Speed reading - love and loss

In Twelve Months and a Day (Harper Collins) Louisa Young writes so beautifully about love and loss that it’s easy to suspend disbelief and immerse yourself in her charming ghost story. Two couples, Rasmus and Jay, Róisín and Nico, find their relationships cut short by death. Jay and Nico continue to haunt the living as they console one another. Jay hopes Rasmus and Róisín will heal each other, but Nico finds it hard to let go. Young also explores music and creativity. A film adaptation surely awaits.

Set in Britain during lockdown, Clare Pollard’s debut novel, Delphi (Fig Tree) is narrated from the perspective of an academic and translator trying to keep her marriage together and shield her 10-year-old son from the pandemic’s worst horrors.

While she researches prophecy in the ancient world – each chapter is named after a mode of premonition – the flaws in her marriage are brought into sharp relief, and so is her escalating fear of the unknown. She ponders the oracles, searching for modern-day equivalents, and becomes increasingly obsessed with trying to divine what the future holds.

Hanne Ørstavik’s metafictional novella Ti Amo (And Other Stories), translated from Norwegian by Martin Aitken, poignantly explores the death of a loved one.

The unnamed Norwegian narrator has not long been with her Italian partner when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. She examines their brief life together, most intimate exchanges and their love which, she recognises, will endure, when he dies. A writer, she also examines the various ways her productivity is affected by grief.

Originally published by The Tablet