This week: simply wisdom from a plethora of sources

This week there’s a memoir from a woman who was tricked by a man and subsequently discovered that the guy is a sociopath. There’s a novel about baking (well, it includes baking, but obviously there’s more to it).

There’s a book about handling life’s many slings and arrows. There’s a charming book about a little lamb and a twisty thriller from a woman who knows how to chill the blood.

The Chain, Chimene Suleyman, W&N, €16.99

Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always thought that meeting a potential partner through a dating app is at best risky, at worst an act of wanton self-destruction. And when the author of this memoir met Him (never named, an alleged comedian in New York but seemingly an unpaid one because he never had a bob), she was impressed. Until she found herself in an abortion clinic with him at her side. And while she was being seen by the medics, he fled, never to be seen again. Some online investigation on social media uncovered dozens of women who had been duped and some who’d been swindled by this very same charmer.

These women have formed the chain of the title, a large number of victims of this conman, in a similar fashion to the #MeToo Movement. But in the case of all of these women, the perpetrator is just one person. This book describes the author’s anguish in the aftermath of her relationship with the monster, echoed through the experiences of those she interviews. A strange, unsettling read.

The Trade Off, Sandie Jones, Pan, €14.99

As a union member who pays my monthly NUJ subs, I like to believe that newspapers make a difference in telling the truth. But, just like everyone else, I know most that tabloids are in the business of only making money, their sole raison d’etre. When young Jess gets a job on The Globe, assured by her editor that he wants to elevate his newspaper from gutter status to serious broadsheet, she believes him. (I did say she was young!) Whatever this editor says, Jess is unaware that he answers to bosses who insist on doing what they’ve always done. Which is printing rubbish, half-truths and downright lies, anything they can get away with.

But Jess has reservations about tricking a famous actress into getting busted for drugs. And even more reservations about a #MeToo story that stinks to high heaven. But a gig’s a gig, right? As time passes, Jess realises she’s in too deep, bitten off more than she can chew, throw every cliché a tabloid paper would at it, to describe her situation. She’s in the brown stuff and the stakes are alarmingly high. This is a convincing deep dive into the murk of red-top journalism, which is even uglier than you might think.

Mrs Quinn’s Rise to Fame, Olivia Ford, Michael Joseph, €16.99

Baking has become an obsession for lots of unlikely people and has largely been sparked by various reality TV shows like Master Chef, the Great British Bake Off, Come Dine With Me… the list is long. It’s not just here and in the UK, this craze has spread across the globe. Olivia Ford has harnessed the phenomenon in her charming novel, where a septuagenarian lady takes her recipe to the equivalent of The Great British Bake Off and becomes an almost overnight media sensation.

Mrs Quinn lives in one of those small English towns they use as settings for televised Agatha Christie episodes, quiet and green with pubs dating back to the Tudors and everyone keeping a perfect garden. Her husband believes that their adventure days are well behind them, but Jennifer is not having any of it. Her entry to the baking competition is her way of confirming that there’s still lots of life left to live and adventures still to come. There is, however, the small matter of an old secret she has never revealed all these years, and her newfound fame might just threaten that. A perfect ‘cosy read’ for these wet evenings of April showers floods. Immerse yourself!

When Things Don’t Go Your Way, Haemin Sunim, Penguin, €14.99

Haemin Sumin is a South Korean-born Buddhist monk who was educated in some of America’s finest ivy league colleges and also taught in them. He now lives the monastic life back in Seoul but continues to write, and his books are consistent chart-toppers. One of his previous books, The Things that You See, spent a staggering 41 weeks at the number one spot in book sales in South Korea. What’s particularly engaging about his latest is that he’s not just simply offering Buddhist teaching on how to handle adversity, but he’s quoting and drawing from many others in the field of psychiatry, psychology and spiritual teaching as well as from literature and the arts.

The well from which he draws here is deep and various, so you’ll encounter quotes from, for example, Virginia Woolf, The Gospel of Matthew, Wayne Dyer, Carl Jung, Oliver Goldsmith, Schopenhauer, TS Eliot, the list is as long as it is eclectic. And there’s nothing dogmatic here, simply wisdom from a plethora of sources. This, and the fact that it’s so beautifully presented and illustrated, makes it a perfect book to dip into daily, just for a bit of battery recharge. It would make a lovely gift for someone. Or for yourself.

The Little Lamb Who Led, Katie O’Donoghue, Gill, €13.99

Little Lamb has lost her mother but has every confidence she’ll find her, if she can manage to climb the scary mountain. Along the way she meets lots of other creatures who bolster her confidence, so by the end of her journey, it’s Little Lamb herself who’s leading the way. The author is also the illustrator of this book and it’s a little gem for the five to seven age group.


Join Irish authors Sinéad Crowley, Carmel Harrington, Hazel Gaynor and Amanda Geard in Pearse Street Library, Dublin on Wednesday May 1 at 6.30pm for a chat about historical novels. This will be both informative and good craic. Admission is free but ticketed, booking through Eventbrite.