Good to a Fault – Marina Endicott, £12.99 paperback
Absorbed in her own failings, 43-year-old Clara Purdy crashes her life into a sharp left turn, taking the young family in the other car along with her. When bruises on the mother, Lorraine, prove to be late-stage cancer, Clara moves the three children and their terrible grandmother into her own house while Lorraine undergoes treatment at the local hospital. We know what is good, but we don’t do it. In Good to a Fault, Clara decides to give it a try, and then has to cope with the consequences : exhaustion, fury, hilarity, and unexpected love. But she questions her own motives. Is she acting out of true goodness, or out of guilt? And most shamefully, has she taken the family over simply because she wants one of her own? In Good to a Fault, award-winning writer Marina Endicott examines what we owe in this life and what we deserve.
The Rabbit Hutch – Tess Gunty, £9.99 paperback
Vacca Vale, Indiana: recently voted number 1 on Newsweek’s list of dying American cities. According to the developers, however, it’s a city with a whole history of reinvention, one that ‘buzzes with the American spirit.’Not everyone agrees though – certainly not the residents of the Rabbit Hutch, a low-cost housing complex in the once bustling industrial centre, populated by a cast of unforgettable, disenfranchised characters. There’s an online obituary writer, a woman waging a solo campaign against rodents and, most notably, eighteen-year-old Blandine, recently released from foster care and determined to stop the developers whatever the cost. Set over one sweltering week in July, The Rabbit Hutch is a savagely beautiful and bitingly funny snapshot of contemporary America. Bold, experimental and brilliantly written, it will live in the memory long after the final page.
Icebound – Andrea Pitzer, £9.99 paperback
A dramatic and compelling account of survival against the odds from the golden Age of Exploration. The human story has always been one of perseverance – often against remarkable odds. The most astonishing survival tale of all might be that of sixteenth-century Dutch explorer William Barents and his crew, who ventured further North than any Europeans before and, on their third polar expedition, lost their ship off the frozen coast of Nova Zembla to unforgiving ice. The men would spend the next year fighting off ravenous polar bears, gnawing hunger and endless winter. In Icebound, Andrea Pitzer masterfully combines a gripping tale of survival with a sweeping history of the great age of Exploration – a time of hope, adventure and seemingly unlimited geographic frontiers.
Learned By Heart – Emma Donoghue, £16.99 hardback
The heartbreaking story of the love of two women – Anne Lister, the real-life inspiration behind Gentleman Jack, and her first love, Eliza Raine. In 1805, at a boarding school in York, two fourteen-year-old girls first meet. Eliza Raine, the orphan daughter of an Indian mother, keeps herself apart from the other girls, tired of being picked out for being different. Anne Lister, a gifted troublemaker, is determined to conquer the world, refusing to bow to society’s expectations of what a woman can do. As they fall in love, the connection they forge will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Full of passion and heartbreak – evocative and wholly unique.
Demon Copperhead – Barbara Kingsolver, £9.99 paperback
Demon Copperhead is a once-in-a-generation novel that breaks and mends your heart in the way only the best fiction can. Demon’s story begins with his traumatic birth to a single mother in a single-wide trailer, looking ‘like a little blue prizefighter.’ For the life ahead of him he would need all of that fighting spirit, along with buckets of charm, a quick wit, and some unexpected talents, legal and otherwise.
In the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, poverty isn’t an idea, it’s as natural as the grass grows. For a generation growing up in this world, at the heart of the modern opioid crisis, addiction isn’t an abstraction, it’s neighbours, parents, and friends. ‘Family’ could mean love, or reluctant foster care. For Demon, born on the wrong side of luck, the affection and safety he craves is as remote as the ocean he dreams of seeing one day. The wonder is in how far he’s willing to travel to try and get there. Suffused with truth, anger and compassion, this is an epic tale of love, loss and everything in between.
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant – Anne Tyler, £9.99 paperback
Through every family run memories which bind it together – despite everything. The Tulls of Baltimore are no exception. Abandoned by her salesman husband, Pearl is left to bring up her three children alone – Cody, a flawed devil, Ezra, a flawed saint, and Jenny, errant and passionate. Now, as Pearl lies dying, stiffly encased in her pride and solitude, the past is unlocked and with it its secrets.
The Queen of Dirt Island – Donal Ryan, £9.99 paperback
This is a story about family, about all of the things it should be – and sometimes isn’t. In Nenagh, County Tipperary, four generations of Aylward women live and love. The head of the family, Nana, is a woman who has buried two sons and whose life has been the family farm. Her daughter-in-law, Eileen, is estranged from her own parents, having ‘shamed’ them and given birth to Saoirse. And then there’s Saoirse herself, eavesdropping on lives she cannot comprehend. It is only when they must battle for the inheritance of Dirt Island – a narrow strip of land adjacent to Eileen’s childhood home – that they truly understand the roots that bind their lives together.
Voices in Summer – Rosamunde Pilcher, £8.99 paperback
Laura, newly married and ever conscious she may be living in the shadow of her husband Alec’s first wife, decides to take a holiday with his family in Cornwall. Through the long hot summer days she is slowly charmed by the beautiful old house and the people she learns to know and love. In time her uneasy spirit is soothed by the sparkling, brilliant sea, and her restless heart finally calmed. But is this new-found tranquility too good to be true? For with the arrival of an anonymous letter, one accusing her of having an affair, Laura’s world is thrown into turmoil.
