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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.
Stunningly gorgeous short stories and wonderful illustrations make for an absolute treasure trove of a book. I have quite simply fallen in love with Foxfire, Wolfskin, it makes my heart sing. Discover 13 short stories about shapeshifting women, the shortest story being three and a half pages long. All are “either reimaginings of older tales, or contain characters, beings and motifs which appear in older tales”. On opening the book, I felt as though I was walking into an age old story, the descriptions are startling, vivid, touchable. I began with Wolfskin, which is sharp and edgy, it hurts, it feels… right. After finishing Wolfskin, I immediately read it again, this time out loud. I fell headlong in once more, and at the extraordinary end, emotional goosebumps skitter-scattered down my arms. All of these stories have a unique strength to them and I disappeared into each one. Just a note on the accompanying illustrations by Helen Nicholson. They are fresh, original, and yet have that same age old feel of the stories. At the very end you will find notes on each tale, the inspiration behind them and where the idea appears in folklore. Foxfire, Wolfskin is full of beautiful stories that take hold, bite, leave their mark and I adored it so much I had to add it as one of my picks of the month!
Suffused in the haunting longings and losses of complex, compelling Mari, The Jeweller shines with mysterious originality. Mari is a market stallholder in a West Wales seaside town whose wares come from clearing the houses of the dead, and who spends hour after hour fashioning a perfect emerald. Throughout, the language is exquisitely vivid, the story dappled with shocking, jarring moments, such as when Mari is publicly accused of being responsible for a man’s death, and the depiction of her pet monkey’s degeneration. And then there’s the unexpected discovery that leads to a reunion that releases Mari to a new life. Gleaming with precise lyricism (kudos to translator Gwen Davies, who rendered it from the original Welsh), this mesmeric novel has a truly mythic quality.
A stunningly beautiful, courageous read, one that crosses through time to 1612, when witchcraft allegations went hand in hand with fear, power and corruption. This is a work of fiction based on real people, local residents, Pendle witches and all. Let me tell you about the cover of this book, which really is very gorgeous indeed. The green leaves sooth, with fiery bursts of orange-red and gold, I then noticed the fox, the ring, pendant, feather… and last of all, the noose, which of course once I had seen, reached out and became all I could see. I tell you this, because the cover reminds me of how I felt about the book, mysterious, yet almost gentle, I let the words take me, I felt myself floating, and then bites of uncertainty and disquiet started gnaw at my awareness. The persecution of the women hammered home while an otherworldly existence lodged itself in my thoughts, and remains there. Deceptively powerful, moving and provocative, Stacey Hall writes with an eloquent pen. Opening a window into a vivid feast of a read, as a debut novel The Familiars stands out from the crowd.
And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light. When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead. With The Testaments, the wait is over. Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead. 'Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in.' Margaret Atwood.
A beautifully engaging novel that both broke and truly captured my heart. We travel with Laure through three time frames, from Prague of 1986, through to Paris of today. She finds love, and founds a museum based on promises broken, discarded, forgotten. Elizabeth Buchan writes with such eloquence, compassion and meaning. I felt, really felt the history and heartache. The past and the present somehow balance, as they move backwards and forwards slowly cutting snippets of information free. I fully existed in each moment, almost forgetting another point existed until I found myself there and became immersed once more. I really cared about the characters, including the museum, the idea is captivating, and so completely believable I feel as though I should be able to walk through its doors. The Museum of Broken Promises is for a me a must-read, I’ve chosen it as one of our star books, and one of my picks of the month, it is quite simply, glorious.
A captivating, amusing, yet provocative novel set in the Scottish Highlands. If you have read a book by John D. Burns before, it is likely to have been one or both of his memoirs, The Last Hillwalker and Bothy Tales. The author has spent much of his life walking and climbing in the mountains, here he turns his hand to fiction, and ponders the future of the landscape he so loves. We enter what could be called a battle, between environmental protesters and landowners, with the two main characters seasoned hillwalkers. From winter (much beloved by our author), turning through the seasons back to winter again, we spend time on a fictional island in the Scottish Highlands. Using his knowledge, his passion for our wild places John D. Burns has written an engaging and satisfying read. I actually recommend starting with his memoir The Last Hillwalker, as it really sets the scene, and you can appreciate the experience and love that has gone into Sky Dance.
A hard-hitting punch of a crime thriller is waiting to be discovered, but also within the pages lies a provocative and emotionally stunning read too. This debut was the winner of the 2018 Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award, and believe me, I can completely understand why. Lelle has been driving the silver road looking for his missing daughter for three years, his endless search consumes his very being. Within the first page I knew I had fallen in love with the writing, which is exquisitely translated. The words connected with my very being, I could feel the words, look around me and see my surroundings. Stina Jackson balances the dark and light quite beautifully, while tense and foreboding, there is also a silvery thread of hope to be found that thrums gently in the background. The cover of The Silver Road beckons, it leads to a read that emotionally connects, opens feelings and allows access to thoughts. Oh, and that ending… the ending sent goosebumps shivering down my arms. A highly recommended read indeed and one of my picks of the month.
