A Good Read

Things In Jars by Jess Kidd
Roll up, roll up, suspend belief, prepare to be entertained. Things In Jars reads like an old fashioned circus.
The story starts in London in 1863, Bridie Devine is a private detective. She wears a dagger strapped to her thigh, smokes a pipe, often enlivened with substances other than pure tobacco, and she solves murders by reading corpses and talking to a ghost. Continue reading
The Uncommon Reader by the wonderful treasure that is Alan Bennett
 
An absolutely charming, witty, (and a little cheeky) novella celebrating the pleasure of reading. Our protagonist is none other than HRH Queen Elizabeth.
One day whilst Her Majesty is walking with her corgis in the grounds of Buckingham Palace the dogs wander off. In pursuit of them she sees the Westminster travelling library parked just outside the Palace gates, and feels duty bound to borrow a book. Continue reading

 
Three things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon 
"There are three things you should know about Elsie,” said Florence.
The first thing is that she’s my best friend. The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better, and the third thing….. might take a little bit more explaining”. Continue reading
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh 
In a split second Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Desperate to escape, she moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but her hopes of moving on and starting afresh are haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of that cruel November night. Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness, but her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating.
The Ice Child by Camilla Läckberg
 
January in the peaceful seaside resort of Fjällbacka. A semi-naked girl wanders through the woods in freezing cold weather. She stumbles into the road straight into the path of an oncoming car. The driver is unable to brake in time and the girl is killed. The post mortem reveals she has been subjected to unimaginably brutal horrific torture, and subsequent investigations reveal she went missing four months agoContinue reading
After Anna by Alex Lake
Five year old Anna disappears from outside her school, she has vanished, no one saw anything, the police are at a loss, her parents are beyond grief - their daughter is lost, perhaps dead, perhaps enslaved. One week after she was abducted, Anna returns home. She has no memory of where she has been,  and this, for her mother, is just the beginning of the nightmare. Continue reading
End of Watch by Stephen King
 the last of the Bill Hodges trilogy.
Bill Hodges is still running Finders Keepers agency with partner Holly Gibney. One day his old cop partner and friend Pete Huntley asks him to take a look at a crime scene knowing that Bill and Holly often have a ‘nose’ for something that isn’t immediately obvious. Hodges is intrigued by the letter Z written with a marker at the scene. Continue reading.

The Muse by Jessie Burton
 is two interlocking stories about two women: Odelle in 1960’s London and Olive in 1930’s Spain.
The novel starts on a hot July day in 1967. Since arriving in London from Trinidad five years earlier Odelle Bastien has struggled to find her place in the city. Now she is excited to be entering the renowned Skelton art gallery to start work as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic part owner Marjorie Quick. One day a young man walks into the gallery with a painting under his arm. Quick is sure she recognises it but says nothing. The owner of the gallery is excited by the painting, thinking it could be a lost masterpiece by Spanish painter Isaac Robles, who died under mysterious circumstances.  Continue reading

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
For animal lovers this is a real tearjerker. It’s a story about love, a deep and beautiful love for that special someone you trust and can’t live without. For Ted that special someone is Lily, an ageing dachshund. Ted is a lonely, middle-aged gay man who loves no one as much as he loves Lily. Lily ‘talks’, they have conversions. After ten wonderful years together Ted notices a lump on Lily’s head, which he calls the octopus (because it resembles said mollusc), an octopus that no dog or person should have. Continue reading

Daughters In Law by Joanne Trollope
Rachel and Anthony Brinkley live an idyllic life. Anthony is a well-known artist. Rachel has devoted herself to bringing up their three sons and maintaining a vibrant, creative home. Rachel loves being at the centre of her family. One by one the sons grow up, marry and have homes, and families of their own. The first two daughters-in-law can’t resist Rachel’s maternal control and Anthony’s gentle charm, and settle into their husbands’ family without rocking the boat. Everyone enjoys dinners and weekends at their country home, it's a place of happy conversations and generous hospitality, steered by Rachel. It all works very well until daughter-in-law number three joins the happy group. Continue reading

