In brief: Turning the Tide on Plastic; A Long Island Story; A Life of My Own – reviews

Lucy Siegle tackles our plastic habit, a McCarthy-era novel lacks pace, while Claire Tomalin tells her own engrossing story

Turning the Tide on Plastic

Lucy Siegle
Orion, £12.99, pp272

Journalist and broadcaster Siegle gives an impassioned and highly practical account of how to reduce our plastic consumption. Offering hard-hitting and sobering facts – enough plastic is thrown away every year to circle the world four times over – Siegle is keen to point out that “this is not a war on all plastics”, highlighting that polymers used in medical equipment, space shuttles and children’s playgrounds are essential to our lives. Her campaign is against the “avoidable, unwanted, useless, nuisance plastic that is unnecessarily forced upon us”. With chapters on reducing, replacing, refilling and recycling, Siegle’s timely book aims to “get right between you and your plastic dependency”.

A Long Island Story

Rick Gekoski
Canongate, £16.99, pp320

It’s 1953 and Ben and Addie Grossman are travelling with their two young children from Washington, DC, to Long Island. Ben is a casualty of the paranoia and persecution of the McCarthy era, forcing him to leave the political heart of the country. As the axis of their lives shifts to suburbia, the couple have to face up to the cracks in their marriage. The novel’s pace can feel lethargic and the inconsistency of Ben and Addie’s internal lives mean they lack the roundedness and authenticity of truly engaging characters.

A Life of My Own

Claire Tomalin
Penguin, £9.99, pp352

Award-winning literary biographer Tomalin turns the tables on herself in this extraordinary, candid and moving memoir. She recounts her experiences of casual sexism in a newspaper world dominated by men and her many encounters with famous figures. But what sets this apart is her stoical response to the tragedies that have beset her: the death of her first husband; the death of a child; her second son’s disability; her daughter’s suicide. She writes vividly and courageously about grief, marriage, parenthood and career in a memoir replete with fortitude and insight.

To order Turning the Tide on Plastic for £11.04, A Long Island Story for £14.44, or A Life of My Own for £8.49, go to or call 0330 333 6846


Hannah Beckerman

The GuardianTramp

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