Gosh, this is an absolute treat of a debut novel, so different, so compelling, so fabulously readable! Circling a past that isn’t actually that long ago, the Cold War battle between the USA and USSR intertwines with the background tale to the novel that became Doctor Zhivago. The prologue wonderfully and thoroughly sets the scene. The story spins and spins again, and as several tales are told from different perspectives, we hear from an unknown voice in the typing pool, from a muse, from a carrier… Women take centre stage, even when in a supportive role. Lara Prescott kept my attention as taut as razor wire throughout, the words ganging up to give my thoughts little shoves. I have been left with a thirst for more information about the history of this time, yet thoroughly satisfied by the tale on offer. The Secrets We Kept is many things, spy story, love story, cold war story, it is also an eloquent, surprising read and highly recommended.
This is such a special read, not only different, it is also so incredibly moreish and readable. I picked Louis and Louise up and didn’t put it down until I had turned the final page. I’m not often stuck for words on how to describe a fabulously gorgeous book, but this might just be one of those times when I don’t quite do it justice! Julie Cohen has created a fascinating premise, with one life, lived as both Louis and Louise, not separately but concurrently. I wanted to read this novel, almost before I had even heard of it! Starting in 1978 Louis and Louise are born in Maine, from birth we see them grow, their friends and family surrounding and a part of them. Julie Cohen writes so beautifully, what may sound complicated, actually just flows. Picture a fascinating DNA like strand, twisting beautifully together, creating one story from two, or two stories from one… yet it isn’t separate, it is one cohesive whole. Louis and Louise has an edge, a beautiful, sharp, provocative edge, I absolutely adored it and have picked it as both a Liz Robinson pick of the month, and a LoveReading Star Book.
Sparked by the author’s reading about a real reform school in Florida, this deeply affecting novel centres around the unforgettable Ellwood Curtis. “Raised strict” by his grandmother, Ellwood was “intelligent and hardworking and a credit to his race”, and driven by the wisdom of Martin Luther King: “We must believe in our souls that we are somebody, that we are significant, that we are worthful, and we must walk the streets of life every day with this sense of dignity.” At high school - where the books were defaced by racist slurs written by white students who knew where their old books were headed - Ellwood thrives under a teacher who lets him know of an opportunity to go to the local black college. But Ellwood never got to go. One mistake sees him sent to Nickel Academy where he’s “swiftly appalled” by the low level of education. “I am stuck here, but I’ll make the best of it,” he resolves, invoking Dr King for strength. It’s not long before Ellwood realises that rather than being a place that seeks to transform boys into “honorable and honest men”, the school is fuelled by violent abuse - “Nickel was racist as hell - half the people who worked here probably dressed up like the Klan on weekends” - and many kids disappear from this horrendous environment. While Elwood grasps onto Dr King’s “Do to us what you will and we will still love you” mantra, his friend Turner subscribes to the notion that survival is dependent on them adopting their tyrants’ cruelties. Like Ellwood himself, this novel has a steady, direct tone, underpinned by resolve and dignity in the face of inhumane abuse. Traversing timeframes, and with a stop-you-in-your-tracks ending, this stunning book from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad exposes oft-hidden historical horrors with poised humanity, and shows-up the ricocheting, inter-generational resonance of institutional racism and abuse.
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but 18 years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.
The Chernobyl Privileges may seem like an odd title for a novel inspired by the devastating nuclear disaster of the 1980s in Chernobyl. But then, this is by no means an ordinary novel. Set in the present day, Anthony Fahey is lucky to be working at Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde, where Britain's Trident nuclear weapons are kept. His expertise is valued over his complicated personal life and chequered employment history. Anthony's life begins to unravel, following an incident at the naval base. For obvious reasons, due to the nature of the work, he is unable to talk to his wife about the incident, but their marriage is already rocky following the death of her Father, and Anthony having to behave in a secretive manner is not helping. Anthony also believes that he knows better, and is more concerned about the incident than his superiors, so begins to challenge and defy orders, landing him in hot water on more than one occasion. No matter how much Anthony wants to believe that he is not defined by his past, it is inescapable and influences all he does. Back in 1986 Anatolii was just a child living in Ukraine when the nuclear incident took place in Chernobyl. First hand he witnessed the impact of the fallout on the first responders, including his Father. Anatolii didn't much want to leave Ukraine, but he wasn't given a choice, and was enforced into a new life in the UK, and a new identity 'Anthony Fahey'. Anthony believes that he can make a difference in his profession, and prevent something like Chernobyl happening again, but he does not understand that you cannot act against the government. Several chapters are interspersed with letters from Anatolii/Anthony's sister, and these are where we really get a first-hand view of how those still living in Chernobyl have been affected. This is a very thought-provoking novel, for those on both sides of the nuclear weapon/energy argument, and a highly recommended read.
