Penelope by Rebecca HarringtonMeet Penelope O’Shaughnessy, Harvard freshman. To make friends at Harvard, she just has to be herself and on her mother’s advice, interesting and chatty at drinks parties.

Armed only with her Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights poster and party conversation modelled on the repartee of Noel Coward, Penelope is bewildered by the apparent lack of kindred spirits on campus. And her roommates are baffling: Emma is busy signing up for insanely difficult courses and obsessing about something called a ‘finals club’; and the rarely glimpsed Lan has painted her room black and shut the door. Gustav, a dashing, rumpled-linen-suit-wearing upperclassman of uncertain European origins who has caught Penelope’s eye, never seems to be in the freshman dining hall, so it seems unlikely she will ever find out if he matches up to her hero, Hercule Poirot.

This is a funny and at times hilarious satire on the Ivy League universities of North America in an excellent debut novel from Rebecca Harrington. Written in an engaging and easy style this is an enjoyable read.

9781844089260/Little Brown/£14.99
Sheila O’Reilly