Richard and Judy Book Club

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The popular book club reading list. The club which started on Richard and Judy's chat show in 2004 is now run in conjunction with WHSmith.

Source of list: http://www.richardandjudy.co.uk/

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2013 - Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus

Snow White Must Die

On a wet November day, Detectives Pia Kirchoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are summoned to the scene of a mysterious accident. A woman has fallen from a bridge onto the motorway below. It seems that she may have been pushed. The investigation leads them to a small town near Frankfurt, and the home of the victim, Rita Cramer. On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls, Laura and Stefanie (also known as Snow White), vanished without trace from this same village. In a trial based entirely on circumstantial evidence, Stefanie’s boyfriend, handsome and talented, Tobias Sartorius, was sentenced to ten years in prison. He has now returned to his home in an attempt to clear his name. Rita Cramer is his mother. In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence. But when another young girl goes missing, the events of the past repeat themselves in a disastrous manner. The investigation turns into a dramatic race against time, because for the villagers, there is soon no doubt as to the identity of the perpetrator. And this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands.

2013 - The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's Secret

At the heart of The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty is a letter that's not meant to be read...My Darling Cecilia, if you're reading this, then I've died... Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret - something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . . Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all - she's an incredibly successful business woman, a pillar of her small community and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia - or each other - but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband's secret.Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, or anyone who enjoyed One Moment, One Morning or The Midwife's Confession, The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty is about the things we know, the things we don't, and whether or not we ever get to choose. Above all, though, it's about how we must live with the consequences of our actions - whether we like it or not. Liane Moriarty is the author of four novels, Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot and The Hypnotist's Love Story all of which were published successfully around the world and translated into seven languages. Writing as L.M. Moriarty, she is also the author of the Space Brigade series for children. Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son anddaughter. You can find out more about Liane's books at her website www.lianemoriarty.com

2013 - The Twins by Saskia Sarginson

The Twins

They were identical in every way Until the unthinkable tore them apart Isolte and Viola are twins. Inseparable as children, they've grown into very different adults: Isolte, a successful features writer for a fashion magazine with a photographer boyfriend and a flat in London, and Viola, desperately unhappy and struggling with a lifelong eating disorder. What happened all those years ago to set the twins on such different paths to adulthood? As both women start to unravel the escalating tragedies of a half-remembered summer, terrifying secrets from the past come rushing back - and threaten to overwhelm their adult lives...

2013 - The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

The Last Runaway

The stunning new novel from the bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring.

2013 - Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver

Never Coming Back

Never Coming Back is the brilliant new missing persons case in the David Raker series by Tim Weaver.A SECRET THAT WILL CHANGE LIVES FOREVERIt was supposed to be the start of a big night out. But when Emily Kane arrives at her sister Carrie's house, she finds the front door unlocked and no one inside. Dinner's cooking, the TV's on. Carrie, her husband and their two daughters are gone.When the police draw a blank, Emily asks missing persons investigator David Raker to find them. It's clear someone doesn't want the family found.But as he gets closer to the truth, Raker begins to uncover evidence of a sinister cover-up, spanning decades and costing countless lives. And worse, in trying to find Emily's missing family, he might just have made himself the next target ...Immerse yourself in Never Coming Back, the much-anticipated new instalment in the David Raker series from Tim Weaver, author of Chasing the Dead, The Dead Tracks and Vanished. Fans of Mo Hayder's Gone and Michael Marshall Smith's The Straw Men should look this way.Acclaim for Tim Weaver:'I couldn't put it down' - Sun'Weaver's books get better each time - tense, complex, sometimes horrific, written with flair as well as care' - Guardian'Weaver has delivered another cracking crime thriller' - Daily MailTim Weaver was born in 1977. At eighteen, he left school and started working in magazine journalism, and has since gone on to develop a successful career writing about films, TV, sport, games and technology. He is married with a young daughter, and lives near Bath. Never Coming Back is Tim's fourth David Raker novel.

2013 - Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach

Heartbreak Hotel

When retired actor Buffy decides to up sticks from London and move to rural Wales, he has no idea what he is letting himself in for. In possession of a run-down B&B that leans more towards the shabby than the chic and is miles from nowhere, he realises he needs to fill the beds - and fast. Enter a motley collection of guests: Harold, whose wife has run off with a younger woman; Amy, who's been unexpectedly dumped by her (not-so) weedy boyfriend and Andy, the hypochondriac postman whose girlfriend is much too much for him to handle. But under Buffy's watchful eye, this disparate group of strangers find they have more in common than perhaps they first thought...

2013 - Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

Instructions for a Heatwave

Maggie O'Farrell has now sold over a million books in the UK through Bookscan. She is consistently a hardback bestseller - THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE sold just over 15,000 copies in hardback alone.

2013 - The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The Shining Girls

The girl who wouldn’t die, hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist… A terrifying and original serial-killer thriller from award-winning author, Lauren Beukes.

2013 - The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

The Fever Tree

The critically acclaimed debut novel The Fever Tree, by Jennifer McVeigh, a Richard and Judy bookclub pick. 1880, South Africa - a land torn apart by greed...Frances Irvine, left penniless after her father's sudden death, is forced to emigrate to the Cape. In this barren country, she meets two very different men - one driven by ambition, the other by ideals. When a smallpox outbreak sends her to the diamond mines, she is drawn into a ruthless world of greed and exploitation, of human lives crushed in the scramble for power. But here - at last - she sees her path to happiness. Torn between passion and integrity, she makes a choice that has devastating consequences...'Place and people come alive in this book... a gripping story' Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter 'I loved it. It's a beautifully written novel of great feeling' Rachel Hore, best-selling author of The Place of Secrets 'Engrossing, emotionally poised and elegantly written - I absolutely loved it' Vanora Bennett, author of The People's Queen 'A compelling read with a Gone with the Wind feel to it - I was hooked' Katharine McMahon, author of The Alchemist's Daughter 'An epic story of love, deception and courage' Patricia Wastvedt, author of The German Boy Jennifer McVeigh graduated from Oxford University in 2002 with a First in English Literature. She went on to work in film, television, radio and publishing, before giving up her day job to write fiction. She has travelled across East Africa and South Africa, often in off-road vehicles, driving and camping along the way. The Fever Tree is her first novel.

2013 - After the Fall by Charity Norman

After the Fall

In the quiet of a New Zealand Winter's night, a rescue helicopter is sent to airlift a five-year-old boy with severe internal injuries. At first his injuries look like a horrible accident. Only his mother knows the truth. And she isn't telling. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

2013 - The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen

The Land of Decoration

'An extraordinary and peculiarly haunting novel' Chris Cleave, author of The Other Hand My name is Judith McPherson. I am ten years old. On Monday a miracle happened. Judith doesn’t have much. The house she shares with her devoutly religious father is full of dusty relics, reminders of the mother Judith never knew. Bullied at school, she finds comfort in creating a miniature world in her bedroom -- a world of wonder she calls The Land of Decoration. Perhaps, she thinks, if she makes it snow in The Land of Decoration there will be no school on Monday. Sure enough, when Judith opens her curtains the next day, the world beyond her window has turned white. And that's when her troubles begin.

2013 - The Good Father by Noah Hawley

The Good Father

Dr Paul Allen is a well-respected man. He lives a happy, comfortable life with his second wife and their family. Until the night when a knock at the door blows his world apart: a hugely popular presidential candidate has been shot, and they say the young man who pulled the trigger is Paul's son.Daniel, the only child from his first, failed marriage, was always a good kid and Paul is convinced his quiet boy is not capable of murder.Overwhelmed by a vortex of feelings, Paul embarks on a mission to understand what happened and why. Following the trail of his son's journey across America, he is forced to re-examine his life as a husband and a parent, and every decision he ever made.What follows is a powerfully emotional and suspense-filled quest that keeps you guessing to the very end.'Monsters don't just become monsters, after all.'

2013 - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means) Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly, to her interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

2013 - Dark Winter by David Mark

Dark Winter

McAvoy lets his mind drift back to the chaos and bloodshed in the square. To that moment when the masked man appeared from the doorway of the church and looked into his eyes. 'Is there anything distinctive, Sarge?' asks Nielsen. 'Yes', he says, with the sudden sense that memory is important. 'There were tears in his eyes.' DS Aector McAvoy is a man with a troubled past. His unwavering belief in justice has made him an outsider in the police force he serves. When three seemingly unconnected people are brutally murdered in the weeks before Christmas, the police must work quickly to stop more deaths. It is only McAvoy who can see the connection between the victims. A killer is playing God - and McAvoy must find a way to stop the deadly game.

2013 - Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson

Jasmine Nights

1942 and the world is at war. It is a war that has already shattered families and devastated countries. But for some, it will also mean the greatest of adventures. In a burns hospital in Sussex, a beautiful young singer performs to a ward full of burned and maimed soldiers. Saba is captivating and one pilot, Dom, shudders as her gaze turns his way. He can't bear her to see his scars but resolves to write to her once they have healed. The world is on the brink of enormous change. Saba's journey as a singer with ENSA takes her to the fading glamour of Alexandria and the heat and decadence of Turkey. On the glamorous Middle Eastern social circuit, Saba rubs shoulders with double agents and diplomats, movie stars and smugglers. Some want her voice, some her friendship, and some the secrets she is perfectly placed to discover...JASMINE NIGHTS is a tale of decadence and destruction, of love and of danger. It is the captivating love story set in an extraordinary world.

2013 - Gold by Chris Cleave

Gold

Usually, this is where we'd tell you what this book is about. But with Chris Cleave, it's a bit different. Because if you've read THE OTHER HAND or INCENDIARY, you'll know that what his books are about is only part of the story - what really matters is how they make you feel. GOLD is about the limits of human endurance, both physical and emotional. It will make you cry. GOLD is about what drives us to succeed - and what we choose to sacrifice for success. It will make you feel glad to be alive. GOLD is about the struggles we all face every day; the conflict between winning on others' terms, and triumphing on your own. It will make you count your blessings. GOLD is a story told as only Chris Cleave could tell it. And once you begin, it will be a heart-pounding race to the finish.

2013 - Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

What are you thinking, Amy? The question I've asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?'Just how well can you ever know the person you love? This is the question that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife? And what was in that half-wrapped box left so casually on their marital bed? In this novel, marriage truly is the art of war. . .

2013 - The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

When Harold Fry leaves home one morning to post a letter, with his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else's life.

2013 - Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

Tigers in Red Weather

Nick and her cousin Helena have grown up together, sharing long hot summers at Tiger House. With husbands and children of their own, they keep returning. But against a background of parties, cocktails, moonlight and jazz, how long can perfection last? There is always the summer that changes everything.

2013 - The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke

The Sea Sisters

Two sisters, one life-changing journey…

2013 - The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Simon Mawer

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

Marian Sutro is an outsider: the daughter of a diplomat, brought up on the shores of Lake Geneva and in England, half French, half British, naive yet too clever for her own good. But when she is recruited from her desk job by SOE to go undercover in wartime France, it seems her hybrid status - and fluent French - will be of service to a greater, more dangerous cause. Trained in sabotage, dead-drops, how to perform under interrogation and how to kill, Marian parachutes into south-west France, her official mission to act as a Resistance courier. But her real destination is Paris, where she must seek out family friend Clément Pelletier, once the focus of her adolescent desires. A nuclear physicist engaged in the race for a new and terrifying weapon, he is of urgent significance to her superiors. As she struggles through the strange, lethal landscape of the Occupation towards this reunion, what completes her training is the understanding that war changes everything, and neither love nor fatherland may be trusted. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is both a gripping adventure story and a moving meditation on patriotism, betrayal and the limits of love.

