Two new books for a weekend read

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Intense, perceptive and self-doubting, Julia Glass yearns to disentangle the threads of sadness from her troubled relationship with her mother, dead now for many years. She retraces her adolescence and revisits her young self as a talented ballet dancer with a bright future, along with the compromises she must make. She learns how to manipulate her body as a tool of retaliation against her imperious mother, all while self-sabotaging her own best interests. At university, she falls in love with Steven, a brilliant student, who overwhelms her with his dazzling intellect. Coerced by her mother into an early marriage, she follows her husband to London, and begins the process of unravelling the complex bond with her mother and her fraught relationship with her body. Flight of the Dancer by local South African author Lisa Lazarus is about the bond between mother and daughter and how memory, uninvited, continuously casts its shadow into the present, and is described at humorous, raw, painful and poignant. Staging Post

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Whilst working as a living canvas for an abusive tattoo artist in the slums of 19th-century New York, Flora meets Minnie, an enigmatic circus performer who offers her love and refuge in an opulent townhouse that is home to the menacing and predatory Mr Chester Merton. Flora earns her keep reading tarot cards for his guests, all the while struggling to harness her gift, the Knowing – an ability to summon the dead. Caught in a dark love triangle between Minnie and Chester, Flora begins to unravel the secrets inside their house. Then at her first public séance in the infamous cathouse Hotel du Woods, Flora hears the spirit of a murdered boy prostitute and exposes his killer, setting off a train of events that leaves her fighting for her life. The Knowing by Emma Hinds is inspired by real historical characters including Maud Wagner, one of the first known female tattoo artists, New York gang the Dead Rabbits, and characters from PT Barnum’s circus in the 1800s. It’s a story of obsession and betrayal, and readers should be warned there are themes of sexual violence. Bedford Square Publishers

 

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