Carol Birch - Author

About the Author

Carol Birch is the author of nine previous novels including Scapegallows and Turn Again Home, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize. She has won the Geoffrey Faber Award and the David Higham Award. She lives in Lancashire.

 

Author Photo © Martin Butler

Featured books by Carol Birch

Cold Boy's Wood

Cold Boy's Wood

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/11/2021

Fusing the ghost story with sharp, psychological insight, this is a brilliant and timely novel about loneliness, buried secrets and the havoc they play on the mind from Booker-shortlisted author Carol Birch. Did you hear? Big landslip over by Ercol. Last night. The road into Gully's closed off. They found a body. Got police tape. All that stuff. They only do that for murder, don't they? Murder! A body has been uncovered in a mudslide just outside the village of Andwiston. In the pub they talk of murder, but Dan - sometime mechanic, constant drunk - is finding it hard to sift through his jumbled memories. Watching him from the dark is Lorna, a lost soul living in the woods, haunted by ghosts and a vision from her childhood: a cold boy standing alone in Gallinger's field. 

eBooks of the Month
Jamrach's Menagerie

Jamrach's Menagerie

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/09/2011

Young Jaffy Brown never expects to escape the slums of Victorian London. Then, aged eight, a chance encounter with Mr Jamrach changes Jaffy's stars. And before he knows it, he finds himself at the docks waving goodbye to his beloved Ishbel and boarding a ship bound for the Indian Ocean. With his friend Tim at his side, Jaffy's journey will push faith, love and friendship to their utmost limits.

eBooks of the Month

Other books by Carol Birch

Shadow Girls

Shadow Girls

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Combining psychological suspense with elements of the ghost story, Shadow Girls is a literary exploration of girlhood by Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author of Jamrach's Menagerie Manchester, 1960s. Sally, a cynical 15-year-old schoolgirl, is much too clever for her own good. When partnered with her best friend, Pamela - a mouthy girl who no-one else much likes - Sally finds herself unable to resist the temptation of rebellion. The pair play truant, explore forbidden areas of the old school and - their favourite - torment posh Sylvia Rose, with her pristine uniform and her beautiful voice that wins every singing prize. One day, Sally ventures (unauthorised, of course) up to the greenhouse on the roof alone. Or at least she thinks she's alone, until she sees Sylvia on the roof too. Sally hurries downstairs, afraid of Sylvia snitching, but Sylvia appears to be there as well. Amidst the resurgence of ghost stories and superstition among the girls, a tragedy is about to occur, one that will send Sally more and more down an uncanny rabbit hole... Praise for Carol Birch: 'A naturally literary writer who can, with a simple image, evoke the deepest emotion' GUARDIAN 'Her prose has an irresistible vigour ... Her words sing on the page' FINANCIAL TIMES 'A beautifully written story of ghosts, loneliness and buried secrets' CHOICE 'Fusing the supernatural with the psychological, Birch's story is, at its heart, a human one' BIG ISSUE

Cold Boy's Wood

Cold Boy's Wood

Author: Carol Birch Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/04/2021

Subtle in style and fierce in characterisation, Carol Birch’s Cold Boy’s Wood is a haunting psychological enigma. Exploring the flux and fallibility of memory, and the effects of loneliness on the human spirit, the novel is a puzzle, of sorts, as two flawed and damaged characters are confronted with long-buried secrets when a mudslide unearths a body outside their village. Visiting his mother’s grave near the site of the mudslide, Dan observes “Ravens. The wet nose of the pregnant doe. A body returned to light. Things falling into sequence. All these things seemed significant.” Embittered, often drunk, and scared stiff by the supernatural, he’s disturbed by a sound in the darkness and locks up. Then there’s Lorna, who lives nearby in the ancient woods that have called her since she saw a strange “cold boy” here as a teenager. The boy haunts her still, along with her past, as she watches Dan, and helps him when he collapses drunk, all the while delivering a feverish internal dialogue. Both of them provoke intrigue, their lives entangle, their stories haunt and pierce to the end.

eBooks of the Month
Orphans of the Carnival

Orphans of the Carnival

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/05/2017

A life in the spotlight will keep anyone hidden. Julia Pastrana is the singing and dancing marvel from Mexico. She is heralded across nineteenth-century Europe as much for her talent as for her unusual looks. Yet few can see past her freakish appearance to the ambitious woman within. Orphans of the Carnival sweeps us from the music halls of Vienna to an attic in modern-day South London, playing out an epic tale of grit, love, music and the triumph of the human spirit pushed to extremes.