2013 - The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

The Universe Versus Alex Woods

A tale of an unexpected friendship, an unlikely hero and an improbable journey... This novel might just strike you as one of the funniest, most heartbreaking novels you've ever read.

2013 - The Sea Change by Joanna Rossiter

The Sea Change

The Sea Change by Joanna Rossiter is a haunting and moving novel about a mother and a daughter, caught between a tsunami and a war.Yesterday was Alice's wedding day. She is thousands of miles away from the home she is so desperate to leave, on the southernmost tip of India, when she wakes in the morning to see a wave on the horizon, taller than the height of her guest house on Kanyakumari beach. Her husband is nowhere to be seen.On the other side of the world, unhappily estranged from her daughter, is Alice's mother, Violet. Forced to leave the idyllic Wiltshire village, Imber, in which she grew up after it was requisitioned by the army during World War Two, Violet is haunted by the shadow of the man she loved and the wilderness of a home that lies in ruins.Amid the debris of the wave, Alice recollects the events of the hippie trail that led to her hasty marriage as she struggles to piece together the fate of the husband she barely knows. Meanwhile, Violet must return to Imber in order to let go of the life that is no longer hers - and begin the search for her daughter.Joanna Rossiter grew up in Dorset and studied English at Cambridge University before working as a researcher in the House of Commons and as a copy writer. In 2011 she completed an MA in Writing at Warwick University. The Sea Change is her first novel. She lives and writes in London.

2013 - The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

The Light Between Oceans

'An extraordinary and heart-rending book about good people, tragic decisions and the beauty found in each of them' MARKUS ZUSAK, author of The Book Thief Tom Sherbourne, released from the horrors of the First World War, is now a lighthouse keeper, cocooned on a remote island with his young wife Izzy, who is content in everything but her failure to have a child. One April morning, a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man - and a crying baby. Safe from the real world, Tom and Izzy break the rules and follow their hearts. It is a decision with devastating consequences.

2013 - Natural Causes: Inspector McLean Novel 1 (Inspector Mclean Mystery 1) by James Oswald

Natural Causes: Inspector McLean Novel 1 (Inspector Mclean Mystery 1)

Natural Causes is the first novel from James Oswald in the Detective Inspector McLean series.A young girl's mutilated body is discovered in a sealed room. Her remains are carefully arranged, in what seems to have been a cruel and macabre ritual, which appears to have taken place over 60 years ago.For newly appointed Edinburgh Detective Inspector Tony McLean this baffling cold case ought to be a low priority - but he is haunted by the young victim and her grisly death. Meanwhile, the city is horrified by a series of bloody killings. Deaths for which there appears to be neither rhyme nor reason, and which leave Edinburgh's police at a loss.McLean is convinced that these deaths are somehow connected to the terrible ceremonial killing of the girl, all those years ago. It is an irrational, almost supernatural theory.And one which will lead McLean closer to the heart of a terrifying and ancient evil . . .James Oswald's Detective Inspector McLean appears here for the first time. Natural Causes is the opening to an electrifying new series. Subsequent titles include The Book of Souls and The Hangman's Song. Fans of Ian Rankin, Peter James and Stuart McBride will love James Oswald's work. Praise for James Oswald: 'A star of Scotland's burgeoning crime fiction scene' Daily RecordJames Oswald is the author of the Detective Inspector McLean series of crime novels. The first two in the series, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls, are available from Penguin, with the third title, The Hangman's Song, forthcoming for 2014. He has also written an epic fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro as well as comic scripts and short stories. In his spare time James runs a 350 acre livestock farm in North East Fife, where he raises pedigree Highland Cattle and New Zealand Romney Sheep.http://jamesoswald.co.uk/

2013 - This Is How It Ends by Kathleen MacMahon

This Is How It Ends

This is when it begins Autumn, 2008. This is where it begins The coast of Dublin. This is why it begins Bruno, an American, has come to Ireland to search for his roots. Addie, an out-of-work architect, is recovering from heartbreak while taking care of her infirm father. When their worlds collide, they experience a connection unlike any they've previously felt, but soon their newfound love will be tested in ways they never imagined possible. This is how it ends . . .

2013 - Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

Close My Eyes

It's been eight years since Gen Loxley lost her daughter, Beth: eight years of grief in which nothing's really moved forward, for all that her husband, Art, wills it to. Gen, once a writer of novels, has settled in to a life of half-hearted teaching, while Art makes his name and their fortune - and pressures her into trying IVF once again. For Gen, it seems a cruel act of replacement; life without Beth is unthinkable, unbearable - but still it goes on. And then a woman arrives on Gen's doorstep, saying the very thing she longs to hear: that her daughter was not stillborn, but was spirited away as a healthy child, and is out there, waiting to be found…. So why is Art reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or something much more sinister? What is the truth about Beth Loxley?

2013 - The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles

'It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophies are always different - unimagined, unprepared for, unknown…' One morning, Julia and her parents wake up in their suburban home in California to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth is noticeably slowing. The enormity of this is almost beyond comprehension. And yet, even if the world is, in fact, coming to an end, as some assert, day-to-day life must go on. Julia, facing the loneliness and despair of an awkward adolescence, witnesses the impact of this phenomenon on the world, on the community, on her family and on herself.

2012 - Double Cross by Ben Macintyre

Double Cross

D-Day, 6 June 1944, the turning point of the Second World War, was a victory of arms. But it was also a triumph for a different kind of operation: one of deceit, aimed at convincing the Nazis that Calais and Norway, not Normandy, were the targets of the 150,000-strong invasion force. The deception involved every branch of Allied wartime intelligence - the Bletchley Park code-breakers, MI5, MI6, SOE, Scientific Intelligence, the FBI and the French Resistance. But at its heart was the ’Double Cross System’, a team of double agents controlled by the secret Twenty Committee, so named because twenty in Roman numerals forms a double cross. The key D-Day spies were just five in number, and one of the oddest military units ever assembled: a bisexual Peruvian playgirl, a tiny Polish fighter pilot, a Serbian seducer, a wildly imaginative Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming, and a hysterical Frenchwoman whose obsessive love for her pet dog very nearly wrecked the entire deception. Their enterprise was saved from catastrophe by a shadowy sixth spy whose heroic sacrifice is here revealed for the first time. Under the direction of an eccentric but brilliant intelligence officer in tartan trousers, working from a smoky lair in St James’s, these spies would weave a web of deception so intricate that it ensnared Hitler’s army and helped to carry thousands of troops across the Channel in safety. These double agents were, variously, brave, treacherous, fickle, greedy and inspired. They were not conventional warriors, but their masterpiece of deceit saved countless lives. Their codenames were Bronx, Brutus, Treasure, Tricycle and Garbo. This is their story.

2012 - The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

The Greatcoat

A terrifyingly atmospheric ghost story by the Orange-prize-winning Helen Dunmore. In the summer of 1954, newly wed Isabel Carey arrives in a Yorkshire town with her husband Philip. As a GP he spends much of his time working, while Isabel tries hard to adjust to the realities of married life. Life is not easy: she feels out-of-place and constantly judged by the people around her, so she spends much of her time alone. One cold winter night, Isabel finds an old RAF greatcoat in the back of a cupboard that she uses to help keep warm. Once wrapped in the coat she is beset by dreams. And not long afterwards, while her husband is out, she is startled to hear a knock at her window, and to meet for the first time the intense gaze of a young Air Force pilot, handsome, blond and blue-eyed, staring in at her from outside. His name is Alec, and his powerfully haunting presence both disturbs and excites Isabel. Her initial alarm soon fades, and they begin a delicious affair. But nothing could have prepared her for the truth about Alec's life, nor the impact it will have on her own marriage.

2012 - The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne

The Guilty One

A little boy was found dead in a children's playground... Daniel Hunter has spent years defending lost causes as a solicitor in London. But his life changes when he is introduced to Sebastian, an eleven-year-old accused of murdering an innocent young boy. As he plunges into the muddy depths of Sebastian's troubled home life, Daniel thinks back to his own childhood in foster care - and to Minnie, the woman whose love saved him, until she, too, betrayed him so badly that he cut her out of his life. But what crime did Minnie commit that made Daniel disregard her for fifteen years? And will Daniel's identification with a child on trial for murder make him question everything he ever believed in?

2012 - Fault Line by Robert Goddard

Fault Line

A search for missing documents in an international mining company becomes a voyage into dangerous waters. A dead friend, a lost lover and a clutch of mysteries from Jonathan Kellaway's youth in Cornwall and Italy in the late 1960s come back to haunt him when he is tasked with discovering why there is a gaping hole in his employer's records - and to tempt him with the hope that he may at last learn the truth about the tragedies of those years. It is a truth that has claimed several victims before. If he pursues it hard and long enough, he may only add himself to the list. But pursue it he will. Because the truth, he comes to realize, is the secret that has consumed his life. This time he will not stop ... until he has found it.

2012 - The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

The Shoemaker's Wife

The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future. Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso. From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever. Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker's Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk. This riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write, one inspired by her own family history and the love of tradition that has propelled her body of bestselling novels to international acclaim. Like Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker's Wife defines an era with clarity and splendor, with operatic scope and a vivid cast of characters who will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come.

2012 - The Seamstress by Maria Duenas

The Seamstress

An unforgettable tale of adventure, tragedy, love and war. In love for the first time, Sira Quiroga leaves Madrid, along with everything she knows and cares about, to run away to Tangiers, Morocco with her lover Ramiro. She entrusts him with all her inheritance only to be left by him - pregnant, penniless and in trouble with the authorities. At her lowest ebb Sira falls back on the one skill she possesses: sewing. Moving to Tetouan, Sira survives by sewing beautiful clothes for the English mistress of one of the most powerful men in Morocco and for her German friends. As the women unguardedly gossip about their husbands and lovers, Sira is placed in a position very valuable to the British secret service, and she is soon forced to move to Madrid where great danger lies. A grand and epic story that tells the story of Spain's civil war, Madrid in the Second World War and reveals a world of war, glamour, espionage and passion.

2012 - The House of Silk: The New Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz

The House of Silk: The New Sherlock Holmes Novel

THE GAME'S AFOOT... It is November 1890 and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent weeks. Intrigued by the man's tale, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston. As the pair delve deeper into the case, they stumble across a whispered phrase 'the House of Silk': a mysterious entity and foe more deadly than any Holmes has encountered, and a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society itself... With devilish plotting and excellent characterisation, bestselling author Anthony Horowitz delivers a first-rate Sherlock Holmes mystery for a modern readership whilst remaining utterly true to the spirit of the original Conan Doyle books. Sherlock Holmes is back with all the nuance, pace and powers of deduction that make him the world's greatest and most celebrated detective.

2012 - The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child

A bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope set in 1920s Alaska. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on making a fresh start for themselves in a homestead 'at the world's edge' in the raw Alaskan wilderness. But as the days grow shorter, Jack is losing his battle to clear the land, and Mabel can no longer contain her grief for the baby she lost many years before. The evening the first snow falls, their mood unaccountably changes. In a moment of tenderness, the pair are surprised to find themselves building a snowman - or rather a snow girl - together. The next morning, all trace of her has disappeared, and Jack can't quite shake the notion that he glimpsed a small figure - a child? - running through the spruce trees in the dawn light. And how to explain the little but very human tracks Mabel finds at the edge of their property? Written with the clarity and vividness of the Russian fairytale from which it takes its inspiration,The Snow Childis an instant classic - the story of a couple who take a child into their hearts, all the while knowing they can never truly call her their own.

