Kevin Barry – Beatlebone (4 stars)

Kevin Barry - Beatlebone

Fictional account of John Lennon's trip to a small island off the west coast of Ireland to contemplate life

The first thing you should know about Beatlebone is that you can take the Beatle part literally. This novel imagines John Lennon at a time of creative strife, escaping for three days to an island he owns, in order to contemplate life, work and his impending 40s in solitude.

John's period of isolation on the island doesn't last long when he finds himself at the mercy of a shapeshifting driver, and suddenly the island is full of dark, foreboding elements that make his creative woes seem like a distant memory.

It's been billed as a 'mystery box' of a novel, but in practice, the opposite is true. Kevin Barry's clean yet imaginative prose seamlessly puts the reader into the mind of a complex figure in the midst of a creative dry patch, and thus allows us to imagine a whole new world for this man, who was so much in the public eye, but who had a private life plagued with worries and doubts, just like the rest of us.

It's a must for Beatles fans, and even more so for fans of inventive, meticulously crafted contemporary literature.

Out now, from Canongate.