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This is it. The place for the greatest writing: stories that transcend all other ‘genres’. Literary fiction goes above and beyond any specific genre in order to deliver stories that strike at the heart of what it means to be human.
With the intrigue dial immediately spun to its furthest setting, this is a startling, and unexpectedly sophisticated novel. Secretary Dany Longo drops her boss and his family at the airport in his Thunderbird, rather than returning the car, she decides to keep driving. En route to the South of France people say they recognise her, and talk about meeting Dany the previous day, however she was at work in Paris, they couldn’t possibly have seen her! First published in the 1960’s this is still as readable and on point today, time has not caused it to wither or shrink, but to take on a rich deep tone. Author Sebastien Japrisot has a Graham Greene like reputation in France. Journalist and literary critic Christian House has written an introduction, and one that truly does introduce. The first page sent an icy shockwave through me, immediately creating an intense energy. The story was so curious, so different, I actually just stayed in the moment and didn’t spend too much time in speculation. The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun is so very readable, it cajoles and leads thoughts astray before settling at the end with a contented and knowing smile.
A lovely, heartfelt, oh so readable and occasionally quirky story containing huge empathy and thoughtfulness. Two teenagers, refugees without their parents, set off from Syria in the hopes of reaching the UK. I am a huge fan of Gavin Extence, as he has the ability to write with an incredibly light touch while exploring hugely provocative topics. His books often contain a waft of magic, not hocus pocus exactly, but something that makes you stop and think. The story here is told by 19-year-old Zain, older brother to 14-year-old Mohammed, and we meet them as they begin the swim from Turkey to Greece. Simply told, the words hit my thoughts with hammer-hard intensity, and yet there were smiles on hand too. There is a gentle compassion to be found in Zain, and as I read, I took him, and his football-loving brother to my heart. All I will say about the third absolutely fabulous character in this tale is that I won’t forget him! ‘The End of Time’ doesn’t preach, it lets you discover thoughts and feelings for yourself, it just exists, as it is, as the most wonderfully compelling and beautiful story. I have chosen ‘The End of Time’ as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month - it has a massive tick in the 'fabulous read' box from me. Gavin Extence is our author in the picture for July 2019, do take a look at the photos he chose in answer to our questions. Read our Putting Authors in the Picture blog post with Gavin.
If ever there was a book to fall completely in love with, this is it. Grace Atherton keeps certain parts of her deeply buried from everyone, yet it is the revelation of a joint secret that causes her life as she knows it to stop, how can she possibly restart it again? The first few sentences told me I was in for a real treat, I was intrigued, delighted in the style of writing, and then the end of first chapter… it was completely unexpected and caused my stomach to squirm. While this is a book to read with joy, it isn’t a gooey ride, it made me flinch, question and delve into thoughts. Anstey Harris has conjured such beautiful descriptions, they created a fully realised and vivid picture in my mind. Music and friendship pay a hugely important part in this book, the joy of each deeply embedded in the page, the words releasing themselves into my soul. I will admit to knowing next to nothing about cellos and violins, yet somehow I felt as though I did, I understood, I felt, I loved each instrument. I absolutely adore The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, it is completely magical and I suspect that each time I read it (it is a book to return to), a slightly different story will await me. Highly recommended.
A beautifully constructed, absolute dream of a read. Three women (including the wickedly wonderful Emily from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’) join forces when one of them is set up, publicly discarded and viciously humiliated by her husband. Emily, Miriam and Karolina live what may appear to be a charmed jet-setting, party-licious life, however there is a very long way to fall when the knives are out. I absolutely adore Lauren Weisberger’s novels, they read as a master class in setting the scene and creating an eloquently enjoyable and pointedly wicked read. Each chapter focuses on one of the women, so perfectly describing their life I could not only picture myself there, I was there. My eye-popping disbelief mounted at the tactics, the lifestyle, and I seethed away, joining ranks, willing them on. A quick note, just in case you’ve already hunted this down and read it, ‘The Wives’ was published in the USA as ‘When Life Gives you Lululemons’. ‘The Wives’ is a hugely entertaining, read in one sitting, smoking-hot loaded gun of a read - and I highly recommend it.