All The Light We Cannot See
 by Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laurea, a blind girl, lives with her father who is a locksmith at the Paris Museum of Natural History. Marie-Laure is raised in the museum and at home. She has a semi-idyllic childhood until, aged 12 the Nazi's invade Paris and she and her father flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea.
Unknown to Marie-Laure, her father is smuggling what is probably the world's most priceless jewel out of the city on behalf of the museum. It's price tag is beyond monetary value, many believe it has magical powers, in that whoever possesses the stone will not die, but people around that person will succumb to misfortune. A German soldier also knows about the jewel  and will stop at nothing to find it. Continue reading

The Power by Naomi Alderman
"This is going to be good" I thought, women suddenly had power, they could right all the wrongs in the world. All the bad people, the arms dealers, drug dealers, terrorists, human trafficking, child abductions, paedophiles, rapists, all those people could be eliminated. It started well. Set in the present time women around the world have been genetically altered by pollutants and have developed a skein, an immense physical power which enables them to generate electricity, shooting lightning from their palms causing agonising pain and death. Suddenly they are the more powerful sex. Continue reading
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This is an absolutely wonderful story.
Eleanor is a lonely but self contained 30-year-old. At the age of 10 she experienced a trauma that she never received any help with so she repressed her memories and her emotions. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. I found her deadpan quirkiness and unconscious wit endearing.
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Finders Keepers by Stephen King is the second in the Bill Hodges trilogy.
The story starts in 1978 when petty criminal Morris Bellamy robs and murders acclaimed iconic author John Rothstein. Bellamy is a huge fan of Rothstein and obsessed with his most famous creation, a rebel without a cause named Jimmy Gold, but Bellamy thinks that Rothstein ruined the character in the final book of a trilogy by having him become just another suburbanite working in advertising.
After killing Rothsteim, Bellamy empties the safe of cash, but the real treasure is a stash of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.
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Exposure by Helen Dunmore
London in 1960, the Cold War is in full flow. Admiralty employee Simon Callington is not overly ambitious. He is a middle ranking official who is more focused on his family - wife Lily and their three children - and their life in Muswell Hill. One day Simon is asked to carry out a favour for an old friend Giles, who secured the job for him. The favour is to pick up a highly sensitive file from Giles’ home. Things go wrong from the moment Simon enters his friend’s home, and having collected the file Simon immediately regrets having agreed to do it. But it’s too late to back out now, and when the disappearance of the file is discovered Simon is accused of passing information to the Soviets, and arrested. Continue reading

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry 
"You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair." He paused, considering what he had just said. "Yes" he repeated. "in the end, it's all a question of balance". This magnificent heart wrenching novel revolves around four main characters. Dina Dalal, a spirited widow who struggles to maintain her independence after her husband tragically died; tailors Ishwar and his nephew Om, who have fled the caste violence of their native village; and Maneck a young man who has enjoyed an idyllic life in a Himalayan hill station helping in his father’s store, but must now move to the city college to gain qualifications in order to earn him a life of repute. They all survive sharing Dina’s cramped one bedroom flat and a balcony. Continue reading

The Widow by Fiona Barton
When the police started asking questions Jean Taylor turned into a different woman, one who enabled her and her husband to carry on when more bad things began to happen. But that woman’s husband died last week, and Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.
There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. Continue reading
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
Roseanne McNulty is almost 100 years old. For most of her adult life she has been a patient in Roscommon Mental hospital in rural west Ireland. The hospital is going to be shut down and she is facing an unsure future. In the weeks leading up to the hospital’s closure she has frequent talks with her therapist/psychiatrist. His job is to determine what to do with the patients. He is a gentle, understanding man who is doing his best for his wards. Continue reading
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed White Teeth I had high hopes for this. The prologue hinted of a good story. The opening line reads “It was the first day of my humiliation. Put on a plane, sent back home to England". And towards the end of the prologue a sentence which read  "Now everyone knows who you really are” Ooh I thought, this is going to be good - wrong  Continue reading
My Husbands’s Wife by Jane Corry
When young lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start and leave the secrets of the past behind. But then she takes on her first murder case and meets Joe, a convicted murderer to whom Lily is strangely drawn—and for whom she will soon be willing to risk almost anything. But Lily is not the only one with secrets. Continue reading