Fresh and different, yet age-old and wise, this searing novel explores all the emotions summed up by the term grief. Rose Gregory has been prescribed rest after a double bereavement, the retreat she attends at a Monastery is not the peaceful embrace she was hoping for. Grief is a highly personal reaction to loss, yet the writing opened up and allowed me entry. Sylvia Colley notes the small details that matter, that enabled me to see, to feel, to almost touch her descriptions. It feels as though the author has an inner connection to, and full awareness of what it is to feel grief. As Rose looks backwards, and surfs memories from her childhood on, she actually travels forward, and I was with her every step of the way. Ask Me to Dance is a touching, beautiful novel that wrapped itself into and around my thoughts.
Shortlisted for the 2006 Duncan Lawrie Dagger.A real page turner with a surprising twist in the tail. Set in small town America the book explores dysfunctional families and the difficult subject of a missing child. Although a tricky theme Cook injects it with both suspense and pathos. It is beautifully written and full of good characterizations. If you enjoyed this then do try some of his earlier novels including Evidence of Blood and Interrogation.
Congratulations to publisher Barrington Stoke for this new edition which is specifically designed to be accessible to all readers, including those with dyslexia. The text is exactly as Steinbeck wrote it and hasn’t been abridged or altered, but features such as the font (a typeface designed to be easy to read), a larger point size and cream pages to help relieve the effects of visual stress, make this special edition of his great novel ‘super readable’ for all. Steinbeck’s classic is a regular examination set text and no wonder: the tragic story of George and Lennie struggling to get by in the California of the Great Depression, it’s a masterpiece, a tale of hope and almost unbearable loss mediated by clear, honest and sympathetic writing. ~ Andrea Reece Note: A stunning dyslexia-friendly package for Steinbeck's classic novel, ideally suited to anyone, young and old, who might benefit from a super-readable layout.
A terrific collection of short stories from bestselling authors including Kate Mosse, Katie Fforde, Lee Child, Sophie Kinsella and Jodi Picoult. Here are stories of love, passion, mystery and hope - and the discovery that some of the more surprising things in life are often the most important...This is the must-have collection of the year.
A comprehensive reading guide packed with 100 recommended titles from classics to current bestsellers … in fact a rival to me! But joking apart, it’s an excellent little book giving you a synopsis, background information, discussion points and reviews to a diverse selection of titles. Something for everyone.
This box set of the 80 books in the Little Black Classics series showcases the many wonderful and varied writers in Penguin Black Classics. From India to Greece, Denmark to Iran, and not forgetting Britain, this assortment of books will transport readers back in time across numerous centuries and around the world.
To whip up your own Literary Lunch, just follow this simple recipe...Take a generous helping of Ian McEwan and leave to marinate overnight; Add some Sebastian Faulks to a pan and saute on a high heat; mix in a dollop of Louis de Bernieres (don't stint) and shavings of Mark Haddon and bring to the boil; add a rounded teaspoon of Anne Tyler, a smidgen of Neel Mukherjee and a pinch of Julian Barnes, according to taste. You may also wish to add a sprinkling of Salman Rushdie to add some heat; reduce the mixture down and add a splash of Irvine Welsh, skimming off excess expletives; remove from the heat and add essence of Haruki Murakami slowly, drop by drop, making sure to mix in thoroughly; meanwhile, using a rich brandy or calvados, flambe thinly sliced extracts of Simon Schama - to avoid a scorching, avert face and be prepared for a flare of potentially large flames; and, finally, bring all the elements together and plate up with a dash of Jeanette Winterson and garnish with a sprig of Helen Fielding. Enjoy with a full-bodied red wine.
A woman goes about certain rituals of sex with her second husband, sharing the bed with the ghosts of her sexual past. A beautiful young art student embarks on an affair with a much older, married, famous artist. A middle-aged woman struggles with the decline of her mother, once glamorous and still commanding; their fraught relationship causes unexpected feelings both shaming and brutal. A man finds that his father has died while in the midst of extra-marital sex and wonders what he should do with the body. And a boy sits in his Calculus class, fantasizing about a schoolmate's breasts and worrying about his father lying in hospital, as outside his classroom window the Twin Towers begin to fall.