2012 - Between a Mother and her Child by Elizabeth Noble

Between a Mother and her Child

For Maggie and Bill it was love at first sight . . .One impulsive wedding later and with the arrival of three perfect children, Jake, Aly and Stan, the Barrett family seem to have it all. Until the day their world stops turning. When Jake dies suddenly, they're swept away on a tide of grief that fractures Maggie and Bill's marriage. She and the children are left clinging to the wreckage of their family. And they need help, because in her grief Maggie is in danger of losing Aly and Stan too.Enter Kate, housekeeper, companion and shoulder to cry on. She's here to pick up the pieces and fix what isn't completely broken. But can Maggie trust Kate? And why is Kate so keen to help?When Bill falls for another woman, Maggie realizes she will have to fight to put her family back together - but will they still want her?

2012 - Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell

Secrets of the Tides

The Tides are a family with dark secrets. Haunted by the events of one tragic day ten years ago, they are each, in their own way, struggling to move forwards with their lives. Dora, the youngest daughter, lives in a ramshackle East End warehouse with her artist boyfriend Dan. Dora is doing a good job of skating across the surface of her life - but when she discovers she is pregnant the news leaves her shaken and staring back at the darkness of a long-held guilt. Returning to Clifftops, the rambling family house perched high on the Dorset coastline, Dora must confront her past. Clifftops hasn't changed in years and moving through its rooms and gardens, Dora can still feel the echo of that terrible summer's day when life changed forever for the Tides. As Dora begins her search for clues surrounding the events of that fateful day, she comes to realise that the path to redemption may rest with her troubled sister, Cassie. If Dora can unlock the secrets Cassie swore she would take to her grave, just maybe she will have a shot at salvation. But can long-held secrets ever really be forgiven? And even if you do manage to forgive and forget, how do you ever allow yourself to truly love again?

2012 - The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

The Story of Beautiful Girl

On a stormy night in small-town America, a couple, desperate and soaked to the skin, knock on a stranger's door. When Martha, a retired schoolteacher living a safe and conventional life, answers their knock, her world changes forever. For they are fugitives. Lynnie, a young woman with an intellectual disability, and Homan, a deaf man with only sign language to guide him, have escaped together from The School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, a brutal institution where people with disabilities are left to languish, shuttered away from the world. In a moment of despair, they reveal that Lynnie has a newborn baby. But, moments later, the police bang on the door. Homan escapes into the darkness, Lynnie is captured. But just before she is returned to The School, bound and tied, she utters two words to Martha: "Hide her." And so begins the unforgettable story of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia u lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.

2012 - A Cold Season by Alison Littlewood

A Cold Season

Cass is building a new life for herself and her young son Ben after the death of her soldier husband Pete, returning to the village where she lived as a child. But their idyllic new home is not what she expected: the other flats are all empty, there's strange graffiti on the walls, and the villagers are a bit odd. And when an unexpectedly heavy snowstorm maroons the village, things get even harder. Ben is changing, he's surly and aggressive and Cass's only confidant is the smooth, charming Theodore Remick, the stand-in headmaster. Not everyone approves of Cass's growing closeness to Mr Remick, and it soon becomes obvious he's not all he appears to be either. If she is to protect her beloved son, Cass is going to have to fight back. Cass realises this is not the first time her family have been targeted by Theodore Remick. But this time, the stakes are immeasurably higher...

2012 - Yesterday's Sun by Amanda Brooke

Yesterday's Sun

A heart wrenching story for fans of Jodi Picoult, Susan Lewis and Katherine Webb. How could you ever choose between your own life and the life of your child? Newly-weds Holly and Tom have just moved into an old manor house in the picturesque English countryside. When Holly discovers a moondial in the overgrown garden and its strange crystal mechanism, little does she suspect that it will change her life forever. For the moondial has a curse. Each full moon, Holly can see into the future a future which holds Tom cradling their baby daughter, Libby, and mourning Holly's death in childbirth... Holly realises the moondial is offering her a desperate choice: give Tom the baby he has always wanted and sacrifice her own life; or save herself and erase the life of the daughter she has fallen in love with.

2012 - Midwinter Sacrifice by Mons Kallentoft

Midwinter Sacrifice

'An investigation consists of a mass of voices, the sort you can hear, and the sort you can't. You have to listen to the soundless voices, Malin. That's where the truth is hidden.' The snow covered all the tracks, as the killer knew it would. But it couldn't hide the victim, the man who now hung naked from a lonely tree on a frozen plain. Malin Fors is first on the scene. A thirty-one-year-old single mother, Malin is the most talented and ambitious detective on the Linkoping police force, but also the most unpredictable. She must lead the investigation while keeping her fractured life on the rails. No one knows the identity of the dead man. Or perhaps no one ever wanted to know. When all the voices of the investigation have fallen silent, Malin can rely only on herself and her own instincts. And as she follows in the frigid wake of the killer, Malin begins to discover just how far the people in this small town are willing to go to keep their secrets buried.

2012 - Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson

Before I Go To Sleep

'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...'Memories define us.So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight.And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.Welcome to Christine's life.

2012 - The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a shy twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness when she meets Ernest Hemingway and is captivated by his energy, intensity and burning ambition to write. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for France. But glamorous Jazz Age Paris, full of artists and writers, fuelled by alcohol and gossip, is no place for family life and fidelity. Ernest and Hadley's marriage begins to founder, and the birth of a beloved son serves only to drive them further apart. Then, at last, Ernest's ferocious literary endeavours begin to bring him recognition - not least from a woman intent on making him her own . . .

2012 - My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young

My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You

Set on the Western Front, in London and in Paris, MY DEAR I WANTED TO TELL YOU is a moving and brilliant novel of love, class and sex in wartime, and how war affects those left behind as well as those who fight. While Riley Purefoy and Peter Locke fight for their country, their survival and their sanity in the trenches of Flanders, Nadine Waveney, Julia Locke and Rose Locke do what they can at home. Beautiful, obsessive Julia and gentle, eccentric Peter are married: each day Julia goes through rituals to prepare for her beloved husband's return. Nadine and Riley, only eighteen when the war starts, and with problems of their own already, want above all to make promises - but how can they when the future is not in their hands? And Rose? Well, what did happen to the traditionally brought-up women who lost all hope of marriage, because all the young men were dead?

2012 - Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

2012 - Tideline by Penny Hancock

Tideline

One winter's afternoon, voice coach Sonia opens the door of her beautiful riverside home to fifteen-year-old Jez, the nephew of a family friend. He's come to borrow some music. Sonia invites him in and soon decides that she isn't going to let him leave. As Sonia's desire to keep Jez hidden and protected from the outside world becomes all the more overpowering, she is haunted by memories of an intense teenage relationship, which gradually reveal a terrifying truth. The River House, Sonia's home since childhood, holds secrets within its walls. And outside, on the shores of the Thames, new ones are coming in on the tide...

2012 - Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington

Alice Bliss

Alice Bliss is fifteen. She's smart, funny, and clever. Not afraid to stand up for the things she believes in. She also idolises her father and, when he leaves home to fight a war she doesn't believe in, Alice is distraught. She and her mother negotiate his absence as best they can -- waiting impatiently for his letters, throwing themselves into school and work respectively, bickering intermittently and, in Alice's case, falling for the boy next door -- but then they're told that he's missing in action and have to face up to the fact that he may never return. Telling a story of love and loss, of grief and growing up, of family and friendship, Alice Bliss is a powerful, poignant portrayal of a young girl facing up to the unthinkable. 'Compassionate and intelligent, Alice Bliss combines strong storytelling and a rich emotional core' Jenny Downham, author of Before I Die 'A powerful and richly delineated novel' Sarah Blake, bestselling author of The Postmistress 'Heartbreaking yet edged with promise, Alice Bliss explores the wounds of war, love, and family bonds while illuminating the strength of a young girl’s spirit. A stunning debut' Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

2012 - A Perfectly Good Man by Patrick Gale

A Perfectly Good Man

The new novel from Patrick Gale, author of Richard & Judy-bestseller ‘Notes from an Exhibition’, returning readers to his beloved Cornish coastline."Do you need me to pray for you now for a specific reason?”“I’m going to die.”“We’re all going to die. Does dying frighten you?”“I mean I’m going to kill myself.”When 20-year-old Lenny Barnes, paralysed in a rugby accident, commits suicide in the presence of Barnaby Johnson, the much-loved priest of a West Cornwall parish, the tragedy's reverberations open up the fault-lines between Barnaby and his nearest and dearest. The personal stories of his wife, children and lover illuminate Barnaby's ostensibly happy life, and the gulfs of unspoken sadness that separate them all. Across this web of relations scuttles Barnaby's repellent nemesis – a man as wicked as his prey is virtuous.Returning us to the rugged Cornish landscape of Notes from an Exhibition, Patrick Gale lays bare the lives and the thoughts of a whole community and asks us: what does it mean to be good?

2012 - The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall

The Book of Summers

Beth Lowe has been sent a parcel.

Inside is a letter informing her that her long-estranged mother has died, and a scrapbook Beth has never seen before. Entitled The Book of Summers, it's stuffed with photographs and mementos complied by her mother to record the seven glorious childhood summers Beth spent in rural Hungary. It was a time when she trod the tightrope between separated parents and two very different countries; her bewitching but imperfect Hungarian mother and her gentle, reticent English father; the dazzling house of a Hungarian artist and an empty-feeling cottage in deepest Devon. And it was a time that came to the most brutal of ends the year Beth turned sixteen.

Since then, Beth hasn't allowed herself to think about those years of her childhood. But the arrival of The Book of Summers brings the past tumbling back into the present; as vivid, painful and vital as ever.

2012 - The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

The Hypnotist

The Hypnotist gleaned much praise in its native Sweden, and newspapers and TV made a considerable effort to discover the identity of the pseudonymous author of this striking crime novel. The result of the search was dramatic: after a nocturnal ‘raid’ it was revealed that ‘Lars Kepler’ was, in fact, a husband and wife team – a duo of literary writers, hitherto uncelebrated. But Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril have enjoyed life since being ‘outed’, though it meant that the success of the new book forced the pair’s individual literary efforts to go on hold (the male half of the duo's novel about the great Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman was in line for a major literary prize). Of course, as with almost every new Scandinavian crime novel, hopeful comparisons have already been drawn with Stieg Larsson, but an acquaintance with The Hypnotist demonstrates that this book is a very different kettle of fish. The members of a whole family have been brutally killed. There is one witness, the teenage son of the slaughtered family. But he appears to have been shocked into mute non-communication by the killings and can offer no leads. Kepler’s protagonist Inspector Joona Linna decides to ask ex-hypnotist Erik Bark to attempt to uncover the secrets of the boy's closed-off world. Linna and Bark discover that the traumatised youth holds the key to a shocking truth about the murders.The Hypnotist is a challenging, lengthy, but always rewarding novel, addressing some incendiary issues. But it is most crucially concerned with the ties of family both which potentially carry both positive and destructive elements. These serious issues are addressed in the context of a crime novel which sports a steady, inexorable building of tension and dread -- and in this area the Kepler duo know exactly what they’re doing. The couple have said they are more influenced by film than they are by other novelists, and this is a very cinematic novel. Joona Linna, too, is a strong central character. Prepare to be hypnotised by The Hypnotist. --Barry Forshaw

2012 - The Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas

The Secrets Between Us

A chance encounter: When Sarah meets dark, brooding Alex,she grasps his offer of a new life miles away from her own. They've both recently escaped broken relationships, and need to start again. Why not do it together? A perfect life: But when Sarah gets to the tiny village of Burrington Stoke, something doesn't add up. Alex's beautiful wife Genevieve was charming, talented, and adored by all who knew her. And apparently, she and Alex had a successful marriage complete with a gorgeous son, Jamie. Why would Genevieve walk out on her perfect life? And why has no one heard from her since she did so? A web of lies: Genevieve's family and all her friends think that Alex knows more about her disappearance than he's letting on. But Sarah's fallen in love with him and just knows he couldn't have anything to hide. Or could he?

