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The best books of 2021, chosen by Monique Roffey

Written by Monique Roffey for The Observer on Sunday, December 5, 2021

Still Life (Fourth Estate) by Sarah Winman gets my vote, not just for its mastery and sweep (Tuscany, the East End of London, war and beyond war, old gay ladies, young men) and the overarching theme of the power of love, but for its talking parrot as character, Claude. Claude gets some of the best lines. Also, Fortune (Peepal Tree Press), by Amanda Smyth, another historic novel, a clandestine love story set amid Trinidad’s early oil drilling years in the 1920s. I also loved English Pastoral: An Inheritance (Penguin) by James Rebanks, out in paperback this year. His family have farmed the same land for 600 years. We’ve lost so much, but Rebanks gives us solutions and myth-busts; a poignant and sad book we need in a time of climate emergency.

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This is a review of Fortune

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