One of my favourite books this year was Michael Cunningham's By Nightfall (Fourth Estate, £16.99). Cunningham's work has grown on me over the years. I particularly admire his ability to create a distinct voice and structure for each of his books. The Hours was a triumphant mixture of narrative complication and lucid accessibility. By Nightfall is quite different, a taut tale of successful, metropolitan, middle-class, middle-aged married life. The edgy and claustrophobic tone of the narrative is just right for a portrait of everyday affluence in which nothing much happens but all beneath is shifting. Inevitably, things fall apart but in a life-affirming way - another thing I love about Cunningham's work.