The Glass Hotel – Emily St John Mandel, £9.99 paperback
The Glass Hotel is the story of the lives caught up in two very different tragedies: a woman disappearing from a container ship, and a massive Ponzi scheme imploding in New York. Vincent is the beautiful bartender at the exclusive Hotel Caiette. When New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis walks into the hotel and hands her his card, it is the beginning of their life together. That same night, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: ‘Why don’t you swallow broken glass.’ Leon Prevant, a shipping executive, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. When Alkaitis’s investment fund is revealed to be a Ponzi scheme, Leon loses his retirement savings in the fallout, but Vincent seemingly walks away unscathed. Until, a decade later, she disappears from the deck of one of Leon’s ships.
The Birdcatcher – Gayl Jones, £9.99 paperback
‘I am living on the white-washed island of Ibiza with my friend Catherine Shuger, a sculptor who has been declared legally insane, and her husband, Ernest. Standing on the terrace, sheltered in the smell of oranges and eucalyptus, washed in sunlight, you’d swear this was a paradise. But to tell the truth the place is full of dangers. You see, Catherine sometimes tries to kill her husband. It has been this way for years. My name’s Amanda Wordlaw. Wonderful name for a writer, isn’t it? I guess I’m sort of a choice companion for the Shugers – professional watcher and listener that I am. It’s like they need someone else to witness the spectacle they make of themselves.’ A novel that is part mystery, part thriller, and wholly captivating.
The Blackbird – Tim Weaver, £8.99 paperback
CCTV footage captures Cate and Aiden Gascoigne driving home seconds before their car plunges into a ravine and explodes. When fire crews arrive, the vehicle is empty. Cate and Aiden have vanished. Missing persons investigator David Raker has solved too many impossible cases. He knows that behind every disappearance lies a dark tale waiting to be uncovered. What he doesn’t know is how dark this one is – or how close it will get to him.
Real Tigers – Mick Herron, £8.99 paperback
Catherine Standish, one of their number, worked in Regent’s Park long enough to understand treachery, double-dealing and stabbing in the back, and she’s known Jackson Lamb long enough to have learned that old sins cast long shadows. And she also knows that chance encounters never happen to spooks, even recovering drunks whose careers have crashed and burned. What she doesn’t know is why anyone would target her. So whoever’s holding her hostage, it can’t be personal. It must be about Slough House. Most likely, it’s about Jackson Lamb. And say what you like about Lamb, he’ll never leave a joe in the lurch. He might even be someone you could trust with your life.
When We Were Birds – Ayanna Lloyd Banwo, £9.99 paperback
Darwin is a down-on-his-luck gravedigger, newly arrived in the Trinidadian city of Port Angeles to seek his fortune, young and beautiful and lost. Estranged from his mother and the Rastafari faith she taught him, he is convinced that the father he never met may be waiting for him somewhere amid these bustling streets.
Meanwhile in an old house on a hill, where the city meets the rainforest, Yejide’s mother is dying. And she is leaving behind a legacy that now passes to Yejide: the power to talk to the dead. The women of Yejide’s family are human but also not – descended from corbeau, the black birds that fly east at sunset, taking with them the souls of the dead. Darwin and Yejide both have something that the other needs.
Their destinies are intertwined, and they will find one another in the sprawling, ancient cemetery at the heart of the island, where trouble is brewing. Rich with magic and wisdom, When We Were Birds is an exuberant masterpiece that conjures and mesmerises on every line.
Remember you must die. Dame Lettie Colston is the first of her circle to receive insinuating anonymous phone calls. Neither she, nor her friends, wish to be reminded of their mortality, and their geriatric feathers are thoroughly ruffled. As the caller’s activities become more widespread, old secrets are dusted off, exposing post and present duplicities, self-deception and blackmail. Nobody is above suspicion. Witty, poignant and wickedly hilarious, Memento Mori may ostensibly concern death, but it is a book which leaves one relishing life all the more.
William Boyd – Sweet Caress, now only available second-hand
Amory Clay’s first memory is of her father doing a handstand – but it is his absences that she chiefly remembers. Her Uncle Greville, a photographer, gives her both the affection she needs and a camera, which unleashes a passion that irrevocably shapes her future. She begins an apprenticeship with him in London, photographing socialites for magazines. But Amory is hungry for more and her search for life, love and artistic expression will take her to the demi-monde of 1920s Berlin, New York in the 1930s, the Blackshirt riots in London, and France during the Second World War, where she becomes one of the first women war photographers. In this enthralling story of a life fully lived, William Boyd has created a sweeping panorama of the twentieth century, told through the camera lens of one unforgettable woman.
Catherine O ‘Flynn – What Was Lost, £9.99 paperback
A lost little girl with her notebook and toy monkey appears on the CCTV screens of the Green Oaks shopping centre, evoking memories of junior detective Kate Meaney, missing for 20 years. Kurt, a security guard with a sleep disorder, and Lisa, a disenchanted deputy manager at Your Music, follow her through the centre’s endless corridors – welcome relief from the tedium of their lives. But as this after-hours friendship grows in intensity, it brings new loss and new longing to light.
