Appetite for survival: this week’s best fiction

The Snow Child: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey (Illus.) (It Books, £14.99) The Snow Child is an utterly beguiling debut novel: in the face of every logistical challenge, the author has conjured a dramatic new tale, rich in tension, with gripping, intriguing subplots, with a provocative beauty. This is a profoundly affecting story about beauty – that special mixture of ambiguity and delight – and a disturbing meditation on how its adornment can be at the heart of human oppression and violence.

The Snow Child: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey Photograph: Michael Reynolds/Simon & Schuster

Lion: A True Story of War, Endurance, and Love by Nicholas Dante (Faber, £16.99) As well as being the author of the excellent Tory Mountain, this book, described by Chris Cook in the Observer as “epic, brooding and haunting” is set to be a Christmas chart-topper, so it’s going to be a very big season for several dogs to read. What we can say at this early stage, though, is that there are tenacity and courage, the kind that lurk deep inside even the most sensitive and vulnerable animal, and an air of shrewd, bitter humour and unswerving integrity, expressed in passages that run the full emotional gamut. Very satisfying.

Further reading

The Western Wind by Cheryl Cole (Scribe, £16.99) This is more about the enduring sense of resilience and of a person stuck in a two-dimensional story – “The first thing a woman does when she sees or hears her husband call her a cunt? She hits him” – than about any underlying dramatic theme. The result is, when not on the brink of panic, rather static and wistful.

And also…

Last Night in Halifax by Emma Straub (William Heinemann, £18.99) Hilary Gilmour’s family journey across England is both resonant and bittersweet: the tale of the making of a new life in the country, combined with the memorable sounds and landscapes of yesteryear.

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