The Taste Of Apple Seeds, by Katharina Hagena, paperback by Atlantic Books

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WHEN her grandmother dies, Iris returns to the small German town in which she spent her childhood for the funeral.

She learns that her grandmother, who’d slowly wilted with dementia in her later years, has left Iris the family home in her will.

Surprised, and unsure what to do, Iris decides to take a few days off work, which she spends mostly in the house, revisiting her childhood haunts and memories – both warm and bitter.

Over the course of the week, she realises that it’s not only her own recollections, secrets and experiences wrapped up in the familiar walls and floorboards and the apple trees outside, but those of her relatives too.

Through her musings and discoveries, Iris reveals the untimely death that shocked the family to its core when she was a schoolgirl, the hidden romances and dreams, and the rifts and bonds which shaped one family’s journey.

Though Katharina Hagena has a background in literature and has previously published books on the subject, The Taste Of Apple Seeds is her first novel.

It’s already an international best-seller and it’s easy to see why. Hagena’s sensitivity and attention to detail, and a narrator whose honesty and comical clumsiness keep the story light and engaging, have universal appeal

Abi Jackson