In a bold, compelling and challenging novel, I found just under 250 pages of pure and utter reading pleasure. British Intelligence Officer Jake Winter is under huge pressure after recruiting a young male who has been enlisted in a terrorist plot. Can he foil the terrorists while at the same time answering questions from an enquiry into an earlier bombing which targeted rush-hour commuters? I found Jake to be absolutely fascinating, he sits centre stage in this story in such an understated way. Nicholas Searle regularly slingshots new characters into the fray ramping up the intensity, creating an almost unbearable tension. The severity of the situation is highlighted as each additional character helps to build a picture which alters, expands, and provokes. The ending is hugely powerful and I sat in contemplation for a while afterwards. You will quite possibly see me hanging off a few rooftops shouting about A Fatal Game. It comes as so highly recommended from me, I have chosen it as a Star Book, and a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.
A very special and beautiful read that left my heart full of feelings. When she was young, Mona’s Dadda told her there was a trick to time, as she revisits the past can she reshape her future? Having fallen in love with Kit de Waal’s first novel My Name is Leon (do read it, it’s simply gorgeous), I just had to get myself a copy of The Trick to Time. I thought I would read a crafty few chapters before going out, however the words caught me to them and held on. I completely forgot I was meant to be leaving and was just a little late! I adore Kit de Waal’s writing, it reaches inside, to hidden depths of awareness I wasn’t even sure existed, and nudges them awake. She has a gift with words, seemingly simple, building thoughts and feelings until they develop into a heartfelt, vividly intense moving picture. As Mona visits the past, lives in the present, and looks to the future I found myself alongside her every step of the way. The Trick to Time is a book I will keep close to hand to reread again and again, and I imagine that I will discover a slightly different version each time I step inside the pages. Highly recommended, I have chosen it as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month, and a LoveReading Star Book.
The clever, seductive, fact and fictional blended story of Truman Capote and the women he placed (and came to rely on) at the very centre of his life. Truman Capote (author of works including novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s and non fiction piece In Cold Blood) could call among his friends and confidants the wealthy, famous and social elite. Their secrets were released to the world when he wrote a fictional piece that aired an awful lot of real life dirty laundry. Swan Song darts through the years, backwards and forwards, releasing information, filling in this breathtaking story. Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott apparently took ten years to research, and four years to write Swan Song. Capote’s swans are deliciously stimulating, and speak as one, revealing betrayal, scandal and lives full of emotional and physical excess. It is so wonderfully gossipy and fascinating, it’s all too easy to forget this is a novel (even though seeped in fact). Swan Song is a beguiling, fascinating dream of a read, and comes as highly recommended by me.
Penguin presents the audiobook edition of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak, read by Alix Dunmore. 'In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away...' For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life - friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .
Penguin presents the audiobook edition of The Handmaid's Tale written by Margaret Atwood, read by Elisabeth Moss, with Bradley Whitford, Amy Landecker and Ann Dowd. READ BY ELISABETH MOSS, STAR OF THE HIT CHANNEL 4 TV SERIES The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs. Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood's devastating irony, wit and astute perception.
Meet Don Tillman, the genetics professor with a scientific approach to everything. But he's facing a set of human dilemmas tougher than the trickiest of equations. Right now he is in professional hot water after a lecture goes viral for all the wrong reasons; his wife of 4,380 days, Rosie, is about to lose the research job she loves; and - the most serious problem of all - their eleven-year-old son, Hudson, is struggling at school. He's a smart kid, but socially awkward and not fitting in. Fortunately, Don's had a lifetime's experience of not fitting in. And he's going to share the solutions with Hudson. He'll need the help of old friends and new, lock horns with the education system, and face some big questions about himself. As well as opening the world's best cocktail bar. Big-hearted, hilarious and exuberantly life-affirming, The Rosie Result is a story of overcoming life's obstacles with a little love and a lot of overthinking. If you liked The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, then you'll love The Rosie Project series.
