Ordinary People – Diana Evans, £8.99 paperback
Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning. Melissa has a new baby and doesn’t want to let it change her. Damian has lost his father and intends not to let it get to him. Michael is still in love with Melissa but can’t quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Stephanie just wants to live a normal, happy life on the commuter belt with Damian and their three children, but his bereavement is getting in the way. Set in London to an exhilarating soundtrack, Ordinary People is an intimate study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, friendship and ageing, and the fragile architecture of love.
The French Postmistress – Julia Stagg, £9.99 paperback
When her post office burns down, postmistress Veronique starts lobbying for its replacement. But her fellow residents of the small commune of Fogas in the French Pyrenees are too preoccupied to rally to her cause. Mayor Serge Papon, overwhelmed by grief at the death of his wife, has lost his joie de vivre and all taste for village politics (and croissants) and it seems as though deputy mayor Christian (whose tendresse for Veronique makes him her usual champion) will soon be saying au revoir to the mountain community. And to Sarko the bull. Add to this a controversial government initiative to reintroduce bears to the area and soon the inhabitants are at loggerheads, threatening the progress of the sacred Tour de France and the very existence of Fogas itself. In yet another tale with more ups and downs than a Pyrenean horizon, things are about to get grizzly.
Babysitter – Joyce Carol Oates, £18.99 hardback
From one of America’s most renowned storytellers comes a novel about love and deceit, and lust and redemption, against a background of child abductions in the affluent suburbs of Detroit. In the waning days of the turbulent 1970s, in the wake of unsolved killings that have shocked Detroit, the lives of several residents are drawn together, with tragic consequences. In its scathing indictment of corrupt politics, unexamined racism, and the enabling of sexual predation in America, Babysitter is a thrilling work of contemporary fiction.
Stories for Christmas – Various Authors, £9.99 paperback
The British Library Women Writers series is a curated collection of novels by female authors who enjoyed broad, popular appeal in their day. In a century during which the role of women in society changed radically, their fictional heroines highlight women’s experience of life inside and outside the home through the decades in these rich, insightful and evocative stories. In keeping with the spirit of the series, the stories are plucked from different decades of the twentieth century and penned by familiar as well as forgotten authors writing for both books and popular magazines. The selection includes the festive run-up as well as post-Christmas traditions. From the delightful consequences of decorating the tree by Stella Gibbons, to an interesting encounter set at 30,000 feet on a Christmas Day flight by Muriel Spark, and a pantomime with a twist by Margery Sharpe, these stories are sure to fortify you over the Christmas period.
The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce, £9.99 paperback
1988. Frank owns a music shop. It is jam-packed with records of every speed, size and genre. Classical, jazz, punk – as long as it’s vinyl he sells it. Day after day Frank finds his customers the music they need. Then into his life walks Ilse Brauchmann. Ilse asks Frank to teach her about music. His instinct is to turn and run. And yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with her pea-green coat and her eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems. And Frank has old wounds that threaten to re-open and a past he will never leave behind.