In brief: The Walking People; Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain; A Long Petal of the Sea – reviews

Mary Beth Keane’s rich debut is republished, Lisa Feldman Barrett makes neuroscience snappy, and Isabel Allende engrosses with a Spanish saga

The Walking People

Mary Beth Keane
Michael Joseph, £14.99, pp400

In the wake of the critical acclaim for her third novel, Ask Again, Yes, comes the UK publication of Keane’s debut, an epic story about immigration, identity and family. In 1956, sisters Greta and Johanna Cahill are growing up in a remote, almost deserted hamlet on the west coast of Ireland, before departing for the US as teenagers. Keane portrays the complex and, at times, challenging lives of these working-class women over the following decades with tenderness and compassion.

Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain

Lisa Feldman Barrett
Picador, £14.99, pp192

Barrett, a leading American neuroscientist, offers a series of highly accessible, content-rich and eminently readable essays about the workings of the human brain. Drawing on the latest scientific research, and debunking plenty of myths along the way, Barrett tackles everything from child and infant development to managing the divisiveness in contemporary politics. Fascinating and informative, it is popular science at its best.

A Long Petal of the Sea

Isabel Allende (translated by Amanda Hopkinson and Nick Caistor)
Bloomsbury, £8.99, pp336

Spanning 60 years and two continents, Allende’s latest novel follows two young Spanish republicans – Victor Dalmau and Roser Bruguera – from the Spanish civil war, through French detention camps and finally to Chile and Venezuela. Roser’s son is the child of Victor’s brother, Guillem, killed in the war, and when Victor decides to take care of them, what begins as a practical arrangement gradually develops into a tender, lasting commitment to each other. Allende examines themes of cultural dislocation and the impact of political upheaval on quotidian lives in an engrossing and vivid novel.

To order The Walking People, Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain or A Long Petal of the Sea go to Delivery charges may apply

• This article was amended on 15 March 2021 to correct a misspelling of Lisa Feldman Barrett’s name.


Hannah Beckerman

The GuardianTramp

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