But is there not, surely, a fearful and emotional side to any creature on the edge of society, forced to understand the world only through observations made from the shadows?

Henry Hoke puts himself in the mind of a mountain lion living underneath the Hollywood sign, whose English is informed by overheard snippets of conversation from LA hipster hikers, who mither about therapy, helicopters and hook-ups, not knowing such danger lurks nearby.

This lion just wants a safe home and looks for it in a homeless 'tent city', and in the basement of a celebrity comedian, with diverse and inevitably violent results.

Witty, emotional and gripping, Open Throat is a short but savage thrill ride.

Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons
Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons

2. Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons is published in hardback by Manilla Press, priced £14.99 (ebook £11.99)

ANOTHER retelling of Romeo and Juliet? Fear not, for lovers of Shakespeare's most readily adapted tragedy will not be disappointed by Solomons' subversive counter-narrative.

Spanning a time both before and after the star-crossed lovers' final descent in the crypt, Fair Rosaline re-imagines both Romeo and Juliet's characters, their motivations, and their destinies to paint a vivid, turbulent, and compelling new narrative fit for both fans and sceptics of the classic tale.

Through the eyes of Shakespeare's neglected Rosaline, cousin to Juliet and former lover to Romeo, readers are invited to contend with an even darker truth surrounding the couple's fate.

Transforming lust into subterfuge and tainting romance with a bitter-sweet morbidity, Fair Rosaline leaves not a stone unturned in its captive untelling. Prepare to see Romeo as you've never seen him before.

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

3. Tom Lake by Ann Patchett is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Publishing, priced £18.99 (ebook £13.29)

TOM Lake is a love story; a love story told by Lara to her three daughters whilst picking cherries in the family orchard. Written with Patchett's characteristic observational skill, it is a tale of the past interacting with the present, and Lara's formative experiences are woven into her current life with her husband and daughters, with the skill of a master craftsman.

Patchett has an inimitable ability to cut straight to the heart of human emotion and to capture moments of truth, which lesser writers would struggle to depict without the use of cliché or clumsy sentiment.

Hauntingly poignant, deft and explorative, the tale of Lara and her former relationship with the actor Peter Duke is testament to the force of first love and how the choices that are made at every turn of the path continue to change us into the future.


The Knowledge by Dr Nighat Arif
The Knowledge by Dr Nighat Arif

4. The Knowledge by Dr Nighat Arif is published in hardback by Aster, priced £22 (ebook £9.99).

THERE'S been a recent and hugely overdue influx of books about women's health, arguably starting with Davina McCall's co-written book Menopausing last year. The Knowledge is the latest addition, and is a brilliant place to start if you want to know more about female health, spanning from puberty through to your fertile years and into midlife.

As a GP, Arif knows her stuff – and is able to communicate everything in an engaging, no-nonsense and understandable way. Cartoons, diagrams and top tips bring this book to life – which comprehensively covers a vast range of issues you likely didn't learn anywhere near enough about at school.

It'll go a long way to demistifying and destigmatising these issues, and Arif is thorough in making sure no one is left behind – making sure anything specific to LGBTQ+ people and ethnic minorities are covered too.


The Princess And The (Greedy) Pea by Leigh Hodgkinson
The Princess And The (Greedy) Pea by Leigh Hodgkinson

5. The Princess And The (Greedy) Pea by Leigh Hodgkinson is published in hardback by Walker Books, priced £12.99 (no ebook)

THE Princess And The (Greedy) Pea is a book reminiscent of the children's classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It follows a pea who is ravenous – and then proceeds to eat everything from soup and bread to sprouts, cheese, pie and cake.

All is going well for the pea, until it gets sleepy and goes to bed – unknowingly disrupting a very grumpy princess. Leigh Hodgkinson – who is best known for doing the animation for TV show Charlie And Lola – has written a particularly whimsical book, turning the classic fairy tale on its head.

This book will delight younger readers at bedtime – the words are lyrically rhyming and the illustrations captivating, but there's not enough of a plot to keep older children entertained.



  1. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
  2. None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell
  3. Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang
  4. Kill For Me Kill For You by Steve Cavanagh
  5. Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
  6. Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong
  7. Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs
  8. A Death In The Parish by Reverend Richard Coles
  9. The List by Yomi Adegoke
  10. Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister


  1. Freddie Mercury: A World Of His Own
  2. Jane's Patisserie Everyday by Jane Dunn
  3. Abroad In Japan by Chris Broad
  4. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken
  5. Pax by Tom Holland
  6. What About Men? by Caitlin Moran
  7. Yiayia by Anastasia Miari
  8. Beyond The Story: 10-Year Record Of BTS by BTS & Myeongseok Kang
  9. Earth by Chris Packham & Andrew Cohen
  10. But What Can I Do? by Alastair Campbell

(Compiled by Waterstones)