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.
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | In a nutshell: the unforgettable story of a girl with no memory. Can there ever have been a heroine like Flora Banks? She’s 17 when the book opens, but an accident aged 10 has left her with no short term memory. Then a secret kiss on the beach – with her only friend’s boyfriend – lodges in her mind. Inspired, she sets off alone to follow him, a heart-stopping journey that takes her deep into the Arctic landscapes of Norway, scribbled messages she writes to herself on her arms her only reassurance or guide. Flora does find out the truth about the boy and about herself, but she needs all her courage. A unique mix, part coming-of-age, part psychological thriller, with an almost fairy-tale setting, this is a story that readers will want to read more than once, and one they will want to share with friends too. Unforgettable!
A striking, rambunctious, Tom Ripley-ish debut about cuckoos in the family nest, the death of colonial Rhodesia and the bloody birth of corrupt Zimbabwe. This is a slow and challenging read about the change of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. It centres on an orphan boy, Zamani, who longs to be accepted as the “son” of his surrogate family with whom he lodges. Their natural son, Bukhosi, has disappeared during the internal struggle between rival supporters of Mugabe and Nkomo which followed independence. The boy’s father won’t talk about his past but Zamani needs the details filled in so he can feel he belongs and also to hopefully help him find Bukhosi. He plies the man with whisky to get him to talk and so the background unfolds. In a novel of genocide there is a great deal of violence and actually little historical detail. The concentration is on the effect of the conflict on individual lives in a tale of deceit and deception. Horrific stuff. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
Seven days of sin. Seven days of secrets. Seven days to steal her sister's life. This book is currently being read by our editorial experts. The reviews will show here soon...
The long-awaited novel from the bestselling author of Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit From the Goon Squad. This book is currently being read by our editorial experts. The reviews will show here soon...
`Reading is a form of escape and an avid reader is an escape artist...' By the age of ten precocious Sally, the author, had read all of Agatha Christies’s novels and moved on to Jane Eyre and David Copperfield. Miss Marple, Jane herself, Peggotty, these were her role models and companions. She invented back stories for them, different endings, had conversations and wove them in and out of her own life. We learn all this in delightful, fanciful snippets. In the same way we learn of the author’s traumatic childhood but because she is living through the events they just seem mysterious or sad or unexplained. She is a girl with a huge imagination and was able to accept the strange female dominant childhood she lived through until Social Services arrived and plucked her out. This is a memoir full of surprises. It’s intriguing, mesmerising and impressively written through the eyes of a child who relies on her literary heroines to guide her through her turbulent, formative years.
‘One of the chief worries besetting any author of an introduction to a novel is that of letting the cat out of the bag… From its opening pages, through the utterances of its protagonist, the butler Lister, Not to Disturb disburdens the introduction-writer of any such worry… Muriel Spark appears to have decided that foreshadowing, or mere adumbration of catastrophe, was not for her… It is for its foregrounding of the spoiler, and for the tension that results, between life’s openness and life’s plotted-ness, that I place Not to Disturb near the centre of the Spark canon…And there exist other reasons to find the novel central, among which the fact that it may be the funniest of all Spark’s novels, the most concentrated, too… And it is, further, the centre of what is almost a trilogy – a triptych, perhaps? – that includes The Driver’s Seat (1970) and The Hothouse by the East River (1973); all three are short, concerned with murder and/or suicide, and written principally in the present tense.’ From the Introduction by Dan Gunn This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read. ~ Lovereading.co.uk
‘As early as 1965, Muriel Spark had a title in mind for a new book. That title was Hothouse East River. The novel itself, however, would not appear until 1973, much changed from its original incarnation, as Spark herself would confide during a 1970 interview with the Guardian newspaper: ‘I’m so interested in the present tense that I’ve redone a book I’ve been working on for three years, “The Hot House by the East River”, and put it all in the present tense.’ … the novel she would eventually pen about New York would be one of her strangest, most jarring works, painting an unflattering portrait of the city’s wealthier denizens and their spiritually empty lives…I wonder what Spark would do with the world of 2017 and 2018; I wish she were around to answer that…The Hothouse by the East River is as strange and dislocating as anything Muriel Spark wrote, a book absolutely right for its period and setting. She saw through the Manhattan social scene and discovered an Unreal City. She had journeyed a long way from childhood Edinburgh and wartime England, but she had more travelling still to do.’ From the Introduction by Ian Rankin This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read. ~ Lovereading.co.uk