The Island by Victoria Hislop The story starts with Alexis taking a trip to Crete hoping to learn more about her mother Sofia’s history. Sofia has never been able to talk about her past, all Alexis knows is that her mother grew up in a small Cretan village, before moving to London. As the departure date approaches Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend Fotina, and promises that through her she will learn more. Continue reading
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
The story starts at Heathrow airport when Ted Severson heads for the bar after hearing his flight is delayed. There he meets the magnetic Lily and after a few too many martinis he confides his darkest thoughts. He tells Lily about his wife’s infidelity, how they were a mismatch from the start - he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché. But most of all he confides how he wishes her dead. In a heartbeat Lily offers to help him carry out his wish. Contine reading

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

"It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon." This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959.
The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Continue reading
Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner
Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed in snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw is spending another sleepless night wondering if internet dating is ever going to work for her, and finding solace listening to the low murmuring of the police radio, when she hears a report of a missing woman.
Twenty four year old Cambridge student Edith Hind is missing. She is the daughter of Sir Ian Hind, a distinguished doctor to the royal family. Manon knows this case will be big. Continue reading
Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo
Norwegian Inspector Harry Hole has recently gained some notoriety for solving a difficult case involving the death of a Norwegian citizen in Australia, so when his country’s ambassador is found dead in a Bangkok brothel Hole seems the ideal choice to investigate the murder. At the moment, however, Harry can most often be found battling his demons in an alcoholic fog. The expectation is that he will go to Thailand for a few days, drink himself into a stupor, and allow the locals to sweep the whole embarrassing incident under the rug. Continue reading
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy 
This is a heart-rending story of a family whose choices lead to some terrible consequences, a family saga, a forbidden love story, and a political drama. The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, India, 7 year old fraternal twins Esthappen and Rahel fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family. Continue reading
Coffin Road by Peter May follows three perilous journeys.
A man is washed up on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris, barely alive and borderline hypothermic. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his identity is a map tracing a track called the Coffin Road. He doesn't know where it will lead him, but filled with trepidation he knows he must follow it.
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The Frozen Dead by Bernard Minier
Diane Berg, a young psychiatrist starts her first job at a secure asylum for the criminally insane. She is made to feel very unwelcome by the current director of the institute, Dr Xavier, and his grim assistant Lisa Ferney. Diane soon suspects there is something going on between them. Meanwhile, at a nearby hydroelectric power plant accessible only by cable car, maintenance workers make a gruesome discovery. A decapitated horse hangs suspended from the edge of the frozen cliff. Continue reading
The English Assassin by Daniel Silva is a taut, fast-paced thriller confidently rooted in fact - Switzerland's shameful WWII record of profiteering and collaboration with Nazi Germany. 
When art restorer and occasional Israeli agent Gabriel Allon is sent to Zurich to restore the painting of a reclusive millionaire banker, he arrives to find his would-be employer murdered and a secret collection of priceless, illicitly gained Impressionist masterpieces is missing. Continue reading
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The year is 1922 and life in a South London suburb has become one of drudgery and tedium for Frances Wray. Single, in her late 20's, and living with her widowed mother, Frances’ life has become a monotonous routine of housework and Wednesday trips to the cinema.  She feels stifled by time and culture and although comfortable with her sexuality she has already paid a stiff price for a previous romance with a woman. She could, as her former lover did, move to London and live a far freer life, yet she chooses duty to her mother. Her older brothers were killed in the war and her father’s shady financial dealings left her and her mother in ruin. The Wrays are forced to take in lodgers. Continue reading

Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry
Bombay 1971, the year India went to war over what was to become Bangladesh. Hard-working bank clerk, Gustad Noble is a devoted family man who struggles to do his best for his family and friends. His is the one reasonable voice amidst the ongoing dramas of his neighbours. Times are changing and gradually Gustad’s modest life starts unravelling. His young daughter falls ill and his promising son defies his father’s ambitions for him by refusing a college scholarship he has won. Continue reading
Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves 
Shetland Detective Jimmy Perez knows it will be a difficult homecoming when he returns to the Fair Isles, where strangers are viewed with suspicion and distrust, to introduce his fiancé, Fran, to his parents. 
Soon after their arrival a woman's body is discovered at the renowned Fair Isles bird observatory. Continue reading

