Domestic Bliss & Other Disasters by Jane Ions, £9.99 paperback
Sally’s son Dan has come back home from college after completing his performing arts degree. He needs rent-free accommodation, friends, a love life, and somewhere to perform his arts. Sally herself is taking a career break from teaching English. She’s tired of teaching year eleven pupils about the Mockingbird. She wants to kill the bird and stuff it with all the redundant apostrophe’s’ she’s ever seen in twenty years of marking essays. She needs a rest. She does not need her adult son Dan, his current girlfriend, his previous girlfriend and his old school friend to move in and share her kitchen and their lives with her. Sally could seek out her own friends to let off steam, but her friends prefer her to keep her steam to herself. They’re busy, and too much steam makes it difficult for them to see their own problems clearly. Sally’s husband Bill is an ambitious politician. A tranquil, unexceptional home-life would work well for Bill and his career. In his line of work he needs unconventional domestic arrangements like he needs ladies underwear in his briefcase. However, when Bill looks to his wife for her proper support, Sally does something outrageous.
The Best of Me by David Sedaris, £9.99 paperback
From a spectacular career spanning almost three decades, these stories have become modern classics and are now for the first time collected in one volume. For more than twenty-five years, David Sedaris has been carving out a unique literary space, virtually creating his own genre. A Sedaris story may seem confessional, but is also highly attuned to the world outside. It opens our eyes to what is at absurd and moving about our daily existence. And it is almost impossible to read without laughing. Now, for the first time collected in one volume, the author brings us his funniest and most memorable work. In these stories, Sedaris shops for rare taxidermy, hitchhikes with a lady quadriplegic, and spits a lozenge into a fellow traveler’s lap. He drowns a mouse in a bucket, struggles to say ‘give it to me’ in five languages and hand-feeds a carnivorous bird. But if all you expect to find in Sedaris’s work is the deft and sharply observed comedy for which he became renowned, you may be surprised to discover that his words bring more warmth than mockery, more fellow-feeling than derision.
Death of a Bookseller by Bernard J Farmer, £9.99 paperback
An honest policeman, Sergeant Wigan, escorts a drunk man home one night to keep him out of trouble and, seeing his fine book collection, slowly falls in to the gentle art of book collecting. Just as the friendship is blossoming, the policeman’s book-collecting friend is murdered. To solve the mystery of why the victim was killed, and which of his rare books was taken, Wigan dives into the world of ‘runners’ and book collectors, where avid agents will gladly cut you for a first edition and then offer you a lift home afterwards. This adventurous mystery, which combines exuberant characters with a wonderfully realised depiction of the second-hand book market, is sure to delight bibliophiles and classic crime enthusiasts alike.
The Promise by Damon Galgut, £8.99 paperback
On a farm outside Pretoria, the Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral. The younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stand for – not least their treatment of the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. Salome was to be given her own house, her own land…yet somehow, that vow is carefully ignored. As each decade passes, and the family assemble again, one question hovers over them. Can you ever escape the repercussions of a broken promise? Winner of the 2021 Booker Prize.
The Three Dahlias by Katy Watson, £14.99 hardback
It wouldn’t be a country house weekend without a little murder. Three rival actresses team up to solve a murder at the stately home of Lettice Davenport, the author whose sleuthing creation of the 1930s, Dahlia Lively, had made each of them famous to a new generation. A contemporary mystery with a Golden Age feel, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and Jessica Fellowes – and Janice Hallett and Richard Osman, of course! In attendance at Aldermere: the VIP fans, staying at house; the fan club president turned convention organiser; the team behind the newest movie adaptation of Davenport’s books; the Davenport family themselves; and the three actresses famous for portraying Dahlia Lively through the decades. There is national treasure Rosalind King, from the original movies, who’s feeling sensitive that she’s past her prime, TV Dahlia for thirteen seasons, Caro Hooper, who believes she really IS Dahlia Lively, and ex-child star Posy Starling, fresh out of the fame wilderness (and rehab) to take on the Dahlia mantle for the new movie – but feeling outclassed by her predecessors. Each actress has her own interpretation of the character and her own secrets to hide – but this English summer weekend they will have to put aside their differences as the crimes at Aldermere turn anything but cosy. When fictional death turns into real bodies, can the three Dahlias find the answers to the murders among the fans, the film crew and the family – or even in Lettice’s books themselves?
The House of Fortune by Jessie Burton, £16.99 hardback
The sequel to Jessie Burton’s million-copy bestseller The Miniaturist’. In the golden city of Amsterdam, in 1705, Thea Brandt is turning eighteen, and she is ready to welcome adulthood with open arms. At the city’s theatre, Walter, the love of her life, awaits her, but at home in the house on the Herengracht, all is not well – her father Otto and Aunt Nella argue endlessly, and the Brandt family are selling their furniture in order to eat. On Thea’s birthday, also the day that her mother Marin died, the secrets from the past begin to overwhelm the present. Nella is desperate to save the family and maintain appearances, to find Thea a husband who will guarantee her future, and when they receive an invitation to Amsterdam’s most exclusive ball, she is overjoyed – perhaps this will set their fortunes straight. And indeed, the ball does set things spinning: new figures enter their life, promising new futures. But their fates are still unclear, and when Nella feels a strange prickling sensation on the back of her neck, she remembers the miniaturist who entered her life and toyed with her fortunes eighteen years ago. Perhaps, now, she has returned for her. The House of Fortune is a glorious, sweeping story of fate and ambition, secrets and dreams, and one young woman’s determination to rule her own destiny.
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, £9.99 paperback
In 1960, John Steinbeck set out in his pick-up truck with his dog Charley to rediscover and chronicle his native USA, from Maine to California. He felt that he might have lost touch with its sights, sounds and the essence of the American people. Moving through the woods and deserts, dirt tracks and highways to large cities and glorious wildernesses, Steinbeck observed – with remarkable honesty, insight and a humorous eye – the gamut of America and the people who inhabited it. His 10,000-mile journey took him through almost forty states, where he saw things that made him proud, angry, sympathetic and elated. A rugged and passionate adventure of self-identity, Steinbeck’s vision of the changing world still speaks to us prophetically through the decades.