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.
March 2010 Debut of the Month. As colourful as the country of which she writes, Trinidad and Tobago; as lusty as her protagonist, Celia, a girl who cannot see how she attracts men and suffers for the sex appeal she exudes. There is a lyrical lilt to the prose that sings through as Celia tries to make a life for herself. A lovely book. Comparison: James Scudamore (The Amnesia Clinic), Mari Strachan (The Earth Hums in B flat), Gaile Parkin (Baking Cakes in Kigali).
Shortlisted for the Galaxy UK Author of the Year 2010. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010. Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 8 April 2010. Rose Tremain won the Orange Prize for Fiction for The Road Home and returns with Trespass. A captivating thriller, set in southern France, it depicts two sets of siblings confronting the past, with deadly consequences.
March 2010 Debut of the Month. A witty and compelling novel following the story of Kingsley, whose aspirations for pursuing knowledge and education get knocked back by a family tragedy, leading him in to the seedier, money-making world of email-scamming.
March 2010 Debut of the Month. My favourite first novel of the month. A raw, compelling slice of teenage angst taken to the limits. It tells of the ‘new boy’ influencing a bunch of misfits, loners, who need to belong and who embrace the idea of forming an elite group. How he influences them and the dreadful consequences had me glued to the pages into the small hours. All teenagers wonder what life is about and if it’s worth it. This novel so captures that disillusionment, it’s painful. Very highly recommended. Comparison: Donna Tartt (Secret History), Joe Dunthorne (Submarine).
April 2010 Debut of the Month. Mathilda Savitch isn't evil but she has a definite darkness about her. After her sister's death her life is changed forever. Determined to find the truth behind her sister's death Mathilda thinks this will heal her family's wounds. The grief and tragedy, seen through these adolescent eyes, feels raw and harsh. However the author still brings humour and compassion to this stunning debut.
Shortlisted for the Galaxy International Author of the Year 2010. December 2010 Good Housekeeping selection. Good Reading for Christmas by Maureen Lipman... 'The sensitive man in my life will get Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. He portrays the young Irish girl Eilis Lacey by never directly telling the reader what she is thinking. If men want to know more about women, this is the one to get.’ Winner of the Costa Novel Award 2009. Costa Book Awards 2009 Judges' comment: "A wonderfully-observed story of love and loss." A great family drama about a young girl moving from Ireland to New Yok in search of work in the 1950's. Just as she feels life is going somewhere in Brooklyn she has to return to Ireland and the pleas of her family to stay. This is a beautifully told, atmospheric, coming-of-age drama.
Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010.Costa Book Awards 2010 Judges' comment: "We loved Aatish Taseer's audacious and disturbing multi-layered story of modern Delhi."
One of P. D. James' favourite books. February 2011 Guest Editor Carmen Reid on Nancy Mitford... I gobbled up all of Nancy Mitford’s books when I was a young teenager. I loved them. I still re-read them every now and again and Nancy never lets you down. All human life is here, but through splendidly upper-class goggles. Dating and mating was never so posh, so gossipy and so utterly scandalous. The Pursuit of Love and Love In a Cold Climate are full of life and wit and all kinds of fascinating love affairs. For me, Fabrice was the ultimate romantic hero - a Parisian lover, who gave gifts of fur coats and silk knickers! Nancy brought unimaginable glamour and sophistication to my reading life.
August 2013 Guest Editor Catherine Alliott on Nancy Mitford... Love in a Cold Climate is such a wonderfully witty novel it opened my eyes to the possibilities of comedic writing. Despite the glamorous Radlett and Hampton families, Nancy Mitford provides us with a sensible and down to earth narrator in Fanny. Not nearly as beautiful or as wild as her exotic cousins, Fanny is far easier to identify with and the novel is an eloquent reminder that the best way to write about frivolous young things, is from the vantage point of the outsider looking in. February 2011 Guest Editor Carmen Reid on Nancy Mitford... I gobbled up all of Nancy Mitford’s books when I was a young teenager. I loved them. I still re-read them every now and again and Nancy never lets you down. All human life is here, but through splendidly upper-class goggles. Dating and mating was never so posh, so gossipy and so utterly scandalous. The Pursuit of Love and Love In a Cold Climate are full of life and wit and all kinds of fascinating love affairs. For me, Fabrice was the ultimate romantic hero - a Parisian lover, who gave gifts of fur coats and silk knickers! Nancy brought unimaginable glamour and sophistication to my reading life.
