In brief: The Accidental Garden; Everything’s Fine; Freakslaw – reviews

<span>Jane Flett, author of the ‘thrillingly deviant’ Freakslaw.</span><span>Photograph: Anjula Schaub</span>
Jane Flett, author of the ‘thrillingly deviant’ Freakslaw.Photograph: Anjula Schaub

The Accidental Garden

Richard Mabey
Profile, £12.99, pp176

A lovely companion to Olivia Laing’s The Garden Against Time, The Accidental Garden sees nature writer Richard Mabey on fine form as he reflects on 20 years of changes to his own piece of land in Norfolk. In that sense the book takes on a memoir-like quality, through the prism of a garden that he gently organises rather than aggressively cultivates. And with that comes a wonderful wisdom that perhaps only age can bring; the light touch in his writing and his gardening allows for a delight in the everyday wonder of nature.

Everything’s Fine

Cecilia Rabess
Picador, £9.99, pp336 (paperback)

Jess is a young black woman amid a sea of entitled white guys in a New York investment bank. One of them is Josh, with whom she previously locked horns at their Ivy League college. Given Everything’s Fine is billed as an “electrifying romance”, the only people shocked at their love-hate relationship would be the slightly caricatured protagonists themselves. Still, Rabess has a brilliant way with a one-liner; Jess’s sharp putdowns aren’t just funny, they get to the heart of racism, privilege and what it means to love someone completely different.


Jane Flett
Doubleday, £16.99, pp368

Flett is one half of a riot grrrl duo and founder of Queer Stories Berlin. So if it feels as if her debut – a carnivalesque story populated by thrillingly deviant characters and sprinkled with magic, sex and violence – is one she was born to write, then good for her. She succeeds magnificently, leaning into every queer punk excess and darkly fantastical delight in this tale of what happens when a travelling funfair turns a repressed Scottish town on its head. A celebration of the marginalised, reframing otherness as a source of great power and vitality.

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