In 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia exploded, spewing ash into the atmosphere. In Europe and America, the consequences were felt in disastrous changes in the weather. Guinevere Glasfurd’s The Year Without Summer (Two Roads £16.99) gives fictional form to the impact the eruption had on the lives of half a dozen contemporaries who would not even have known it had occurred, including the artist John Constable; an American preacher whose followers are ruined by crop failures; and a young farm labourer in the Fenlands who rebels against the injustices she faces. As the narrative jumps from story to story, its episodic structure becomes a limitation, but Glasfurd is a skilful writer and the book offers much to enjoy.
Calamity: The Many Lives of Calamity Jane
"as Karen Jones sets out dismayingly early in her book, the only things that the real-life ‘Calamity Jane’ can with confidence be said to have in common with her legend is that she wore trousers, swore like a navvy and was pissed all the time..."
— The Spectator
That is the real strength of this beautifully written, angry, unflinching and unforgettable novel. As Australia burns and glaciers melt away, these are sobering times in which to read, in detail, of the real and widespread suffering caused by a relatively small, sudden and temporary change in our climate, and of the tragedy of large numbers of starving people moving ever onwards, hoping for a chance of survival in an unfair world.