Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen (Simon and Schuster paperback, £8.99)

It is always a delight to discover a new author, especially when they already have a large body of work you can read back through. This happened to me recently with American author Anna Quindlen, whose work is in some ways reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout and Anne Tyler.

Nora is a New Yorker living in a now highly valuable part of Manhattan, but who came to the city in her twenties attracted to the possibilities and edginess it offered. We see through her eyes: she is now comfortable in a good job, with kids off at college, but feeling faintly uneasy.

The book acknowledges the irony of ‘first world problems’ whilst simultaneously exploring them. It focuses on the petty squabbles and intrigues of a small community, which helps give it a much broader appeal.

There are quirky neighbours and a plethora of dog walkers, not all of whom Nora likes: a lot of the humour is derived from them, much of it sharply etched.

A dramatic incident brings divisions that have existed unacknowledged right to the fore, and fault lines start to appear that make us reflect on society as a whole.

It is a book with beautifully honed sentences and acute observations, making it a sheer pleasure to read.

Philippa Morris