TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury, £8.99)

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury, £8.99)

Book One tells the stories of three women from three different eras, but from the viewpoints of male narrators: Emily Ehrlich in 1919, Lily Duggan from 1845 and Hannah Carson in 2011. Book Two largely gives us the women's point of view, as McCann elegantly links their stories. Occasionally a little dry, but expansive as well as intimate.

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The Art of Joy by Goliarda Sapienza (Penguin Modern Classics, £12.99)

From the moment we meet a babyish Modesta, destined to be a princess, we are alerted to her heightened sensuality, in a novel that caused its author to be impoverished and imprisoned. Sapienza's novel, written between the sixties and seventies, may be a celebration of sensuality, but her prose is clear and accessible.

Collector's Daughter: The Untold Burrell Story by SMO Stephen (Glasgow Museums, £9.99)

This memoir of William Burrell's only daughter, Marion, is a straightforward, linear account of the collector's forebears, as well as of the strange life of his child, whom he was still trying to control when she was an adult. It's easy to see why she ran away and became estranged from her parents, even changing her name to Silvia.

Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke (Penguin, £9.99)

Yorke's study isn't necessarily a "how to write plots" kind of guide, but his exploration of how plots work, and why we like them so much and respond to them as we do, is both useful and enlightening. Essentially this is a psychological study about desire: the desire to hear stories and the desire to make them.

Lesley McDowell