Here’s this month’s list of books ( a bit later than usual) that took my fancy. Usual rules apply – all books I include are those I’ve either read and recommend, books that are patiently waiting to be read, or they’re ones I’d happily to add to my reading list. Therefore, it’s a list that’s skewed towards what currently appeals to me so feel free to look at the complete list on Amazon here.
At the close of World War II, London is in ruins and Rose Daniel isn’t at peace. Eight years ago, her brother disappeared while fighting alongside Gypsy partisans in Spain. From his letters, Rose has just two clues to his whereabouts—his descriptions of the spectacular south slopes of the Sierra Nevada and his love for a woman who was carrying his child.
In Spain, it has been eight years since Lola Aragon’s family was massacred. Eight years since she rescued a newborn girl from the arms of her dying mother and ran for her life. She has always believed that nothing could make her return…until a plea for help comes from a desperate stranger.
Now, Rose, Lola, and the child set out on a journey from the wild marshes of the Camargue to the dazzling peaks of Spain’s ancient mountain communities. As they come face-to-face with war’s darkest truths, their lives will be changed forever by memories, secrets, and friendships.
Deep in the Tuscan countryside, a long-held feud between two aristocratic families ends in tragedy, leaving only one young girl alive.
Years later, amidst the winding streets and majestic facades of Florence, two murders are not all they seem. As Onorio Celavini, commander of the Medici police force, investigates, he is horrified to find a personal connection to the crimes, and a conspiracy lurking beyond.
Poignant and compelling, The Phoenix of Florence is a richly told and cleverly crafted tale of a struggle for identity and a battle for justice in an Italy besieged by war.
Sylvia Penton has been hibernating for years, it’s no wonder she’s a little prickly…
Sylvia lives alone, dedicating herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays – and it makes people think she’s nicer than she is.
Only Sylvia has a secret: she’s been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now, and she’s sure he’s just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and covertly makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.
But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams of the fairy tale ending she has craved for so long, are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future.
Sylvia might have been sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up…
It begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in Manhattan. Each presses the button for their floor, but the elevator climbs, non-stop, to the top where it pauses for a few seconds, before dropping.
Right to the bottom of the shaft.
It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again. And when Wednesday brings yet another catastrophe, New York, one of the most vertical cities in the world is plunged into chaos.
Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. But what do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line?
It will be a race against time for detectives Jerry Borque and Lois Delgado to find the answers before a deadly Friday night showdown.
Meet Ellie. She’s perfectly happy living her quiet life with her husband, Clive. Happy to wander the Exmoor countryside and write the occasional poem that nobody will read; happy to dream of all the things she hasn’t yet managed to do. Or is she?
Meet Dan. He thinks all he needs is the time and space to make harps in his isolated barn on Exmoor. He enjoys being on his own, far away from other people and – crucially – far away from any risk of surprises.
What Ellie and Dan don’t know yet, is that a chance encounter is about to change all of this.
When thirty-one-year-old Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife.
Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery.
Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory.
Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it?
Alys Binat has found happiness teaching English literature to schoolgirls. Although she knows that many of her students won’t finish their education before dropping out to marry, Alys still hopes to inspire them to dream of more than what’s expected. When an invitation arrives for the biggest wedding their town has seen in years, Mrs Binat excitedly prepares her five unmarried daughters to hunt for prospective husbands. On the first night of the festivities, Alys’s eldest sister, Jena, catches the eye of Fahad Bingla. But his friend Valentine Darsee is clearly unimpressed by the Binat family. As the days of lavish wedding parties unfold, the Binats wait breathlessly to see if Jena will land a proposal – and Alys begins to realise that Darsee’s manner may hide a very different man to the one she judged at first sight. An essential guide to marriage, class and sisterhood in modern-day Pakistan.
The killer is just getting started…
When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.
The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.
And he is Lucy’s husband.
Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?
Set during the years of the British Raj, Umi Sinha’s unforgettable debut novel is a compelling and finely wrought epic of love and loss, race and ethnicity, homeland – and belonging. Lila Langdon is twelve years old when she witnesses a family tragedy after her mother unveils her father’s surprise birthday present – a tragedy that ends her childhood in India and precipitates a new life in Sussex with her Great-aunt Wilhelmina. From the darkest days of the British Raj through to the aftermath of the First World War, BELONGING tells the interwoven story of three generations and their struggles to understand and free themselves from a troubled history steeped in colonial violence. It is a novel of secrets that unwind through Lila’s story, through her grandmother’s letters home from India and the diaries kept by her father, Henry, as he puzzles over the enigma of his birth and his stormy marriage to the mysterious Rebecca.
Everyone deserves a chance at happiness…
Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends. After all, they might find out her secrets…
Alison is fun, caring and doesn’t take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her. All she really needs is a friend.
Karen’s romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through …
When the women meet at their local bootcamp, a deep friendship blossoms. And soon they realise that the secret to happiness is where they least expected to find it…
Devoted father or merciless killer?
His secrets are buried with him.
Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.
Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.
Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play?
Three generations of Palestinian-American women living in Brooklyn are torn between individual desire and the strict mores of Arab culture in this heart-wrenching story of love, intrigue and courage.
Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children – four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.
Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.
But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family…
Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is a story of culture and honour, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.
Alice Rose is a foundling, discovered on the Yorkshire moors above Haworth as a baby. Adopted but then later rejected again by a horrid step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking – the scent of cinnamon and citrus and the feel of butter and flour between her fingers – brings a comforting sense of home.
So it seems natural that when she finally decides to return to Haworth, Alice turns to baking again, taking over a run-down little teashop and working to set up an afternoon tea emporium.
