In brief: Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North; The Book of Phobias and Manias; The Fell – review | Books

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Rachel Joyce
Doubleday, £12.99, pp144

Completing her trilogy of bestselling novels that began with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Joyce returns with a beautiful novella about motherhood, grief and the power of forgiveness. A decade on from her husband’s epic pilgrimage, Maureen undertakes a journey of her own, in search of answers about their son’s suicide. Prickly and wary of strangers, Maureen is nonetheless portrayed with compassion and tenderness by Joyce, and the novel’s conclusion is deeply moving and life-affirming.

Kate Summerscale
Profile Books, £16.99, pp256

This fascinating compendium traces phobias and manias through their rich social, cultural and medical history. We learn that in the US, a third of all people with phobias suffer from a terror of cats (ailurophobia) or dogs (cynophobia). As well as well-known behaviours, Summerscale highlights less obvious fears such as hippophobia (fear of horses, made famous in Freud’s “Little Hans” case study) and coulrophobia (a morbid fear of clowns).

Sarah Moss
Picador, £8.99, pp192 (paperback)

Arguably the first post-pandemic novel to be published when it came out in hardback last year, Moss’s slender masterpiece is replete with economical prose and simmering tension. It’s November 2020 and protagonist Kate is supposed to be adhering to a two-week quarantine period but can bear the claustrophobia no longer. Slipping out of home and on to the moor behind, she is watched by her neighbour and missed by her teenage son. Suspenseful and atmospheric, it’s a truly powerful piece of writing.

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