Franny Glass is a pretty, effervescent college student on a date with her intellectually confident boyfriend, Lane. They appear to be the perfect couple, but as they struggle to communicate with each other about the things they really care about, slowly their true feelings come to the surface. The second story in this book, Zooey , plunges us into the world of her ethereal, sophisticated family. When Franny's emotional and spiritual doubts reach new heights, her older brother Zooey, a misanthropic former child genius, offers her consolation and brotherly advice.
February 2012 Guest Editor Joanna Trollope on Hilary Mantel... I loved her writing, long before the mega success of Wolf Hall. She wrote the best novel (bad title – A Place of Greater Safety) I ever read about the French Revolution, and some great modern ones – like Fludd and Eight Days on Gazzah Street. She isn’t just clever and original, she is also seriously funny, and I love that. Winner of the inaugural Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction 2010. Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009. Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2009. Costa Book Awards 2009 Judges' comment: "One of the outstanding books of the year - historical fiction at its best." Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 26 November 2009. The subject of Henry VIII will always provide a rich source of historical, political and scandalous fodder and here Hilary Mantel concentrates on one of the most interesting times in his reign – the divorce of Catherine of Aragon and his split from the Church of Rome. Mantel breathes life in to every character and even if you feel you have heard this story a million times she brings an original and tantalising voice to the period.
July 2009 Good Housekeeping selection. On my bookshelf by Emilia Fox... I identified with this book because it’s set in a boarding school and reminded me of my own happy childhood and the friendships I made when I was at Bryanston School in Dorset. Although it’s a dark story about humans being cloned for transplant, I enjoyed the intense emotions created between the three main characters, and I sobbed when I first read it three years ago. I’ve actually narrated it as a book tape, but I found it almost too emotional to record because I loved the story so much. This review is provided by bookgroup.info. The narrator, Kathy, is a thirty one year old woman telling the story of her strange life as it nears its end. At first there is something unaccountably odd about her voice as she describes her childhood growing up at Hailsham, which in many ways sounds like an idyllic boarding school. But with the realisation of the true purpose and scope of their lives, comes an understanding of Kathy and of the young men and women who she describes. Ishiguro captures with admirable delicacy the personality traits of people that have never had the opportunity to encounter and engage with the real world, whose development has been stunted and who have learned their behaviour from watching TV shows. At first the characters seem implausibly well-behaved. Even given their training and isolation, is it likely that these kids would never smoke or binge because they were forbidden? And when, let out at sixteen, would they tamely follow a prescribed future as if on tramlines? They are polite, punctual, obedient, brain-washable young men and women, that strain to do their essays and their art work, aim to please, yearn for praise, never swear and put their toys away in their little chests under their beds. Or is it that their clear purpose in life and prescribed future, like many rigorous belief systems, makes them conveniently pliable? Putting aside the improbability of the whole concept of the novel, Ishiguro’s book works brilliantly as an exploration of what it means to be human. Throughout history, terrible things have been done in the belief that a race or class of people are less than human and can justifiably be treated like animals. Despite being ‘farmed’, the men and women Kathy describes display very human emotions, including love and jealousy, as well as their touching and authentic need to know their own origins.At a time when the possibilities of science seem infinite, the novel questions the extent to which societies are willing to deceive themselves and exploit others for their own ends and who, ultimately, will be responsible for arbitrating and upholding what is right.Ishuguro never slows the pace of his novel by using three syllables where one will do, tension builds imperceptibly to a very elegant crescendo, and he spares the reader nothing of pity or reproach. NEVER LET ME GO is a subtly sinister yet moving and thought-provoking novel.Sarah Broadhurst's view...This is a devastating, sad, atmospheric, beautiful novel about wasted lives. The main scientific theme has been handled by other writers but not like this. I won’t tell you too much for you have 150 pages of fine writing before the core is mentioned, and it would be so good to come to it unaware as I was. I think it is his best since The Remains of the Day, a wonderful book.Similar this month: A N Wilson.Comparison: Adam Thorpe, Michael Ondaatje.
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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