2012 - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus

In 1886, a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black and white, Le Cirque des Rêves delights all who wander its circular paths and warm themselves at its bonfire. Although there are acrobats, fortune-tellers and contortionists, the Circus of Dreams is no conventional spectacle. Some tents contain clouds, some ice. The circus seems almost to cast a spell over its aficionados, who call themselves the rêveurs - the dreamers. At the heart of the story is the tangled relationship between two young magicians, Celia, the enchanter's daughter, and Marco, the sorcerer's apprentice. At the behest of their shadowy masters, they find themselves locked in a deadly contest, forced to test the very limits of the imagination, and of their love... A fabulous, fin-de-siècle feast for the senses and a life-affirming love story, The Night Circus is a captivating novel that will make the real world seem fantastical and a fantasy world real.

2012 - The Fear Index by Robert Harris

The Fear Index

His name is carefully guarded from the general public but within the secretive inner circles of the ultra-rich Dr Alex Hoffmann is a legend – a visionary scientist whose computer software turns everything it touches into gold. Together with his partner, an investment banker, Hoffmann has developed a revolutionary form of artificial intelligence that tracks human emotions, enabling it to predict movements in the financial markets with uncanny accuracy. His hedge fund, based in Geneva, makes billions. But then in the early hours of the morning, while he lies asleep with his wife, a sinister intruder breaches the elaborate security of their lakeside house. So begins a waking nightmare of paranoia and violence as Hoffmann attempts, with increasing desperation, to discover who is trying to destroy him.His quest forces him to confront the deepest questions of what it is to be human. By the time night falls over Geneva, the financial markets will be in turmoil and Hoffmann's world – and ours – transformed forever.

2012 - Jubilee by Shelley Harris

Jubilee

It's 1977, the day of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, when a photographer captures a moment forever: a festive street party with bunting and Union Jacks fluttering in the breeze and, right in the centre of the frame, a small Asian boy staring intensely at the camera. The photo becomes infamous when it is adopted as a symbol of everything that is great and good about Britain, but what is the real story behind it? Relationships between the neighbours on Cherry Gardens are far from easy, and minor frictions threaten to erupt as the street party begins... Fast forward to the present and that boy, Satish, is now a successful paediatric heart surgeon, saving lives and families every single day. But he's living with a secret - he's addicted to controlled prescription drugs. A message about a proposed reunion of the children in the photograph throws his life into turmoil as he thinks back to Jubilee Day, and the events that changed his life for ever.

2012 - The Thread by Victoria Hislop

The Thread

Thessaloniki, 1917. As Dimitri Komninos is born, a devastating fire sweeps through the thriving Greek city where Christians, Jews and Muslims live side by side. Five years later, Katerina Sarafoglou's home in Asia Minor is destroyed by the Turkish army. Losing her mother in the chaos, she flees across the sea to an unknown destination in Greece. Soon her life will become entwined with Dimitri's, and with the story of the city itself, as war, fear and persecution begin to divide its people. Thessaloniki, 2007. A young Anglo-Greek hears his grandparents' life story for the first time and realises he has a decision to make. For many decades, they have looked after the memories and treasures of the people who were forced to leave. Should he become their next custodian and make this city his home?

2011 - The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Postmistress

The wireless crackles with news of blitzed-out London and of the war that courses through Europe, leaving destruction in its wake. Newly-wed Emma considers the fragility of her peaceful married life as America edges closer to the brink of war

2011 - Trespass by Rose Tremain

Trespass

Set among the hills and gorges of the Cevennes, the dark and beautiful heartland of southern France, 'Trespass' is a novel about disputed territory, sibling love and devastating revenge.

2011 - You're Next by Gregg Hurwitz

You're Next

Every family has its secrets. His might get them killed.

2011 - This Perfect World by Suzanne Bugler

This Perfect World

What do you do when your secret past threatens your perfect present?

2011 - Hothouse Flower by Lucinda Riley

Hothouse Flower

A heart-rending page turner which sweeps from war-torn Europe to Thailand and back again . . . As a child Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park estate, where her grandfather tended the exotic flowers. So when a family tragedy strikes, Julia returns to the tranquility of Wharton Park and its hothouse. Recently inherited by charismatic Kit Crawford, the estate is undergoing renovation. This leads to the discovery of an old diary, prompting the pair to seek out Julia's grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed Wharton Park. Julia is taken back to the 1940s where the fortunes of young couple Olivia and Harry Crawford will have terrible consequences on generations to come. For as war breaks out Olivia and Harry are cruelly separated . . .

2011 - Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Ernest Pettigrew is perfectly content to lead a quiet life in the sleepy village of Edgecombe St Mary, away from the meddling of the locals and his overbearing son. But when his brother dies, the Major finds himself seeking companionship with the village shopkeeper, Mrs Ali. Drawn together by a love of books and the loss of their partners, they are soon forced to contend with irate relatives and gossiping villagers. The perfect gentleman, but the most unlikely hero, the Major must ask himself what matters most: family obligation, tradition or love? Funny, comforting and heart-warming, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand proves that sometimes, against all odds, life does give you a second chance.

2011 - The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale

The Blasphemer

He had always been scared of flying. Now, the fear is real. A plane crash. The water is rising over his mouth. In his nostrils. Lungs. As Daniel gasps, he swallows; and punches at his seat-belt. Nancy, the woman he loves, is trapped in her seat. He clambers over her, pushing her face into the headrest.

2011 - Room by Emma Donoghue

Room

Jack believes it all in Room,but one day Ma admits there's a world outside...Will you change after reading Room?

2011 - The Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen

The Summer of the Bear

In the summer of 1979, a tamed grizzly bear is tempted by the lure of freedom and the wild open sea . . . Meanwhile, the sudden death of British diplomat Nicky Fleming has left his wife closed down with shock. Relocated from Cold-War-riven Germany to a remote Hebridean island, Letty Fleming is haunted by the unthinkable was it an accident, murder or suicide? And how can she ever begin to explain to her three children that their father may have betrayed his country? Struggling to find solace in a place she loves, Letty begins to unravel the mystery of Nicky's death, but her determination to protect the children from the truth blinds her to the demons they are already battling. As the family's secrets threaten to tear them apart, it is only the strange but brilliant Jamie who manages to hold on to the one thing he knows for sure: his father has promised to return, and Nicky Fleming was a man who never broke a promise . . .

2011 - Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Every Last One

The Lathams seem to have it all: health, wealth and a vibrant family life. As Mary Beth Latham contemplates a life built around home, friends and community, she has every reason to feel fulfilled and content. Then, for one of her sons, a process of unravelling begins. Mary Beth starts to focus on him, only to find that the comfortable life she has spent years carefully constructing is shattered in a single moment. Forced to confront her own demons, Mary Beth realises how the inconsequential moments we all share - and one shameful act she has hidden from everybody - may have contributed to her fate. Every Last One is a mesmerising and devastating portrait of family life, and a testament to the power of a mother's love and determination. It is Anna Quindlen's finest work to date.

2011 - The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

The Poison Tree

It is the sweltering summer of 1997, and Karen is a strait-laced, straight-A university student. When she meets the glamorous Biba, a bohemian orphan who lives in a crumbling old mansion in Highgate with her enigmatic brother Rex, she is soon drawn into their world. But something terrible is about to happen, and someone's going to end up dead.

2011 - The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld

The Death Instinct

A spellbinding literary thriller about terror, war, greed, and the darkest secrets of the human soul, by the author of the million-copy bestseller, The Interpretation of Murder. September 16, 1920. Under a clear blue September sky, a quarter ton of explosives is detonated in a deadly attack on Wall Street. Fear comes to the streets ofNew York. Witnessing the blast are war veteran Stratham Younger, his friend James Littlemore of the NY Police Department, and beautiful French radiochemist Colette Rousseau. A series of inexplicable attacks on Colette, a secret buried in her past, and a mysterious trail of evidence lead Younger, Littlemore, and Rousseau on a thrilling international and psychological journey “ from Paris to Prague, from the Vienna home of Freud to the corridors of power in Washington, DC, and ultimately to the hidden depths of our most savage instincts. As the seemingly disjointed pieces of Younger and Littlemore "s investigations come together, the two uncover the shocking truth about the bombing “ a truth that threatens to shake their world to its foundations.

2011 - The Novel in the Viola by Natasha Solomons

The Novel in the Viola

In the spring of 1938 Elise Landau arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay. A bright young thing from Vienna forced to become a parlour-maid, she knows nothing about England, except that she won "t like it. As servants polish silver and serve drinks on the lawn, Elise wears her mother "s pearls beneath her uniform, and causes outrage by dancing with a boy called Kit. But war is coming and the world is changing. And Elise must change with it. At Tyneford she learns that you can be more than one person. And that you can love more than once.

2011 - The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn

The Confession of Katherine Howard

This summer won "t be the first time Queen Katherine has come to the throne When twelve-year-old Katherine Howard comes to live in the Duchess of Norfolk's household, poor relation Cat Tilney is deeply suspicious. The two girls couldn't be more different: Cat, watchful and ambitious; Katherine, interested only in clothes and boys. Their companions are in thrall to Katherine, but it's Cat in whom Katherine confides and, despite herself, Cat is drawn to her. Summoned to court at seventeen, Katherine leaves Cat in the company of her ex-lover, Francis, and the two begin their own, much more serious, love affair. Within months, the king has set aside his Dutch wife Anne for Katherine. The future seems assured for the new queen and her maid-in-waiting, although Cat would feel more confident if Katherine hadn't embarked on an affair with one of the king's favoured attendants, Thomas Culpeper. However, for a blissful year and a half, it seems that Katherine can have everything she wants. But then allegations are made about her girlhood love affairs. Desperately frightened, Katherine recounts a version of events which implicates Francis but which Cat knows to be a lie. With Francis in the Tower, Cat alone knows the whole truth of Queen Katherine Howard “ but if she tells, Katherine will die.

2011 - When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

When God Was a Rabbit

This is a book about a brother and a sister. It's a book about secrets and starting over, friendship and family, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. More than anything, it's a book about love in all its forms. In a remarkably honest and confident voice, Sarah Winman has written the story of a memorable young heroine, Elly, and her loss of innocence-a magical portrait of growing up and the pull and power of family ties. From Essex and Cornwall to the streets of New York, from 1968 to the events of 9/11, "When God Was a Rabbit" follows the evolving bond of love and secrets between Elly and her brother Joe, and her increasing concern for an unusual best friend, Jenny Penny, who has secrets of her own. With its wit and humor, engaging characters whose eccentricities are adroitly and sometimes darkly drawn, and its themes of memory and identity, "When God Was a Rabbit "is a love letter to true friendship and fraternal love. Funny, utterly compelling, fully of sparkle, and poignant, too, "When God Was a Rabbit" heralds the start of a remarkable new literary career.

2011 - The Return Of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller

The Return Of Captain John Emmett

1920. The Great War has been over for two years, and it has left a very different world from the Edwardian certainties of 1914. Following the death of his wife and baby and his experiences on the Western Front, Laurence Bartram has become something of a recluse. Yet death and the aftermath of the conflict continue to cast a pall over peacetime England, and when a young woman he once knew persuades him to look into events that apparently led her brother, John Emmett, to kill himself, Laurence is forced to revisit the darkest parts of the war. As Laurence unravels the connections between Captain Emmett's suicide, a group of war poets, a bitter regimental feud and a hidden love affair, more disquieting deaths are exposed. Even at the moment Laurence begins to live again, it dawns on him that nothing is as it seems, and that even those closest to him have their secrets . . .