Playful, passionate, and deeply layered, What You Don't See raises the stakes in friendship against the bittersweet backdrop of motherhood and the endlessly entertaining activities of well-heeled women's groups. The story follows Livi, a spirited, outspoken PR executive, pivoting at thirty to full-time wife and mom. That goes better than imagined, that is, until she gets entangled in a romantic relationship with another mom. But no coming-out party. No new set of indie friends. At first, Livi's able to defend the relationship, asserting it can all be perfectly normal in a world of well-meaning adults. But her ability to live transparently in this complex web loosens as her girlfriend resists truth, dragging Livi into a world of deceit and subterfuge. What You Don't See, set in an affluent Southern California neighborhood and a local hangout bar on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is anything but ordinary. There's a talking, know-it-all cat; a large, menacing cockroach; and a host of colorful characters, stirring it up as Livi wrestles with timeless questions of intimacy, friendship, and the yearning for meaningful relationships.
Beautiful Delilah’s arrival on a one-village island off Cape Cod (“not the tropical breeze and swaying palm tree kind”, but the “sea gusts and unexpected hurricanes...Atlantic kind”) creates restless ripples among the islanders. She’s an outsider and, since this is the kind of place where everyone knows each other and each other’s business, Delilah is subject to the scrutiny and suspicions of locals who pass comment on all she does and how she does it. “She showed no sign of employment - or any sign of being independently wealthy”, and she even plants a garden at the front of her house. The front - such scandal! Delilah is alone but for occasional weekend visits from her boyfriend, until she becomes close to the island’s sheriff, who gives her gardening advice (and more), but it’s her unconventional, slow-to-emerge relationship with a reclusive neighbour - also the subject of gossip and wild speculation – that creates the most life-changing ripples. Tense, earthy, calmly commanding and written with refreshing clarity, this is a spellbinding triumph of short fiction.
Prepare yourself for an emotional read… full of deep abiding love and hope, there are also parts of this book that caused an intensely physical ache long after I’d finished reading. I don’t want to give too much away, I want you to be able to enter as I did, and experience all that is on offer. So, let me just say that Max and Pip have to make an impossible decision, one that will affect them forever more. The prologue sets the scene perfectly, and I felt a fellow sharp intake of breath at the last sentence before moving to chapter one. This is one of those books where I didn’t make many notes as I read, I was completely caught up in the story. Each character is perfectly placed, their emotions reaching out from the page to touch my heart and soul. There are times when right and wrong do not exist in a clear, comprehensive format and this book successfully shreds presupposition into tiny confetti-like pieces. After I had finished reading, the note at the end by Clare Mackintosh sent goosebumps skittering down my arms. After the End is powerful, provocative, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this extraordinarily beautiful read. I have chosen it as one of my picks of the month and a LoveReading star book.
Gosh, this is a unique, riveting, gloriously written short novel. 17 year old Silvie and her parents are on an experimental archaeological dig site in Northumberland. Her controlling father keeps a tight rein on Silvie, yet as she experiences the freedom of the other students, her life closes in around her. Sarah Moss has created an absolutely chilling first chapter, the feeling remained with me throughout the book and I found myself on high alert. There aren’t many chapters, there are no speech marks, it is one continuous train of Silvie’s thoughts. Without realising I slipped into her mind space, almost became Silvie as her intimate thoughts merged with mine. A claustrophobic feeling settles over the pages, as each word is read, emotions intensify and fear sinks, this really is clever writing indeed. Ghost Wall may be short in length, due to the feelings it evokes, it actually feels as though it is an immense read. This fabulous, provocative and powerful book comes as highly recommended from me, it also sits as one of my picks of the month.
