My choice for a book of the week is an interesting first novel with elements of magical realism, dealing with the nature of depression. The author, Rebecca Hunt, was given a substantial two book deal by Penguin Fig Tree, and her first novel has been launched on the back of a considerable publicity campaign. It has been widely reviewed, generally favourably, and has already been long listed for the Guardian first book award. Signed copies at £12.99 seem very good value.
"It's July, 1964. In bed at home in Kent, Winston Churchill is waking up. There's a visitor in the room, someone he hasn't seen for a while, a dark, mute bulk, watching him with tortured concentration. It's Mr. Chartwell. In her terraced house in Battersea, Esther Hammerhans, young, vulnerable and alone, goes to answer the door to her new lodger. Through the glass she sees a vast silhouette the size of a mattress. It's Mr. Chartwell. He is charismatic and dangerously seductive, and Esther and Winston Churchill are drawn together by his dark influence. But can they withstand Mr. Chartwell's strange, powerful charms and strong hold? Can they even explain to anyone who or what he is? Or why he has come to visit? For Mr. Chartwell is a huge, black dog. In this utterly original, moving, funny and exuberant novel, Rebecca Hunt explores how two unlikely lives collide as Mr. Chartwell's motives are revealed to be far darker and deeper than they seem."