Alex Preston – Winchelsea, £9.99 paperback
The year is 1742. Goody Brown, saved from drowning and adopted when just a babe, has grown up happily in the smuggling town of Winchelsea. But when she turns sixteen, her father is murdered by men he thought were friends. In a town where lawlessness prevails, Goody and her brother Francis must enter the cut-throat world of her father’s killers in order to find justice. Facing high seas and desperate villains, she discovers what life can be like without constraints or expectations, developing a taste for danger that makes her blood run fast. Goody was never born to be a gentlewoman. But what will she become instead?
Bibliomaniac – Robin Ince, £16.99 hardback – SIGNED copies available
Why play to 12,000 people when you can play to 12? In Autumn 2021, Robin Ince’s stadium tour with Professor Brian Cox was postponed due to the pandemic. Rather than do nothing, he decided instead to go on a tour of over a hundred bookshops in the UK, from Wigtown to Penzance; from Swansea to Margate, and to Limestone Books in Settle!!!! Packed with witty anecdotes and tall tales, Bibliomaniac takes the reader on a journey across Britain as Robin explores his lifelong love of bookshops and books – and also tries to find out just why he can never have enough of them.
Rabbits – Terry Miles, £9.99 paperback
Rabbits is a secret, dangerous and sometimes fatal underground game. The rewards for winning are unclear, but there are rumours of money, CIA recruitment or even immortality. Or it might unlock the universe’s greatest secrets. But everyone knows that the deeper you get, the more deadly the game becomes – and the body count is rising. Since the game first started, ten iterations have taken place, and the eleventh round is about to begin.
K can’t get enough of the game and has been trying to find a way in for years. Then Alan Scarpio, reclusive billionaire and alleged Rabbits winner, shows up out of nowhere. And he charges K with a desperate mission. Something has gone badly wrong with the game and K needs to fix it – before Eleven starts – or the world will pay the price. Five days later, Scarpio is declared missing. Two weeks after that Eleven begins, so K blows the deadline. And suddenly, the fate of the entire universe is at stake.
Rabbits by Terry Miles is an electrifying, compulsive read based on the hit podcast from the Public Radio Alliance – perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Black Mirror.
The Black Friar – SG MacLean, £8.99 paperback
London, 1655, and Cromwell’s regime is under threat from all sides. Damian Seeker, Captain of Cromwell’s Guard, is all too aware of the danger facing Cromwell. Parliament resents his control of the Army while the Army resents his absolute power. In the east end of London, a group of religious fanatics plots rebellion. In the midst of all this, a stonemason uncovers a perfectly preserved body dressed in the robes of a Dominican friar, bricked up in a wall in the crumbling Black Friars. Ill-informed rumours and speculation abound, but Seeker instantly recognises the dead man. What he must discover is why he met such a hideous end, and what his connection was to the children who have started to disappear from around the city. Unravelling these mysteries is challenging enough, and made still harder by the activities of dissenters at home, Royalist plotters abroad and individuals who are not what they seem.
Homecoming – Kate Morton, £20.00 hardback
Adelaide Hills, Christmas Eve, 1959. At the end of a scorching hot day, beside a creek in the grounds of a grand and mysterious mansion, a local delivery man makes a terrible discovery. A police investigation is called and the small town of Tambilla becomes embroiled in one of the most shocking and perplexing murder cases in the history of South Australia. Sixty years later, Jess is a journalist in search of a story.
Having lived and worked in London for almost twenty years, she now finds herself laid off from her full-time job and struggling to make ends meet. A phone call out of nowhere summons her back to Sydney, where her beloved grandmother, Nora, who raised Jess when her mother could not, has suffered a fall and been raced to the hospital. At a loose end in Nora’s house, Jess does some digging into her past.
In Nora’s bedroom, she discovers a true crime book, chronicling the police investigation into a long-buried tragedy: the Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve, 1959. It is only when Jess skims through the book that she finds a shocking connection between her own family and this once-infamous crime – a crime that has never been truly solved. And for a journalist without a story, a cold case might be the best distraction she can find.
Thrown – Sara Cox, £8.99 paperback
Becky: a single mum who prides herself on her independence. She knows from painful experience that men are trouble. Louise: a loving husband, gorgeous kids. She ought to feel more grateful.
Jameela: all she’s ever done is work hard, and try her best. Why won’t life give her the one thing she really wants?Sheila: the nest is empty, she dreams of escaping to the sun, but her husband seems so distracted. The inhabitants of the Inventor’s Housing Estate keep themselves to themselves.
There are the friendly ‘Hellos’ when commutes coincide and the odd cheeky eye roll when the wine bottles clank in number 7’s wheelie bin, but it’s not exactly Ramsay Street. The dilapidated community centre is no longer the beating heart of the estate that Becky remembers from her childhood. So the new pottery class she’s helped set up feels like a fresh start.
And not just for her. The assorted neighbours come together to try out a new skill, under the watchful eye of their charismatic teacher, Sasha. And as the soft unremarkable lumps of clay are hesitantly, lovingly moulded into delicate vases and majestic pots, so too are the lives of four women.
Tom Lake – Ann Patchett, £18.99 hardback
This is a story about Peter Duke who went on to be a famous actor. This is a story about falling in love with Peter Duke who wasn’t famous at all. It’s about falling so wildly in love with him – the way one will at twenty-four – that it felt like jumping off a roof at midnight. There was no way to foresee the mess it would come to in the end. It’s spring and Lara’s three grown daughters have returned to the family orchard. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the one story they’ve always longed to hear – of the film star with whom she shared a stage, and a romance, years before. Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents lead before their children are born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart.
