Fifth Post

Translated Fiction – Anomaly in the UK

What is Translated Fiction?

This question has absorbed me for some time as a wonderful philosophical question when I studied for a Translation MA and also on a practical level when I have worked in bookshops and libraries.

Is it a separate category? Should it be treated as a separate category when shelving books and creating displays? A case can definitely be argued for putting translated fiction in its own curated space. If you create an interesting display in a bookshop you are performatively asking your customers to consider and recognise that the book is translated, perhaps raising your customers’ awareness that they can choose books from other cultures, increasing the visibility of the translator and broadening the experience of those who come into contact with it.

This task of curation is made easier in the UK due to the relatively low levels of translated fiction in the UK compared with other EU countries for example.

It is an amazing experience to read an author in their own language (I can only manage this in French) but for most of us most of the time we read translations and form opinions of the writer based on the words and language used by the translator. They are writers and creators in their own right. Do you agree? The translators of this selection of Translated French Fiction are listed in the reviews below.

Try some of the best French fiction around! From prize-winning crime to light and quirky short novels there is something for every Francophile! Black Water Lilies is a heady mix of murder, mystery and Monet and do not let anyone give you any spoilers! The Godmother is a uniquely dark and comic story about a middle-aged interpreter becoming unintentionally involved in a life of crime. The Girl Who Reads on the Metro is a delightful love story about reading and books while Vintage 1954 is a sweet, frothy and charming fable of Paris. Bon appetit!

Vintage 1954

Antoine Laurain

More like a frothy, sparkling Blanquette de Limoux! Pour a glass and leave your preconceptions and logic behind and come to Paris and see the young Parisians. Francophiles rejoice and enjoy this sweet and charming tale of wine, magic and mystery. Translators: Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce

Black Water Lilies: ‘A dazzling, unexpected and haunting masterpiece’ Daily Mail

Michel Bussi

I literally cannot and will not praise this book enough! it needs to be read without even the hint of a clumsy or unintentional spoiler….. Suffice to say it is a masterpiece of murder, mirage, mystery and Monet. Ridiculously good and original! Translator: Shaun Whiteside

The Godmother

Hannelore Cayre

Dark edgy humour and desperation as a woman of a certain age sets out on a life of crime with style and verve. Formidable! Translator: Stephanie Smee

The Girl Who Reads on the Metro

Christine Feret-Fleury

Find out how Juliette walks away from her old life in order to follow her love of literature and books. This delightful novel is a love story to reading and choosing books and makes a perfect gift. Spread the joy! Translator: Ros Schwartz

The List of my Desires

Gregoire Delacourt

An enchanting fable of love, loss, hopes and dreams. Joyous and inspiring and the perfect length to read in one sitting. Translator: Anthea Bell

Fourth Post – Connell’s Chain #MenDoRomanticFiction

It can sometimes be hard to choose what type of book to read next – this will be a subject we’ll return to again as it can be one of the most vexatious aspects of reading – should you have a run on historical fiction, biography, sport etc to feel immersed in that genre or is it best to mix it up? Should you have several books ‘on the go’ at one time? I digress, we’ll return to this at a later date.

Today I want to explore whether you have ever tried romantic fiction? Or contemporary relationship fiction? Romantic fiction is seemingly ruled by female authors and is apparently subdivided into chick lit, sagas, erotic fiction etc and many readers dismiss it as lightweight, trashy or shallow – by women for women.

But romantic fiction is not what it first seems. Many men write about love – David Nicholls, Nick Hornby, Mike Gayle, James Bailey, Graham Norton are very successful contemporary writers of romantic/relationship fiction. The popular saga writers Jessica Blair and Emma Blair (not related) are in fact Bill Spence and Ian Blair respectively. I sometimes divulged this information to my lovely elderly lady borrowers when I worked at a village library to try to encourage them to broaden their range of authors, telling them they were already reading male writers – some would still not be persuaded. One lady would only read Catherine Cookson and was very irritated when I could not supply her with new reading material.

Many elderly male borrowers were very keen to get their hands on cowboy fiction which I fondly imagined described shootouts, bank robberies and riding lonesome on the trail. Not so. They were essentially quite racy romantic fiction with horses (no, not in that way!) So there is an appetite for men to read romantic fiction and to write it.