'If you like Jodi Picoult try Melissa Hill' Woman and Home Good mother or bad ... who decides?' With clever writing, this provocative tale is just so, so readable. Rosie can’t have her childhood vaccinations due to a medical condition, while Clara’s parents have decided not to vaccinate for personal reasons. When measles strikes both girls, is anyone to blame, and will life ever be the same again? Melissa Hill writes in such a compassionate and measured way, neither judging nor condemning, yet she brings this highly sensitive and volatile subject vibrantly to life. Mums Kate and Madeline take centre stage, allowing you an insight to their parenting decisions. I changed my mind as I read, thoughts flowing one way, then the other, understanding choices, questioning opinions, and thoroughly becoming part of this tale. ‘Keep You Safe’ lights the touch paper to a dramatic finale, all the while allowing you to make up your own mind, creating an absorbing, fascinating novel.
‘She wrote The Driver’s Seat in under eight weeks in 1969. Trips away from her desk in Rome were mainly for shopping… I mean, what is shopping, what is a purchase, if not a more or less intense moment of desire settled by a sudden act of volition? Which brings us to the heart of The Driver’s Seat…The novel opens in, you guessed it, a boutique, where our heroine, Lise, is getting into an argument about a dress… Spark deconstructs the murder mystery novel with The Driver’s Seat, turning everything on its head, not least the easy separation of killer and killed… It is hard to think of any novelist, in today’s environment, who would risk creating a female character who plots her own victimisation. But courage is as courage does. Spark wrote it fifty years ago and the result is a little masterpiece of fiction.’ From the Introduction by Andrew O’Hagan This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read. ~ Lovereading.co.uk
‘Annabel Christopher, an English actress of the 1960s, is described to us by everybody: her husband, their friends, neighbours, directors, film buffs, reporters and, repeatedly, by Spark herself, who circles ever closer to her prey… Spark doesn’t ignore the difficulties involved in getting us to care about this characterless movie star. While she exults in her vapidity, she also adroitly circumvents it by making Annabel real… To endear Annabel to us yet further, Spark gives her a traitorous quibbler of a husband who’s always correcting Annabel’s grammar… The question hovers over the novel: is Annabel stupid? Her husband thinks so, her directors hope so. Spark takes this opportunity to mock all of humanity for having the chutzpah to make any claims to intelligence, suggesting it’s probably way beyond our reach.’ From the Introduction by Lucy Ellmann This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read. ~ Lovereading.co.uk
Seven captivating short stories set in the rather wonderful world of DCI Daley, which can either serve as a revealing introduction to the series, or be enjoyed by existing fans. I love a good short story, and I adore this series, so was waiting expectantly with hands outstretched for ‘One Last Dram Before Midnight’. Denzil Meyrick unveils the past, divulges more information on certain characters (we see an entertaining glimpse of Hamish in his younger days), and hands us some thoroughly tricky crimes to solve. I have a real soft spot for DS Scott, and I was on the edge of my seat during one particular situation.‘One Last Dram Before Midnight’ contains Meyrick’s trademark dark police humour and plenty of gritty cases, a few ghostly whispers also caress the pages, ensuring a gathering of gutsy, compelling tales. ~ Liz Robinson
An utterly compelling read giving an insight into the wars in Iraq, written with a frank, decisive and convincing hand. Once you start reading, you quite simply don't want to stop, it’s an often uncomfortable read but there is a feeling of needing to know and wanting to empathise with these characters. It feels as though you have been permission to have direct access to their minds, their memories, the confusion of going from a war zone to a home town, of being in combat. Although there are 12 short stories revealed here, it almost seems as though you are listening to one solider and yet all of them at the same time. Unless from a military background you may need to have a device handy to look up the acronyms used here. This is a commanding collection of short stories, one that will demand your attention throughout and clamour at your consciousness long after.~ Liz Robinson
A brilliant, bruising depiction of the dark side of 1950s Hollywood, from the author of In Love. At a Hollywood party, a screenwriter rescues an aspiring actress from a drunken suicide attempt. He is married, disillusioned; she is young, seemingly wise to the world and its slights. They slide into a casual relationship together, but as they become ever more entangled, he realises that his actions may have more serious consequences than he could ever have suspected. Hayes' exquisite novella, written in his cool, inimitable style, holds a revealing light to the hollowness of the Hollywood dream and exposes the untruths we tell ourselves, even when we think we have left illusions behind.
