Becky by Sarah May (Picador £14.99, 432pp)



by Sarah May (Picador £14.99, 432pp)

Set in 1990s London, this is a contemporary retelling of Thackeray’s 1848 masterpiece Vanity Fair, starring a protagonist with the same name — Becky Sharp.

All other character names remain the same, too. The narrative zips along in a dual timeline, with 1990s Becky pursuing her desire to reach the top against all odds, juxtaposed against Becky as a child, living through the events that formed her drive to win at any cost.

It’s not long after starting work as a nanny for a media mogul that Becky seduces him and starts climbing the ranks at his tabloid newspaper.

It’s wonderful on ambition and how resentment can be a great motivator.

Also, despite her bad behaviour and awful attitude, I did hope our protagonist would not be made to pay too greatly for her sins. Fabulous.

Your Driver Is Waiting

by Priya Guns

(Atlantic £14.99, 320pp)

Damani is a South Asian taxi driver for a ride-share app who lives in Toronto. Her father died six months ago and she barely sleeps as she picks up every job going, desperate to support her severely depressed mother.

The streets are alive with protests against injustice, but Damani feels like a background character in her own life, struggling to make ends meet while feeling utterly broken.

When she meets beautiful, brave and brilliant Jolene, Damani cannot deny the intense connection between them and finally feels like she’s come back to life.

However, despite Jolene’s passionately declared activism and bold claims about being an ally, Jolene is still a wealthy white woman who will never truly understand where Damani comes from. It’s fantastic on race, equality, privilege and grief. Funny, angry, beautifully written and a compulsive page-turner, I devoured it.

The Golden Chrysalis by Stan McMurtry (Pressman £11.99, 279pp)


by Stan McMurtry (Pressman £11.99, 279pp)

Protagonist Eddie Wheatley lives a pretty monotonous existence. He is 39, shy and always prefers others to take the lead.

The only slightly rogue thing Eddie does is walk his dog at 2am, feeling that this London is the only place he can truly be himself.

He also likes to escape his demanding, overbearing wife, Miriam, who always prioritises her hideous father over her husband. It is on one of these late-night perambulations that Eddie witnesses some crooks hiding stolen goods. The theft is all over the radio and when Eddie realises what it was that he saw he goes back for a second look.

Chaos ensues, things quickly escalate out of hand and Eddie is forced to act in violent ways he never could have imagined himself capable of.

I raced through this criminal caper by Mac, the Mail’s legendary cartoonist-turned-novelist — writing here under his real name — with its wonderful array of secondary characters and pacy narrative stuffed with plot twists. Great fun.

  •  To order a copy of The Golden Chrysalis at £7.80 (special offer valid until March 6, 2023), visit and use the password GOLDEN.

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