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THE MOST DIF­FI­CULT THING

by Char­lotte Philby, The Bor­ough Press, £12.99 (ebook £5.99)

★★★★★

FIRMLY in the emerg­ing do­mes­tic noir genre, Char­lotte Philby’s de­but is in­tri­cate, enig­matic, and com­pelling to the end.

Philby – an award-win­ning in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist and grand­daugh­ter of Bri­tain’s most fa­mous com­mu­nist dou­ble-agent, Kim Philby – is per­fectly placed to blend spy thriller with do­mes­tic ten­sion. Claims that The Most Dif­fi­cult Thing is rem­i­nis­cent of The Night Man­ager from a woman’s point of view, aren’t far off.

Cen­tred around two women and the men they love, the novel takes a good hard look at the nature of fam­ily, swirled with a gritty un­der­cur­rent of lies and be­trayal.

Told through al­ter­nate chap­ters, Anna and Maria’s dou­ble lives in­ter­weave around a fam­ily pa­tri­arch, ex­pertly try­ing to keep his un­eth­i­cal busi­ness and murky past from catch­ing up with him.

EX­PEC­TA­TION

by Anna Hope, Dou­ble­day, £12.99 (ebook £7.99)

★★★ ★★

ANNA HOPE’S lat­est book fol­lows the lives of three best friends in their twen­ties, liv­ing a care­free, bo­hemian life and dream­ing big about their fu­ture.

Ten years later, their friend­ship is put to the test when the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of mar­riages, failed ca­reers and chil­dren bring them to a place that’s so far from the peo­ple they thought they’d be­come.

This book is an ob­ser­vant look at the com­plex­i­ties of mod­ern fe­male friend­ships and how they can be tested and ul­ti­mately fray with the pass­ing of time.

The char­ac­ters are rich, flawed and messy – and there are plenty of highs and lows as they strug­gle to come to terms with their less-thanper­fect lives.

An en­joy­able, easy beach read for any­one who feels like life didn’t quite pan out as they ex­pected when they were 21.

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