This week’s list celebrates male and female authors who write with sensitivity and honesty about emotional connection and communication. In the summer of 2020, Normal People and #ConnellsChain became a symbol of tender and sometimes tentative male sexuality. If you’ve never tried this type of fiction, try one from this highly recommended selection. It literally is just people writing about relationships and love.

Connell’s Chain

Outstanding contemporary relationship fiction from male and female authors. Like Connell’s chain, these are all guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and reaffirm your belief in life and love!

Now so long, Marianne
It’s time that we began to laugh
And cry and cry and laugh about it all again

Home Stretch

Graham Norton

Small town Ireland page turner, written with warmth and intelligence. Fills a Maeve Binchy shaped hole (would love to hear Graham saying that last phrase) and he walks from the big red chair after a tale well told!

Three Women and a Boat: A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Title

Anne Youngson

Gentle, charming and uplifting, think an Enchanted April on a narrowboat.

The Flip Side: ‘Utterly charming, funny and very relatable’ Josie Silver

James Bailey

Very funny romance from a male perspective. Have fun casting the inevitable romcom film!

Just Like You

Nick Hornby

Excellent storytelling and full of trademark humour.

Such a Fun Age: Longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize

Kiley Reid

You must read this book.

The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside

Jessica Ryn

Optimism in book form!

The Guest List

Lucy Foley

Now you might be wondering why a thriller is here but it is about a wedding party and secrets and passions abound in this locked room marriage/murder story. Wildly entertaining!

If I Never Met You

Mhairi McFarlane

Funny romance to devour in one sitting.

The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually: A beautiful and poignant Irish love story

Helen Cullen

Amazing book which you will either find therapeutic or you may need therapy afterwards. Intensely moving and just beautifully written!

Half a World Away: The heart-warming, heart-breaking Richard and Judy Book Club selection

Mike Gayle

A tear-jerking and emotional journey with great characters.

The Switch

Beth O’Leary

It’s only her second novel but you already feel you are in safe hands with Beth O’Leary. You can relax and enjoy the treat in store, knowing you will laugh, cry and wish you could spend more time with Leena and Eileen!

A Theatre for Dreamers: The Sunday Times bestseller

Polly Samson

Enjoy the warmth of some Greek sun and musings on life, love and poetry. Atmospheric escapism!

The Man Who Didn’t Call

Rosie Walsh

A perfectly pitched read about the aftermath of a romance which suddenly ends for no apparent reason. Brilliant humour, plot and storytelling. Faultless.

Normal People

Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne. Discover their story.

Normal People: The Scripts

Sally Rooney, Alice Birch, et al.

Relive the love story of the summer. Who said what to whom and when. Gorgeous photographs. See if you can spot Connell’s chain.

Third Post

Football Mavericks, Romantics and Philosophers

Football and sports writing may be an acquired taste but it is worth cultivating. At this time of year there are many novelty, humorous and quiz based sport books but there are also many insightful stories and essays on sport.

I personally do not tend to turn first to celebrity biographies, though many are very well written. I find great appeal in stories told about lesser known clubs and sporting figures and enjoy writers who pull together themes which are at the edges of sport and how it interacts with our society, our world and our philosophy of life (see

The effects of Covid on football as a spectacle have become very apparent over this strangest of years. We always knew that crowds were vital, important, the 12th man, but the virus showed us just how much the theatre of football is diminished without the crowd there to react, ignite and sustain the efforts of the team. It has also brought about some of the strangest set of results known in modern times – I like to think that Liverpool could not have lost 7-2 to Villa if a crowd had been there!

It was a big year for Liverpool (, a first title in 30 years, and although there was joy when Chelsea sealed the deal, it felt more of a blessed relief to win than an outpouring of joy. Waiting to see if the season would carry on ratcheted up the tension and made the 30 year wait seem like an eternity!

Here are three selections of great sporting books:-

  1. Football Mavericks,

Featured below

2. YNWA Liverpool

The euphoria, the blessed relief! 2020 was nearly all bad news, but for LFC it was a year to remember – a title after 30 years and a lockdown break. Relive the season which was so long in the making and rejoice in this selection – perfect for Liverpool FC fans!

