#QuickReads 2021

Quick Reads, developed by the Reading Agency is celebrating 15 years of the scheme today. That’s 15 years of encouraging those who don’t read, or find reading difficult, as well as those who don’t have time to read much, to pick up one of their novella length £1 books, written by some of our best-known authors and get the reading habit.

This year too, for every book bought, one will be given to an organisation across the UK promoting the joy and benefits of reading.

There is something for everyone in the six 2021 titles: 

  • The Baby is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic); 
  • The Skylight by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster); 
  • Saving the Day by Katie Fforde (Arrow); 
  • Wish You Were Dead by Peter James (Macmillan); 
  • How to Be a Woman, abridged by Caitlin Moran (Ebury); 
  • The Motive by Khurrum Rahman (HQ).

I’m grateful to the scheme’s publicists, MIDAS PR for sending me a copy Oyinkan Braithwaite’s novella.

The Baby is Mine is a dark comedy of maternity and paternity, narrated by Bambi, a young playboy, who has just been thrown out by his girlfriend for infidelity. This pandemic novella is set during the lockdown in Lagos – and there’s only one place for Bambi to go – to his late uncle’s house. Uncle Folu had died from the virus, and Bambi didn’t expect Aunty Bidemi to have stayed alone with her newborn baby, but she’s still there.

As I looked at her, I noticed her wig was skewed slightly to the left, and it probably hadn’t been combed in weeks. … Her grief was heavy on her still. I tried to remember if I had called her to tell her that I was sorry for her loss.
‘Well, maybe it is a good thing you are here,’ she sighed. She opened the living room door, I followed her in. …
And there was another woman in the room. Even though she had her back to us, I could tell who she was by the shape of her hips and her long strong legs. Esohe turned and our eyes met. I was confused. I had never expected to see the two women in the same room.
‘Bambi, this is Esohe,’ said Aunty Bidemi.
Should I admit that I knew her? …
‘Come, come and see the baby, Bambi.’
It was then that I noticed the cot.

Esohe was Uncle Folu’s mistress. They both claim to be the baby’s mother, and that the other had miscarried! Now Bambi is there, both women begin to play an ever more dangerous game to show him the baby is their’s. With no staff left and frequent power cuts, it’s just Bambi, Bidemi and Esohe – and baby Remi, or is he Efosa? What is Bambi to do?

The humour that pervaded Braithwaite’s best-selling debut, My Sister, the Serial Killer is there again as the doubly perplexed Bambi has to sort the situation out – all sides of it, we’ll discover how he knows Esohe later. It’s a lighter read than MSTSK, but there is heartache too, you can’t fail to be moved by the penultimate chapter. Braithwaite’s signature style of mostly short, snappy sentences works really well for a Quick Reads book, her prose is unadorned and direct and she keeps chapters short in its 104 pages. Appended at the end are sample chapters from MYTSK, which will surely hook anyone who reads The Baby is Mine, if they’ve not already read it. I enjoyed this story a lot.

So go out and buy a couple of this year’s Quick Reads, and support this great programme.

Source: Review copy – thank you. Oyinkan Braithwaite, The Baby is Mine, Atlantic Books, 104 pages +. Amazon affiliate link below.

6 thoughts on “#QuickReads 2021

  1. Laura says:

    I had pretty mixed feelings about Braithwaite’s debut, but this sounds like it focuses on the more light-hearted black humour that was the thing I really liked about her earlier book. I’m intrigued by these Quick Reads but not really keen on paying £1 for them!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Most of them are proper novellas written for the scheme. The Roddy Doyle one from a few years back was brilliant. At £1 if there’s an author you like, they’re a bargain.

  2. A Life in Books says:

    Great to see Braithwaite on the Quick Reads list. Such an excellent initiative. Anything that gets people reading who might not otherwise feel confident in doing so has to be good.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Her writing style is perfect for Quick Reads, and there is drama aplenty in the 104 pages.

  3. Calmgrove says:

    This sounds like the conumdrum King Solomon was confronted by, but with a difference! I’ll definitely look this one out, Annabel, especially as it’s — as it says — a quick read.

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