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Our high-quality Family Drama selection offers the heart-breaking and heart-warming conflicts and dramas directly from the hearth, telling the stories of these families that have been struck by tragedy, conflict and drama and their struggle to survive intact.
Precious and Grace is a book steeped with addictive charm, wit and intelligent sleuthing. In the heat of summer in Botswana, co-directors of the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi, find their friendship tested to the limit by a curious case. Packed with intrigue, this heartfelt tale of friendship reveals how coming to terms with the past may be the only way to face the future.
September 2016 Debut of the Month. A tension-filled family drama, which encourages thoughts to twist and turn. The prologue sets questions in motion, trapping them in the back of your mind, ready to pounce. A chance meeting places Carmen on a path of no return when she starts to investigate the death of her husband’s previous partner. Carmen’s thoughts fly one way and then another as different events warp her feelings, creating tense uncertainty. Elizabeth Heathcote leaves deliberate gaps in the time frame, I found myself unsettled as I wondered at the missing information. ‘Undertow’ encourages questions, prods at feelings and is an intriguing, provocative read. ~ Liz Robinson
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Some books are claustrophobic as they isolate their characters in a constricted setting, but Norwegian crime author Ravatn achieves the curious exploit of making a novel mostly set in the vast open air of the fjords claustrophobic as its two sole characters (aside from just a couple of outside 'extras') stew, fight, love and so much more in a cabin by a lake under the wide open sky. Allis, a journalist in disgrace, seeks a new life as a cook, gardener and helper with Sigurd, a taciturn older man who owns a cabin in a remote region of Norway, and whose wife is mysteriously absent. The psychological cat and mouse game is gripping as they clash, repel and attract and questions soon are raised about their previous lives and how past events will affect their future together or apart. Intense, lapidary, dream-like and streaked with anxiety, this is not a comfortable book, with not always likeable obsessive characters, but it proves rewarding as an investigation into the blank darkness of lost souls. ~ Maxim Jakubowski One of our Books of the Year 2016. The Lovereading view... A subtle, quietly sinister tale, where the tension slowly creeps and coils around the edge of your understanding. Allis removes herself from her previous life to become a housekeeper for Sigurd. On the edge of a fjord in a lonely existence, can Allis make sense of her life and reveal the secrets that cloak the house? Agnes Ravatn hasn't used quotation marks, this creates an intimacy with the words, yet they somehow echo with desolate intensity. The translation by Rosie Hedger is perfectly and completely in tune with the story. Gradually, slowly and almost silently, information is revealed, which kept me on the edge of my seat. ‘The Bird Tribunal’ unsettles, agitates and unnerves before a fierce concentrated rush of drama filled pages… and yet at the end, I detected a whisper of uncertainty floating in my mind, which actually left me feeling very satisfied indeed with this enthralling read. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher...I had my eye on The Bird Tribunal for quite some time before I was in a position to acquire rights to publish in English, and I watched it win countless awards in its native Norway and go on to be made into a stage play. When a reader’s report and then the fabulous translation came in, I was not disappointed. It is one of the most captivating, tense, dramatic thrillers I have read in years. With only two characters and a Rebecca-esque plotline, it is beautifully written, with the isolated Norwegian fjord and the gardens of the solitary house situated there exquisitely described, and the sense of foreboding, the slow building of tension, the trickle of insights into the characters and the secrets they are hiding, make it an exceptional read. It’s already won an English PEN Translation Award, and been chosen for WHSmith’s Fresh Talent for the Autumn, and I could not be prouder to publish a book that takes Nordic Noir to fabulous new heights and marks the arrival of a major new talent in the genre. ~ Karen Sullivan, Publisher, Orenda Books Click here to read a Q&A with this author.
A darkly mesmerising tale exploring trust, love and deeply hidden secrets. Fran’s life is thrown into turmoil, causing her to question her husband, her love and herself, just what is the truth? The prologue emits chills of disquiet, certain words pricked at my awareness, setting unease loose in my mind. Christobel Kent maintains a distance between the reader and Fran, she encourages feelings to flicker backwards and forwards. The Fens skulk in the background, unnerving and intimidating. Constantly moving around in time, never settling, keeping feelings on the edge of uncertainty, ensures a feeling of foreboding envelops ‘The Loving Husband’ and makes for an intriguing and arresting read. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to read a Q&A with Christobel Kent.
