This delightful history fully recognises the problems associated with venerating Margaret Mitchell's Civil War novel set in the Deep South. While her white female students may choose this period as their favourite, none of her black female students ever does. But she gets to the heart of the book's appeal amongst women all the same.
Harvest by Jim Crace (Picador, £7.99)
Last year's bookies' favourite for the Man Booker prize is a very slow starter, but warm, nevertheless, and rewarding of your patience with an almost elegiac tale of an unspecified English village at an unspecified period in history. It manages to mix elements of both the historical novel and the dystopia to create an otherworldly place, full of secrets.
West's World: The Extraordinary Life Of Dame Rebecca West by Lorna Gibb (Pan Macmillan, £8.99)
Gibb's thorough but fair look at the life of Rebecca West, which acknowledges her shortcomings as much as her achievements, seems well-suited to the woman herself, never an easy subject to pin down and full of contradictions. It also gives more space to her troubled relationship with her son, Anthony West - a rewarding investment.
Shall We Gather At The River by Peter Murphy (Faber, £7.99)
Murphy's second novel is probably more accessible than his astonishing and complex debut, John The Revelator, but some of the same themes abound here as he tells of Enoch O'Reilly, due to die when the river floods his town. He is a man attuned to the extraordinary power of words, as indeed is Murphy. Superb.