Behind the Seams – Esme Young – £9.99 paperback
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.