A haunting portrait of a woman, her decisions, her conversations, her solitariness, in a beautiful and lonely Italian city. The woman moves through the city, her city, on her own. She moves along its bright pavements; she passes over its bridges, through its shops and pools and bars. She slows her pace to watch a couple fighting, to take in the sight of an old woman in a waiting room; pauses to drink her coffee in a shaded square. Sometimes her steps take her to her grieving mother, sealed off in her own solitude. Sometimes they take her to the station, where the trains can spirit her away for a short while. In the arc of a year, as one season gives way to the next, transformation awaits. One day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun’s vital heat, her perspective will change forever. A rare work of fiction, Whereabouts – first written in Italian and then translated by the author herself – brims with the impulse to cross barriers.
The Cliff House – Chris Brookmyre, £9.99 paperback
One hen weekend, seven secrets, but only one worth killing for. Jen’s hen party is going to be out of control. She’s rented a luxury getaway on its own private island. The helicopter won’t be back for seventy-two hours. They are alone. They think. As well as Jen, there’s the pop diva and the estranged ex-bandmate, the tennis pro and the fashion guru, the embittered ex-sister-in-law and the mouthy future sister-in-law. It’s a combustible cocktail, one that takes little time to ignite, and in the midst of the drunken chaos, one of them disappears. Then a message tells them that unless someone confesses her terrible secret to the others, their missing friend will be killed. Problem is, everybody has a secret. And nobody wants to tell.
Fatherland – Robert Harris, £9.99 paperback
A masterpiece of thriller writing, Fatherland is set in a brutal alternative world where Hitler has won the Second World War.It is April 1964 and one week before Hitler’s 75th birthday. Xavier March, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei, is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin’s most prestigious suburb. As March discovers the identity of the body, he uncovers signs of a conspiracy that could go to the very top of the German Reich. And, with the Gestapo just one step behind, March, together with an American journalist, is caught up in a race to discover and reveal the truth – a truth that has already killed, a truth that could topple governments, a truth that will change history.
At the Table – Claire Powell, £9.99 paperback
To Nicole and Jamie Maguire, their parents seem the ideal couple – a suburban double act, happily married for more than thirty years. So when Linda and Gerry announce that they’ve decided to separate, the news sends shockwaves through the siblings’ lives, forcing them to confront their own expectations and desires. Hardworking – and hard-drinking – Nicole pursues the ex she unceremoniously dumped six years ago, while people-pleasing Jamie fears he’s sleepwalking into a marriage he doesn’t actually want. But as the siblings grapple with the pressures of thirtysomething life, their parents struggle to protect the fragile facade of their own relationship, and the secrets they’ve both been keeping. A gripping yet tender depiction of family dynamics, love and disillusionment, At the Table is about what it means to grow up – both as an individual, and as a family.
Stalin Ate My Homework – Alexei Sayle, £9.99 paperback
The Sayles might not have been the only Jewish Atheist Communist family in Liverpool, but Alexei knew from an early age that they were one of the most eccentric. Born on the day egg rationing came to an end, Alexei was the only child of Joe, an affable trade unionist who led the family on railway expeditions across eastern Europe, and Molly, a hot-tempered red-head who terrified teachers and insisted Alexei see the Red Army Choir instead of the Beatles. Perceptive and hilarious, this is a portrait of a family, a city, a country and a continent going through enormous changes.
It All Comes Down To This – Therese Anne Fowler, £9.99 paperback
Marti Geller is going to die soon, and she’s hoping to take her secrets with her. To do this, Marti has stipulated in her will that the family’s summer home on Mount Desert Island, Maine, must be sold as soon as possible. This request comes as a shock to her three daughters, a trio of strong-minded women who are each hiding a secret of their own. For the eldest daughter, Beck, the Maine cottage is essential to her secret wish to write a novel, and selling is the last thing she wants to do. But recently divorced Claire is privately too preoccupied with an unrequited love to be concerned about the sale, while the youngest daughter, Sophie, would never admit to her sisters that she desperately needs the sale in order to survive. While the sisters argue over the fate of their late mother’s property, enigmatic southerner C.J. Reynolds, with his own troubled past, is released from prison and begins to travel to Mount Desert Island. As this seemingly unconnected group all head for the coast of Maine, nothing is as it seems. And everything is about to change.
Tessa Hadley – Free Love, £9.99 paperback
It’s 1967 and London is alive with the new youth revolution. In the suburbs, meanwhile, Phyllis Fischer inhabits a world of conventional stability. Married with two children, her life is both comfortable and predictable. But when Nicky – a twenty-something friend of the family – visits one hot summer evening and kisses Phyllis in the dark of the garden, something in her catches fire. Newly awake to the world, Phyllis makes a choice that defies all expectations .
How the Light Gets In – Louise Penny, £8.99 paperback
There is more to solving a crime than following the clues. Welcome to Chief Inspector Gamache’s world of facts and feelings. As a fierce, unrelenting winter grips Quebec, shadows are closing in on Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. When he receives a message about a mysterious case in Three Pines, he is compelled to investigate – a woman who was once one of the most famous people in the world has vanished. The investigation gathers momentum and Gamache is drawn into a web of murder, lies and unimaginable corruption at the heart of the city. Facing his most challenging, and personal, case to date, can he save the reputation of the Surete, those he holds dear and himself?
