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THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING by Luke Kennard (4th Estate £14.99, 416 pp)

THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING

by Luke Kennard (4th Estate £14.99, 416 pp)

This satirical romance about nervy millennials is unbelievably sharp and snappy. Fractious Emily, steady Steven and their sons Matty and Arthur have moved into Criterion Gardens, a run- down housing estate upcycled to attract hipster professionals.

In other words, people like them, and like dishy Elliott and witty Alathea, who live in an identical house opposite with sons Tomasz and Dimitry. At the playground Emily meets Elliott and a powerful attraction begins. The fact she’s friends with Alathea and guilty about Steven doesn’t stop passionate all-night WhatsApp sessions. But when their online affair starts to become real, Emily finds that nothing is quite as it seems. I just loved this brilliant novel and can’t recommend it enough.

THE NINE LIVES OF ROSE NAPOLITANO

by Donna Freitas (HarperCollins £14.99, 384 pp)

Spirited academic Rose is being pressured to have a baby by her husband, photographer Luke. This energetic novel considers several different outcomes: that she has one, that she doesn’t, that she has an affair, that Luke has an affair, that they get divorced, that they don’t.

It’s a structure that takes the Sliding Doors paradigm to a new level and I kept forgetting which life I was in. But it doesn’t matter, as Rose’s forceful opinions on her situation of the moment swept me along.

Lots here about feminism, brainy women, social expectations and parenthood.

The to-mother-or not-to-mother theme is the main one, but the real question for me was why Rose was with whiny Luke in the first place.

THE BEAUTY OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS by Rachel Donohue (Corvus £14.99, 320 pp)

THE BEAUTY OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS

by Rachel Donohue (Corvus £14.99, 320 pp)

A poetic, atmospheric novel set in a run-down seaside town and starring a sensitive teenager with second sight.

Natasha lives with her mother, Elizabeth, a fading great beauty, in a rambling boho wreck of a house. They’re seen as snooty by the townsfolk, except for Natasha’s fragile friend Lewis and her slippery lodger, Mr Bowen, who becomes Elizabeth’s lover.

When she sees weird blue lights on the cliffs, Natasha predicts death and disaster. This goes down badly in the town and Lewis disappears.

Natasha is telling the story as an adult in therapy and it feels quite metaphorical and end-of-days-ish. But if your summer includes a run-down seaside town, this book could definitely add an edge to things.

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