2011 - The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

The End of Everything

A close-knit street, the clink of glass on glass, summer heat. Two girls on the brink of adolescence, throwing cartwheels on the grass. Two girls who tell each other everything. Until one shimmering afternoon, one of them disappears. Lizzie is left with her dread and her loss, and with a fear that won't let her be. Had Evie tried to give her a hint of what was coming, a clue that she failed to follow? Caught between her imaginary guilt, her sense of betrayal, her own powerful need, and the needs of the adults around her, Lizzie's voice is as unforgettable as her story is arresting. This is no ordinary tale of innocence lost . . . 'A gripping and disturbing novel, a fever dream of adolescent desire and adult complicity' Tom Perrotta 'Deft, enthralling and intelligent' Kate Atkinson

2011 - Next of Kin (Scott Finn 5) by David Hosp

Next of Kin (Scott Finn 5)

When Boston attorney Scott Finn agrees to defend the son of notorious mobster Eamonn McDougal, he knows he's putting his reputation on the line. But he also knows he can use him as bait to reel in the prize catch. In a city where mob crime once ruled, a core of corruption, greed, lies and deceit still lingers. And it seems there are those in power who will stop at nothing to achieve what they want. Finn, who grew up an orphan on the meanest streets in the city, is determined to solve the murder of the mother he never knew. In his search for the truth he uncovers a sinister trail of murder, betrayal and revenge borne by someone who could neither forgive nor forget. But who can be trusted, and who can be believed? And can Finn find the answers before it's too late? Praise for David Hosp 'Hosp hits the trifecta brilliant, brawny, and totally believable' David Baldacci

2011 - Everything and Nothing by Araminta Hall

Everything and Nothing

There's no such thing as a safe house in this gripping psychological suspense novel exploring the darkness behind daily family life, and those we let into our homes Cupboards were sticky from spilled jam and honey, and the oven smoked when you turned it on because of the fat that had built up over the years. Agatha would never, ever let her future home end up like this. She would never leave it every day like Ruth did. She would never put her trust in strangers. Ruth and Christian are?just?holding their marriage together, after Christian's disastrous affair a year ago. But chaos beckons, and when the family are suddenly left without any childcare, Agatha comes into their lives to solve all their problems. But Agatha is not as perfect as she seems and her love for the children masks a deeper secret. This is a stunningly assured debut, superbly evoking an atmosphere of inexorable and sinister menace that builds to a mesmerizing climax in a story that is, at its heart, about thwarted and damaged love.

2011 - Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch

Jamrach's Menagerie

Young Jaffy Brown never expects to escape the slums of Victorian London. Then, aged eight, a chance encounter with Mr Jamrach changes Jaffy's stars. And before he knows it, he finds himself at the docks waving goodbye to his beloved Ishbel and boarding a ship bound for the Indian Ocean. With his friend Tim at his side, Jaffy's journey will push faith, love and friendship to their utmost limits.

2011 - Dark Matter: A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver

Dark Matter: A Ghost Story

January 1937. Clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he's offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway: five men and eight huskies, crossing the Barents Sea by the light of the midnight sun. At last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year. Gruhuken. But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. He faces a stark choice. Stay or go. Soon he will see the last of the sun, as the polar night engulfs the camp in months of darkness. Soon he will reach the point of no return - when the sea will freeze, making escape impossible. And Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark...

2011 - Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Left Neglected

One typical morning, Sarah Nickerson, a woman in her mid-thirties, is late for work, racing in her car after dropping her kids off at school and daycare. She tries to phone in to a meeting she should already be at when she takes her eye off the road for a second too long. In that blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over-scheduled life come to a screeching halt. Sarah suffers a traumatic head injury. Her memory and intellect are intact, but she has lost all interest in, and the ability to perceive, information coming from the left side of space. The left side of her world has gone. Sarah only eats the food from the right side of her plate. She can't see her watch, or her engagement diamond or her wedding ring. She tries to use a wheel chair but can only spin in circles as her left arm dangles by her side.

2011 - The Blackhouse: Book One of the Lewis Trilogy by Peter May

The Blackhouse: Book One of the Lewis Trilogy

A MURDER: A brutal killing has taken place on Scotland's most remote island. Detective Fin MacLeod is sent from Edinburgh to investigate. For Lewis-born MacLeod, the case represents a journey both home and into his past. A SECRET: Something lurks beneath the close-knit, God-fearing façade of the Lewis community. Something primal. As Fin investigates, old secrets are unearthed, and soon he, the hunter, becomes the hunted. The Blackhouse is a crime novel of rare power and vision. Peter May has crafted a page-turning murder mystery that explores the darkness in our soul, and just how difficult it is to escape the past.

2011 - The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

On the eve of her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice. All at once her cheerful, can-do mother tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes perilous. Anything can be revealed at any meal. Rose's gift forces her to confront the truth behind her family's emotions u her mother's sadness, her father's detachment and her brother's clash with the world. But as Rose grows up, she learns that there are some secrets even her taste buds cannot discern. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is about the pain of loving those whom you know too much about, and the secrets that exist within every family. At once profound, funny, wise and sad, this is a novel to savour.

2010 - Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre

Operation Mincemeat

One April morning in 1943, a sardine fisherman spotted the corpse of a British soldier floating in the sea off the coast of Spain and set in train a course of events that would change the course of the Second World War. Operation Mincemeat was the most successful wartime deception ever attempted, and certainly the strangest. It hoodwinked the Nazi espionage chiefs, sent German troops hurtling in the wrong direction, and saved thousands of lives by deploying a secret agent who was different, in one crucial respect, from any spy before or since: he was dead. His mission: to convince the Germans that instead of attacking Sicily, the Allied armies planned to invade Greece. The brainchild of an eccentric RAF officer and a brilliant Jewish barrister, the great hoax involved an extraordinary cast of characters including a famous forensic pathologist, a gold-prospector, an inventor, a beautiful secret service secretary, a submarine captain, three novelists, a transvestite English spymaster, an irascible admiral who loved fly-fishing, and a dead Welsh tramp. Using fraud, imagination and seduction, Churchill's team of spies spun a web of deceit so elaborate and so convincing that they began to believe it themselves. The deception started in a windowless basement beneath Whitehall. It travelled from London to Scotland to Spain to Germany. And it ended up on Hitler's desk. Ben Macintyre, bestselling author of "Agent Zigzag", weaves together private documents, photographs, memories, letters and diaries, as well as newly released material from the intelligence files of MI5 and Naval Intelligence, to tell for the first time the full story of Operation Mincemeat.

2010 - A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore

A Place of Secrets

The night before it all begins, Jude has the dream again . . . Can dreams be passed down through families? As a child Jude suffered a recurrent nightmare: running through a dark forest, crying for her mother. Now her six-year-old niece, Summer, is having the same dream, and Jude is frightened for her. A successful auctioneer, Jude is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. When she's asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham, a lonely 18th century astronomer, she leaps at the chance to escape London for the untamed beauty of Norfolk, where she grew up. As Jude untangles Wickham's tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present. What have Summer's nightmares to do with Starbrough folly, the eerie crumbling tower in the forest from which Wickham and his adopted daughter Esther once viewed the night sky? With the help of Euan, a local naturalist, Jude searches for answers in the wild, haunting splendour of the Norfolk woods. Dare she leave behind the sadness in her own life, and learn to love again?

2010 - The Wilding by Maria McCann

The Wilding

In her second novel Maria McCann returns to 17th Century England, where life is struggling to return to normal after the horrific tumult of the Civil War. In the village of Spadboro Jonathan Dymond, a 26-year old cider-maker who lives with his parents, has until now enjoyed a quiet, harmonious existence. As the novel opens, a letter arrives from his uncle with a desperate request to speak with his father. When his father returns from the visit the next day, all he can say is that Jonathan's uncle has died. Then Jonathan finds a fragment of the letter in the family orchard, with talk of inheritance and vengeance. He resolves to unravel the mystery at the heart of his family - a mystery which will eventually threaten the lives and happiness of Jonathan and all those he holds dear.

2010 - Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk

Waiting for Columbus

He appears out of the sea, washed up naked, in the treacherous Straits of Gibraltar. Seemingly delirious, and claiming to be Christopher Columbus, he is taken to an insane asylum in Seville, where astonishingly he starts to reveal the true story of how he set sail on behalf of the Spanish queen five hundred years ago. Consuela, a nurse at the Institute, is charged with helping him back to reality. She listens to his fantastic tales in the hope of discovering the truth. But as his story unfolds, she finds herself falling for her patient no longer able to tell where truth ends and fantasy begins. Meanwhile, across the continent, Emile Germain is involved in a different search. He's an Interpol officer on the hunt for a missing person, presumed dangerous. He's a determined man, and when his investigation leads to Spain these two stories collide. Part romance, part mysterious thriller, this is a rich and emotional novel about love, loss, and the fragile beauty of our own life stories.

2010 - The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha

The Crying Tree

Irene Stanley thought her world had come to an end when her teenage son, Shep, is murdered. Daniel Robbin, who had spent his teenage years in and out of trouble, gave himself up to the police and was given the state's harshest sentence: death by lethal injection. Now, nineteen years later, as the state penitentiary prepares to execute Robbin, Irene Stanley must reveal what she has been hiding from her family. That in order to survive the anger and grief she had at loosing her so, she not only had forgiven the man who killed him, but had come to be his friend. Her revelation stuns her family and cracks open the secrets that had been surrounding her son's death. Secrets that reveal how little she understood Shep, her husband, or herself. Dramatic, emotional, and ultimately uplifting, The Crying Tree is an unforgettable story of love and redemption, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the transformative power of forgiveness.

2010 - The Snowman: A Harry Hole thriller by Jo Nesbo

The Snowman: A Harry Hole thriller

The night the first snow falls a young boy wakes to find his mother gone. He walks through the silent house, but finds only wet footprints on the stairs. In the garden looms a solitary figure: a snowman bathed in cold moonlight, its black eyes glaring up at the bedroom windows. Round its neck is his mother's pink scarf.

2010 - No and Me by Delphine de Vigan

No and Me

Lou Bertignac has an IQ of 160 and a good friend in class rebel Lucas. At home her father puts a brave face on things but cries in secret in the bathroom, while her mother rarely speaks and hardly ever leaves the house. To escape this desolate world, Lou goes often to Gare d'Austerlitz to see the big emotions in the smiles and tears of arrival and departure. But there she also sees the homeless, meets a girl called No, only a few years older than herself, and decides to make homelessness the topic of her class presentation. Bit by bit, Lou and No become friends until, the project over, No disappears. Heartbroken, Lou asks her parents the unaskable question and her parents say: Yes, No can come to live with them. So Lou goes down into the underworld of Paris's street people to bring her friend up to the light of a home and family life, she thinks.

2010 - Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Sister

Nothing can break the bond between sisters ...When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister's disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister's life - and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face.The police, Beatrice's fiance and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

2009 - The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

The Cellist of Sarajevo

Snipers in the hills overlook the shattered streets of Sarajevo. Knowing that the next bullet could strike at any moment, the ordinary men and women below strive to go about their daily lives as best they can. Kenan faces the agonizing dilemma of crossing the city to get water for his family.

2009 - December by Elizabeth H. Winthrop

December

Eleven-year-old Isabelle hasn't spoken in nine months, and as December begins the situation is getting desperate. Her mother has stopped work to devote herself to her daughter's care. Four psychiatrists have already given up on her, and her school will not take her back in the New Year. Her parents are frantically trying to understand what has happened so they can help their child, but they cannot escape the thought of darker possibilities. What if Isabelle is damaged beyond their reach? Will she never speak again? Is it their fault? As they spiral around Isabelle's impenetrable silence, she herself emerges as a bright young girl in need of help yet too terrified to ask for it. By the talented young author of FIREWORKS, this is a compelling, ultimately uplifting novel about a family in crisis, showing the delicate web that connects a husband and wife, parents and children, and how easily it can tear.