A striking, eloquent and desperately beautiful novel, set during 1911 in a Yorkshire asylum. John, Ella and Charles find themselves at the edge of an impossible future, each decision they make, sets connecting wheels in motion. This is a fictional story, with fictional main characters, however it is firmly based in fact. On reading the Author’s Note at the end, I understood why the emotional connection the writing gave to these characters, was so intense. Anna Hope writes with a powerful pen, one moment whispering, flickering emotions dart across the page, in the next a ferocious roar almost overwhelms, and I savoured every word. I literally couldn't put ‘The Ballroom’ down, I felt the unimaginable fear and mayhem, suffered every moment of confusion, and willed love and friendship to flight. While a profound darkness shadows the story, I found myself with a heart full of aching hope. This is a captivating, penetrating and thought-provoking read that I highly recommend. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to view Wake by the same author. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'The Ballroom took my breath away when I first read it and still does now, when I revisit it. For the sheer power and musicality of its language; the striking relevance of its themes of love and madness and social mobility; the radiance of its personalities, all of them so indelibly drawn that they live and breathe in your mind. Anna really understands character, not only as agents for a riveting story, but also as spectres of the human condition. John, Ella, Charles – all of their narratives feel so immediately urgent as you turn the page, but they also have a greater resonance, something lasting and elemental. When reading The Ballroom, I feel the spark of Thomas Hardy, D H Lawrence, even Cyrano de Bergerac, and I know that I’m reading the early work of a truly iconic writer.' ~ Jane Lawson, Editor, Doubleday
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A brilliant debut from a fresh and unique voice, ‘A Boy Made of Blocks' is a book that will make you laugh, cry and think to yourself ‘thank goodness, it’s not just me!’ This wonderful book is one that every parent, every friend of a parent and every person who ever raised a judgemental eyebrow whilst witnessing a ‘difficult’ child should read. Alex is reeling from life. He's left the family home and has never felt further from his wife and son. He loves them both dearly but parenthood can put a strain on any relationship and having an autistic son adds even more pressure. Sam, his beautiful yet unreachable son, is a problem that Alex is finding impossible to solve and whilst suffocating under the responsibility he feels towards his family Alex finally hits rock bottom. Until that is Sam discovers Minecraft and so begins an adventure of a father finally finding a way to understand his son and maybe himself too. I adored Keith Stuart’s writing style. It was fresh and honest but with no trace of bitterness. Some moments were so beautifully written they made my heart ache and moved me to tears. He captures so much in so few words and I came to love his characters and felt truly sad when I reached the final sentence. A beautiful debut that not only changed the way I look at autism and children considered ‘different’, but also the struggles we all face within our lives today.' ~ Shelley Fallows September 2016 Debut of the Month. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'It’s hard for me to be objective about A Boy Made of Blocks: it’s the book I most want people to read, partly because when they do, they universally love it. It both has massive commercial potential and is a singularly modern, heartfelt and meaningful piece of writing. It is absolutely not an ‘issues’ book, but a wonderful, funny, emotional story full of memorable characters, wit, and warmth. It’s the kind of novel people fall in love with – I certainly did – and has one of the most uplifting finales I can ever remember reading.' ~ Ed Wood, Editorial Director – Sphere Fiction
The third and final volume of this magnificent trilogy of the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine starts with her release from the Palace of Sarum, Wiltshire in April 1176 where her husband Henry II held her prisoner for plotting against him to put her son William on the throne. She had eight children, most of whom she outlived and one way and another they all lusted after power. This detailed, absorbing book follows their fortunes through an extraordinary period of history. Deaths, marriages and deceit abound as a long life is lived. If you are a history buff then this is great. We stay with Eleanor, whom the author called Alienor as she would have been called in Aquitaine, through to her death in the Abbey of Fontevraud in April 1204. She saw Henry II, Richard I and John become Kings of England, a powerful lady which Elizabeth Chadwick beautifully portrays. Highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
Cometh the Hour opens with the reading of a suicide note, which has devastating consequences for Harry and Emma Clifton, Giles Barrington and Lady Virginia. Giles must decide if he should withdraw from politics and try to rescue Karin, the woman he loves, from behind the Iron Curtain. But is Karin truly in love with him, or is she a spy? Lady Virginia is facing bankruptcy, and can see no way out of her financial problems, until she is introduced to the hapless Cyrus T. Grant III from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who's in England to see his horse run at Royal Ascot. Sebastian Clifton is now the Chief Executive of Farthings Bank and a workaholic, whose personal life is thrown into disarray when he falls for Priya, a beautiful Indian girl. But her parents have already chosen the man she is going to marry. Meanwhile, Sebastian's rivals Adrian Sloane and Desmond Mellor are still plotting to bring him and his chairman Hakim Bishara down, so they can take over Farthings. Harry Clifton remains determined to get Anatoly Babakov released from a gulag in Siberia, following the international success of his acclaimed book, Uncle Joe. But then something unexpected happens that none of them could have anticipated.