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When school teacher Rose loses her dream job at a London primary school, her self-confidence takes a knock. Worse still, her stockbroker fiancé, Ollie, sees it as the perfect opportunity for her to join his firm, which only adds to the feelings Rose has that their relationship might be coming to an end. An unexpected phone call, and an elderly aunt who’s taken a fall, means Rose must drop everything – including Ollie - and return to Blossom Heath, the Sussex village she grew up in. With no job to rush home to, Rose decides to stay in Blossom Heath for the Summer, trading London for the idyllic countryside. Here Rose finds herself reconnecting to the village life of her childhood in more ways than one, including falling head-over-heels for local farmer, Jake. So when her London life comes calling, Rose is faced with an impossible choice… to return to the high-pressure life of her past, or embrace the joy of a new life in the country. Bursting with romance and charm, Always By Your Side is the perfect uplifting Summer read for fans of The Switch and Rescue Me, from an exciting new voice in women’s fiction.
A small town divided by prejudice. A secret that won't remain silent... The stunning new novel from the Sunday Times top ten bestselling author of The Silent Sister and Big Lies in a Small Town. This unmissable and gripping Book Club read will stay with you. 1965. A young white female student becomes involved in the fight for civil rights in North Carolina, falling in love with one of her fellow activists, a Black man, in a time and place where an interracial relationship must be hidden from family, friends and especially the reemerging Ku Klux Klan. As tensions rise in the town, she realises not everyone is who they appear to be. 2020. A recently widowed architect moves into the home she and her late husband designed, heartbroken that he will never cross the threshold. But when disturbing things begin to happen, it's clear that someone is sending her a warning. Who is trying to frighten her away, and why? Decades later, past and present are set to collide in the last house on the street...
Clive Hapgood is feeling stuck. The private school he teaches at is consuming his life, no thanks to wretched headteacher Julian Crouch. The gentle country life Clive envisaged has stifled him and left his marriage on the brink. What he needs is a holiday - something to remind him and Helen what life used to be like. But when things don't go to plan, and an incident at school begins to weigh heavy on his head, Clive's life starts to unravel in front of him. Has he got it in him to turn things around, whatever the cost? After all, it's his own time he's wasting... Wonderfully funny and often moving, this brilliant novel by star of The Durrells and Would I Lie To You? Miles Jupp is set to be the stand-out book of the summer.
When Aleisha discovers a crumpled reading list tucked into a tattered library book, it sparks an extraordinary journey. From timeless stories of love and friendship to an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean with a boy and a tiger in a boat, the list opens a gateway to new and wonderful worlds - just when Aleisha needs an escape from her troubles at home. And when widower Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to connect with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha introduces him to the magic of the reading list. An anxious teenager and a lonely grandfather forming an unlikely book club of two. Inspiring and heartwarming, The Reading List is a love letter to storytelling - its power to transport us, connect us, and remind us that a new beginning is only a page away...
Stories do not have to be long. In the space of a couple of sentences - or even a page or two - we may see the human heart exposed in a way that is more powerful than occurs in many much longer narratives. In Tiny Tales Alexander McCall Smith explores romance, ambition, kindness and happiness in thirty short stories that range in length from the short to the minuscule. The settings are as diverse as the characters - Scotland, England, Australia, the United States - combining to create a rich and surprising tableau. An Australian pope?. A persuasive cosmetic surgeon? The world's laziest cat. A group of students living together and getting romantically entangled? All human and animal life is here - in miniature. These stories are inspired and accompanied by the thirty magnificent strip Tiny Tales created by McCall Smith and illustrated by the brilliant Iain McIntosh - each cartoon a little gem of observation.
Seamlessly transitioning between the absurd and the tender-hearted, balancing acerbic humour with sharp emotional depth, Afterparties offers an expansive portrait of the lives of Cambodian-Americans. As the children of refugees carve out radical new paths for themselves in California, they shoulder the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide and grapple with the complexities of race, sexuality, friendship and family. A high school badminton coach and failing grocery store owner tries to relive his glory days by beating a rising star teenage player. Two drunken brothers attend a wedding afterparty and hatch a plan to expose their shady uncle's snubbing of the bride and groom. A queer love affair sparks between an older tech entrepreneur trying to launch a 'safe space' app and a disillusioned young teacher obsessed with Moby-Dick. And in the sweeping final story, a nine-year-old child learns that his mother survived a racist school shooter. With nuanced emotional precision, gritty humour and compassionate insight into the intimacy of queer and immigrant communities, the stories in Afterparties deliver an explosive introduction to the work of Anthony Veasna So.