Gosh, just stunning! For me, this is the very definition of a must-read… eloquent, absorbing, absolutely fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable. I thought The Last Hours (which you really do need to read first) was exquisitely engaging and satisfying, and I enjoyed The Turn of Midnight just as much, perhaps even more as the characters were known to me, beloved by me. Lady Anne and educated serf Thaddeus have joined forces to prevent the Black Death from decimating their community. As they attempt to secure the independence of Develish however, trouble continues to haunt them, to hunt them down. Maps and a summary of the people, places and events from The Last Hours ensured I was able to step straight into the story. Minette Walters has the most beautiful voice, my soul became at one with the words. I sank so fully into the story that I was surprised at the end of each chapter when I suddenly came to and became aware of my surroundings. The time, the place are vibrantly alive, I could touch kindness, smell bitterness, taste fear. Please, please, please let there be more! The Turn of Midnight is a powerful, gripping read, and yes I am gushing most effusively over it, that’s because it really is rather wonderful and I highly recommend buying yourself a copy.
I absolutely adored this very special, surprising and exquisitely written novel focusing on the period between the First and Second World Wars. In 1925 Selina Lomax regularly appears in the papers as she and her friends attend parties and live life to the full. When Selina meets struggling artist Lawrence Weston her life changes beyond all recognition. I entered ‘The Glittering Hour’ expecting the beautiful relationship tale that I found. However I also left having experienced so, so much more. Iona Grey has created sentences that caught and transported me with their stunning descriptions. The story slinks through time and space, effortlessly revealing links from the past that become present in the future. As I read, moments of understanding speared my awareness and left me reeling. I felt joy, tenderness, aching sadness, and I cried, really, really cried at the beauty in front of me. I wield my highly recommended stamp of approval all over The Glittering Hour, it really is the most wonderfully heartfelt and meaningful read, and so sits as a LoveReading star book.
Random House presents the audiobook edition of What Red Was written by Rosie Price, read by Eleanor Tomlinson. 'I think this is the best debut fiction I've ever read... I'm still in awe of it, I think about it all the time. If you like David Nicholls, Tessa Hadley, Elizabeth Day, Meg Wolitzer, Donna Tartt, then pre-order this book. It's exceptional.' -- Pandora Sykes, The High Low (12 Dec 2018) 'Kate Quaile,' he said. 'I like your name.' Kate frowned. 'How do you know my name?' Through their four years at university, Kate and Max are inseparable. For him, she breaks her solitude; for her, he leaves his busy circles behind. But loving Max means knowing his family, the wealthy Rippons, all generosity, social ease and quiet repression. Theirs is not Kate's world. At their London home, just after graduation, her life is shattered apart in a bedroom while a party goes on downstairs. WHAT RED WAS is a startling debut novel. It explores the effects of trauma on mind and body, the tyrannies of memory, the sacrifices involved in staying silent, the courage of a young woman in speaking out. And when Kate does, this question: whose story is it now?
Subtle, experimental and moving, this novel invites multiple readings. Based on Alan Turing’s horrendous experiences as a gay man in early 1950s England, it’s narrated by Alec Pryor, a mathematician and former Bletchley Park cryptographer who’s been convicted of gross indecency after meeting young man Cyril at a fairground. Opting for chemical hormone injections rather than a prison sentence, this novel is Alec’s piercing, heartbreaking journal. His depiction of the fairground at which he meets Cyril is acutely poignant: “It is an erotic place, the fair. Everything about it - the mushrooming appearance, the concentration of energy, the ambush and occupation of common land…This is your chance, it says. Take it!” But for Alec, an erotically charged encounter at the fair leads to his undoing. After enduring chemical castration, Alec’s brilliant mind and deep heart – his very being – unravel. He is not who he was: “When I began to look better, like my old self, after the changing treatment stopped, I seemed to disappear from the inside. I felt as if I’d been replaced.” Necessitating reader devotion and careful consideration of every perfectly placed word, this is a piercingly affecting intellectual and emotional tour de force.