Deceptively clever and utterly compelling, this beautifully written little book will continue to haunt your thoughts long after you've finished it. Set in Montreal, the world of Bilodo the postman is a simple one, but he regularly sneaks a peek into other peoples worlds by reading their handwritten letters; events take a darker turn as he deviates from voyeur into an obsessive usurper. The author uses Japanese haiku and tanka poetry to allow Bilodo to converse with the woman of his dreams; exquisite clusters of words will snag your attention and demand that you re-read them. This is essentially a book of love, of what might have been and of what could still come… One of our Books of the Year 2014. Selected as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club title in September 2014.
Explore in ‘Chance Developments’ five charming and poignant short stories. I absolutely adore the premise for this little book and the cover just invites you in. Alexander McCall Smith has imagined a background tale to the five black and white photos that appear at the beginning of each short story. The photos are eloquent and moving, the stories delve deeply into possibilities, love and friendship, joy and melancholy. From Sister Flora to a circus performer, each story is a small snapshot of what might have been, and as I read, I found myself drawn back to the photo, to look again and ponder. Alexander McCall Smith has transformed five forgotten photos into a discovery of delight. ~ Liz Robinson May 2017 Book of the Month. Click here to read an exclusive interview with Alexander McCall Smith by Mary Hogarth. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'If you come across an old photograph what do you think about the people staring back out at you? Maybe that they are just anonymous people from another age, as if from another planet. Or do you, like McCall Smith, hear their voices, know their names, sense their hopes and dreams and imagine how their lives might have turned out.Blessed with a wonderful, humane imagination, McCall Smith brilliantly constructs paths for these forgotten people - some joyous, others bumpy and winding, all with unexpected twists and turns. An astonishing achievement: original and moving.' ~ Neville Moir, Editor of Chance Developments
Aisling is 28, and she's a complete ... Aisling. Living `Down Home' with Mammy and Daddy, she commutes to her good pensionable job in Dublin and stays two nights a week with her boyfriend of seven years, John. But Aisling wants more. She wants the ring on her finger. She wants the hen with the willy straws. She wants the grand big house with the utility room of her dreams. When a week in Tenerife doesn't result in a proposal, Aisling decides she's had enough. It's time for a change. A new start, a love triangle (well, more of a square) and some home truths force Aisling out of her comfort zone and into a life she never imagined.
Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 Category Winner for the Costa Book Awards 2017, First Novel Award June 2017 Debut of the Month. It is the standard reply when people ask, “How are you?” ....you say “I’m fine.” Well, Eleanor is most definitely not fine and has not been since she was 10 years old. Shifted from one foster home to another, she does eventually go to university where she ends up in an abusive relationship. On graduation she gets a job in the accounts department of a graphic designer and there she is when we meet her, aged 31 and desperately lonely. Eleanor is on the spectrum with her life overshadowed by some dreadful childhood tragedy which has left her face badly scarred. She keeps her head down at work and spends the weekends with two bottles of vodka. She speaks to her mother on the telephone on a Wednesday and dreads the call. We are uncertain as to whether her mother is in prison or an asylum. Life ticks by until her works’ computer needs attention and enter one geeky IT man. How he and others break down her barriers is beautifully done. Very slowly we learn more about Eleanor and her past. Very slowly a future develops but once the geek (Raymond) arrives the novel is by no means slow. It becomes a page-turning, compulsive read of great charm.