2009 - The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin

The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite

As the clock chimed the turn of the twentieth century, Lilly Nelly Aphrodite took her first breath. Born to a cabaret dancer and soon orphaned in a scandalous double murder, Lilly finds refuge at a Catholic orphanage, coming under the wing of the, at times, severe Sister August, the first in a string of lost loves. There she meets Hanne Schmidt, a teen prostitute, and forms a bond that will last them through tumultuous love affairs, disastrous marriages, and destitution during the First World War and the subsequent economic collapse. As the century progresses, Lilly and Hanne move from the tawdry glamour of the tingle-tangle nightclubs to the shadow world of health films before Lilly finds success and stardom in the new medium of motion pictures and ultimately falls in love with a man whose fate could cost her everything she has worked for or help her discover her true self. Gripping and darkly seductive, The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite showcases all the glitter and splendour of the brief heyday of the Weimar Republic, and the rise of Hollywood to its golden age. As it foreshadows the horrors of the Second World War, the novel asks what price is paid when identity becomes unfixed and the social order is upended.

2009 - Netherland by Joseph O'Neill

Netherland

In early 2006, Chuck Ramkissoon is found dead at the bottom of a New York canal.In London, a Dutch banker named Hans van den Broek hears the news, and remembers his unlikely friendship with Chuck and the off-kilter New York in which it flourished: the New York of 9/11, the powercut and the Iraq war. Those years were difficult for Hans ' his English wife Rachel left with their son after the attack, as if that event revealed the cracks and silences in their marriage, and he spent two strange years in New York's Chelsea Hotel, passing stranger evenings with the eccentric residents.Lost in a country he'd regarded as his new home, Hans sought comfort in a most alien place ' the thriving but almost invisible world of New York cricket, in which immigrants from Asia and the West Indies play a beautiful, mystifying game on the city's most marginal parks. It was during these games that Hans befriends Chuck Ramkissoon, who dreamed of establishing the city's first proper cricket field. Over the course of a summer, Hans grew to share Chuck's dream and Chuck's sense of American possibility ' until he began to glimpse the darker meaning of his new friend's activities and ambitions.'Netherland' is a novel of belonging and not belonging, and the uneasy state in between. It is a novel of a marriage foundering and recuperating, and of the shallows and depths of male friendship. With it, Joseph O'Neill has taken the anxieties and uncertainties of our new century and fashioned a work of extraordinary beauty and brilliance.

2009 - The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The woman who scandalised 1920s Society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress by Frances Osborne

The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The woman who scandalised 1920s Society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress

On Friday 25th May, 1934, a forty-one-year-old woman walked into the lobby of Claridge's Hotel to meet the nineteen-year-old son whose face she did not know. Fifteen years earlier, as the First World War ended, Idina Sackville shocked high society by leaving his multimillionaire father to run off to Africa with a near penniless man. An inspiration for Nancy Mitford's character The Bolter, painted by William Orpen, and photographed by Cecil Beaton, Sackville went on to divorce a total of five times, yet died with a picture of her first love by her bed. Her struggle to reinvent her life with each new marriage left one husband murdered and branded her the 'high priestess' of White Mischief's bed-hopping Happy Valley in Kenya. Sackville's life was so scandalous that it was kept a secret from her great-granddaughter Frances Osborne. Now, Osborne tells the moving tale of betrayal and heartbreak behind Sackville's road to scandal and return, painting a dazzling portrait of high society in the early twentieth century.

2009 - The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

The 19th Wife

Jordan returns from California to Utah to visit his mother in jail. As a teenager he was expelled from his family and religious community, a secretive Mormon offshoot sect. Now his father has been found shot dead in front of his computer, and one of his many wives - Jordan's mother - is accused of the crime.

2009 - When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

When Will There Be Good News?

In rural Devon, six-year-old Joanna Mason witnesses an appalling crime. Thirty years later the man convicted of the crime is released from prison. In Edinburgh, sixteen-year-old Reggie works as a nanny for a G.P. But Dr Hunter has gone missing and Reggie seems to be the only person who is worried. Across town, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is also looking for a missing person, unaware that hurtling towards her is an old friend -- Jackson Brodie -- himself on a journey that becomes fatally interrupted.

2009 - The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The Gargoyle

A young man is fighting for his life. Into his room walks a bewitching woman who believes she can save him. Their journey will have you believing in the impossible. A Richard and Judy Best Read 2009 pick.

2009 - The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: or the Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: or the Murder at Road Hill House

It is midnight on 30th June 1860 and all is quiet in the Kent family's elegant house in Road, Wiltshire. The next morning, however, they wake to find that their youngest son has been the victim of an unimaginably gruesome murder. Even worse, the guilty party is surely one of their number - the house was bolted from the inside. As Jack Whicher, the most celebrated detective of his day, arrives at Road to track down the killer, the murder provokes national hysteria at the thought of what might be festering behind the closed doors of respectable middle-class homes - scheming servants, rebellious children, insanity, jealousy, loneliness and loathing. This true story has all the hallmarks of a classic gripping murder mystery. A body, a detective, a country house steeped in secrets and a whole family of suspects - it is the original Victorian whodunnit.

2009 - The Brutal Art by Jesse Kellerman

The Brutal Art

Ethan Muller is struggling to establish his reputation as a dealer in the cut-throat world of contemporary art when he is alerted to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: in a decaying New York slum, an elderly tenant has disappeared, leaving behind a staggeringly large trove of original drawings and paintings. Nobody can tell Ethan much about the old man, except that he came and went in solitude for nearly forty years, his genius hidden and unacknowledged. Despite the fact that, strictly speaking, the artwork doesn't belong to him, Ethan takes the challenge and makes a name for the old man - and himself. Soon Ethan has to congratulate himself on his own genius: for storytelling and salesmanship. But suddenly the police are interested in talking to him. It seems that the missing artist had a nasty past, and the drawings hanging in the Muller Gallery have begun to look a lot less like art and a lot more like evidence. Sucked into an investigation four decades cold, Ethan will uncover a secret legacy of shame and death, one that will touch horrifyingly close to home - and leave him fearing for his own life.

2008 - A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.

2008 - The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

The Welsh Girl

In 1944, a German Jewish refugee is sent to Wales to interview Rudolf Hess; in Snowdonia, a seventeen-year-old girl, the daughter of a fiercely nationalistic shepherd, dreams of the bright lights of an English city; and in a nearby POW camp, a German soldier struggles to reconcile his surrender with his sense of honour. As their lives intersect, all three will come to question where they belong and where their loyalties lie. Peter Ho Davies's thought-provoking and profoundly moving first novel traces a perilous wartime romance as it explores the bonds of love and duty that hold us to family, country, and ultimately our fellow man. Vividly rooted in history and landscape, THE WELSH GIRL reminds us anew of the pervasive presence of the past, and the startling intimacy of the foreign.

2008 - Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart by Tim Butcher

Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart

A compulsively readable account of a journey to the Congo — a country virtually inaccessible to the outside world — vividly told by a daring and adventurous journalist. Ever since Stanley first charted its mighty river in the 1870s, the Congo has epitomized the dark and turbulent history of a failed continent. However, its troubles only served to increase the interest of Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Butcher, who was sent to cover Africa in 2000. Before long he became obsessed with the idea of recreating Stanley’s original expedition — but travelling alone. Despite warnings Butcher spent years poring over colonial-era maps and wooing rebel leaders before making his will and venturing to the Congo’s eastern border. He passed through once thriving cities of this country and saw the marks left behind by years of abuse and misrule. Almost, 2,500 harrowing miles later, he reached the Atlantic Ocean, a thinner and a wiser man. Butcher’s journey was a remarkable feat. But the story of the Congo, vividly told in Blood River, is more remarkable still. From the Hardcover edition.

2008 - Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

Mister Pip

'You cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames.' Bougainville. 1991. A small village on a lush tropical island in the South Pacific. Eighty-six days have passed since Matilda's last day of school as, quietly, war is encroaching from the other end of the island. When the villagers' safe, predictable lives come to a halt, Bougainville's children are surprised to find the island's only white man, a recluse, re-opening the school. Pop Eye, aka Mr Watts, explains he will introduce the children to Mr Dickens. Matilda and the others think a foreigner is coming to the island and prepare a list of much needed items. They are shocked to discover their acquaintance with Mr Dickens will be through Mr Watts' inspiring reading of Great Expectations. But on an island at war, the power of fiction has dangerous consequences. Imagination and beliefs are challenged by guns. Mister Pip is an unforgettable tale of survival by story; a dazzling piece of writing that lives long in the mind after the last page is finished.

2008 - The Visible World by Mark Slouka

The Visible World

'My mother knew a man during the war. Theirs was a love story, and like any good love story, it left blood on the floor and wreckage in its wake'. As a boy growing up in New York, his parents' memories of their Czech homeland seem to belong to another world, as distant and unreal as the fairy tales his father tells him. It is only as an adult, when he makes his own journey to Prague, that he is finally able to piece together the truth of his parents' past: what they did, who his mother loved, and why they were never able to forget.

2008 - Then We Came to the End: A Novel by Joshua Ferris

Then We Came to the End: A Novel

They spend their days - and too many of their nights - at work. There's Chris Yop, clinging to his ergonomic chair; Lynn Mason, the boss, whose breast cancer everyone pretends not to talk about; Carl Garbedian, secretly taking someone else's medication; Marcia Dwyer, whose hair is stuck in the eighties; and Benny, who's just - well, just Benny.

2008 - Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale

Notes from an Exhibition

The new novel from the bestselling Patrick Gale. Renowned Canadian artist Rachel Kelly a? now of Penzance a? has buried her past and married a gentle and loving Cornish man. Her life has been a sacrifice to both her extraordinary art and her debilitating manic depression. When troubled artist Rachel Kelly dies painting obsessively in her attic studio in Penzance, her saintly husband and adult children have more than the usual mess to clear up. She leaves behind an extraordinary and acclaimed body of work a? but she also leaves a legacy of secrets and emotional damage it will take months to unravel. A wondrous, monstrous creature, she exerts a power that outlives her. To her children she is both curse and blessing, though they all in one way or another reap her whirlwind, inheriting her waywardness, her power of loving a? and her demonsa?|Only their father's Quaker gifts of stillness and resilience give them any chance of withstanding her destructive influence and the suspicion that they came a poor second to the creation of her art. The reader becomes a detective, piecing together the clues of a life a? as artist, lover, mother, wife and patient a? which takes them from contemporary Penzance to 1960s Toronto to St Ives in the 1970s. What emerges is a story of enduring love, and of a family which weathers tragedy, mental illness and the intolerable strain of living with genius. Patrick Gale's latest novel shines with intelligence, humour and tenderness.