A witty, globally-scoped exposé of corporate greed and environmentalism told through an absorbing character-rich tale. Set during the 2008-banking crisis, Peter Mount is the CEO of a small London mining company, a role he likens to “being the ringmaster of a small circus.” His wife of 24 years is a Cambridge zoology graduate, whose predilection for holidays in “expensive resorts in distant locations” and life’s finer, pricier things are not quite sustained by Peter’s income. Then we meet Amy, a New Yorker with a former sizeable carbon footprint who’s “transformed into a dedicated, environmental activist” when the idyll of her retreat in rural Oregon is disrupted by the racket of mining trucks working a few kilometres away from her property. Astute on the personal, environmental and financial butterfly effects of capitalism, this expansive novel is packed with surprises and reveals the complex and often contradictory interplay between human and economic forces.
After a brief introduction by Carole Matthews into the book’s background, narrator Emma Powell introduces us to the main character Molly Baker – an ex-teacher who now runs a farm for children with specific needs. Or in Molly’s own words, the farm is open to ‘bewildered, damaged and troubled animals and humans’. The book is written (and therefore narrated) in the first person. I felt as though I was listening to a good friend chatting about her life – her run-down farm, her difficult childhood and her lovable animals. It all seemed very personal, especially as Molly is funny and witty, down to earth and full of heart. She describes everything around her so well that I could visualise it, including ‘clouds drifting across the blue sky’. Hope Farm is filled with animals, from naughty goats and angry sheep to the diva alpacas – and for me, the animals are the main stars of the show. The supporting human cast felt very real too, especially moody teenage tearaway Luke who is grieving for his mother and craving his celebrity father’s attention. Happiness for Beginners would make an enjoyable holiday read, with its satisfying happy ending. The chapters are short – most range from around three minutes to 10 minutes, so they are easy to fit into a busy (or lazy) spring or summer’s day. As expected, there is plenty of romance alongside heart-warming moments and amusing animal antics. There’s also a farm at risk of demolition to provide land for a high-speed train line. If you’re having a bad day and need a book to give you a hug, this is definitely one for you!
Sharp, shrewd and incredibly intimate, this is a novel that explores the truth in family relationships. To celebrate Sverre’s 70th birthday his family travel to Italy, once there his children are shocked to the core when their mother and father announce they are divorcing. Novelist Helga Flatland makes her English debut with ‘A Modern Family’ which was the winner of the Norwegian Booksellers’ Award. The translation by Rosie Hedger is beautifully seamless. The three children, Liv, Ellen, and Hakon tell us their thoughts and feelings as the holiday and news hits home. As each person speaks, we not only see them as they see themselves, we are exposed to their quirks and differences as we then view them through the eyes of their siblings. The life cycle of relationships is explored with a transparent directness, this is a novel that prods and provokes. A fascinating read, incredibly profound, yet somehow tender, this really does encourage an exploration of a modern family.
This is a tenderly written, fascinating and thoughtful semi-autobiographical novel. We follow Sissy through her life, as she experiences growing up in Zambia, and the impact it has left on her as an adult based in the United States. Sheena Kalayil explains that actual events and locations are placed and located in the novel. The prologue sets a beautifully described scene, the difference between the India of Sissy’s grandparents, and Zambia of her childhood settled vividly in my mind’s eye, noise, smells, memories all within touching distance. I particularly adored the small moments, the small actions that made this book feel so tangibly real. Time slides backwards and forwards with no explanation, none is needed. I was occasionally left unsettled as I became aware of the thoughts and feelings of the future Sissy, and waited for an explanation to occur in the past. ‘The Wild Wind’ looks at the presence of memories that bruise, that affect, that create our future selves, it is wonderfully readable and gently provocative too.
Oh… my… word, this is one fabulous debut! I found a deceptively simple, and stark dystopian foray into a world blighted by bombs and sickness. Monster is completely alone until one day she finds a child. She becomes mother and passes on her knowledge, but are her mothering skills being received in the way she is expecting them to be? Told in the first person, Katie Hale has created short chapters where thoughts scatter, bounce, zigzag. I filed away feelings and emotions as I read, each within touching distance, lying in wait to prod and provoke. This feels honest, as though looking at a future just within grasp, or back to a history that has already happened. The feelings are raw, sometimes painful, yet relatable and believable. I found the premise of this novel absolutely fascinating, I explored interpretation of meaning, motherhood, and thoughts on the basic cycle of life. ‘My Name is Monster’ is poignant, moving and wonderfully different, it is also incredibly intimate, readable and surprisingly beautiful, I adored it.