Appeared on “Hay-on-Sky” 25 May. Winner of the Costa Book of the Year and Novel Award 2007.Costa Book Awards 2007 Judges' comments: ”Day is an example of excellence in its category and a book ultimately to recommend. It is perfectly and beautifully written by an author who is an extraordinary stylist.”"An exceptional feat of research and an astonishing effort of the imagination, A.L. Kennedy's Day is both terrifying and hilarious. Alfred Day's war stays with the reader as it stays with him."
Twice chosen as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, this author’s writing is fabulous. I suspect that Paradise is in the bottle.Comparison: Rachel Cusk, Jane Gardam, Jeanette Winterson.Similar this month: None but try Roddy Doyle or David Maine.
Reviewed on Richard & Judy on Wednesday 7 March 2007.This review is provided by bookgroup.info.The cover of this book is a triumph of marketing over good sense. The title is, I guess, a parody and, along with the doughnuts (sorry, donuts), it makes the book look like yet another diet manual. All very smart, but it doesnât do justice to what is a hugely enjoyable and amusing story about a man who has the misfortune to be very rich and living in one of the most affluent and beautiful places in the world. Richard Novak has amassed a fortune by trading on the stock market and lives in a house on millionaireâs row in LA. But somewhere along the way he has shut down emotionally and withdrawn from the world, his only contact being through the internet and with the various people who service his house needs. It takes a physical crisis and a visit to A & E to start his journey back to being a fully-feeling human being. Richard the recluse suddenly finds himself a local super-hero who saves a horse (hoisted out of a hole by a movie star with a helicopter), a woman kidnapped by a psycho and a man drowning at sea, amongst others. His ex-wife keeps turning on the television to see him at the centre of yet another drama. It is very funny and there are some telling off-camera moments, like the childâs birthday celebration in a restaurant where the child, given a knife to cut the cake, repeatedly stabs it while his parents look on, bewildered.Through his random acts of generosity, Richard becomes involved with some great characters and goes some way towards redeeming his self-centred loveless years. He also, poignantly, begins to repair the pain he caused by abandoning his son, Ben.So, ignore the cover and the really rather embarrassing endorsement by Mark Haddon (â€œWeird and warm and wise and really rather wonderfulâ€), and read it. It wonât change your life but itâll certainly give you some pleasurable hours as well as an insight into California life as the apotheosis of consumer culture.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.The cover of this book is a triumph of marketing over good sense. The title is, I guess, a parody and, along with the doughnuts (sorry, donuts), it makes the book look like yet another diet manual. All very smart, but it doesnâ€™t do justice to what is a hugely enjoyable and amusing story about a man who has the misfortune to be very rich and living in one of the most affluent and beautiful places in the world. Richard Novak has amassed a fortune by trading on the stock market and lives in a house on millionaireâ€™s row in LA. But somewhere along the way he has shut down emotionally and withdrawn from the world, his only contact being through the internet and with the various people who service his house needs. It takes a physical crisis and a visit to A & E to start his journey back to being a fully-feeling human being. Richard the recluse suddenly finds himself a local super-hero who saves a horse (hoisted out of a hole by a movie star with a helicopter), a woman kidnapped by a psycho and a man drowning at sea, amongst others. His ex-wife keeps turning on the television to see him at the centre of yet another drama. It is very funny and there are some telling off-camera moments, like the childâ€™s birthday celebration in a restaurant where the child, given a knife to cut the cake, repeatedly stabs it while his parents look on, bewildered.Through his random acts of generosity, Richard becomes involved with some great characters and goes some way towards redeeming his self-centred loveless years. He also, poignantly, begins to repair the pain he caused by abandoning his son, Ben.So, ignore the cover and the really rather embarrassing endorsement by Mark Haddon (â€œWeird and warm and wise and really rather wonderfulâ€), and read it. It wonâ€™t change your life but itâ€™ll certainly give you some pleasurable hours as well as an insight into California life as the apotheosis of consumer culture.
February 2016 Book of the Month. Coming after Snowdrops, A.D. Miller's Booker-shortlisted Moscow spy thriller, The Faithful Couple is a very different sort of creature altogether, a novel about male bonding, class and the vagaries of life, growing up and passing years that resonates deeply with both sometimes the voice and structural touch of David Nicholl's measured novels of ordinary people. Two young Englishsmen meet in California on an American gap year and forge a fascinating friendship in which envy and admiration make for awkward companions. An encounter they make whilst on a trip to Yosemite in which neither comes off with much honour will mark the rest of their lives and the ties binding them. The progress of their careers and love lives is examined at regular intervals with irony and acuity and their paths take surprising turns. A slow-building novel of British manners that grows on you page by page. ~ Maxim Jakubowski Essentially this is a book about friendship, the very flawed yet compelling relationship between two men, based on experience, elation and remorse. With strong psychological and sexual components, the terse prose style draws you into a very recognisable world yet seen through an intensely strange filter. A literary human drama of the highest calibre. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
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.