Book Prizes Orange Prize

Three books from the Baileys’ longlist

The Dogs of Littlefield

The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne

Five words from the blurb: dogs, poisoned, manicured, lawns, Massachussetts

The Dogs of Littlefield started well, with interesting observations about dog owners. I found their arguments about the shared use of a park interesting as I’m sure the UK will be subject to similar debates about the control of dogs in the near future.

A mystery around the poisoning of local dogs looked like a promising thread, but unfortunately this petered out, leaving only wry observations of the residents in this little town. If you enjoy slow character studies then this could be for you, but I’m afraid it was too subtle and ordinary for me.


The Shadow Of The Crescent Moon

The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto

Five words from the blurb: Pakistan, brothers, war, devastating, morning

The Shadow of the Crescent Moon is set in a small town in Pakistan, close to the Afghan border. It follows three brothers over the course of a single morning as devastating events change their lives forever.

I found the story fragmented and was irritated by the continual flashbacks. The plot was also a bit predictable, with a terrible inevitability that I feel bad for criticising.ย The politics and culture of the area was well described, but I’m afraid I failed to become emotionally engaged.

Unfortunately it is the same tragic story I’ve heard many times before, with no spark of originality to grab my attention. Recommended if you’re particularly interested in the politics of the region.

ย .

Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

Five words from the blurb: photographer, New York, country, life, lens

Still Life with Bread Crumbs is an entertaining story about a photographer who is struggling financially. She leaves her stylish New York apartment for a cheaper cottage in the country. Here she meets a variety of local residents, each with their own story to tell.

The writing was fast paced and vivid, but I’m afraid the story was too ordinary for me. I didn’t really care what happened to any of the characters and the reflections on loneliness and aging were nothing I hadn’t heard before.

If you enjoy lighter fiction, towards the chick-lit end of the scale, you’ll probably love this, but I’m afraid it didn’t have enough depth for me.


Did you enjoy any of these books more than I did?

8 replies on “Three books from the Baileys’ longlist”

I almost bought Bhutto’s book yesterday, but maybe i’ll get it from the library instead. Your assessment of these books is not promising and usually the Orange prize is among my favorites.

Tanya, The prize list as a whole is fantastic, but these 3 are probably the weakest of the 20. Give the Bhutto a try from the library and let me know how you get on ๐Ÿ™‚

I actually just bought the Anna Quindlen for my Mum for Mother’s Day. She likes to read her books (along with the likes of Rosie Thomas and Joanna Trollope) when she wants something “light” in between her Persephones and Viragos. So I was surprised to see her on the longlist and thought perhaps I had misjudged what her books were like (having never read one myself), but your review would suggest I haven’t. Still, perhaps I’ll borrow it when my Mum is done with it (I do sometimes want something “light” myself).

I’m reading The Dogs of Littlefield now and quite enjoying it, but I am curious how and where it will go. I do tend to enjoy slow character studies, particularly those surrounding academia, so I may fare better with it. I was not a fan of Quindlen’s last novel and was surprised to see it on the longlist. I have low expectations for that one. The Shadow of the Crescent One is one of the longlisted titles I’m most intrigued by, but I’m still waiting for my copy to make its way from the UK. I’m glad to have my expectations tempered somewhat.

Carrie, I’ll be very interested in comparing notes on ‘The Dogs of Littlefield’. I think you’ll enjoy it more than I did, but I wonder if you’ll be frustrated by certain elements too? I look forward to your review!

Elizabeth, I’m afraid I haven’t read any of Quindlin’s other books, so can’t compare them, but others have said they are similar. Sounds as though you’ll find this one OK too ๐Ÿ™‚

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