The Outcast by Sadie Jones  The story starts in the summer of 1957 with Lewis Aldridge travelling back to his home in suburban Surrey. He is nineteen and has just been released from prison. No one was waiting for him. 
Over a decade earlier Lewis was awaiting his father Gilbert's homecoming from the war. Gilbert doesn't know what to do with this seven year old boy except shake his hand and wish him elsewhere. Gilbert reverted easily to suburban life - cocktails at six thirty, church on Sundays followed by lunch. But his wife resists the stuffy, stifling routines, escaping instead with Lewis to the woods or the river for picnics, just as they did in wartime days. Continue reading


The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers
Absence is at the heart of Agnes Morel’s life. Absence of a mother and father, absence of love, guidance and protection, and the most heartbreaking of all the absence of her illegitimate baby boy, taken from her soon after birth. Her story is beautifully written in fragments of the lives of the people she comes into contact with. Beautiful and elusive Agnes was a foundling, discovered by a farmer, she was wrapped in a white tablecloth and placed in a straw shopping basket.  Continue reading

The Tax Inspector by Peter Carey
Set in Franklin, New South Wales, Australia. Catchprice Motors is a dismal, run-down used car business run by Granny (Frieda) Catchprice with senility, cunning and a handbag full of gelignite. She runs her family the same way. Responsibility for the day to day running of the business lies with Frieda’s daughter Cathy, a sad aspiring Country and Western singer and her sleazy husband Howie, who sports ‘a secret rash which stops in a clean line at his collar and the cuffs of his shirt'.  
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Splinter by Sebastian Fitzek
What would happen if we could erase the worst experiences of our lives forever from our memory? Marc Lucas is slowly putting his life back together after the car crash that killed his pregnant wife when things start to go horribly wrong. His credit cards stop working. His key no longer fits his door. He discovers someone else working in his office and one day he comes home to find himself face to face with his dead wife, and she doesn't have a clue who he is. Continue reading


Mr Mercedes by Stephen King
Retired cop Bill Hodges is haunted by 'the Mercedes' massacre, a case he never solved. He spends his depressed and vacant retirement sitting in his lay z boy watching rubbish day time television and thinking about killing himself, until that is, he receives a letter from the Mercedes killer. Continue reading


Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson
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. Continue reading
The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
This beautifully written novel is set in Canada in 1867. Winter is tightening its grip on Dove River, a small isolated settlement in the Northern Territory. Laurent Jammett is found brutally murdered. He had been a voyageur for the Hudson Bay Company. Mrs Ross stumbles upon the crime scene and sees tracks leading from the dead man’s cabin north toward the forest. Soon after the investigation is launched Mrs Ross makes another discovery – her 17 year old son Francis has disappeared and is now considered a prime suspect. She decides to go after him to clear his name.  Continue reading

In The Kitchen by Monica Ali
Gabriel Lightfoot is an enterprising man from a northern England mill town, making good in London as executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial Hotel. He is trying to run a tight kitchen but his integrity, to say nothing of his sanity, is constantly challenged by the demands of an exuberant multinational staff, an eagle-eyed hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning to open a restaurant of his own. Despite the pressures, all his hard work looks set to payoff, until a worker is found dead in the kitchen's basement. Continue reading


The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez
Sunny is the proud proprietor of a small coffee shop in one of the most dangerous places on earth. She offers hospitality to the expatriates, misfits, missionaries, and mercenaries who stroll through the doors. Sunny and four very different women befriend each other and form a bond of friendship and secrets. Continue reading

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
Pilot Chip’s plane is struck by a flock of geese shortly after take-off. His attempt to land on the Hudson River goes terribly wrong and 39 people perish. Haunted by the accident, Chip and his wife, Emily, and their 10-year-old twin daughters move across country to Bethal in rural New Hampshire. Their hopes to recover from the trauma and rebuild their lives are hindered by a mysterious door (sealed with 39 bolts) in the basement of their dark creepy Victorian house, and some malevolent neighbours who have an unhealthy obsession with herbs and potions. 
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A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
New Year's Eve. Strangers Martin, Maureen, Jess and JJ plan to commit suicide by jumping off a high building called Toppers' House in London. Their plans for a solitary death are ruined when they accidentally meet each other on the roof. Continue reading