Random House presents the audiobook edition of The Overstory by Richard Powers, read by Suzanne Toren. The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond: An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers – each summoned in different ways by trees – are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest. There is a world alongside ours – vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION AND THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL FICTION Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning. Melissa has a new baby and doesn't want to let it change her. Damian has lost his father and intends not to let it get to him. Michael is still in love with Melissa but can't quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Stephanie just wants to live a normal, happy life on the commuter belt with Damian and their three children but his bereavement is getting in the way. Set in London to an exhilarating soundtrack, Ordinary People is an intimate study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, friendship and ageing, and the fragile architecture of love.
An intriguing and thoughtful debut that pushes, prods, and provokes thoughts on social class, wealth and motherhood. Golden Oaks is a retreat that locates and looks after host females who act as surrogates for the extraordinarily rich, those who can’t or don’t want to carry their own child. Every move, every heartbeat of each host is monitored until they give birth. We follow the lives of four women, each with very different reasons for their involvement with the retreat known by the occupants as The Farm. For the first few chapters I sat on the edge, watching and learning, I then felt myself sliding into the pages, fully immersed, compelled to witness. Joanne Ramos has created a fascinating storyline, with intimate access to the thought processes of the four women ensuring I was able to observe the interaction, the assumptions, the decisions made. The Farm is a clever, challenging debut, and while set just in the future, is very much of our time.
Crossing cultures, continents and generations, this exquisitely involving exploration of frictions between family and friends, of love, loss and the criss-crossing complexities of life truly had me in its hold. In Ghana, sensible housegirl Belinda performs her domestic duties to perfection, with irrepressible eleven-year-old Mary shadowing her work. Mary brims with childish obstinacy, and with a daringly direct wisdom beyond her years. She’ll stamp her feet and curl her lip for attention or sympathy, but she’s also gloriously curious, a devoted, proud, joyously forceful bundle of humanity. Then Belinda is summoned to Brixton to befriend Amma, a privileged and troubled young woman. Amma initially refuses to play ball. She’s childishly rude, but they learn from each other and even confide their deepest secrets. When tragedy strikes, Amma rages: “The cruelty of the fucking world is proved fucking every day. The unfairness of life is just, like, unbelievable”. Ultimately, though, both young women evolve and broaden their outlook on the world and who they are. Alongside the heartfelt human drama, there’s much humour too, such as when Belinda describes Britain to Mary – it’s a peculiar place where cats “sleep in the bed with the white people” and “they kiss the animal as if it hasn’t roamed around the town eating sewage.” Her assessment of TV host Kilroy-Silk is hilarious too. He may seem “fully white”, but his “face is more orange then usual”. Poignant, finely-observed, funny and eloquent, this is an exceptional debut.
Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation - awkward but electrifying - something life-changing begins. Normal People is a story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find they can't.
Return to the world of the multi-million-copy bestselling Chocolat.... Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her 'special' child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend. But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse's relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist's across the square - one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own - all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence - even, perhaps, a murder...
From the award-winning poet and playwright behind Barber Shop Chronicles, The Half-God of Rainfall is an epic story and a lyrical exploration of pride, power and female revenge. There is something about Demi. When this boy is angry, rain clouds gather. When he cries, rivers burst their banks and the first time he takes a shot on a basketball court, the deities of the land take note. His mother, Modupe, looks on with a mixture of pride and worry. From close encounters, she knows Gods often act like men: the same fragile egos, the same unpredictable fury and the same sense of entitlement to the bodies of mortals. She will sacrifice everything to protect her son, but she knows the Gods will one day tire of sports fans, their fickle allegiances and misdirected prayers. When that moment comes, it won’t matter how special he is. Only the women in Demi’s life, the mothers, daughters and Goddesses, will stand between him and a lightning bolt.