What happens when all the personal information held by tech companies is no longer private? What happens when this code of ethics is broken? When everyone in your world - in the world – can know all your secrets? This thoroughly thought-provoking novel addresses such questions - and more - as it explores the all-encompassing impact of recent, emerging and conjectured future technology through a haunting and powerfully personal account of one woman’s life. It’s 1997 and, at the tender age of 17, Laura Bow has created a basic artificial intelligence, which she names Organon after a Kate Bush lyric. Organon begins life as Laura’s imaginary friend. This creation is her outlet, a vent, a means of dealing with the loss of her father who vanished when she was seven. As Laura grows older and gains more experiences and memories, for a time working at the tech company her father founded and sold shortly before he disappeared, so Organon grows with her. Much like a skilled human personal assistant, it informs and supports Laura through her life, managing what she needs to be aware of, filtering out the superfluous, and anticipating her needs. But, as new technologies are developed and companies create intelligences with far less morality programmed into them than Organon, millions of personal and political secrets are unleashed and the world is sent reeling to the brink of breakdown. Shifting forward in decades from 1997, the cleverly-spun narrative spans Laura’s entire life, from the early years of dial-up Internet, to a speculative future that serves as something of a wake-up call. Taking in artificial intelligence, human intelligence, love, loss, and meaningful memories, this novel might make you reflect on how much time you spend online, and what you do and disclose there. Above all, this is an absorbing story about humanity, making moral choices and living your best life with love and ethics.
March 2018 Book of the Month I am William Lee: brute; liar, and graveside thief. But you will know me by another name. A fiery, emphatic and intense glimpse into the missing years of Heathcliff. Leaving Wuthering Heights and naming himself William Lee, Heathcliff travels through the north of England, revenge forming on his mind. If you haven’t read ‘Wuthering Heights’ there is no need to look away, this could be the entrance to that fascinating world. I do feel you need to be aware that obscenities crop up, in fact sometimes litter the pages, and while this may put people off, I would advise looking beyond the surface to what lies beneath. The book opens with anger and deep rooted pain, William’s thoughts flare into being, the searing honesty and heat almost made me flinch. Michael Stewart allows William’s innermost being to spill onto the pages, William is so matter of fact about pain and suffering, about the world around him, the stark reality of the times seared their way onto my soul. And then there are the descriptions, the beautiful, eloquent descriptions of the countryside, the rural life, the old words. While rage, hurt and confusion swirl in a maelstrom of emotion, tenderness, love, and compassion lie waiting, biding their time. Yes ‘Ill Will’ is provocative, it is a disturbing, striking read, yet also strangely beautiful, and personally, I loved it.
Just gorgeous. I do love a feel-good read, add biting realism and aching intensity, and you have a winner in your hands. Ella and Henry have a deep and loving connection to Cornwall, when their grandmother dies the past throws up new possibilities, not all however, are welcome. Fern Britton writes so beautifully about Cornwall, the warmth and love is felt, bringing the houses and villages to life. The story is set in three main time frames which allows you to properly meet and get to know the three generations who walk through the pages. None of the characters are perfect, which is perfect, as they feel relatable, touchable, real. There is an exotic addition, which adds an extra glow, and as the story comes to its conclusion I had my fingers and toes crossed for a joyful ending. Coming Home is a truly lovely read, deeply rich and emotional, it is easy to sink into, easy to become a part of, and warmed the cockles of my heart.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 | April 2017 Debut of the Month. Here is a woman, Mary, who desperately needs something and even we, the reader, are not entirely sure what. She has just split with a long-term boyfriend, Mark, the final bitter row being over commitment and not wanting a child. The next door neighbours have a toddler and a new baby girl. Mary babysits and forms an attachment with the baby which becomes complicated when the child is dumped on her later. It is the age old dilemma; no she does not want a child ... but then maybe she does. A magnificent dog fox appears in her overgrown garden, an area that backs onto a bit of scrub land. There are passages when we become aware of his thoughts and so eventually discover he is mourning his vixen. We are in East London. Mary develops an friendship with the fox, as indeed does he with her, or so we are led to believe. But again is he real or is she suffering from some delusion, edging on a mental breakdown? Is the fox a symbol for a need to care, nurture, protect, belong, or is he actually there? This is fascinating stuff. A tale of obsession which is unsettling, powerful and hypnotic. An original debut. I was fascinated to learn that there are ten thousand foxes roaming London.