2008 - A Quiet Belief In Angels by R.J. Ellory

A Quiet Belief In Angels

Joseph Vaughan's life has been dogged by tragedy. Growing up in the 1950s, he was at the centre of series of killings of young girls in his small rural community. The girls were taken, assaulted and left horribly mutilated. Barely a teenager himself, Joseph becomes determined to try to protect his community and classmates from the predations of the killer. But despite banding together with his friends as 'Guardians', he was powerless to prevent more murders - and no one was ever caught. Only after a full ten years did the nightmare end when the one of his neighbours is found hanging from a rope - with articles from the dead girls around him. Thankfully though, the killings finally ceased. Ill-fortune was not yet done with Joseph though and in desperation he leaves the town of his birth to forge a new life in New York. But the past won't leave him alone - for it seems that the real murderer still lives and is killing again. And the secret of his identity lies in Joseph's own history

2008 - The Rose Of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon

The Rose Of Sebastopol

Russia, 1854: the Crimean War grinds on, and as the bitter winter draws near, the battlefield hospitals fill with dying men. In defiance of Florence Nightingale, Rosa Barr - young, headstrong and beautiful - travels to Balaklava, determined to save as many of the wounded as she can. For Mariella Lingwood, Rosa's cousin, the war is contained within the pages of her scrapbook, in her London sewing circle, and in the letters she receives from Henry, her fiance, a celebrated surgeon who has also volunteered to work within the shadow of the guns. When Henry falls ill and is sent to recuperate in Italy, Mariella impulsively decides she must go to him. But upon their arrival at his lodgings, she and her maid make a heartbreaking discovery: Rosa has disappeared. Following the trail of her elusive and captivating cousin, Mariella's epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian London to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea and the tragic city of Sebastopol, where she encounters Rosa's dashing stepbrother, a reckless cavalry officer whose complex past - and future - is inextricably bound up with her own. As her quest leads her deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, Mariella's ordered world begins to crumble and she finds she has much to learn about secrecy, faithfulness and love. But, in the thick of a war fought on more fronts than one, she also discovers a strength and passion she never knew she possessed.

2008 - Random Acts Of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann

Random Acts Of Heroic Love

B1992:/B Leo Deakin wakes up in a hospital somewhere in South America, his girlfriend Eleni is dead and Leo doesn't know where he is or how Eleni died. He blames himself for the tragedy and is sucked into a spiral of despair. But Leo is about to discover something which will change his life forever. B1917:/B Moritz Daniecki is a fugitive from a Siberian POW camp. Seven thousand kilometres over the Russian Steppes separate him from his village and his sweetheart, whose memory has kept him alive through carnage and captivity. The Great War may be over, but Moritz now faces a perilous journey across a continent riven by civil war. When Moritz finally limps back into his village to claim the hand of the woman he left behind, will she still be waiting? BDanny Scheinmann/B paints a dramatic portrait of two men sustaining their lives through the memory of love. Cinematic and brimming with raw emotions, it is the magnificent and emotive debut from a remarkable new writer.

2007 - Love In The Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Love In The Present Tense

Mitch is a 25-year-old with commitment issues. Leonard is a five-year-old kid with asthma and vision problems, who captivates everyone he meets. Pearl is Leonard's teenage mother, who's trying to hide a violent secret from her past. Life has given Pearl every reason to mistrust people, but circumstances force her to trust her neighbour, Mitch.

2007 - The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

The Interpretation of Murder

A dazzling literary thriller - the story of Sigmund Freud assisting a Manhattan murder investigation. Think SHADOW OF THE WIND meets THE HISTORIAN. THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER is an inventive tour de force inspired by Sigmund Freud's 1909 visit to America, accompanied by protAtilde;copy;gAtilde;copy; and rival Carl Jung. When a wealthy young debutante is discovered bound, whipped and strangled in a luxurious apartment overlooking the city, and another society beauty narrowly escapes the same fate, the mayor of New York calls upon Freud to use his revolutionary new ideas to help the surviving victim recover her memory of the attack, and solve the crime. But nothing about the attacks - or about the surviving victim, Nora - is quite as it seems. And there are those in very high places determined to stop the truth coming out, and Freud's startling theories taking root on American soil.

2007 - Semi-Detached by Griff Rhys Jones

Semi-Detached

Semi-detached Griff relives freezing bus journeys to school and the impulsive stealing of that half-a-crown from Charlie Hume's money box; sitting outside Butlins at Clacton (longing to be inside and on the Waltzer instead of stranded on the pebbles with his dad); hazy summer afternoons spent with feral gangs in the woods, or storming the mud flats singing extracts from the Bonzo Dog Dooh Dah Band. The memories are like Mivvis, frozen and fuzzy at the edges, but a sweet jam of pure recollected goo at the centre. From birth to the BBC, this is a story of a confident middle child. Griff's devoted parents Gwynneth and Elwyn gave him love, security and plenty of asparagus soup from a fake wicker vacuum flask with a plastic top. Griff's father Elwyn, a retiring hospital doctor with a penchant for sweeties and ice-cream, loathed the tedium of English social ritual and hid behind his family and woodwork. From tree houses to boats, puppets to tables, he sawed and hammered his way into his family's affections. Griff left the bosom of his loving, irascible, eccentric, solid, all engulfing family for the firm embrace of real life; via the Upminster Fun Gang, the Direct Grant System and Party Sevens, losing his virginity down the back of a bunk in a twenty nine foot yacht, discovering the romantic advantages of shared babysitting engagements and the drawbacks of infatuation with identical twins. If he hadn't moved around so much as a child, would Griff have felt less like a voyeur, looking in on the lighted window across the square, the Georgian house glowing in the sun, the clink of glasses and the bray of public school certainties? Would he be able to tuck in his own shirt? Would he be fully detached? A laugh-aloud buffet of baby boomer Britain, Griff's self-deprecating, elegant, affectionate prose reveals a little bit better how on earth you got from there to here.

2007 - The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson

The Testament of Gideon Mack

A Scottish minister who doesn't believe in God meets the devil in this beguiling American debut.

2007 - The Girls by Lori Lansens

The Girls

'I have never looked into my sister's eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to a beguiling moon. I've never used an aeroplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that... So many things I've never done, but oh, how I've been loved. And, if such things were to be, I'd live a thousand times as me, to be loved so exponentially 'In twenty-nine years, Rose Darlen has never spent a moment apart from her twin sister, Ruby. She has never gone for a solitary walk or had a private conversation.Yet, in all that time, she has never once looked into Ruby's eyes. Joined at the head, 'The Girls' (as they are known in their small town) attempt to lead a normal life, but can't help being extraordinary. Now almost thirty, Rose and Ruby are on the verge of becoming the oldest living craniopagus twins in history, but they are remarkable for a lot more than their unusual sisterly bond.

2007 - This Book Will Save Your Life by A. M. Homes

This Book Will Save Your Life

Short listed for the Richard & Judy Book Club 2007. An uplifting story set in Los Angeles about one man's effort to bring himself back to life. Richard is a modern day everyman; a middle-aged divorcee trading stocks out of his home. He has done such a good job getting his life under control that he needs no one. His life has slowed almost to a standstill, until two incidents conspire to hurl him back into the world. One day he wakes up with a knotty cramp in his back, which rapidly develops into an all-consuming pain. At the same time a wide sinkhole appears outside his living room window, threatening the foundations of his house. A vivid novel about compassion and transformation, "This Book Will Save Your Life" reveals what can happen if you are willing to open up to the world around you. Since her debut in 1989, A.M. Homes has been among the boldest and most original voices of her generation, acclaimed for the psychological accuracy and unnerving emotional intensity of her storytelling. Her keen ability to explore how extraordinary the ordinary can be is at the heart of her touching and funny new novel, her first in six years.

2007 - Restless by William Boyd

Restless

In this absorbing historical thriller . . . Sally Gilmartin, born Eva Delectorskaya, a Russian emigree recruited into the British Secret Service in 1939, reveals her clandestine past in an autobiography that she gives to her daughter, Ruth, a graduate student and single mother living a dull civilian life in Oxford in 1976.--"The New Yorker."

2007 - Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half of a Yellow Sun

In 1960s Nigeria, a country blighted by civil war, three lives intersect. Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s masterpiece, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, is a novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race – and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.

2006 - Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith

Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth

A powerful, moving and gripping book about the lives of the men who walked on the moon, re-issued to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the first landing.

2006 - The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

Rice, daughter of the famed lyricist Tim Rice, has written a captivating and wonderfully stylized novel about a group of friends in postwar London's glamorous and daring young society.

2006 - Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

Labyrinth

In July 1209 in Carcassonne a young girl, Alais, is given a book said to contain the secret of the true Grail. Alais knows that her destiny lies in protecting the secret of the layrinth, even though she cannot understand the strange symbols hidden within the book......In July 2005 Alice Tanner stumbles upon two skeletons during an archaeological dig outside Carcassonne. When Alice steps into the tomb a terrifying sequence of events are set in motion, and these events lead her to realise her destiny is inextricable tied up with the fate of the Cathars 800 years before.

2006 - Empress Orchid by Anchee Min

Empress Orchid

To rescue her family from poverty and avoid marrying her slope-shouldered cousin, seventeen-year-old Orchid competes to be one of the Emperor's wives. When she is chosen as a lower-ranking concubine she enters the erotically charged and ritualised Forbidden City. But beneath its immaculate facade lie whispers of murders and ghosts, and the thousands of concubines will stoop to any lengths to bear the Emperor's son. Orchid trains herself in the art of pleasuring a man, bribes her way into the royal bed, and seduces the monarch, drawing the attention of dangerous foes. Little does she know that China will collapse around her, and that she will be its last Empress.

2006 - The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The History of Love

Leo Gursky is a man who fell in love at the age of ten and has been in love ever since. These days he is just about surviving life in America, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbour know he's still alive, drawing attention to himself at the milk counter of Starbucks. But life wasn't always like this: sixty years ago in the Polish village where he was born Leo fell in love with a young girl called Alma and wrote a book in honour of his love. These days he assumes that the book, and his dreams, are irretrievably lost, until one day they return to him in the form of a brown envelope. Meanwhile, a young girl, hoping to find a cure for her mother's loneliness, stumbles across a book that changed her mother's life and she goes in search of the author. Soon these and other worlds collide in The History of Love, a captivating audio exploring the power of love, of loneliness and of survival.

2006 - The Conjurer's Bird by Martin Davies

The Conjurer's Bird

Searching for the remains of an extinct bird that had once been in the collection of eighteenth-century naturalist Joseph Banks, Fitz, a modern-day conservationist, uncovers some of the mysteries of Banks's life, including an enigmatic woman with a strange connection to the bird. Reader's Guide included. Reprint. 15,000 first printing.

2006 - The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

The Lincoln Lawyer

Meet Mickey Haller, a cynical defense attorney whose one remaining spark of integrity may cost him his life... A Richard & Judy Book Club selection from the award-winning No.1 bestselling author.

2006 - March: A Love Story in a Time of War by Geraldine Brooks

March: A Love Story in a Time of War

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and Richard and Judy pick. From the author of the acclaimed 'Year of Wonders' and 'People of the Book', a historical novel and love story set during a time of catastrophe on the front lines of the American Civil War.

2006 - The Farm by Richard Benson

The Farm

It was like being the village idiot with O-levels. I jack-knifed trailers, got outwitted by even the dimmest animals and was dragged through a hedge backwards on a tractor ...' Richard Benson was never cut out for the family farm, but he returned from London when his dad had to sell up and found that their shared loss was part of a profound change in rural life. In the house after the sale, dad gave a heavy raspy sigh and sank against my mum. Everything seemed to freeze for a moment as the clock kept ticking ...'

2006 - Arthur & George by Julian Barnes

Arthur & George

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction Arthur and George grow up worlds apart in late nineteenth-century Britain: Arthur in shabby-genteel Edinburgh, George in the vicarage of a small Staffordshire village. Arthur is to become one of the most famous men of his age, while George remains in hard-working obscurity. But as the new century begins, they are brought together by a sequence of events that made sensational headlines at the time as The Great Wyrley Outrages. This is a novel about low crime and high spirituality, guilt and innocence, identity, nationality and race. Most of all it is a profound and moving meditation on the fateful differences between what we believe, what we know and what we can prove.

