A suicide in Albania

A Girl In Exile by Ismail Kadare

A Girl In Exile by Ismail Kadare

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A Girl in Exile by Ismall Kadare. Harvill Secker, £16.99. Review by Alex Sarl

Albania’s most internationally celebrated author here returns to the dying days of his country’s Stalinist tyranny. Playwright protagonist Rudian Stefa is anxiously awaiting the authorities’ approval of his latest work when he becomes involved in their investigation of a young internal exile’s suicide.

The dead girl had one of Stefa’s books, autographed to her, despite the two never having met. The only link between them seems to be Rudian’s lover Migena, who has herself disappeared. The opening chapters are the weakest, but once we finally get closer to the heart of the mystery, Ismall confers new power on an increasingly unusual tale.

The Invisible Irish By Rankin Sherling. Mcgill-Queen’s University Press, £84. Review by Dean Jobb

It’s one of the loose ends of Scots-Irish history: how many Irish Protestants emigrated to the United States in the 19th century, and where did they settle? There’s no simple answer, but Sherling, an American history professor came up with an ingenious approach: follow the clerics.

This is scholarly history and the charts, tables and number-crunching cannot convey the human stories of tragedy, endurance and survival that played out as Ireland’s Protestants set out in search of a better life. But patient readers will glean insights into Irish Presbyterianism, the role of the clergy and the forces behind this overlooked migration.

This is scholarly history and the charts, tables and number-crunching cannot convey the human stories of tragedy, endurance and survival that played out as Ireland’s Protestants set out in search of a better life. But patient readers will glean insights into Irish Presbyterianism, the role of the clergy and the forces behind this overlooked migration.

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon. Mira, £12.99. Review by Rachel Howdle

Hello! editor Rosie Nixon’s first novel takes place over awards season, taking in the sights and sounds of backstage at the Baftas and the Oscars, through the eyes of fashion newcomer Amber Green. Hired as a temporary assistant to celebrity stylist Mona Armstrong, who will never take no for an answer, Amber suddenly finds herself caught in the middle of celebrity chaos and wardrobe malfunctions. This is not a novel which is ever going to trouble the Pulitzer Prize panel, but it is a fun debut novel from the magazine editor. And with hints of The Devil Wears Prada and full of stories fit for the silver screen it may have a life beyond the page.

Gone Astray by Michelle Davis. Pan Macmillan, £12.99. Review By Gill Oliver

If you won the lottery, everything would be perfect. Or would it? That’s the central premise of this debut novel from journalist Michelle Davies, who introduces us to the Kinnock family, who have scooped £12m. After swapping their old home for a more exclusive neighbourhood and sending their teenage daughter, Rosie, to an expensive private school, life should be wonderful. But their good fortune begins to unravel, after Rosie is kidnapped and the couple’s marriage buckles. The story bowls along nicely enough, moving from the euphoria of winners’ luck through desperation, blackmail and murder. Ideal reading for a spring break.

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