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All relationships have their ups and downs, whether it’s struggles with a partner or difficulties in the family. Our Relationship Stories section shows the unique features of relationships in gloriously written technicolour.
Coupland came to fame with Generation X which became a cult classic and for years afterwards he was pigeon-holed a cult author. Well he has grown up or matured, call it what you will, his subject matter is now mainstream, his writing beautifully crafted and this is a sensitive, accessible novel of loneliness, the past catching up and unexpected fulfilment. It is first-rate and anyone interested in literature today should read him.Comparison: Iain Banks, Alex Garland, Graham Swift.Similar this month: Jonathan Coe, Hitomi Kanchara.
Handling the problems of lovers from wildly different worlds in a captivating romance, Danielle Steel knows how to pull the heartstrings. Comparison: Nora Roberts (romances), Barbara Delinsky. Similar this month: None but try Sara MacDonald or Jane Blanchard.
34-year old Esther has devoted her life to looking after her adored paraplegic brother while illustrating the odd children’s book, waitressing and indulging routinely in her married lover. She’s content. Then a friend’s child jolts her memory and subsequently her life. We now backtrack to her shambolic childhood and her charismatic brother, before returning to follow their present predicament. With startling cameos, magical moments, eccentric characters and a zest for life that is truly infectious, this is an enchanting family saga, poignant, beautifully written, a must read.Comparison: Kate Atkinson, Katie Fforde, Lisa Jewell.Similar this month: Carmen Reid, Cecilia Ahern.
Kidnapped at 3 by a lonely alcoholic back-woods recluse, Cate, now 15, kills a man and her surrogate father, unable to cope, takes her back to her middle-class mother. So begins this powerful original tale of reconciliation, acceptance and re-evaluation. It falters a little in the middle, as first novels often do, but it is sensitive and thought provoking. The hardback was published as The Reckoning and it reverts now to its original, self-published title as chosen by its 74-year old author.Comparison: Alice Sebold, Alice Hoffman, Jane Yardley.Similar this month: Clare Chambers, Ben Sherwood.
26-year old glamorous New York agony aunt, Rosalie, accidentally breaks an ornament in rich friend Bellaâ€™s home and comes to the attention of Bellaâ€™s father. Oh my, â€¦ suave, sexy, irresistible, and so Rosalie, compelled by curiosity, finds herself drawn into living a guilty secret as his mistress. Sharp, funny, poignant, glitzy and well-observed, this comic romance has the added delight of Rosalieâ€™s question and answer advice from her â€˜columnsâ€™ heading each chapter. Itâ€™s delicious.Comparison: Plum Sykesâ€™ Bergdorf Blondes, Julian Fellowesâ€™ Snobs, Kathleen Tessaro.Similar this month: Carmen Reid, Jane Moore.
Laughter and tears, sparkle and insight, all the right ingredients for a warm, spirited, sexy read which becomes quite deliciously complicated as Bella, madly in love with Jonathan, decides to keep her first (university ten years ago) failed marriage a secret. Oh, silly girl. Things go from bad to worse and you’ve got to keep frantically turning those pages to the end. Such fun. This title is also available as an Audiobook, in either CD or cassette format.Comparison: Anna Maxwell, Maria Beaumont, Maggie Alderson.Similar this month: Carmen Reid, Hester Browne.
This is an incredibly thought-provoking novel set just after WW1 where a man had to hide his true desires of homosexuality behind what you might call a marriage of convenience. It’s superbly written with wonderfully captivating characters. By turns compassionate and sensitive, compelling and gripping, vivid and accomplished, its intricate romantic plotlines are told with rare brilliance. A real page turner and wonderfully accessible too and it’s the sort of book you can spend hours discussing with friends on the whys and wherefores of one of THE taboos of the early part of the 20th century.
A 2011 World Book Night selection. Wow! You are in for a treat here. Kate has a tremendous reputation but in my mind she has never really lived up to Behind the Scenes at the Museum, her Whitbread winner. Well now she has, and surpassed it. More plot-driven than is her norm, it has her expected trademark of glorious language and subtle humour, here all wrapped in the cloak of a literary detective story with a warm, original and totally believable private investigator, Jackson Brodie. It was shortlisted for the recent Whitbread Best Novel prize and was only pipped to the post by Small Island (you must definitely read that too). Our Editorial Guru, Sarah Broadhurst, has suggested others book and authors that would be perfect for you to read next or to pass on the recommendation - so your gift will keep on giving enjoyment. Her selections for this title are: Louise Welsh, Reginald Hill
We were first introduced to the young Calvin Becker on holiday in Italy in Portofino where lust and longing clashed with his religious upbringing in one of the most delightful novels Iâd read for a long time. Iâve had to wait eight years for the boy to reappear only a couple of years older and on holiday again. His family seem more zealously religious than ever and Calvin, bless him, more lusty, but still innocent at 14. Donât read this if you are a little pious as the church does come in for a bit of a bashing but do read it if you want a perfect gem of a rites-of-passage comedy. I truly loved it.Comparison: John Harding, Nick Hornby, David Nicholls.Similar this month: Matt Beaumont, Jim Keeble.
One of the best comic relationship tales Iâ€™ve read. Its wacky scenario of an Australian couple (top of the range duplex with pool) swapping their house with a Leicester couple (semi on council estate) as each woman needs to sort out their husbands, is a pure delight. The cultural differences, friends, neighbours â€“ the whole experience â€“ is portrayed with genuine wit which really made me laugh out loud. Youâ€™ve got to read this.Comparison: Katie Fforde, Sue Townsend, Meera Syal.Similar this month: Claudia Carroll, Daisy Waugh.
Reviewed on Richard and Judy on 8th June 2005 and voted the third most enjoyable read by viewers.A car crash kills Charlie’s little brother and, after a near-death experience, leaves Charlie with an ability to see the dead, to remain in touch with his brother and to share time with him. But this is no ghost story, you just accept Charlie’s gift, it’s a natural part of his gentle life, it’s beautiful and touching. Then Charlie falls in love and the novel becomes heart-achingly moving and totally enthralling as extraordinary choices have to be made. Simply written, thoughtful, intelligent and emotional, it may be a little saccharine for some, but I loved it, gently weeping at the end. It has just been chosen as a Richard and Judy summer read and personally, of the six featured books, this is my pick for the winner. Comparison: Alice Sebold, Mark Haddon, John Irving. Similar this month: None really but try Frank Schaeffer, Patricia Tyrrell.
The other woman of the title is a lady your husband can hardly ditch – his mother! This is a glorious tongue-in-cheek, bitterly astute dissection of an impossible situation. Comparison: Chris Manby, Claire Calman, Mavis Cheek.Similar this month: Catherine Alliott, Erica James.
More than just romance, Relationship Stories can really strike a chord with us, at every stage of life. Just like relationships themselves, these books and there authors come in all shapes, sizes, atmospheres and aspirations. So, if something was missing from your last relationship read … we’ll help you find it in your next one! Here you’ll find the warm and the wise (Maeve Binchy, Cathy Kelly, Rosamunde Pilcher), the deliciously sexy (Jilly Cooper, Veronica Henry), the humourous and honest (Nick Hornby), the insightful (Joanna Trollope) and the … Perhaps, though you’re looking for a new relationship? Why not try our’ Author Like for Like’ tool or make a date with our Book of the Month recommendations and find your perfect match … for now, at least!