Untorn Tickets by Paul Burke
Essentially a coming of age tale.
Notting Hill 1978, the story focuses on Andy Zymancyk and Dave Kelly 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.
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.
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.
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. Sally Gilmartin is a respectable English widow living in a picturesque Cotswold village;
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.
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.
Red Lotus by Pai Kit Fai
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. In a desperate bid to save her daughter Pai Ling throws herself out of the window and falls to her death.
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.
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.
Testimony by Anita ShreveThis 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.
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.
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
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?
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.
Complicity by Iain Banks
Involvement, connection, liability. Are we guilty by association?
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.
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
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.
The Portrait 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.
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.
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.
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