Bibliomaniac – Robin Ince, £16.99 hardback
Why play to 12,000 people when you can play to 12? In Autumn 2021, Robin Ince’s stadium tour with Professor Brian Cox was postponed due to the pandemic. Rather than do nothing, he decided to go on a tour of over a hundred bookshops in the UK, from Wigtown to Penzance; from Swansea to Margate. Packed with witty anecdotes and tall tales, Bibliomaniac takes the reader on a journey across Britain as Robin explores his lifelong love of bookshops and books – INCLUDING LIMESTONE BOOKS! – and also tries to find out just why he can never have enough of them. It is the story of an addiction and a romance, and also of an occasional points failure just outside Oxenholme.
Jackson Lamb is on his way to Oxford, where a former spook has turned up dead on a bus. Dickie Bow was a talented streetwalker once, good at following people and bringing home their secrets. He was in Berlin with Lamb, back in the day. But he’s not an obvious target for assassination in the here and now. On Dickie’s phone Lamb finds the last message he ever left, which hints that an old-time Moscow-style op is being run in the Intelligence Service’s back-yard. Once a spook, always a spook, and even being dead doesn’t mean you can’t uncover secrets. Dickie Bow might have tailed his last target, but Lamb and his crew of no-hopers are about to go live.
Mark Hodgkinson – No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy, £10.99 paperback
Mark Hodkinson grew up among the terrace houses of Rochdale in a house with just one book. Today, Mark is an author, journalist and publisher. He still lives in Rochdale but is now surrounded by 3,500 titles, at the last count. No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy is his story of growing up a working-class lad during the 1970s and 1980s. It’s about the schools, the music, the people – but pre-eminently and profoundly the books and authors that led the way and shaped his life. It’s about a family who didn’t see the point of reading, and a troubled grandad who taught Mark the power of stories. It’s also a story of how writing and reading has changed over the last five decades.
Sarah Winman – Still Life, £8.99 paperback
As bombs fall around them, two strangers meet in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa and share an extraordinary evening. Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier, Evelyn Skinner a 64-year-old art historian living life on her own terms. She has come to salvage paintings from the wreckage of war and relive memories of her youth when her heart was stolen by an Italian maid in a particular room with a view. Ulysses’ chance encounter with Evelyn will transform his life – and all those who love him back home in London – forever. Uplifting, sweeping and full of unforgettable characters, Still Life is a novel about beauty, love, family and friendship.
Kate Atkinson – Shrines of Gaiety, £9.99 paperback
1926, and in a country still recovering from the Great War, London has become the focus for a delirious new nightlife. In the clubs of Soho, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time. At the heart of this glittering world is notorious Nellie Coker, ruthless but also ambitious to advance her six children, including the enigmatic eldest, Niven whose character has been forged in the crucible of the Somme. But success breeds enemies, and Nellie’s empire faces threats from without and within. For beneath the dazzle of Soho’s gaiety, there is a dark underbelly, a world in which it is all too easy to become lost. With her unique Dickensian flair, Kate Atkinson brings together a glittering cast of characters in a truly mesmeric novel that captures the uncertainty and mutability of life; of a world in which nothing is quite as it seems.
Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel discovers that her husband is in love with another woman. The fact that this woman has a ‘neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb’ is no consolation. Food sometimes is, though, since Rachel is a cookery writer, and between trying to win Mark back and wishing him dead, she offers us some of her favourite recipes. Heartburn is a roller coaster of love, betrayal, loss and most satisfyingly revenge. This is Nora Ephron’s (screenwriter of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle) roman a clef.
Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God, £9.99 paperback
She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. When, at sixteen, Janie is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams – who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds. ‘For me, Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of the greatest American novels of the twentieth century.
Benjamin Myers – These Darkening Days, £9.99 paperback
As autumn draws in, a series of unexplained vicious attacks occur in a small northern town renowned for being a bohemian backwater. As the national media descends, local journalist Roddy Mace attempts to tell the story, but finds the very nature of truth brought into question. He turns to disgraced detective James Brindle for help. When further attacks occur the shattered community becomes the focus of an accelerating media that favours immediacy over truth. Murder and myth collide in a folk-crime story about place, identity and the tangled lives of those who never leave.
Graeme Macrae Burnet – Case Study, £9.99 paperback
An unworldly young woman suspects charismatic psychotherapist Collins Braithwaite of involvement in a death in her family. Determined to find out more, she becomes a client of his under a false identity. But she soon finds herself drawn into a world in which she can no longer be certain of anything. In Case Study, Graeme Macrae Burnet presents both sides: the woman’s notes and the life of Collins Braithwaite. The result is a dazzling, page-turning and wickedly humorous meditation on the nature of sanity, identity and truth itself, by one of the most inventive novelists writing today.
Louise Penny – The Beautiful Mystery, £8.99 paperback
There is more to solving a crime than following the clues. Welcome to Chief Inspector Gamache’s world of facts and feelings. Hidden deep in the wilderness are the cloisters of two dozen monks – men of prayer and music, famous the world over for their glorious voices. But a brutal death throws the monastery doors open to the world. And through them walks the only man who can shine light upon the dark deeds within: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Who among the brothers has become an angel of death? As the peace of the monastery crumbles around him, Gamache finds clues in the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.