In the Woods by Tana French.  Twelve year old Adam and his friends Jamie and Peter were playing in woods near their homes when something terrible happened. Adam was found with his back to a tree clawing the bark, he had blood on his shoes and slash marks on his back. Jamie and Peter were never seen again and Adam’s amnesia holds to the present day. Twenty years on Adam has changed his name to Rob and is a detective in Dublin. The plot circles around the murder of a twelve year old girl, Katy Devlin, whose case Rob and his partner Cassie Maddox are assigned to investigate. The body was found in the same woods where Rob’s friends disappeared, at an archaeological dig site, and the coincidence is enough to make him nervous.
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Secrets And Lies
Christine Keeler's name is as synonymous with the sixties sexual revolution as is the pill. An English former model and showgirl, little did she know when she walked into a dance-club and met society osteopath Stephen Ward she was also walking into the history books. And what a history. She can never escape being Christine Keeler, she will be a headline forever. Continue reading


Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
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. Continue reading



The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself. But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Continue reading

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood 
Artist Elaine Risley, in her late fifties is revisiting Toronto for the opening of a retrospective of her work. This rekindles vivid memories of her childhood and teenage years. Her strongest memories are of Cordelia, who was the leader of a trio of girls who were both very cruel and very kind to young Elaine, in ways that tint Elaine's perceptions of relationships and her world, not to mention her art. Continue Reading


Crimson China by Betsy Tobin
On a freezing night in February 2004 twenty-three illegal Chinese migrants perished whilst picking cockles in the deadly waters of Morecambe Bay. Only twenty-one bodies were recovered. At a memorial service for the victims, a member of the local community offered the hope that one or both of those not found had somehow managed to survive. This is fact. The rest of the story is based around what Tobin imagined might have happened to one of the survivors. Continue reading

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest
Lisbeth Salander lies in a critical condition in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital with a bullet wound to her head. She is fighting for her life in more ways than one: just two rooms away, under guard, is Zalechenko. Also, if and when she recovers she will be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. Continue reading



The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played With Fire
In the second of the trilogy we find Lisbeth in the Caribbean having laundered a few million dollars into a disguised bank account. From her hotel room she observes her neighbour, Dr Forbes, an American tourist physically abusing his wife, on several occasions. Lisbeth utilises her connections among hackers to investigate Dr Forbes and learns that he has no assets, but his wife is the heiress to a fortune worth $40 million. Continue reading

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
In the first book of the Millenium Trilogy Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of the Swedish political magazine Millennium, loses a libel case involving allegations about billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Soon afterwards he is invited to meet Henrik Vanger, retired CEO of the Vanger Corporation, unaware that Vanger has checked into his personal and professional history. The investigation was carried out by Lisbeth Salander a taciturn young woman, anti-social, fiercely private and highly intelligent; she works as a surveillance agent. 
Blomkvist is promised considerable financial reward and solid evidence against Wennerström in exchange for writing the Vanger family history. Vanger believes that his great-niece, Harriet, was murdered by a member of his family 36 years earlier, and has spent the intervening years obsessively trying to solve the mystery. Continue reading


Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.
The title is very apt. This is a story about horrible people doing horrible things. They are the kind of people we know exist but hope we never come into contact with. 
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas. As her family lay dying little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived and testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. 

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Untorn Tickets by Paul Burke Essentially a coming of age tale. Notting Hill 1978. Andy Zymancyk and Dave Kelly are the teenage offspring of staunchly Catholic Polish and Irish families. Both are pupils of St Bede's Roman Catholic Grammar School for Boys, an institution whose "manifesto of academic and sporting excellence, religious fervour and iron discipline" is described by headmaster, Father "Johnny Mac" McLafferty, as "work hard, play hard and pray hard".  
Part-time jobs in Westbourne Grove's Gaumont Cinema provide the boys with rather a different kind of education which changes their lives in more ways than they can imagine.  Continue reading


The Devil’s Acre by Matthew Plampin
1853, Colonel Samuel Colt expands his gun-making business into England. He acquires a riverside warehouse and sets about converting it into a pistol works capable of mass producing his patented revolvers on an unprecedented scale - aware that the prospect of war with Russia means huge profits. Continue reading


The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman by Louis de Bernieres
Set in an imaginary Latin American country the novel's political themes parody the worst excesses of the Pinochet government of Chile, the collapse of democratic social order in Uruguay in the 1970's and other dirty wars of the 1960's to 1980's in Southern and Central America.
In the village of Cochadebajo macho philosophers, defrocked priests and reformed (though still active) prostitutes live in cheerful anarchy. But this unruly utopia is about to be interrupted when the demon-harried Cardinal Guzman decides to inaugurate a new Inquisition, with Cochadebajo as its ultimate target. Continue reading


