Four more quick reads this weekend

The Edge Of The Fall by Kate Williams
The Edge Of The Fall by Kate Williams
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A Woman On The Edge Of Time: A Son’s Search For His Mother by Jeremy Gavron. Scribe, £16.99 (£4.53). Review by Georgina Rodgers

One morning in December 1965, 29-year-old writer and mother-of-two Hannah Gavron dropped her youngest son off at nursery and drove to a friend’s flat in Primrose Hill, where she gassed herself.

The author of A Woman On The Edge Of Time was that little boy and in this compelling memoir, he investigates why his mother, who seemed to have lived a life of gilded privilege and comfort, would do this.

Just two years before his mother’s suicide, Sylvia Plath took her life in the same way just one street away. Gavron suggests that they were both women on the edge of time – just a bit too young to benefit from the rise of feminism. A fascinating and beautiful read.

The Edge Of The Fall, by Kate Williams. Orion, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Review by Jade Craddock

In The Edge of the Fall, author Kate Williams picks up the historical narrative centred on the Anglo-German de Witt family begun in The Storms Of War. Spanning the post-war period from 1919 to 1926, the novel traces the trials and tribulations of the de Witts, in particular youngest daughter Celia and eldest son Arthur, as they try to re-establish their lives after the war. The arrival of their 16-year-old cousin Louisa offers a potential focus for Celia, but it is Arthur who takes her under his wing before a tragic event that reverberates across the years. Kate Williams has created a resonant and nuanced evocation of life in the aftermath of the First World War.

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam. HarperCollins, £12.99 (ebook £6.49). Review by Rachel Farrow

The title says it all – a devoted husband and his discontented wife set off from West Virginia to Florida to take her pet alligator Albert home. It is absolutely barmy. No one seems even the slightest bit perturbed about the reptile in the back of the Buick. A lifetime of adventures is condensed into one epic journey. It’s utterly charming, exploring the ups and downs of love and marriage. Homer Hickam is an award-winning author, his own memoir Rocket Boys was a New York Times No 1 bestseller. Hickam’s own life has been as eventful (Vietnam veteran, coal miner, palaeontologist and NASA engineer) as that of his parents, whose story is told so warmly here.

Orson Welles, Volume 3: One Man Band by Simon Callow. Jonathan Cape, £25 (ebook £12.99). Review by Michael Anderson

The third volume of Simon Callow’s titanic Orson Welles biography traces Welles’ life from Macbeth’s frosty reception in 1948 to his crowning glory of a noble failure, Chimes At Midnight, two decades later. Welles left a daunting number of loose threads, but Callow has a suitably kitchen sink approach, sources of staggering breadth and detail revealing a brilliant, sad, divisive figure: a boyish genius in constant search of Hollywood’s approval. We appreciate the genuine highs and suffer the myriad lows, project after project abandoned through problems of finance, personality, or the inescapable fact that there was only one Orson Welles.