Doug Johnstone – The Space Between Us, £9.99 paperback
Lennox is a troubled teenager with no family. Ava is eight months pregnant and fleeing her abusive husband. Heather is a grieving mother and cancer sufferer. They don’t know each other, but when a meteor streaks over Edinburgh, all three suffer instant, catastrophic strokes, only to wake up the following day in hospital, miraculously recovered. When news reaches them of an octopus-like creature washed up on the shore near where the meteor came to earth, Lennox senses that some extra-terrestrial force is at play. With the help of Ava, Heather and a journalist, Ewan, he rescues the creature they call ‘Sandy’ and goes on the run. But they aren’t the only ones with an interest in the alien – close behind are Ava’s husband, the police and a government unit who wants to capture the creature, at all costs. And Sandy’s arrival may have implications beyond anything anyone could imagine.
Ben Hinshaw – Exactly What You Mean, £9.99 paperback
Surrounded by the dramatic beauty of Guernsey, a teenager discovers a secret and finds his betrayal has the power to ruin adult lives. In London, a marriage shot through with infidelity leads to a quest for revenge, resulting in a series of simultaneously comical and catastrophic events. And in California, as wildfires threaten landscapes and lives, a young veteran struggles with the trauma of war, seeking solace at a local ranch. In this extraordinary debut, a cast of characters grapple with unexpected betrayal, the loss of innocence and the lies we tell.
Charlotte Leonard – Afterwards, £9.99 paperback
When Emma gets home after work one evening, she calls hello to her husband Jay, as she always does. Stepping into the kitchen, she sees he has done the shopping, as she had reminded him to; remembered to buy peppercorns; has bought her flowers. Everything is neatly put away. But Jay is not there. A photographer, all Jay has left behind is his camera containing five photographs, which are unlike his other work. Emma follows the images to Cornwall, beginning a journey in which old relationships are re-written and new ones are formed. As the visual mystery of each photograph unfolds, Emma finds herself unravelling and perilously close to breaking point. But could her unlikely salvation lie in the sea, a small community of swimmers and the promise of something Emma thought she didn’t want?
The breath-taking new novel from the author of The Overstory. Theo Byrne is a promising young scientist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old. His son Robin is funny, loving and filled with plans. He thinks and feels deeply, adores animals and can spend hours painting elaborate pictures. But after a violent outburst from Robin at school, the strength of their close bond will be tested to its limits. What can a father do, when those around him refuse to understand his rare and troubled child? And how can he reveal to his boy the truth about our beautiful, bewildered world?
Louise Erdrich – The Sentence, £9.99 paperback
In this stunning and timely novel, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author, Louise Erdrich, creates a wickedly funny ghost story, a tale of passion, of a complex marriage and of a woman’s relentless errors. It asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading ‘with murderous attention,’ must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation and furious reckoning. The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020.
Jennifer Egan – A Visit from the Goon Squad, £9.99 paperback
Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her longstanding compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life-divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed up band in the basement of a suburban house-and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang-who thrived and who faltered-and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.
Jennifer Egan – The Candy House, £9.99 paperback
This novel re-visits all the characters from ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’. Staggeringly successful and brilliant tech entrepreneur Bix Bouton is desperate for a new idea. He’s forty, with four kids, and restless when he stumbles into a conversation with mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalising” memory. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, Own Your Unconscious–that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others–has seduced multitudes. But not everyone. In spellbinding linked narratives, Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling and extraordinarily moving, The Candy House is a bold, brilliant imagining of a world that is moments away. With a focus on social media, gaming, and alternate worlds, you can almost experience moving among dimensions in a role-playing game.
Patrick Gale – Take Nothing With You, £9.99 paperback
A compassionate, compelling novel of boyhood, coming of age, and the confusions of desire and reality. 1970s Weston-Super-Mare and ten-year-old oddball Eustace, an only child, has life transformed by his mother’s quixotic decision to sign him up for cello lessons. Music-making brings release for a boy who is discovering he is an emotional volcano. He laps up lessons from his young teacher, not noticing how her brand of glamour is casting a damaging spell over his frustrated and controlling mother. When he is enrolled in holiday courses in the Scottish borders, lessons in love, rejection and humility are added to daily practice. Drawing in part on his own boyhood, Patrick Gale’s novel explores a collision between childish hero worship and extremely messy adult love lives.
Mick Herron – Slow Horses, £8.99 paperback
Spooks are supposed to be stealthy, but those who make a noisy mess of their careers end up in Slough House. This is Jackson Lamb’s kingdom: a dumping ground for spies who’ve screwed up. Once high fliers, they’re now slow horses, condemned to a life of pushing paper as punishment for crimes of drugs and drunkenness, lechery and failure, politics and betrayal. In drab and mildewed offices, these highly trained spies moan and squabble, stare at the walls, and dream of better days – not one of them joined the Intelligence Service to be a slow horse, and the one thing they have in common is their desire to be back in the action. So when a young man is kidnapped and held hostage, his beheading scheduled for live broadcast on the net, the slow horses aren’t going to just sit quietly and watch. And unless they can prove they’re not as useless as they’re thought to be, a public execution is going to echo round the world.