2005 - The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow Of The Wind

Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the 'cemetery of lost books', a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out 'La Sombra del Viento'by Julian Carax. But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from La Sombra del Viento, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax's work in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind. A page-turning exploration of obsession in literature and love, and the places that obsession can lead.

2005 - The American Boy by Andrew Taylor

The American Boy

Interweaving real and fictional elements, The American Boy is a major new literary historical crime novel in the tradition of An Instance of the Fingerpost and Possession. England 1819: Thomas Shield, a new master at a school just outside London, is tutor to a young American boy and the boy’s sensitive best friend, Charles Frant. Drawn to Frant’s beautiful, unhappy mother, Thomas becomes caught up in her family’s twisted intrigues. Then a brutal crime is committed, with consequences that threaten to destroy Thomas and all that he has come to hold dear. Despite his efforts, Shield is caught up in a deadly tangle of sex, money, murder and lies – a tangle that grips him tighter even as he tries to escape from it. And what of the strange American child, at the heart of these macabre events, yet mysterious – what is the secret of the boy named Edgar Allen Poe?

2005 - My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

My Sister's Keeper

'A major decision about me is being made, and no one's bothered to ask the one person who most deserves it to speak her opinion.' The only reason Anna was born was to donate her cord blood cells to her older sister. and though Anna is not sick, she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since she was a child. Anna was born for this purpose, her parents tell her, which is why they love her even more. But now that she has reached an age of physical awareness, she can't help but long for control over her own body and respite from the constant flow of her own blood seeping into her sister's veins. And so she makes a decision that for most would be too difficult to bear, at any time and at any age. She decides to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.

2005 - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife

This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare's struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

2005 - Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas

A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagans California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified dinery server on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation the narrators of CLOUD ATLAS hear each others echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small. In his extraordinary third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity's dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

2005 - Feel: Robbie Williams by Chris Heath

Feel: Robbie Williams

Tells the story of Robert P Williams, spanning his childhood through Take That to his status as rock icon, probing his love life and his family relationships. This book tells the truth about his extraordinary life.

2005 - The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

The Jane Austen Book Club

Nothing ever moves in a straight line in Fowler's fiction, and in her latest, the complex dance of modern love has never been so devious or so much fun. In this newest work, six Californians join to discuss Jane Austen's novels. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens.

2005 - The Promise of Happiness by Justin Cartwright

The Promise of Happiness

Charles Judd meanders round his local Cornish beach, contemplating the turns his life has taken. His wife Daphne struggles hopelessly with the latest fish recipe, trying to keep something in her life under control. Two of their children are keeping it all together - just.

2005 - Perdita: The Life of Mary Robinson by Paula Byrne

Perdita: The Life of Mary Robinson

Sex, fame and scandal in the theatrical, literary and social circles of late 18th-century England. One of the most flamboyant women of the late-eighteenth century, Mary Robinson’s life was marked by reversals of fortune. After being raised by a middle-class father, Mary was married, at age fourteen, to Thomas Robinson. His dissipated lifestyle landed the couple and their baby in debtors' prison, where Mary wrote her first book of poetry and met lifelong friend Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire. On her release, Mary quickly became one of the most popular actresses of the day, famously playing Perdita in ‘The Winter’s Tale’ for a rapt audience that included the Prince of Wales, who fell madly in love with her. She later used his copious love letters for blackmail. This authoritative and engaging book presents a fascinating portrait of a woman who was variously darling of the London stage, a poet whose work was admired by Coleridge and a mistress to the most powerful men in England, and yet whose fortunes were nevertheless precarious, always on the brink of being squandered through recklessness, excess and passion.

2005 - The Sixth Lamentation: 1 (The Father Anselm Novels) by William Brodrick

The Sixth Lamentation: 1 (The Father Anselm Novels)

A highly promising, extraordinarily intelligent debut thriller about war, stolen identity and the nature of betrayal.

2004 - Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

Lucia, Lucia

From the author of the 'Big Stone Gap' series, comes this story of a passionate young woman whose fateful choice changes her life forever.

2004 - Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger by Nigel Slater

Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger

"Toast" is Slater's extraordinary story of a childhood remembered through food. A bestseller and award-winner in the United Kingdom, "Toast" is sure to delight both foodies and memoir readers on this side of the pond.

2004 - The Bookseller Of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad

The Bookseller Of Kabul

For more than twenty years Sultan Khan defied the authorities to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned, and watched illiterate soldiers burn piles of his books in the street.In spring 2002 award-winning journalist Esne Seierstad spent four months living with the bookseller and his family. As she steps back from the page and lets the Khans tell their stories, we learn of proposals and marriages, hope and fear, crime and punishment. The result is a unique portrait of a family and a country.

2004 - The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer. This is Susie Salmon. Watching from heaven, Susie sees her happy, suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet . . . The Lovely Bones is a luminous and astonishing novel about life and death, forgiveness and vengeance, memory and forgetting - but, above all, about finding light in the darkest of places. 'Spare, beautiful and brutal prose . . . The Lovely Bones is compulsive enough to read in a single sitting, brilliantly intelligent, elegantly constructed and ultimately intriguing' The Times 'Moving and compelling . . . It will put an imperceptible but stealthily insistent hold on you. I sat down in the morning to read the first couple of pages; five hours later, I was still there, book in hand, transfixed' Maggie O'Farrell, Sunday Telegraph

2004 - Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor

Star of the Sea

Thrilling and full of suspense, this is a novel of Ireland set on a New York-bound ocean liner. In the spring of 1847, from an Ireland torn by disaster and injustice, the Star of the Sea sets sail for New York. On board are hundreds of hopeful emigrants, some brimming with optimism, many more desperate to get away and start afresh in the New World. Among them are a maidservant nursing a devastating secret; the bankrupt Lord Merridith and his family; an aspiring novelist; a writer of revolutionary ballads -- all braving the Atlantic in search of a new beginning. Each is connected more deeply than they can possibly know. Also stalking the decks is a killer, hungry for the vengeance that alone will bring absolution. The voyage of almost four weeks will see some lives end and others begin anew, and so much time to reflect on the life left behind; passionate loves tenderly recalled, ducked responsibilities now regretted, the shocking realization of a deep relationship where once it seemed there was nothing. In this spellbinding story of tragedy and mercy, love and healing, the further the ship sails towards the Promised Land, the more her passengers seemed moored to a past which will not let them go. This is a novel that is both urgently contemporary in its preoccupations, and historically revealing. It is a gripping and compassionate tale, building with the pace of a thriller to an unforgettable conclusion.

2004 - Starter for Ten by David Nicholls

Starter for Ten

It's 1985 and Brian Jackson has arrived at university with a burning ambition - to make it onto TV's foremost general knowledge quiz. But no sooner has he embarked on 'The Challenge' than he finds himself falling hopelessly in love with his teammate, the beautiful and charismatic would-be actress, Alice Harbinson. When Alice fails to fall for his slightly over-eager charms, Brian comes up with a foolproof plan to capture her heart once and for all. He's going to win the game, at any cost, because - after all - everyone knows that what a woman really wants from a man is a comprehensive grasp of general knowledge . . . Starter for Ten is a comedy about love, class, growing-up and the all-important difference between knowledge and wisdom. Are you up to the challenge of the funniest novel in years?

2004 - Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller

Notes on a Scandal

Zoe Heller juggles journalism and novel-writing successfully in Notes on a Scandal and manages to say something interesting and complex about moral panics and the people who get caught up in them. Pottery teacher Sheba lets herself be talked into an affair with 15-year-old pupil Connolly; part of what is admirable about this novel is that there is no real attempt to extenuate this--it's wrong and she knows this from the start, enough to lie to herself and others about it. It's an abuse of her very limited power--he is one of the few of her pupils interested in art, not interested in perpetually disrupting her lessons. Sheba is not alone in abusing power, though, and Heller forces us to confront this unpleasant truth about the moralising, managerial headmaster, the husband freed by Sheba's action to seduce his own very slightly older students, and the relatives who never liked her much and can now disown her. Above all, she devotes most of the novel to Barbara, the older colleague who becomes Sheba's confidante and slowly manipulates the situation to make Sheba entirely dependent on her. This is a brilliantly gloomy study in obsession--and the obsession in question is not actually Sheba's with her underage lover. --Roz Kaveney

2004 - White Mughals by William Dalrymple

White Mughals

William Dalrymple's White Mughals is destined to become one of the great non-fictional classics of Anglo-Indian history. Dalrymple is steeped in India, having lived there for six years, and written a series of remarkable travel books chronicling its past and present, including City of Djinns and The Age of Kali. Having already earned comparisons with great travel writers like Chatwin and Theroux, Dalrymple has now produced a meticulously researched and beautifully written historical narrative on one of the most colourful but neglected aspects of British colonial rule in India. Set in and around Hyderabad at the beginning of the nineteenth century, White Mughals tells the story of the improbably romantic love affair and marriage between James Achilles Kirkpatrick, a rising star in the East India Company, and Khair-un-Nisa, a Hyderabadi princess. Pursuing Kirkpatrick's passionate affair through the archives across the continents, Dalrymple unveils a fascinating story of intrigue and love that breaches the conventional boundaries of empire. As Kirkpatrick gradually goes native (adopting local clothes and enduring circumcision) he becomes a secret agent working for his wife's royal family against the English, as he tries to balance the interests of both cultures. However, White Mughals is by no means just an exotic love story. It is a vehicle for Dalrymple's understanding of the complex legacy of the English Empire in India, that he defines more in terms of exchange and negotiation than dominance and subjugation. It is a powerful and moving plea by Dalrymple to understand the cultural intermingling and hybridity that defines both eastern and western cultures, and a convincing rejection of religious intolerance and ethnic essentialism. Elegantly written and at a pace that belies its length, White Mughals confirms Dalrymple's status as one of the most important non-fiction writers of his time. -–Jerry Brotton

2004 - The Know by Martina Cole

The Know

Joanie Brewer' s children meant the world to her. She'd do anything to protect them, even resorting to prostitution and petty crime in order to feed and clothe them. So when her beautiful teenage daughter is raped and murdered, only one thing will stop Joanie's pain - seeing her daughter's killer brought to justice. Joanie knows who he is and she'll do whatever it takes to nail him...

2004 - Brick Lane by Monica Ali

Brick Lane

Set in Tower Hamlets, London, this contemporary novel of the life of an immigrant girl from Bangladesh draws you into a highly affecting world of love, fate and cultural conflict. It is the debut of a writer of huge talent.Still in her teenage years, Nazneen finds herself in an arranged marriage with a disappointed man who is twenty years older than her. Away from the mud and heat of her Bangladeshi village, home is now a cramped flat in a high rise block in London's East End. Nazneen knows not a word of English, and is forced to depend on her husband. But unlike him she is practical and wise, and befriends a fellow Asian girl Razia, who helps her understand the strange ways of her adopted new British home. Nazneen keeps in touch with her sister Hasina back in the village. But the rebellious Hasina has kicked against cultural tradition and run off in a 'love marriage' with the man of her dreams. When he suddenly turns violent, she is forced into the degrading job of a garment girl in a cloth factory. Confined in her flat by tradition and family duty, Nazneen also sews furiously for a living, shut away with her buttons and linings until the radical Karim steps unexpectedly into her life. On a background of racial conflict and tension, they embark on a love affair that forces Nazneen finally to take control of her fate.Strikingly imagined, gracious and funny, this novel is at once epic and intimate. Exploring the role of Fate in our lives, those who accept it and those who defy it, it traces the extraordinary transformation of an Asian girl, from cautious and shy to bold and dignified woman.An immensely resonant drama from a brave and fierce new literary talent , a writer who is set to become a significant new name for years to come.