Thursday 29 February 2024



CLAIRMONT Out today!

**The spellbinding, bold new retelling of the story of Lord Byron and the Shelleys, from the perspective of Claire Clairmont, the incredible woman that history tried to forget.**

'Beautifully written, 
Clairmont tells the sensuous hidden story of an influential historic woman.' Sara Sheridan, author of The Fair Botanists Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year

'An absorbing, intoxicating page-turner about a woman who deserves to be remembered.' Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne and Atalanta

'Riveting - a clever portrait of a fascinating, flawed heroine.' The Times

'An intimate and enlightening tale of one of Romanticism's forsaken muses - an artfully told story that lingers in the mind far beyond the last page' Susan Stokes-Chapman, author of Pandora

1816. A massive volcanic eruption has caused the worst storms that Europe has seen in decades, yet Percy and Mary Shelley have chosen to visit the infamous Lord Byron at his villa on Lake Geneva. It wasn't their idea: Mary's eighteen year old step-sister, Claire Clairmont, insisted.

But the reason for Claire's visit is more pressing than a summer escape with the most famous writers in the world. She's pregnant with Byron's child - a child Byron doesn't want, and scarcely believes is his own.

Claire has the world in her grasp. This trip should have given her everything she ever dreamed of. But within days, her life will be in ruins.

History has all but forgotten her story - but she will not be silenced.


I adored The Longshot and I really enjoyed Gone To The Forest, though not quite as much. Intimacies, for me, comes in third place in terms of the position of reading the books and the enjoyment gained.

There's a quote on the cover of my edition: 'Glitteringly intelligent.' I think it probably is. It feels clever. Almost cold, which puts the title at odds with the story. Perhaps what can be said is that this is a cool series of observations relating to intimicies. There's the unusual relationship with her lover, much of which is at a distance. There's a relationship with a president accused of war crimes, phsically close while also at an intellectual distance. We have the relationship with the law and the legal system, logical and stuck in its ways and hypocracies. New friends whose warmth quickly chills. Perhaps it's telling something of the relationship of a stranger to a strange land (be that literal or not), I'm not entirely sure. 

In the end, I feel it was me who was kept at a distance. When I did get close, it seemed to push me away. That's certainly unusual in a read for me, though I'm not sure how to interpret that reaction. 

Mostly smooth and efficient, there are some examples of information/research dumps that I could have done without. 

It's also listed as one of Barack Obama's favourite reads of 2021 (he sure does get around with is recommendations). Perhaps it was his love of the law that allowed him to fully access Intimacies. 

I'm glad I read it, I'll not be reading it again. 

Tuesday 13 February 2024



New from Joe Clifford, A Moth To Flame

Spanning twenty-five years, A MOTH TO FLAME tells the story of two sisters, Lydia-and Jessica Barrett, who is found, dead, at the bottom of a ravine in 1991 after attending a protest in a support of a recently fired, popular teacher.

Twenty-five years later, Lydia, who suffers from nyctophobia (a fear of the night), is a coroner's investigator on the graveyard shift in Los Angeles. A promotion awaits. Her mentor Maureen Gearon is grooming Lydia to take over as county medical examiner. If Lydia can conquer her fear of the dark.

Early one morning Lydia encounters a woman, whose neck has been broken like her sister's. Checking a missed voicemail, Lydia hears a message from the dead woman who claims to have information about Jess.

While researching her sister's accident, Lydia stumbles upon a true-crime YouTube channel, Night Shade, hosted by a former classmate, Shane Ellet, who maintains Jess' death wasn't an accident; it was murder. Caught in a web of lies and deception are Cam Rawls, Jess' ex-boyfriend and current hometown sheriff; Brad Pearce, the handsome, young English teacher who was sexually involved with students; and a recovering addict, Mark Burns, employed by Richard Fontaine, Mom Gloria's new boyfriend and general contractor. As Lydia grows closer to the truth, the Sand Wildfire breaks out, encroaching, and threatening to burn everything to the ground. Will Lydia learn the truth in time?

In the modern vein of authors such as Thomas Harris, Jeffrey Deaver, Paula Hawkins, and Tana French, A MOTH TO FLAME tells the story of a woman in a man's world, set against the illusion of perfect suburban lives that are anything but, populated with the scariest monsters of all: the ones right in front of our faces that we cannot see through the dark.