Josephine Tey – To Love and be Wise, £9.99 paperback
A classic from the Golden Age of crime fiction. When Hollywood-star photographer Leslie Searle disappears from a remote English village, gifted inspector Alan Grant is called in to investigate. But what would bring such a successful individual to the village? And was his vanishing his own doing, or did something eerie occur at the hands of an unsuspected culprit?
Barbara Kingsolver – Unsheltered, £9.99 paperback
Willa Knox, a woman who stands braced against a world which seems to hold little mercy for her and her family – or their old, crumbling house, falling down around them. Willa’s two grown-up children, a new-born grandchild, and her ailing father-in-law have all moved in at a time when life seems at its most precarious. But when Willa discovers that a pioneering female scientist lived on the same street in the 1800s, could this historical connection be enough to save their home from ruin? And can Willa, despite the odds, keep her family together?
Tove Jansson – Comet in Moominland, £7.99 paperback
A comet is speeding towards Earth and nobody in Moominvalley knows what to do! Will it destroy everything and everyone? Moomintroll decides to find out. So, with Sniff, he sets off on an expedition to ask the Professor if a comet is really on its way to destroy the Earth. On their journey they meet some interesting people – such as Snufkin the super tramp, and the Hemulen who rescues them from an underground tunnel, and have narrow escapes from such menaces as crocodiles and giant lizards! And on their way back Moomintroll meets the beautiful Snork Maiden and is a changed Moomin for ever after. But what about the comet – and is the World Wiped Out?
Claire Fuller – The Memory of Animals, £16.99 hardback
A gripping, haunting, novel about memory, love and survival – perfect for readers of Never Let me Go and Leave the World Behind. Neffy is a young woman running away from grief and guilt, and the one big mistake that has derailed her career. When she answers the call to volunteer in a controlled vaccine trial, it offers her a way to pay off her many debts and, perhaps, to make up for the past. But when the London streets below her window fall silent, and all external communications cease, only Neffy and four other volunteers remain in the unit. With food running out, and a growing sense that the strangers she is with may be holding back secrets, Neffy has questions that no one can answer. Does safety lie inside or beyond the unit? And who, or what is out there? While she weighs up her choices, she is introduced to a pioneering and controversial technology which allows her to revisit memories from her life before: a childhood divided between her enigmatic mother and her father in his small hotel in Greece. Intoxicated by the freedom of the past and the chance to reunite with those she loves, she increasingly turns away from her perilous present. But in this new world where survival rests on the bonds between strangers, is she jeopardising any chance of a future?
Blood and Sugar – Laura Shepherd-Robinson – £9.99 paperback
June, 1781. An unidentified body hangs upon a hook at Deptford Dock – horribly tortured and branded with a slaver’s mark. Some days later, Captain Harry Corsham – a war hero embarking upon a promising parliamentary career – is visited by the sister of an old friend. Her brother, passionate abolitionist Tad Archer, had been about to expose a secret that he believed could cause irreparable damage to the British slaving industry. He’d said people were trying to kill him, and now he is missing. To discover what happened to Tad, Harry is forced to pick up the threads of his friend’s investigation, delving into the heart of the conspiracy Tad had unearthed. His investigation will threaten his political prospects, his family’s happiness, and force a reckoning with his past, risking the revelation of secrets that have the power to destroy him. And that is only if he can survive the mortal dangers awaiting him in Deptford.
The China Room – Sunjeev Sahota – £9.99 paperback
Mehar, a young bride in rural Punjab, is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. It is 1929, and she and her sisters-in-law – married to three brothers in a single ceremony – spend their days hard at work on the family farm, sequestered from contact with the men. When Mehar develops a theory as to which of them is hers, a passion is ignited that will put more than one life at risk. Spiralling around Mehar’s story is that of a young man who in 1999 flees from England to the deserted sun-scorched farm. Can a summer spent learning of love and of his family’s past give him the strength for the journey home?
Euphoria – Lily King – £9.99 paperback
In 1933 three young, gifted anthropologists are thrown together in the jungle of New Guinea. They are Nell Stone, fascinating, magnetic and famous for her controversial work; her intelligent but aggressive husband Fen, who is uneasy with her success; and Andrew Bankson, who stumbles into the lives of this strange couple and becomes totally enthralled by Nell. Within months the trio are producing their best ever work, but soon a firestorm of fierce love and jealousy begins to burn out of control, threatening their bonds, their careers and, ultimately, their lives.
They – Kay Dick – £9.99 paperback
This is Britain: but not as we know it. THEY begin with a dead dog, shadowy footsteps, confiscated books. Soon the National Gallery is purged; eerie towers survey the coast; mobs stalk the countryside destroying artworks – and those who resist. THEY capture dissidents – writers, painters, musicians, even the unmarried and childless – in military sweeps, ‘curing’ these subversives of individual identity. Survivors gather together as cultural refugees, preserving their crafts, creating, loving and remembering. But THEY make it easier to forget. Lost for half a century, newly introduced by Carmen Maria Machado, Kay Dick’s They (1977) is a rediscovered dystopian masterpiece of art under attack: a cry from the soul against censorship, a radical celebration of non-conformity – and a warning.