Restless by William Boyd  depicts the tale of a young woman who discovers that her mother was recruited as a spy during World War II. 
"I am Eva Delectorskaya” Sally Gilmartin announces, and so on a warm summer afternoon in 1976 her daughter, Ruth learns that everything she ever knew about her mother was a carefully constructed lie. Continue reading

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
“A spellbinding thriller” says the synopsis, mmm well I can’t be that generous. It features Sigmund Freud and the search for a diabolical killer in turn of the century New York. Continue reading




The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas 

An epic story of wartime, family secrets and forbidden love, set against the stunning exotic backdrop of 1940's Kashmir. Within one exotic land lie the secrets of a lifetime. It is the eve of 1941 and World War II is engulfing the globe. Newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Wales for the first time to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to India. Continue reading


Red Lotus by Pai Kit Fai
Full of Chinese villains, English heroes and brave virtuous women, this is a sprawling family saga of three generations of women. Yip Mann, an elderly spice farmer, purchases fifteen-year-old Pai-Ling as his concubine in the hope of producing sons. Pai-Ling has lotus feet and is beautiful but to Yip Mann’s dismay she delivers a worthless daughter. Yip Mann snatches the new born baby and goes to bury her in the paddy fields where he has buried his previous daughters. Continue reading

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger 
When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her American nieces, twins Julia and Valentina. The girls had never met their English aunt, they only knew that their mother was a twin, and Elspeth was her sister. Julia and Valentina are fairly normal teenagers with an abnormally intense attachment to one another, and very little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cosy home in the suburbs of Chicago.  Continue reading



The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
Pearl has a secret which she keeps from her mother Winnie, and Winnie has her own long kept secrets about her past and the confusing circumstances of Pearl’s birth. Continue reading



Testimony by Anita Shreve
This was my book group's read, and a very thought provoking one it was too. 
It deals with a sex scandal at a New England boarding school. Three males aged between 17 and 19 and a 14 year old girl engage in an alcholoc-fuelled evening of bad choices, immaturity and hormones. Continue reading


Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moaggach
When retired actor Buffy decides to up sticks and move from London to rural Wales he has no idea what he is letting himself in for. 
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Millroy The Magician by Paul Theroux
The story begins at the Barnstable County Fair. The narrator is Jilly Farina, a 14-year-old girl. Her mother is dead, her father is a drunk and she lives with her abusive grandmother. Jilly walks into a tent and her life is transformed. Continue Reading


Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
What if there were second and third chances, in fact an infinite number of chances to live your life. Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
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Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington (pseudonym of Nugi Garimara) 
The remarkable true story of three young girls who cross the harsh Australian desert on foot to return to their home. 
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Complicity by Iain Banks
Involvement, connection, liability. Are we guilty by association?
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Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Litigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is stunned when her daughter's exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, calls with disturbing news: her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old daughter, Amelia, has been caught cheating.
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White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Focuses on the later lives of two wartime friends— Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal and Englishman Archie Jones, and their families.
Archie is contemplating suicide until he meets Clara, who is fleeing an oppressive Jehovah's Witness mother. Meanwhile Samad has arrived in England to meet with his old war-time friend and to complete his arranged marriage. Continue reading


A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka
Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must put aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. Nikolai is eighty four, she is thirty six and will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth, a British passport and an education for her son. 
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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Dorian Gray is the subject of a painting by artist Basil Hallward. Dorian (whimsically) expresses a desire to sell his soul to ensure the portrait Basil has painted would age rather than himself. 
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Holiday reading. I grabbed this off my book shelf a few days before leaving.
Miss Wyoming by Douglas Coupland 
tells the absurd and tender story of Susan Colgate, a former tv star and beauty pageant contender, and John Johnson, a hard-living movie producer, who find each other by losing themselves. Continue reading




The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Born in a village in heartland India, the son of a rickshaw puller, Balram is taken out of school and put to work in a teashop. As he crushes coals and wipes tables, he nurses a dream of escape. Continue reading 



The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Fierce evangelical Baptist Nathan Price takes his wife, four daughters and his mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959
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