3. Sporting Classics

Books about sport which have stood and will stand the test of time. These books are always about more than sport and tell us about psychology, our need to win and share in sporting triumph and transport us to specific moments in time. All of these show us the best and worst in human sporting endeavour and how sport endures and immortalises. You’ll also learn about octopus wrestling!

Football Mavericks, Romantics and Philosophers

Love affairs with football come in many guises – Jack Charlton was a one-club man, Wenger stayed with Arsenal to the bitter end and nearly every man, woman and child in the country has a crush on Klopp. Who are Ya? explores the pain and joy of supporting a football team and What we Think About When We Think About Football has been out for a while but is an amazing discussion of the philosophy and poetics of football and how we seem to enter another dimension of time and space when we watch it. The new biography of Bielsa, explores the method and madness of Leeds’ maverick manager. Take your pick and feel the love!

Klopp: My Liverpool Romance

Anthony (Film Critic/Book reviewer) Quinn

Everyone crushes hard on Klopp and Quinn explains why this is justified. The results, the belief, the teeth, the hugs and just the small matter of a first title in 30 years!

What We Think About When We Think About Football

Simon Critchley

Discover the great footballing philosophers, Heidegger, Zidane, Sartre, Clough and Klopp!

The Farther Corner: A Sentimental Return to North-East Football

Harry Pearson

For football fans who want to be entertained, educated and feel the soul of the game needs to be cherished. A funny, poignant and melancholy masterpiece.

Who Are Ya?: 92 Football Clubs – and Why You Shouldn’t Support Them

Kevin Day

Who are Ya? Football trivia perfection, that’s who. Look no further for the Stocking Filler for Football Fans of all ages and tribes!

My Life in Red and White: My Autobiography

Arsene Wenger

Arsène explains. Not everything mind, but exactly as you’d expect from Le Professeur. Insightful and a class act.

Extra Time: 50 Further Delights of Modern Football

Daniel Gray

Wonderfully thoughtful collection of short essays to dip into which reminds us why we love the beautiful game.

The Quality of Madness: A Life of Marcelo Bielsa

Tim Rich

Everyone loves Klopp. Everyone respects Wenger. Everyone admires Ferguson. Everyone covets Guardiola. Bielsa however is perplexing and intriguing and you feel if you read this you may well discover arcane secret knowledge of how to manage a football team. El Loco has certainly transformed Leeds and taken them to the Premiership in style!

Jack Charlton: The Autobiography

Jack Charlton

A timely biography of Ireland’s favourite Geordie!

Let me know your favourite sporting book and why you loved it!

Second Post

Find Your New Favourite Detective!

If you like crime fiction then you probably have a favourite detective, right? The nation’s favourites are usually the Big 3 – Sherlock, Poirot and Marple and there are now spinoffs which prolong the fictional lives and investigations of these world-famous detectives. There are also many household names such as George Gently, Morse, Vera and Frost who usually also have accompanying TV series befitting their national treasure status.

However, what they cannot offer is the thrill of being there at the very start (or thereabouts!) of a new detective series. Can anything beat it? Picking up the first in a series, knowing there is more to come and experiencing the smug anticipation of the next instalment is certainly a delicious feeling. Equally, if you find a series you love and there are already several published you have the enviable choice of bingeing them or going for the delayed gratification option of pacing yourself with one or two per year!

When you’re looking for a new series to read it is usually an instant feeling of affinity with a detective, investigator or amateur sleuth which grips you – perhaps their sense of humour, their private life or sometimes the setting or era in which they operate.

Here is a selection of some of the best new and newish crime fiction series around. Take your pick from amateur sleuths such as the world weary part-time consul in the Venetian Game, deaf fraud investigator, Caleb in the outback noir, Resurrection Bay or Ruth Galloway a forensic archaeologist in The Crossing Places set in the eerie and majestic Norfolk landscape. Or perhaps you might prefer the edgy and darkly comic IQ set in the mean streets of LA. The eponymous IQ is an unlicensed PI and is a brilliant new series which wittily pays homage to Sherlock Holmes. Trevor Wood recently won the CWA New Blood Dagger for his thrilling, pacy and original The Man on the Street – Jimmy, the homeless ex-army sleuth is an engaging reluctant detective in a bold and brilliant debut. 