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. A tense Glasow gangland thriller laced with family saga elements with pace and strong characterisation to boot, McLean's latest novel raises him a fair few rungs up the crowded McMafia steps. Ray Scobie, a killer who can't experience pain, lies in hospital under an assumed name while police and cohorts believe he is dead. He plots his revenge against the crime family he holds responsible. John, an undercover cop, however, stands in his way, complicated by the fact that he has initiated a relationship with Kat, a Scobie relative. Conflict, blood on the floor and heightened emotions all conjugate well to deliver a high octane read with ounces of 'noir' to spare. Of course, Glasgow as always makes a perfect setting for a dark take of violence and woe. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
A thriller, full of family drama and suspense… this is a story that sucks you in and keeps you on the edge of tense uncertainty. The short prologue set my mind racing, the few lines on the following page, proceeded to knock my thoughts right off course. Lily and Ed are married, are they both keeping secrets? Part one is set fifteen years before the prologue and Lily tells her own story. As you settle in, you're suddenly spun away to Carla and her Mum, who live in the same block of flats, although not told in the first person, Carla’s story feels more intimate and exposed. This is a novel that explores guilt, blame and hidden thoughts and feelings. Jane Corry creates fully fleshed characters, Lily and Carla are particularly fascinating, there were times when I could have hugged them, and others when I wanted to shout and stomp as they made their decisions. Containing so many twists, it almost turns itself inside out, ‘My Husband’s Wife’ is an extremely entertaining read. ~ Liz Robinson
September 2016 eBook of the Month. A stirring and intoxicating story of love and twisted secrets waiting… lurking. Spanning twenty years, this tale introduces Jim and Jennifer in 1995 when they meet in Savannah, before a traumatic event forces them apart. In 2015 they meet again, with secrets snapping at their heels, will their feelings remain intact? The bewitching hot heady Deep South, encouraged me to explore the past, so evocatively described and full of promise. Waves of emotion, spilling the ups and downs of life, feeling touchable and realistic wash the pages. Tasmina Perry has the ability to immerse you entirely within the story, I lived in the moment, whether it was 1995 or 2015. 'The House on Sunset Lake’ surges towards a climatic ending, it is a moving, and truly very lovely story indeed. ~ Liz Robinson
One of our Books of the Year 2016. Poignant, moving and funny, I chuckled my way through this delightful (but no longer secret) diary from the rather lovable Hendrik Groen. Hendrik has reached the age where his address book is depressingly empty and his life has become an endless string of funerals and conversations concerning bowel movements, the latest list of ailments and euthanasia. The care home he lives in is like a waiting room for death and so in an effort to keep his own sanity he decides to write his memoir. He intends to record it all, the mystery of the fish murderer, the suspicious activities being carried out by those who run the establishment and last but by no means least the happenings of THE-OLD-BUT-NOT-DEAD club. Hendrik is an endearing character who I very much enjoyed spending time with in this gentle read that left me feeling a little sad but hopeful. Snippets of the life he lived and what remains of it filter in throughout the book and have a greater sense of poignancy as they merge in with the everyday happenings of the here and now. When we are old we are still very much the person we have always been, hopefully reading this will remind us all that behind each and every elderly person lies a story. ~ Shelley Fallows September 2016 Debut of the Month. Sarah Broadhurst's view... An old people's home in the Netherlands is the setting for this satire but it could be anywhere except for the small amount of political references. But Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela's deaths are commented upon too. With a vast cast of residents and all kinds of worries and problems we concentrate mainly on a group of friends who form the 'old-but-not-dead club' where each member organises an outing. They do more than most old people ever think of: take a cookery lesson, wine-tasting, painting, synchronized swimming, tai chi, bowls, golf and such. Hanging over the home is the threat of renovation, therefore change. Our narrator is determined to get sight of the regulations and decides to challenge the board. Solicitors become involved. His three closest friends have a dramatic and sad year which is sensitively portrayed. The action takes place over that year and is written in diary form. Personally I feel that if you are involved with the elderly you might find this all a bit disturbing despite it's amusing style. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
Tragedy Begins at Home
Whether it’s Barbara Taylor Bradford’s window into the dark secrets of dynastic powerhouses, or the hard realities of Allison Pearson’s writing: the incisively humourous observations of Nick Hornby, or the light touch of Charlotte Bingham: the engrossing passion of Jojo Moyes, or the captivating worlds conjured by Jodi Picoult and Daisy Waugh, the range of fantastic stories in the Family Drama section is almost endless. Luckily our unique expert reviews and hand-picked recommendations are here to help match you with your perfect next read. Sign up to our monthly emails to stay in touch with the latest output from warm, wise Elizabeth Buchan, insightful Kate Atkinson, sensory-stimulating Joanna Harris, huge-scale Sidney Sheldon, magical Alice Hoffman and so many more in the varied family of fantastic authors of the genre.
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