What we’ve read this January……

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie is a twenty-five-year-old Black woman living in south London, straddling Jamaican and British culture whilst slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white, middle-class peers, and to beg to write about Black Lives Matter. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie finds herself seeking comfort in all the wrong places. As she veers from one bad decision to another, she finds herself wondering who she wants to be – the question that every woman today must face. A disarmingly honest, boldly political and truly inclusive tale that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and acceptance and found something very different instead. A real insight into the casual racism that Black people suffer every single day.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

A masterly evocation of connected lives, changing fortunes and human frailties in a provincial community. Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfilment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; Dr Lydgate, whose pioneering medical methods, combined with an imprudent marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamond, threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstrode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past. I found this particularly fascinating in terms of the development of medicine.

Waterland by Graham Swift

in 1943, lock-keeper Henry Crick finds the drowned body of a sixteen-year-old boy. Nearly forty years later, his son Tom, a history teacher, is driven by a marital crisis and the provocation of one of his students to forsake the formal teaching of history to start telling stories. Waterland is a classic of modern fiction: a vision of England seen through its mysterious, amphibious Fen country; a tale of two families, startling in its twists and turns and universal in its reach. Compulsively readable, it mixes human and natural history and explores the tragic forces that take us both forwards and back. Set where we grew up, we loved the ‘landscape as character’ more than anything in this fantastic book.

What is Life? by Paul Nurse

A rare foray into non-fiction for us, and we learnt a lot! Nobel prize-winner Paul Nurse has spent his career revealing how living cells work. In this book, he takes up the challenge of defining life in a way that every reader can understand. It’s a shared journey of discovery, and step by step he illuminates five great ideas that underpin biology. He traces the roots of his own curiosity and knowledge to reveal how science works, both now and in the past. Using his personal experiences, in and out of the lab, he shares with us the challenges, the lucky breaks, and the thrilling eureka moments of discovery. To survive the challenges that face the human race today – from climate change, to pandemics, loss of biodiversity and food security – it is vital that we all understand what life is.

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

WINNER OF THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2020 and AS SEEN ON BBC’S BETWEEN THE COVERS. Meet the Ramdin-Chetan family: forged through loneliness, broken by secrets, saved by love. Irrepressible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodger, Mr Chetan, form an unconventional household. All three keep each other safe from an increasingly dangerous world, until a glass of rum, a heart to heart, and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart. Brave and brilliant, steeped in affection, Love After Love offers hope to anyone who has loved and lost and has yet to find their way back. A captivating insight into life and relationships in modern day Trinidad.

You can order any of these books by emailing or phoning us – or you can order them to be posted to you here: https://uk.bookshop.org/lists/books-on-our-blog

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