Our 7 Most Favorable Reviews in July 2023

  • August 2, 2023

We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony last month.

Our 7 Most Favorable Reviews in July 2023

The Pain of Pleasure: A Novel by Amy Grace Loyd (Roundabout Press). Reviewed by Chris Rutledge. “Central to the story are the good Dr. Berger, proprietor of a renowned clinic for migraine sufferers; Mrs. Watson, his patron, loyal supporter, and foil; and Ruth, a nurse with secrets whom Mrs. Watson brings in to spy on the doctor...Loyd gives each member of this wide cast their due. Not a scene or description is wasted, and the writing is full of a sensual eroticism that ties the heightened senses and auras arising from migraine together with the thrill of arousal. If they don’t know how painful migraine actually is, readers might come away thinking it nearly orgasmic.”

The Burning Land: The Overstreet Saga, Book Two by David O. Stewart (Knox Press). Reviewed by Peggy Kurkowski. “The Burning Land is a rewarding experience for historical fiction fans and does not require reading the first installment to appreciate the second. For those wanting a true-to-life story with indelible characters set during the American Civil War — and the transformative years after — this fits the bill in spades.”

The Lock-Up: A Novel by John Banville (Hanover Square Press). Reviewed by Bob Duffy. “This amounts to something of an anti-convention in the hoary practice of mystery series. Here, as in April in Spain (2021), the novel preceding this one in the series, Banville lets his formidable novelist’s impulses take the wheel. He seems more interested in creating a resonant social commentary than in plotting out a suspenseful whodunit. His setting for this series — the first eight volumes of which were released under the pseudonym Benjamin Black — is Ireland in the mid-1950s. The most recent three, issued under his real name (a giveaway in its own right), flaunt this new upscale wrinkle, with Banville, the Booker Prize laureate, tossing familiar genre tropes overboard.”

To Dye For: How Toxic Fashion Is Making Us Sick — and How We Can Fight Back by Alden Wicker (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). Reviewed by Yelizaveta P. Renfro. “Early in To Dye For, [the author] mentions Rachel Carson, whose pioneering Silent Spring also challenged the conventional view (and ultimately led to the banning of the pesticide DDT). It is no stretch to imagine that Wicker’s work will galvanize a similar movement to rid ourselves of the toxins that lurk in our clothing.”

Counterweight: A Novel by Djuna; translated by Anton Hur (Pantheon). Reviewed by Andrea M. Pawley. “Forget about blinking while reading this book. If you do, you might miss the lines explaining how Han Junghyuk is related to Han Suhyun, or who Han Bugyeom is. Love interests come into play, too, with all their associated lineages, accomplishments, and grievances. Not all mysteries will be resolved by the novel’s end, but that doesn’t matter. Fast-paced and exhilarating, Counterweight is worth the ride.”

After the Funeral and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley (Knopf). Reviewed by Samantha Neugebauer. “In Tessa Hadley’s world, dreams, fantasies, and literature can all herald the onset of aesthetic experiences. And those experiences, in turn, remind us that reality feels a lot like Wonderland sometimes and that we all, like Alice, may need to sip Drink Me potions to navigate the narrow hallways of our lives.”

Loot: A Novel by Tania James (Knopf). Reviewed by Carrie Callaghan. “Those journal entries capture in miniature much of what James depicts in this novel: the movement of humanity, the impulse to kindness, the stupidity of racism, and the impact of thwarted connections. Colonialism has a cost for Abbas and others in his home, but it has a cost for the colonizers, too. And because people, James seems to argue, are often creative and loving and funny, even colonialism offers opportunities amid the tragedy. People move to new lands, suffer, and persevere. It’s rare that such a delightful reading experience can also deliver such a complex message.”

Subscribe to our newsletter here, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest! Advertise with us here.

Believe in what we do? Support the nonprofit Independent!
comments powered by Disqus