The Long Call is the first in a promising new Ann Cleeves series and The Stranger Diaries is the first in a new series by Elly Griffiths featuring detective Harbinder Kaur and is a gorgeously atmospheric and gripping autumn read. Do not even try to resist the hypnotic beckoning of the marvellous tale within a tale at the beginning: “Why not pass the hours with some storytelling?”

Eight of The Best Crime Fiction: First in Series

The Crossing Places: The Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries

Elly Griffiths

Great atmosphere, tension and plotting and this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. You will love Dr Ruth and her forensic archaelogical investigations, be powerless to resist her on/off love life, be invested in the marvellous cast of supporting characters and enchanted by the majestic Norfolk landscape. Simply a great crime series!

The Man on the Street

Trevor Wood

Crime fiction does not normally concern itself with the homeless. But here in an original new series, a homeless man turns reluctant investigator in Trevor Wood’s excellent debut which grips from the start and is simultaneously smart, brutal, tender and addictive.

IQ: ‘The Holmes of the 21st century’ (Daily Mail)

Joe Ide

A demon dog, dazzling deduction – so far so Sherlock Holmes. But IQ, is an orphaned street smart kid from South Central LA and you can’t help rooting for him. Read to find your inner gangsta and a great new detective partnership. Full of adrenaline, thrills, menace, expletives and humour this is a bold badass book!

The Venetian Game: a haunting thriller set in the heart of Italy’s most secretive city

Philip Gwynne Jones

Nathan Sutherland is a delightfully jaded but heroic crime fighter who smokes, drinks and eats his way through the canals and shadows of Venice as he becomes embroiled in art crime. Superb fun and will make you yearn to visit La Serenissima!

The House on Half Moon Street: A Richard and Judy Book Club 2019 pick

Alex Reeve

Original and thought provoking historical crime full of rich detail and atmosphere.

Resurrection Bay

Emma Viskic

A lead character with impaired hearing forces the reader into a silent world, hard to decipher. This silence clashes to great effect with the vivid and brutal Australian crime story and the outback landscape. An intriguing debut full of vigour, violence and action.

The Long Call

Ann Cleeves

A new detective and a new setting for Ann Cleeves fans. A more considered and thoughtful detective than Vera or Perez but equally engaging and an excellently plotted mystery with evocative descriptions of North Devon.

The Stranger Diaries

Elly Griffiths

Gothic thrills, mystery and dark humour from an expert in suspense and plotting. Perfect for dark nights in by the fire!

Find your New Favourite Detective and let me know any other new detective series you are currently enjoying!

First Post – Return to Manderley

The Book Labyrinth aims to connect you with books and enjoy the world you want to create with your reading.

As we explore together, I hope to give you ideas to add to your favourite authors and books and find new books to treasure and enjoy!

The Book Labyrinth will be signposting your way to new authors and books and reading pleasure with booklists, discussions, mini essays and reviews.

The Book Labyrinth loves mysteries, thrillers, psychological thrillers and crime amongst many other genres, but it can’t be denied that the Labyrinth houses fiction which will get your spine tingling, those pages turning and the little grey cells working in overdrive.

Return to Manderley

Our first list then revolves around the classic thriller, Rebecca. Everyone has their own version of Manderley, an idyllic place where you want to return or belong, but which seems unattainable and this is perhaps why the book has such a universal appeal and has stood the test of time. Discover or re-read Rebecca, Du Maurier’s gothic masterpiece before you watch the new film or if you’re already a Du Maurier aficionado, explore these other titles inspired by Rebecca. The Winters is a sparkling and tense modern update of the tale and Vera is a dark and witty psychodrama which surely provided the template for Du Maurier’s best-known book.

Dream of Manderley no more!

Rebecca Booklist

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier                                                 

Rebecca’s Tale- Sally Beauman                                                

Mrs de Winter – Susan Hill                                                      

Daphne – Justine Picardie                                                          

The Winters -Lisa Gabriele

Vera – Elizabeth von Arnim