If you’re looking for some inspiration on what to order from your local bookshop, here are some of our top picks.
Roddy Doyle – Charlie Savage. This slim paperback is about a middle-aged Dubliner with an indefatigable wife, an exasperated daughter, a drinking buddy who’s realised that he’s been a woman all along … Compiled here for the first time, it’s a whole year’s worth of Roddy Doyle’s hilarious series for the Irish Independent.
Stacey Halls – The Foundling. Hardback. The new novel from the author of ‘The Familiars’. London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, she is astonished when she is told she has already claimed her.
Isabel Allende – A Long Petal of the Sea. Hardback. 1939, Spanish exiles arrive in Chile, the Second World War breaks out in Europe. Young doctor Victor Dalmau is caught up in the Spanish Civil War, a tragedy that leaves his life – and the fate of his country – forever changed. Together with his sister-in-law, the pianist Roser, he is forced out of his beloved Barcelona and into exile. They board a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda to Chile, the promised ‘long petal of sea and wine and snow’. There, they find themselves enmeshed in a rich web of characters who come together in love and tragedy over the course of four generations.
Jessie Burton – The Confession. Hardback. From the author of ‘The Miniaturist’. One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.
Toshikazu Kawaguchi – Before the Coffee Gets Cold. Paperback. In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a cafe which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time. In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the cafe’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.
Ian McEwan – Machines Like Me. Paperback. In an alternative 1980s London, Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda’s assistance, he co-designs Adam’s personality. This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong and clever – and soon a love triangle forms, which leads Charlie, Miranda and Adam to a profound moral dilemma. What makes us human?
Bernadine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other. Paperback. This is Britain as you’ve never read it. This is Britain as it has never been told. From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, Girl, Woman, Other follows a cast of twelve characters on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years. They’re each looking for something – a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, a missed mother, a lost father, even just a touch of hope . . .
Jeanine Cummins – American Dirt. Hardback. An unforgettable story of a mother and son’s attempt to cross the US-Mexico border. Described as ‘impossible to put down’ (Saturday Review) and ‘essential reading’ (Tracy Chevalier), it is a story that will leave you utterly changed. Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop. Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist. Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved most in the world. Today, her eight-year-old son Luca is all she has left.
Jing-Jing Lee – How We Disappeared. Paperback. Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked. Only three survivors remain, one of them a tiny child. In a neighbouring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is shipped off to a Japanese military rape camp. In the year 2000, her mind is still haunted by her experiences there, but she has long been silent about her memories. It takes twelve-year-old Kevin, and the mumbled confession he overhears from his ailing grandmother, to set a journey into the unknown to discover the truth.
Gill Hornby – Miss Austen. Hardback. One of the best books that Limestone Books has ever read. A wonderful, original, emotionally complex novel that delves into why Cassandra Austen burned a treasure trove of letters written by her sister, Jane Austen – an act of destruction that has troubled academics for centuries. Written perfectly in the style of Austen herself.
Kate Atkinson – Big Sky. Paperback. Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village in North Yorkshire, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son Nathan and ageing Labrador Dido, both at the discretion of his former partner Julia. It’s a picturesque setting, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes. Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, seems straightforward, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network-and back into the path of someone from his past.
Sebastian Barry – A Thousand Moons. Hardback. Winona is a young Lakota orphan adopted by former soldiers Thomas McNulty and John Cole. Living with Thomas and John on the farm, she is educated and loved, forging a life for herself beyond the violence and dispossession of her past. But the fragile harmony of her unlikely family unit, in the aftermath of the Civil War, is soon threatened by a further traumatic event, one which Winona struggles to confront, let alone understand. A powerful, moving study of one woman’s journey, of her determination to write her own future, and of the enduring human capacity for love.
Tayari Jones – Silver Sparrow. Hardback. From the author of ‘An American Marriage’. A breathtaking tale of family secrets. ‘My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.’ This is the story of a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and the two teenage girls caught in the middle. James Witherspoon has two families, one public, the other a closely guarded secret. But when his daughters meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows the truth. Theirs is a relationship destined to explode.
Anne Enright – Actress. Hardback. This is the story of Irish theatre legend Katherine O’Dell, as told by her daughter Norah. Katherine’s life is a grand performance, with young Norah watching from the wings. But this romance between mother and daughter cannot survive Katherine’s past, or the world’s damage. As Norah uncovers her mother’s secrets, she acquires a few of her own. Brilliantly capturing the glamour of post-war America and the shabbiness of 1970s Dublin, Actress is an intensely moving, disturbing novel about mothers and daughters and the men in their lives.
Elizabeth Macneal – The Doll Factory. Paperback. The intoxicating story of one woman’s dreams of freedom in Victorian England and the man whose obsession threatens to destroy them forever. London. 1850. On a crowded street, the dollmaker Iris Whittle meets the artist Louis Frost. Louis, a painter, yearns to have his work displayed in the Royal Academy, and he is desperate for Iris to be his model. Iris agrees, on the condition that he teaches her to paint. Dreaming of freedom, Iris throws herself into a new life of art and love, unaware that she has caught the eye of a second man. For fans of The Miniaturist and The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.