UNEXPECTED LESSONS IN LOVE, by Bernardine Bishop. John Murray, 2013, 378 pp., £16.99 (hardcover)

This is a vibrant and even welcoming novel, though it’s substantially concerned with last things. Only the title lets it down, being a sort of kaftan, something designed to fit everyone that suits no one. The section titles “Gut Feeling” and “Shit Scared” strike an entirely different note, and perhaps it’s just that the publisher has lost nerve. The important thing is that the writer hasn’t.

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