Here you will find a collection of book reviews written by friends of Essex Book Festival. Use these to inspire your next read.

The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

A Book Review by Cllr Susan Ager

The Messenger of Athens is the first in Anne Zouroudi’s unique series of award-winning mysteries. This is where mythology meets murder, in the timeless landscapes of almost-contemporary Greece. Read more…


Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

A Book Review by Katharine Mahoney (Red Lion Books Customer)

Girl, Woman, Other is a freewheeling, ambitious, cacophony of female voices that reveals the realities of race, identity and womanhood through the interwoven stories of twelve women. Read more…

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I am Dynamite! A life of Friedrich Nietzsche by Sue Prideaux

A Book Review by Ken Smith (Red Lion Books Customer)

Sue Prideaux’s energetic and wonderfully accessible book sets the record straight. She takes us through Nietzsche’s early years of academic success, his complicated relationship with Wagner (another victim of misappropriation), the years of wandering, and the desperate tragedy of his descent into madness. Read more…

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The Citadel by A.J Cronin

A Book Review by Paul T Davies

Written in 1937, it helped shape the foundation of the NHS, as it follows a newly qualified GP through the inequalities of private health care. This book has never been so relevant. Read more…


A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

A Book Review by Katrina Webb

A Thousand Ships begins with the voice of Calliope, the muse of epic poetry but this is not to be the expected tale of the fall of Troy through the eyes of the men, warriors, kings and gods of Ancient Greece and Troy. Read more…


Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina Gappah

A Book Review by Liz Trenow

Out of Darkness, Shining Light relates the strange and intriguing story of how the corpse of the Victorian missionary explorer David Livingstone, having died from malaria before finding the source of the Nile, was carried 1,500 miles to the coast ready for transporting back to Britain. Read more…


Outline by Rachel Cusk

A Book Review by Louise Barnes

Depicting ten conversations had by our esteemed narrator, the name of which we only find out at the end of the novel, Outline is a novel without a plot, or rather without a start and an end. Read more…


Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

A Book Review by Sandy Norris

Any fan of Jane Austen will be intrigued by this novel. Told through the fictitious voice of Cassandra Austen, the story line is set 23 years after Jane – her famous sister has died and tells of Cassandra’s search among family possessions to find a cache of letters, written through the years, by Jane to her cousin Eliza. Read more…


The Circle by Dave Eggers

A Book Review by Imogen. L. Smiley

The characters are fantastic in this book, each significant is well explored, and as events unfold, you are privy to their mistakes and misdeeds. Its intimate. Read more…


Leonard and Hungry Paul by Roman Hession

A Book Review by a member of Appetite Book Club

Leonard and Hungry Paul takes you on a gentle stroll through the lives of two quiet, unassuming but far from insignificant individuals. The main characters are mid thirties, living with their parents and their idea of a good social evening is to play a board game or two. Read more…