Marking Time by Elizabeth Jane Howard (Macmillan, £15.99) is the sequel to The Light Years. No loss of creative momentum here: this family chronicle is elegantly written and sharply perceptive, with a superbly satisfying range and substantiality. Utterly convincing and absorbing.
The best biography I have read is Carole Angier's Jean Rhys (Deutsch, £17,99), which manintains an exemplary balance between clear-eyed judgment and human sympathy. Angier makes no facile excuses for Rhys, but compels one to feel compassion for the self-tormenting mind that produced often inexcusable behaviour.
My third choice is an admission of ignorance. I have only just discovered the richly idiosyncratic trilogy, A Scots Quair, by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, written in the early 1930s (Penguin, £5.99). I include it in the crusading hope of converting the few Spectator readers who are equally ignorant
of its imaginative, linguistic and comic delights, which may even reconcile them to Gibbon's passionate Marxism.