This is one of the best books that I have read in a long long time! At first, I was a little unsure about what to expect, but I was not disappointed with this book. The author takes the reader on a journey across the vast expanse of Russia but in the form of 'short stories' about what is met whilst travelling. Each story is completely different and yet relevant to form the story as a whole and as such makes for delightful enjoyable reading. The book itself covers many genres and would delight anyone who picks it up. It is a very descriptive book with the author allowing the reader to feel as if they are actually travelling on the journey. A tourist guide it most definitely is not, but a book full of so many emotions, excitement, comedy, fear, loneliness and so forth and by the time the reader has read to the destination of the line, they will be quite impressed with what they have just read. I won't give detailed or short descriptions of the stories within the story of the book as this is a book that the reader needs to read for her/himself in order to appreciate the whole story and also the authors' style of writing which I may add is excellent. All in all an excellent fictional book which guarantees the reader an excellent read. Catherine Bryce, A LoveReading Ambassador
A poignant, thoughtful, and powerful standalone story from an author previously noted for his ‘Claymore Straker’ thriller series. There is most definitely a darkness to be found, some heart in mouth moments too, yet this centres on family, the things left unsaid and hidden. After the death of his father Ethan Schofield finds a manuscript detailing a life he didn’t know his father had experienced. It took a little while for me to settle in, to find my way, yet once I had, I found myself completely and utterly hooked. Two stories emerge and twist together… as Ethan finds his own life imploding, the manuscript travels alongside his story, revealing, testing, pushing. With his work as an engineer and scientist Paul E. Hardisty has travelled some of the worlds most remote areas, living with regimes and the chaos before war, all of his experience can be felt as the manuscript comes to vivid life. Turbulent Wake is moving, it caused me to ache deep inside, oh, and it is also a rather beautiful read too.
Oh I did enjoy this read, it was totally unexpected and sincerely lovely, as while I adored (and still adore) visiting the Narnia of C.S. Lewis, I had absolutely no idea of the truly fascinating love story that existed between him and Joy Davidman. The author introduces this novel with a note to the reader, inviting you to meet Joy Davidman, to explore her courage, and wonder at the woman who corresponded with Lewis before leaving America to make his world her home. Patti Callahan has obviously spent a huge amount of time in research, and that really comes across, as I read I felt, really felt that I was listening to Joy tell her own story. She is written in such a way that I could hear her, feel her pain, explore her hope, her commitment, she bares her soul and I rather fell in love her and her writing. Religion plays an important part, both of them found Christianity later in life, both were constantly testing and examining their faith, if like me you are a non-believer, please do not turn away, yes it is hugely important, yet approached with the most considered hand by Patti Callahan. They say truth is stranger than fiction, and oh how that resonates here, Becoming Mrs Lewis is a beautiful, engaging, eloquent read and highly recommended.
A truly fascinating and readable story that gathers thoughts, surprises feelings, and encourages hearts to fill. Opening in 1761, we meet Marie who tells of her life as a servant, a seemingly simple start collides with one of the most bizarre and violent times in French history. Edward Carey writes with true eloquence as Marie relives her story with a quiet and gentle resilience. Drawings sit alongside the words, sharing space, further exploring the passageways through her mind. There is true horror to be found, from the small and intimate to the huge and inconceivable, human nature, human needs, human wants spill from the page while we soak up Marie’s life. There is also magic waiting to be discovered, and as the ending approached and a particular realisation was made, I exclaimed out loud. This is a tale that is seeped in fact and is now calling for me to take a little wander into the history books and discover more about this time. Beautifully written, ‘Little’ is a unique novel sharing gruesome shivers and moments of touching heartache to create a perfect reading moment in time.