March 2018 Debut of the Month Just gorgeous… this is an emotional and quite, quite beautiful read. After a particularly traumatic time at home, 13 year old Sal and her younger sister Peppa escape into the wilds of Scotland. Sal has spent a long time preparing, the wilderness beckons them, can they survive on their own? Sal tells their story, the first chapter is so clever, I started to realise what had been happening, and then a few carefully chosen, yet almost casually thrown away words, sent a shockwave running through me. I could clearly hear Sal’s voice, she is so individual and distinctive, her words entered my mind and expanded, filling my heart. Mick Kitson encourages the Scottish countryside to sing with intensity, while you can hear Sal, you can see and feel the clean and natural space she and Peppa find themselves in. Kindness flows from unexpected places, and love is behind every word shared by Sal, even in the darkness. Simple, beautiful, provocative yet touching, this is an outstanding debut, and a read I will return to again and again. Highly recommended.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 | Shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards 2017, First Novel Award May 2017 Debut of the Month. This magnetic debut evokes the social and emotional landscapes of interwar England with an abundance of originality. With the country battered and drained by the Great War, orphan Lucy Marsh finds herself in an extraordinary place, and in the company of even more extraordinary people, when an old army truck trundles her to woods on the edge of London. Here Lucy feels that anything could happen: “She might shake hands with a ghost or dance alongside a lion or spoon trifle into the mouth of a storybook dwarf”. But what Lucy really encounters is every bit as remarkable as her imaginings, for it’s here that she meets the “funny men”, four former soldiers disfigured by war, each named after one of Dorothy’s Emerald City-bound cohorts. The novel is a rich tapestry that interweaves the social fabric of interwar England with fairy tale touches. Lucy comes to feel that “the world is confusing, but the forest is not”, poignantly conveying the strangeness of the period. The author has a fabulously visual style, and I loved the ensemble of characters - some haunted, some scarred, all of them nimbly conjured by a debut author with considerable talent. The Costa Judges say: ‘A perfectly-paced, unsettling yet strangely uplifting tale about fractured lives and broken people.’
The brand-new feel-good story from bestseller Veronica Henry - a perfect mix of family, friends and delicious food. So absolutely and completely gorgeous in every way! I do look forward to the latest Veronica Henry, I fairly danced with glee when ‘A Family Recipe’ arrived. Number 11 Lark Hill, Bath sits centre stage in this story, set during the Second World War and 2017. The house connects two tales, two women and the people they love. I read this in one sitting, once started, I quite simply didn’t want to stop. Jilly and Laura became known and loved, each and every character pops with intensity, fully realised, touchable, real. Veronica Henry has such a beautiful touch, she paints an entire world, deeply rich and vibrant, bringing to life thoughts, emotions, heart-ache, joy. I stepped though the pages into Bath, wandered the streets, travelled back in time, and salivating, I even looked up the food market to see if I could visit! I know I say this every time, but each new novel becomes my favourite by Veronica Henry, that is her gift, and ‘A Family Recipe’ most certainly continues that tradition.
