In brief: The Bach Cello Suites; The Book of Mother; Reality and Other Stories

Steven Isserlis gives his take on a musical masterwork, Violaine Huisman dramatises an intense daughterhood and John Lanchester evokes the ghost in our machines

The Bach Cello Suites: A Companion

Steven Isserlis
Faber, £12.99, pp240

Steven Isserlis is one of the world’s great cellists, and his recordings of the Bach cello suites in 2007 were critically acclaimed for the integrity of their interpretation. Now he brings that insight to bear in a highly engaging book “for music lovers of all shapes and sizes”. From a brief biography of Bach, through the historical context and emotional significance of the suites, Isserlis produces an illuminating, accessible and detailed analysis of one of Bach’s seminal works.

The Book of Mother

Violaine Huisman
Virago, £16.99, pp224

Huisman’s debut, translated from French by Leslie Camhi, tells the story of Catherine Cremnitz through the eyes of her younger daughter, Violaine. Psychologically fragile, Catherine is a mercurial mother, alternating between highly demonstrative love and scathing attacks on her children. Rewinding the story into her mother’s past, Violaine uncovers two generations of women abused and exploited by men, in a novel that explores the complexities of trauma and love.

Reality and Other Stories

John Lanchester
Faber, £8.99, pp240

Well-known in his fiction for a sharp sense of social observation, Lanchester turns his attention in this collection of stories to our relationship with technology in its various manifestations. In the opening one, a dead man haunts a countryside mansion, clutching his mobile, in search of both his children and a phone signal. In Cold Caller, a woman is harangued by her toxic father-in-law from beyond the grave through a telephone care service. With hints of both horror and the surreal, it’s a highly imaginative and deeply unsettling collection.


Hannah Beckerman

The GuardianTramp

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