Jamrach's Menagerie

Jamrach's Menagerie

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/09/2011

One of our Great Reads you may have missed in 2011.   Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011.   Shortlisted for the Galaxy UK Author of the Year Award 2011.   A Richard and Judy Autumn Read 2011.   March 2011 Book of the Month. A touching, charming and funny account of how friendship can develop between the strangest of companions that has been receiving some absolutely incredible but well deserved reviews, one of which particularly stands out from none other than A S Byatt - ‘One of the best stories I’ve ever read . . . A completely original book’ .    It's the story of Jaffy Brown who comes face to face with an escaped circus animal as he's minding his own business on a street in London's East End. Plucked from the jaws of death by Mr Jamrach – explorer, entrepreneur and collector of the world’s strangest creatures – the two strike up a friendship. Before he knows it, Jaffy finds himself on board a ship bound for the Dutch East Indies, on an unusual commission for Mr Jamrach.This bears all the hallmarks of a book that will end up on various book prize shortlists...

eBooks of the Month
Life In The Palace

Life In The Palace

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2011

Kinnaird Buildings, a tenement block in Waterloo, was once quality. Now ancient and blackened, it houses a fringe community of the feckless, the light-fingered, the addicted, who ignore the thuds and screams, and try to patch something together out of the rags and tatters of their lives. At the centre are Judy, resting from emotional entanglements with men, attempting to resist romantic, wayward Jimmy Raffo; and Loretta, fighting poverty and the brutality of her surroundings.

Come Back, Paddy Riley

Come Back, Paddy Riley

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2011

Anita's mother was the mermaid in the Belle Vue Fair Freak Show. Into their lives came Paddy Riley, a young Irish lad whose motto was 'the only crime in life is not to take up a good opportunity'. The opportunity was Anita's mother - hungry for love and romance. Their secret is safe until young Anita, their go-between, spins a jealous lie that tragically catches them all. Now grown with children of her own, Anita has found a kind of peace with a sweet husband, and the past is past. Until that is, a man not unlike Paddy Riley comes to their town. It's an 'opportunity' that Anita cannot, for the life of her, seem to resist.

Little Sister

Little Sister

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2011

She's come to steal my thunder again, hasn't she? Dying, my foot. She's probably just being dramatic. Dying for dramatic effect. She would.' Cathy Wren, aged 37, lives alone in a small northern town, surviving on waitressing and piano teaching. She nurses her quiet drab life, keeping memories of a tumultuous earlier time at bay, until one stray remnant of that old life knocks on her front door. There, standing on her doorstep, in the rain, is Stephen, ex-boyfriend of her younger sister, Veronica Karen. He's come with bad news about her sister and a dogged determination to find her, and he wants Cathy's help. Cathy, who hasn't spoken to Veronica Karen - that thorn in her side - for ten years, is about to find herself on a weird and haphazard journey that turns into much more than a search for her little sister. 'It is in its delicate exploration of the murky ground between objective assessment for life and irrational affection for a person that the novel compels' - TLS

Scapegallows

Scapegallows

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/07/2008

This is the story of Margaret Catchpole, born into a smugglers' world in Suffolk in the late 1700s. As the valued servant of a wealthy family and a friend of criminals, Margaret leads a double life that inevitably brings about her downfall, and she is sentenced to hang not once, but twice. But she escapes the gallows and is transported with other convicts to Australia. A wonderful adventure story, Scapegallows takes inspiration from the life of the real Margaret Catchpole. A woman who lived by her wits, she was a slip-gibbet, a scapegallows.

The Naming Of Eliza Quinn

The Naming Of Eliza Quinn

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/08/2006

This is an extraordinarily haunting novel, inspired by a true story. In the late 1960s, in the hollow of an ancient oak tree beyond a derelict cottage in Cork, were found the bones of a three-year-old girl. It was thought that they dated back to the time of the great potato famine of the mid 1800s. The bones were discovered by an American woman, who had inherited the cottage which had lain empty and broken for forty years. Local searches reveal that the house had originally belonged to The Quinns. Eliza Quinn was their baby. This is a story that speaks of generations and of landscapes: abandoned villages, famine graves, old potato ridges sinking back into the earth, traces of a population that fell by two and a half million in less than ten years. It is also about hunger, both physical and emotional. But above all, it is the story of the Quinn family. And it is Carol Birch's tour de force. 'Deeply rooted humanity and highly intelligent understanding of the simulataneous complexity and simplicity of individual lives' Alex Clark. TLS

Turn Again Home

Turn Again Home

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/05/2004

Gorton, Manchester. 1930. Greyhound racing at Belle Vue, the buses going up and down Hyde Road, the siren of Peacock's foundry going off every night at six. This is Bessie and Sam Holloway's place, home for Nell and little brother Bobby and older step-child Violet. Precious visits from Dad's sister Benny, a Queen of the music hall trailing clouds of glory and whisky, provide infrequent brushes with glamour. 'Alright for some,' grunts Bessie. Nell grows up to work in a factory and there, from the tailgate of a truck in the yard, she first hears fellow factory worker Harry Caplin play trombone break on the old jazz classic, Clarinet Marmalade. Harry's talent will take him far and introduce him to such jazz legends as Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden; but not as far as poor feckless Bobby, who finds himself fighting in the jungles of Malaya. Spanning the twentieth century, this is a poignant story about a brother and a sister and three generations of a northern working-class family.

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