A wonderfully provocative and emotionally beautiful read, where for one family, whether or not destiny exists becomes incredibly significant. We see snapshots in time, of compelling and expressive moments for Mukesh, Neha, Rakesh and Ba. Set in different time frames, and not told sequentially, we begin to see how events from the past create our future, yet is it destiny or free will that shape our movements, our decisions? Nikesh Shukla writes with a wonderfully light touch, yet he hits with hammer hard intensity. I laughed, I cried, I wondered at people’s propensity to hate, to fear, for violence. Each family member is so clearly and individually expressed, I particularly enjoyed getting to know Raks through the eyes of others, it actually made me feel more of a connection with him, for him. Poignant and stimulating, The One Who Wrote Destiny has an immense subtlety, the words dance across the page, before rising up from an unexpected direction to challenge thoughts and feelings - highly recommended. ~ Liz Robinson
An absorbing, fresh, and ultimately incredibly satisfying police procedural and start to a new series. DI Maya Rahman and DS Dan Maguire investigate the murder of a Head Teacher at an East London School, another murder plunges the investigators into a race against time before the killer strikes again and the already tense community lose all faith. Short snappy chapters and rapid moves between time frames and characters kept me vigilant and alert to changes. I found the chapter headings helpful, and at no time was I left floundering, the writing kept me firmly in touch with the storyline. Vicky Newham is a psychologist and has taught in East London, her connection to the social issues in the novel feel authentic and tangible, I could feel the emotion, the confusion, the fear. Snippets of information, both about the case and Maya and Dan are gradually released, and the story emerges fully realised, strong, and bursting with energy. ‘Turn a Blind Eye’ is a cracking debut, with a bold sharp edge, and I look forward to the next in the series.
April 2018 Debut of the Month Oh my word, this is an eyebrow raising, mouth openingly good read. A contemporary tale about three women, muddling and battling their way through this world as best they can. Emotional growing pains can occur at any age, life doesn't run smoothly, and these three women hold out the hand of friendship to all of us. We see and feel deeply hidden thoughts, witness shockingly embarrassing moments, and I found myself wincing at their pain, snorting with laughter, and cheering them on. Dawn O’Porter has written a stonkingly good read, I stayed up well past my bedtime into the early hours in order to finish it in one sitting. My feelings went into free fall and occasionally tied themselves up in knots as I read. ‘The Cows’ slams with impact, slaps adversity in the face, and offers supportive understanding in our modern world. Highly recommended!
Powerful, sweeping and elegantly composed, this compelling novel takes in Burma’s history from the 1940s to the 1960s and draws on the author’s personal history to remarkable effect. When Benny settles in Ragoon, part of the British Empire, he falls for Khin, who belongs to the persecuted Karen minority group, and they go into hiding when WWII erupts. The end of the war heralds fresh dangers when the nationalists take control. Then, when the Karen people – and other ethnic groups - are refused their desire to self-govern, a brutal, long-running civil war breaks out and Benny and Khin’s firstborn child - the first ever Miss Burma beauty queen - is thrust into a world of conflict, uncertainty and contradictions. The historical details are enlightening, yet this expansive, lyrical novel also explores universal themes - identity, desire, patriotism versus self-determinism - that transcend the particulars of time and place. This is an intensely illuminating, riveting accomplishment.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 'A brilliantly plotted story of mermaids, madams and intrigue in 1780s London and I wouldn't be surprised to see it become the Essex Serpent of 2018' - The Pool'Imogen Hermes Gowar is a soon-to-be literary star' - Sunday Times THIS VOYAGE IS SPECIAL. Oh how I adored this mysterious tale, darkly beautiful and beguiling, it called to me and still hasn’t let go. The cover is a stunner, calling for a pause before entering its heady depths. One of Jonah Hancock’s sea captains sells Jonah’s ship for a mermaid, all of society want to see this marvel and he is swept up into a world outside of his awareness. Courtesan Angelica Neal is on the edge of her beauty, she is determined to remain independent, yet the life she lives is ever watchful, ready to turn on her, to cast her out. The two meet, the mermaid calls to them, can they resist the dangers that threaten? The first chapter so eloquently describes Jonah, I felt his heart, touched his thoughts, and stepped beside him as he began to explore. I effortlessly sank in the words and read, Imogen Hermes Gowar writes with an artistic, otherworldly touch. What greets you is rich, yet subtle, provocative yet welcoming, there is a deeply magical edge that cuts a pathway to your soul, yet the reality, the bite, the tangibility of this tale can truly be felt. I quite simply adored ‘The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock’, it is a haunting, sumptuous, pearl of a read just awaiting discovery. ~ Liz Robinson
