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Books in brief: an effortless read laced with humour and connection

Brief reviews of The Lodgers by Eithne Shortall; The End of Nightwork by Aidan Cottrell-Boyce; and Trussed Up by Liz Gerard

The Lodgers by Eithne Shortall (Atlantic Books, €14.99)

A testament to community and family – the ones we are born into and the ones we create ourselves – The Lodgers is an effortless read. Three characters come to live together under unexpected circumstances. Each character is healing from their own private trauma that serves ultimately to bring them together. What follows is a story of intergenerational friendship, people power and a novel contribution to the Irish housing crisis. While The Lodgers is laced with humour, I found the author was at her best when she turned her attention to the emotional component of the story which she handles with dexterity. Certain plot points felt a little unfinished, but overall, The Lodgers is a book written with heart. Brigid O’Dea

The End of Nightwork by Aidan Cottrell-Boyce (Granta, £12.99)

Aged 13, Pol undergoes a “heterochronous shock”, which ages him by 10 years overnight. A second, profound “shock”, when he’s 30, married and a father, makes him geriatric. Between these events, family life happens in its contrary blink-and-you’ll-miss-it or never-ending days lack of synchronicity. Pol becomes consumed by The End of Nightwork, the apocalyptic predictions of 17th-century prophet Bartholomew Playfere which run like a low-beating drum beneath the action, reflecting Pol’s personal terrors. The tale unfolds without urgency – which makes for a trying read in places – detailing intimate memories and Pol’s complex philosophical and theological musings. The pace reflects the stop-start rhythm of daily life, when we might only appreciate a moment in time in retrospect, wondering if we ever experienced it at all. Claire Looby

Trussed Up by Liz Gerard (Bite-Sized Books, £15.99)

The Daily Mail was horrified at Boris Johnson’s demise. “What the hell have they done?” thundered its front-page headline – they being hysterical Tory MPs. It soon decided Liz Truss (she “has the boldness, imagination and strength of conviction to build on what Boris began”) should succeed him and rubbished the traitorous Rishi Sunak. It welcomed her mini-budget enthusiastically (“At last! A true Tory budget”). When it turned out a disaster, the paper stuck by her at first but finally deserted her and welcomed Sunak as the new saviour – not for a second recognising, let alone accepting, its own part in the debacle. Liz Gerard’s thorough and witty analysis explores some 500 news reports and editorials to show the Mail tying itself up in knots, blaming anyone and everyone except itself. Brian Maye