Big Brother, by Lionel Shriver, hardback by HarperCollins, £16.99 (ebook £10.99).

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Pandora, the main character and our narrator in Big Brother, is described by her husband Fletcher as “stealth attractive”.

Stealth is a perfect word to describe author Lionel Shriver’s novel, which after a rather slow first chapter steadily builds into a powerful and thought-provoking work.

Horrified to discover her once handsome and slim older brother is addicted to junk food and has piled on hundreds of pounds in weight, Pandora attempts to help.

The subsequent tale is all the more poignant, given that the author’s real older brother Greg died of complications arising from obesity.

As she proved in We Need To Talk About Kevin, Shriver is fearless when it comes to tackling subjects many authors might be too squeamish to attempt.

Here, she focuses her dry observations on our obsession with food and asks why we seem to have “mislaid the most animal of masteries”.

Gill Oliver