If you're looking for a fresh, addictive police procedural with characters who spring into vivid life, then look no further than Susie Steiner's Missing, Presumed. It's Steiner's first venture into the crime genre - her debut, Homecoming, was more literary - and it follows the efforts of DS Manon Bradshaw, a single woman in her late 30s, who is trying to get a handle on the case of the missing Edith Hind. Edith, a Cambridge post-grad, was dropped home by a friend to the house she shares with her boyfriend; the next day, he returns to find the door open, coats scattered, blood on the floor. Manon knows she has hours to find Edith before the hunt will switch to one for a body, rather than a missing person, but the time slips away and Edith can't be found. Steiner follows the case from various perspectives - Manon's, her colleagues, Edith's mother - using the effect to build a compelling, thrilling crime novel which I thoroughly recommend. March 2016 Book of the Month.
February 2018 Book of the Month. Another joyful hug of a read from Katie Fforde, what more could you want, than to settle down with her latest book! Philly, Lorna and Anthea, all wonderful ladies, in various stages of their lives, sit centre stage in this delightful story. Set in a friendly community, with a garden to restore, will love pay a fleeting visit or settle in for a longer stay? As to be expected, the three main characters are surrounded by a lovely cast of friends, as life throws gravel, pebbles, and socking great boulders in their path. Katie Fforde has the wonderful ability to put a smile on my face, and I feel re-energised and ready to face the world again when I finish her lovely tales. To be honest, her stories speak for themselves, I really only need to tell you that the latest Katie Fforde is out, and it’s the warm and very charming ‘A Secret Garden’. Click here to read an exclusive interview with Katie Fforde by Mary Hogarth.
Oh, what a truly beautiful read this is, though do prepare for your heart to ache, weep, and possibly even break. For the last ten years, Oliver Loving has been lying in a hospital bed, paralysed and non-communicative, is he trapped in his own mind, can a new test release him? Everyone wants answers, they also want to know what happened ten years ago, on the night of the school dance in Bliss, Texas… and what caused the tragedy that took place there. The story focusses on Oliver, his mother Eve, and brother Charlie, and how one event has trapped them, has maimed them all. Stefan Merrill Block writes so thoughtfully, an almost gentle lyrical quality caresses the pages, yet he encourages searching questions, for you to travel deeper, to look further. This is an emotional read, the writing touched me, deep inside my heart, and a part of Oliver Loving will remain there. Almost otherworldly, yet raw and true and full of heart, Oliver Loving is profoundly moving, and captivating, I highly recommend stepping inside the pages, and becoming one with the story. ~ Liz Robinson
Set in modern India, this remarkable novel lays bare potent – and harrowing – universal truths about toxic masculinity and the physical and psychological abuse of women that’s often silenced, ignored or unnoticed. “I am the woman who asked for tenderness and was raped in return. I am the woman who has done her sentence. I am the woman who still believes, broken-heartedly in love”, so states the unnamed protagonist, an educated young woman whose every freedom is curtailed when she marries a university professor. Her silencing begins immediately, when they move to “a strange town that does not speak any of her mother tongues” and he begins to control every aspect of her life. “Come off Facebook”, he orders. When she dares question him, the punch line is dealt: if she loves him, she will do as he asks. Soon after, he takes control of her email account too, and she makes herself blank, plain, for plainness “will prevent arguments”. She tells her parents, but the shame of a broken marriage must be avoided above all else, even though he rapes to disable her, even though her abuse and isolation is all consuming. But, while he ridicules her writing, and accuses her of being mad, she writes in secret as an act of defiance, and she has a hidden weapon in her arsenal. Stylistically, at times this put me in mind of the brilliant Jean Rhys. The writing is precise, intense, brutally honest, and analytical, and the unforgettable narrator reveals truths that need to be told, gives voice to thousands of women who need to be heard. Courageous and clever, this offers incomparably powerful insights into the manifold means by which men abuse women, and the complex dynamics of abusive relationships. ~ Joanne Owen