A darkly beautiful dual-timeline novel with a captivating mystery, for fans of Diane Setterfield and Kiran Millwood Hargrave When Tartelin Brown accepts a job with the reclusive Marianne Stourbridge, she finds herself on a wild island with a mysterious history. Tartelin is tasked with hunting butterflies for Marianne's research. But she quickly uncovers something far more intriguing than the curious creatures that inhabit the landscape. Because the island and Marianne share a remarkable history, and what happened all those years ago has left its scars, and some terrible secrets. As Tartelin pieces together Marianne's connection to the island, she must confront her own reasons for being there. Can the two women finally face up to the painful memories that bind them so tightly to the past? Atmospheric and deeply emotional, The Unravelling is the captivating novel from the author of The Illustrated Child.
At the heart of this story are two women in two very different circumstances – and one baby Grace in the middle of it all. There’s teenager Michelle, who’s only known a life of squalor and strife, who believes her baby is best off with another family. Enter Amelia, whose position is almost the opposite – having struggled with fertility she and her husband Piers are perfectly placed to give the child a stable home. But Michelle’s desire to have her daughter back throws Grace’s future into jeopardy. What I particularly liked about Grace, Victoria Scott’s second novel, is her choice to give voice to both women; neither of whom are made out to be villains. Instead, we are provided with a more nuanced discussion around motherhood and the complex situation some women can find themselves in. Who should we pity, who is more worthy? It’s a sensitive subject that Scott handles well, without stereotyping. There’s a judgement case in the end – and expect some emotional twists along the way.
Available in English for the first time, Ewald Arenz’s debut Tasting Sunlight has been on the bestseller list in his native country Germany for three years. Translated by Rachel Ward, the story is set on a rural farm, where two quite different women invertedly become friends. Sally, young and troubled, comes across Liss, an older farmer who takes in the runaway without judgment or demand – and yet neither can know they will form a bond that spans their generational divide. Little by little, their personal stories begin to unfold, and we start to understand the trauma that’s brought them both to this point. This sensitive element is handled so well by Arenz, who brings a sense of hope to their lives, a promise that the sun will rise on the horizon – their taste of sunlight. And for lovers of nature, the writing is a homage to the land, from the seasonal harvest to ripening of the late summer fruit – mirroring the women’s blooming friendship.
A ravishing riff on the real-life relationship between writer George Sand and composer Frédéric Chopin, Nell Stevens’ Briefly, A Delicious Life glows with Mediterranean heat, avant-garde verve, and a yearning that burns. Set in 1838, and narrated by Blanca, the ghost of a witty, whip-smart fourteen-year-old girl who died in a Mallorca monastery in 1473, this character-driven charmer is suffused in beauty, and casts a captivating spell. Frédéric Chopin, George Sand and her children have travelled to a monastery in Mallorca to convalesce and create. Sand is a striking woman in man’s clothes, whose arrival incites a stir on the island as it stirs Blanca’s heart and desires. As the unconventional couple struggle with the villagers’ judgements, and to find creative satisfaction, Blanca recounts her story, her experiences of falling for the beauty of women. And now she’s in love with Sand, who doesn’t know she exists, and cannot reciprocate. This wildly inventive scenario plays out ingeniously — though outlandish, through Blanca’s age-old wisdom and youthful spirit, and through the visual, sensual language, it feels real. We see and sense flurries of birds and leaves. We feel the prickle and heat of flesh and the sun. What a moving, magical, hauntingly memorable story.
This enchanting, empowering sequel to This Poison Heart, one of our 2021 favourites, twists, turns and captures the heart through exquisite storytelling and world-building. Blending compellingly relatable characters with ancient magic, Greek myth, and a sweeping quest to save loved ones, it’s as lush and thrilling as the kind of flamboyant botanicals its endearing protagonist has the command to conjure. Briseis has powerful ancestresses, and the power to create and control plants. Though she’s long worked to hide her gifts, she now has an opportunity to save her mother’s soul. In order to find the last piece of the Absyrtus Heart that will enable her to realise this, she must turn to her blood relatives and find her place in her ancient magical lineage. Briseis’ quest sees her voyage to a Greek island and battle with enemies who are descended from Jason, Medea’s vindictive husband. With tension mounting as time slips away and it seems as if deadly foliage has taken a stranglehold, love blossoms for Briseis too, making this consummately exhilarating.
This extraordinarily intimate and intense psychological thriller is brimming with suspense and unexpected moments. Aki and Hiro attempt to share one last night together, each believes the other is a murderer and want a confession before they leave. Award-winning author Riku Onda sets chapters swivelling between Aki and Hiro, they aren’t introduced, there is no need, their voices are clear and they can be felt each time. Within each short sharp chapter I spent time in Tokyo and then the memories of a mountain trek. The differences between and within the memories sit puddled in the room, slowly expanding and releasing information. And yet as the story expands, it also contracts and constricts, pulling tighter and tighter around this place, these people, and a photograph. Surprises ambush and startle, I could almost hear the whisper of them, yet was still caught unaware. Translator Alison Watts ensures you feel at home in the words while in an unknown place and devious plot. Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight is a novel that suggests, cajoles, and simmers as it begins its inevitable journey towards an ending and beginning.