Bookshelf Christmas Special 2023

Our pick of the three best fiction books

LAST HOUSE BEFORE THE MOUNTAIN by Monika Helfer translated by Gillian Davidson (Bloomsbury, £14.99)

Set in an Alpine village in Austria during and after the First World War, this is the story of a marriage under the intersecting strains of war, poverty and prejudice. Intimate close-ups of the central characters, acutely observed domestic detail and emotional heft all contribute to a compelling multi-generational saga that is reminiscent of the novels of Ann Tyler.

DISLOCATIONS by Sylvia Molloy translated by Jennifer Croft (Charco Press, £9.99)

In neatly crafted concise chapters the author recalls her encounters with an old friend who is suffering from dementia. A work of memorialising – of friendship, of a fading self, of a shared past – Molloy explores the relentless disintegration of memory through disease.

I, JULIAN: The Fictional Autobiography of Julian of Norwichby Claire Gilbert (Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99)

In 14th-century England a woman’s encounters with death and illness prompt a series of religious visions that inspire her to become an anchoress and write about her experiences. Gilbert reimagines the mystic’s life
in this vivid and resonant fictionalised account.