Moses Ascending – Sam Selvon – £9.99 paperback
Moses thinks he’s got it made. Originally a poor Caribbean immigrant, he is now the proud landlord of a ramshackle house in Shepherd’s Bush, London. He has visions of being master of his own domain, writing his memoirs while his trusty sidekick and handyman, Bob, does all the work. But Moses’ problems are far from over… Soon a Black Power group take over the basement, headed by the indomitable – but very sexy – Brenda, and an illegal people-smuggling ring is discovered upstairs. Not to mention harassment from racist police, sheep-slaughtering in the back yard and a Black Panther (the human kind) on the loose. Will Moses’ elaborately constructed castle in the air be demolished by these unruly forces?
1984 – George Orwell – £8.99 paperback
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. First published in 1949, 1984 is George Orwell’s terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.
Exiles – Jane Harper – £16.99 hardback
A mother disappears from a busy festival on a warm spring night. Her baby lies alone in the pram, her mother’s possessions surrounding her, waiting for a return which never comes. A year later, Kim Gillespie’s absence still casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather to welcome a new addition to the family. Joining the celebrations on a rare break from work is federal investigator Aaron Falk, who begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. As he looks into Kim’s case, long-held secrets and resentments begin to come to the fore, secrets that show that her community is not as close as it appears. Falk will have to tread carefully if he is to expose the dark fractures at its heart, but sometimes it takes an outsider to get to the truth.
At age five, Esme was asked to write in her notebook, but instead, she filled it with drawings – the only way she knew to express herself. At seven, when it was discovered she was partially deaf, she found refuge in her sketchbooks. Shortly after, Esme made her first garment and a passion for sewing and designing was born. As a teenager, she made her way to London where her creative journey truly began. Living in a squat with other young creatives, Esme made the most of her time; studying at Central Saint Martins, launching a clothing line called Swanky Modes with three friends and £50 each, watching Notting Hill Carnival with David Bowie, and altering a dress for Cher. The ’90s saw a career move into costumes for films, where she designed outfits for Trainspotting, Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Beach, before she moved on to the small screen herself. A celebration of a creative life lived differently, Behind the Seams is a reminder that it’s never too early, or too late to pick up a needle and start stitching in a new direction.
Commonwealth – Ann Patchett – £9.99 paperback
It is 1964: Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited and notices a heart stoppingly beautiful woman. When he kisses Beverly Keating, his host’s wife, he sets in motion the joining of two families, whose shared fate will be defined on a day seven years later. In 1988, Franny Keating, now twenty-four, is working as a cocktail waitress in Chicago.When she meets the famous author Leon Posen one night at the bar, and tells him about her family, she unwittingly relinquishes control over their story.
Panenka – Ronan Hession – £9.99 paperback
His name was Joseph, but for years they had called him Panenka, a name that was his sadness and his story. Panenka has spent 25 years living with the disastrous mistakes of his past, which have made him an exile in his home town and cost him his dearest relationships. Now aged 50, Panenka begins to rebuild an improvised family life with his estranged daughter and her seven year old son. But at night, Panenka suffers crippling headaches that he calls his Iron Mask. Faced with losing everything, he meets Esther, a woman who has come to live in the town to escape her own disappointments. Together, they find resonance in each other’s experiences and learn new ways to let love into their broken lives.
The Barn – Sally Coulthard – £10.99 paperback
Across the foldyard from Sally Coulthard’s North Yorkshire farmhouse, stands an old stone barn. When she discovered a set of witches’ marks on one of its internal walls, she began to wonder about the lives of the people who had once lived and worked there. Both the intimate story of a building and its hinterland, and a wider social history, The Barn explores a hidden corner of rural Britain that has witnessed remarkable changes. From the eighteenth-century Enclosures to the Second World War, the fortunes of the Barn have been blown, like a leaf in a gale, by the unstoppable forces of new agriculture and industry. Seismic shifts in almost every area of society were all played out here in miniature – against a backdrop of scattered limestone villages and the softly rolling Howardian Hills.
Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel – £9.99 paperback
What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty. One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in North America. The world will never be the same again. Twenty years later Kirsten, an actress in the Travelling Symphony, performs Shakespeare in the settlements that have grown up since the collapse. But then her newly hopeful world is threatened. If civilization was lost, what would you preserve? And how far would you go to protect it?
The Other Side of the Bridge – Mary Lawson – £9.99 paperback
Arthur and Jake are brothers yet worlds apart. Arthur is older, shy, dutiful and set to inherit his father’s farm. Jake is younger, handsome and reckless, a dangerous man to know. When Laura arrives in their rural community, the fragile balance of the brothers’ rivalry is pushed to the edge of catastrophe.
The Last Chairlift – John Irving – £25 hardback
In Aspen, Colorado, in 1941, Rachel Brewster is a slalom skier at the National Downhill and Slalom Championships. Little Ray, as she is called, finishes nowhere near the podium, but she manages to get pregnant. Back home, in New England, Little Ray becomes a ski instructor. Her son, Adam, grows up in a family that defies conventions and evades questions concerning the eventful past. Years later, looking for answers, Adam will go to Aspen. In the Hotel Jerome, where he was conceived, Adam will meet some ghosts; in The Last Chairlift, they aren’t the first or the last ghosts he sees. John Irving has written some of the most acclaimed books of our time – among them, The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules. A visionary voice on the subject of sexual tolerance, Irving is a bard of alternative families.