Gentle and pointed good humour abounds in this lovely read, Alexander McCall Smith excels in creating whimsical yet sharply observed novels with real heart. He was the winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2015 with Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party which I absolutely adored, and The Second Worst Restaurant in France certainly lived up to my expectations. Food writer Paul Stewart escapes to France to stay with his cousin Chloe in order to finish his latest book, however, located in the village is the restaurant aptly known as second worst in France. Within a few pages I had an understanding of Paul, he very simply makes himself known and acts as a perfect foil to Chloe, who on occasion rather steals the limelight! A whole host of wonderful characters enter the story as Paul’s livelihood is threatened and everything is thrown into a delightful muddle. The Second Worst Restaurant in France is a gorgeously easy read, I smiled, I laughed, and enjoyed every moment… PS I would love to see Chloe feature in her own story, what a woman!
A challenging and provocative read, with some hair-raising action. Rose Shaw is living with insomnia and trauma, when a diary unexpectedly lands in her possession she finds herself in serious trouble. The first few chapters really set the tone, as ‘before' plays out in gasp-inducing action, you may well find yourself camping out on the edge of your seat, waiting, waiting, waiting… When the moment comes, oh my! This story has more than its fair share of bigots which makes for uncomfortable reading. Other stories enter the fray, piercing feelings, creating biting tension. Perhaps best not to expect a factually accurate tale in terms of police procedure and there were times when my eyebrows nearly took flight, however for pure adrenaline, heightened emotions and drama, ‘Night by Night’ has it all. So settle down, pop disbelief to one side, just sink into the story and read!
An atmospheric, stormy beauty of a read which made me positively ache for the characters. As Frances lies on her deathbed she revisits the summer of 1969 when she met Cara and Peter at an abandoned country house, as the summer progresses vulnerabilities are highlighted and tragedy strikes. Claire Fuller peels open the lives of the characters with exquisite care. Feelings spin and slice across the page, freedom, isolation, menace all tumbling together in an uncertain dance. The house is a hugely important part of the tale, creating a setting that alternates between forsaken and decadent. Whenever the story left Lyntons, whether to the village beyond or the Frances of now, I felt an easing of pressure, I was able to relax muscles sitting in tense anticipation. ‘Bitter Orange’ sets a chilling yet poignant stage and allows access to the memories of the past, the emotions are touchable, the ending so perfect it hurt. Featured in Episode 5 of the LoveReading Podcast
An absolutely delightful story ready and waiting to wrap you up in a delicious blanket of warming feel-good. Ellie thinks she is happy, assumes she is happy, but a present from a harp-making stranger heralds change. Oh I did enjoy this story, told in alternate chapters by Ellie and Dan, I settled myself into a comfy spot and stayed there until I had finished. Dan introduces himself in the most simple and beautiful way, he is able to see through clutter to the heart of things and I have to admit to rather falling in love with him. Hazel Prior doesn’t spell things out for you, instead I felt that I was able to explore and encouraged to contemplate. The descriptions of Exmoor, nature, and colour are particularly special, and I now find myself taking the time to look properly, to really see, to feel, to smile. Ellie and the Harp Maker is truly lovely and rather special, if you feel like a hug, then read this book!
In the midst of war, he found love In the midst of darkness, he found courage In the midst of tragedy, he found hope The Beekeeper of Aleppo What will you find from his story? Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo - until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees. As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all - and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face - they must journey to find each other again. Moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.
Literary fiction is a bit of a “catch-all” phrase. Some call it “Serious Fiction” but we prefer to think of it as all of the greatest stories ever told, all in one place. This is where you will find literary classics from literary masters past and present.
Why not have a look at our monthly featured titles for inspiration? Revisit old friends? Discover new ones? Or finally read that book that your friends have been banging on about for ages? Whatever your reasons, settle down with your favourite tipple, unwind and open your mind with the home-spun brilliance of authors like Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, David Nicholls and Zadie Smith; or those from further afield: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Ben Okri, Jostein Gaarder and so many more. There are obviously so many to choose from, you could get lost in the Sea of Choices.