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Femme Bookend: An ernest tale of 1920s love in Paris

The Big Novel

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (Ballantine) is part of that weirdly cannibalistic thing of writing about writers as if they are interesting in themselves, rather than for their stories. Luckily, Ernest 'Papa' Hemingway possessed glam to the nth degree -- war hero, super-stylist, adventurer.

Papa's first wife, Hadley, is the narrator in this bestseller. "I had the best of him," she writes, though the Hemingway we discover in Paris is a pettish brat, and Hadley a swoony wifelet.

As the '20s roar on and the Hemingways live the wild life in Paris with F Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein, Hadley strives for calm domesticity. But Papa swiftly moves on, leaving her with foal at foot as he moves on to second, third and fourth marriages.

Poignant and bittersweet, this is a book for a long train journey -- brilliant, bitter and biting.

The Chicklit

The first of the visions came when Cass was seven, in The Diviner's Tale by Bradford Morrow (Corvus). She begged her teenage brother not to go to the movies. He laughed, and went, and died.

Now, she's a freelance teacher, eking out a precarious living for herself and her twins, and dowsing for water as a nixer.

Wandering through a woodland in New York state she comes on a hanged girl dangling from a tree. When Cass returns with the sceptical police, the girl is gone.

It's the beginning of a fey mystery about water divining and the other world it can reveal. Spooky and bizarre, desultory yet tightly written, The Diviner's Tale is the founding work of a new genre: the futurist murder story.

The Big Non-Fiction

The Israelis banned the press during the Gaza War; on-the-spot reports from Gaza came from Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish's mobile phone to news anchorman Shlomo Eldar on Israel's Channel Ten.

On January 16, 2009, Israeli tanks poured shells into Dr Abuelaish's apartment, killing his three daughters and his niece; he found them "drowning in a pool of blood", brains on the ceiling, a decapitated head.

I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish (Bloomsbury) is the doctor's story. "As Palestinians and Israelis we have failed to change course," he writes. "We just continue with the same approach which aggravates, escalates and widens the gap of hatred and bloodshed."

A tiny book, huge in its impact, and rich reading for anyone facing sorrow and grief. >Lucille Redmond