Will Ryan’s fable is a clever and humorous work of fiction interweaved with real world stories of outstanding classroom practice in the current challenging educational landscape. His sharp-witted creation of his fictional primary school Headteacher Brian Smith is one that will surely engage and inspire any new, aspiring or established school leader. Although it’s an educational leadership textbook that will serve to help transform schools in this challenging educational climate, this is a work of fiction. It’s about being brave, challenging the status quo and about inspiring teachers to “dare to be different” and supporting them in these endeavours with a road map for successful school leadership with practical solutions. You relate to the fearlessness of the protagonist, you support his questions, you challenge your own beliefs and want to embark upon your own journey of transformational change. This is a must-read for any school leader. I was underlining passages, writing notes and scribbling down the hints and tips as I enjoyed Brian’s inspirational tale. ~ Deborah Dumville
My goodness me did these two have a passion, a chemistry that burned so bright it was painful to behold. They, Lucy and Gabe, met on 11 September 2001 in New York as the world changed and so did their lives. We follow them through Lucy’s conversation with Gabe over thirteen years as each has a dream that needs to be fulfilled, a dream of doing something important in the world. Together or separately they know not but follow that dream they must. We discover a lot about Lucy’s life, little about Gabe’s except when it crosses Lucy’s. She marries Darren, has two children, is happy and loves him. But there are many types of love and the one that burns for Gabe is wild fire and will not die. This is extraordinarily romantic, the stuff that goose bumps are made of and a joy to read. Evocative, moving and intense it is a very impressive work. The author has written several children’s book, this is her first adult novel. If you like Jill Santopolo you might also like to read books by Lisa Jewell, Jojo Moyes and David Nicholls.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 A gorgeously expressive, intriguing, and compelling tale… it powered into my thoughts and turned them upside down. A woman in Paris dealing with memory loss, tells her own story during a Parisian summer. As the tale progresses thoughts, feelings, friendships splinter, shatter, like a glass mirror, then puddle together again to form a different reflection. I wasn’t sure what to expect before I started reading, I adored the first sentence and settled in for a fascinating read. Andrew Meehan writes beautifully, time feels somehow irrelevant as the story corkscrews into place. I bobbed along on the current, twisting through the pages, feeling a sense of energy, of knowing, yet at the same time incredible innocence. I smirked, scowled, winced, I pondered, I really felt the words. ‘One Star Awake’ is quite simply, a fabulous read, one question to ask, can you find yourself if you’re still lost? ~ Liz Robinson
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 A searing, sometimes painful, yet fully rich and fascinating read. 21 year old student Frances, and her ex-girlfriend Bobbi are interviewed by Melissa about their spoken word performances. They are invited to enter Melissa’s world, they meet her actor husband, their friends, join parties, even a holiday, yet as friendships form and blossom, one particular relationship threatens all. Sally Rooney writes with a beautifully observant pen, she sees beneath the skin, testing, sifting through thoughts and feelings. Frances is one of the most intriguing characters I have met, incredibly bright and witty, she places herself on the edge of things, and can be frustrating, vulnerable, yet sharply aware and considered. I found myself analysing my thoughts as this dance of nerves and feelings began to close. ‘Conversations with Friends’ can be uncomfortable and comforting in equal measures, this isn’t a neatly bound experience, instead it’s complicated, riveting, exciting, and certainly doesn’t end when the final page is turned.
From the rubble-strewn streets of US-occupied Baghdad, the scavenger Hadi collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and give them a proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realises he has created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive - first from the guilty, and then from anyone who crosses its path.
Insightful, International, Thought-provoking
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.
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