Luckily she soon makes friends – including a Grecian god-like neighbour – who help her both set up home and try to solve the mystery of who she is. There are one or two last twists in the dark fairytale of Alice’s life to come . . . but can she find her happily ever after?
A dark night in the isolated Scottish countryside. Nicholas Wilson, a prominent professor known for his divisive social media rants, leaves the house with his dog, as he does every night. But this time he doesn’t come back…
The last thing Inspector Logan McRae wants is to take on such a high-profile case. But when a second man vanishes in similar circumstances, the media turns its merciless gaze on him, and he has no choice.
Then body parts start arriving in the post. Someone out there is trying to make a point, and they’re making it in blood.
Sometimes you have to risk everything to find your something…
All Andrew wants is to be normal. He has the perfect wife and 2.4 children waiting at home for him after a long day. At least, that’s what he’s told people.
The truth is, his life isn’t exactly as people think and his little white lie is about to catch up with him.
Because in all Andrew’s efforts to fit in, he’s forgotten one important thing: how to really live. And maybe, it’s about time for him to start.
For generations, the Stone family have been making wishes on the old willow tree in their garden. And this year they’re wishing harder than ever…
In the small village of Noon Sun, Benedict and Estelle thought they’d found their happy ever after. But, unable to have the children they’ve longed for, their marriage has hit the rocks and Estelle has moved out. Devastated but unwilling to accept defeat, jeweller Benedict vows to win her back – he just doesn’t know how.
The unexpected – and uninvited – arrival of his estranged sixteen-year-old niece, Gemma, is the last thing he needs. But when a decades old secret is brought to light, Benedict and Estelle realise they’re not the only ones in need of a second chance. And that maybe the family they wished for has been there all along…
Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out…
A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead. Suspecting he’s next, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas. When he spots a beautiful housewife and her two young daughters stranded on the side of the road, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his trail.
The two strangers share the open road west – and find each other on the way. But Guidry’s relentless hunters are closing in on him, and now he doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.
Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love. And it might get them both killed.
Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage secures her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community. However, Naoko has fallen for an American sailor and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.
America, present day. Tori Kovač, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation. Setting out to learn the truth, Tori’s journey leads her to a remote seaside village in Japan where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.
Inspired by true stories, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.
THIS BOOKSHOP KEEPS MANY SECRETS . . .
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you.
Into her refuge – the York book emporium where she works – come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories.
Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can’t hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heartbreaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story?
It’s time to turn the pages of her past . . .
It is 1938, and eighteen-year-old Sidney Chambers is dancing the quickstep with Amanda Kendall at her brother Robert’s birthday party at the Caledonian Club. No one can believe, on this golden evening, that there could ever be another war.
Returning to London seven years later, Sidney has gained a Military Cross, and lost his best friend on the battlefields of Italy. The carefree youth that he and his friends were promised has been blown apart, just like the rest of the world – and Sidney, carrying a terrible, secret guilt, must decide what to do with the rest of his life. But he has heard a call: constant, though quiet, and growing ever more persistent. To the incredulity of his family and the derision of his friends – the irrepressible actor Freddie, and the beautiful, spiky Amanda – Sidney must now negotiate his path to God: the course of which, much like true love, never runs smooth.
What must Estella sacrifice to make her mark?
1940: Parisian seamstress Estella Bissette is forced to flee France as the Germans advance. She is bound for Manhattan with a few francs, one suitcase, her sewing machine and a dream: to have her own atelier.
2015: Australian curator Fabienne Bissette journeys to the annual Met Gala for an exhibition of her beloved grandmother’s work – one of the world’s leading designers of ready-to-wear. But as Fabienne learns more about her grandmother’s past, she uncovers a story of tragedy, heartbreak and secrets – and the sacrifices made for love.
Maggie stared across the beach. The tide was coming in. But where was her daughter?
When three-year-old Olivia disappears from the beach, a happy family holiday comes to an abrupt end. Maggie is plunged into the darkest nightmare imaginable – what happened to her little girl?
Further along the coast, another mother is having problems too. Jennifer’s daughter Hailey is starting school, and it should be such a happy time, but the child has become moody and silent. Family life has never seemed so awkward, and Jennifer struggles to maintain control.
The tide ebbs and flows, and summer dies, but there is no comfort for Maggie, alone now at the cottage, or for Jennifer, still swamped by doubts.
Tom Hope doesn’t chase rainbows. He does his best on the farm – he milks the cows, harvests the apples, looks after the sheep – but Tom’s been lonely since his wife Trudy left, taking little Peter with her to go join the holy rollers.
Enter Hannah Babel, quixotic smalltown bookseller: the second Jew – and the most vivid person – Tom has ever met. When she asks him to move in, and help her build Australia’s most beautiful bookshop, Tom dares to believe they could make each other happy.
But it is 1968: twenty-four years since Hannah and her own little boy arrived at Auschwitz. Tom Hope is taking on a battle with heartbreak he can barely even begin to imagine.
Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits in.
At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi.
And now that she’s an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia.
When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta’s life, she’s propelled headfirst into the unknown. She’s determined to find where she belongs – but what if her true home, and heart, are half a world away?
Waterloo Bridge, London. Two strangers collide. Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist, and Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes. From this chance encounter in the midst of the rush of a great city, numerous moments of connections span out and interweave, bringing disparate lives together.
Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma and to check up on the daughter of friends, his ‘niece’, Ama, who hasn’t called home in a while. It soon emerges that she has been swept up in an immigration crackdown – and now her young son Tano is missing.
When, by chance, Attila bumps into Jean again, she joins him in his search for Tano, mobilizing into action the network she has built up, mainly from the many West African immigrants working London’s myriad streets, of volunteer fox-spotters: security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens. All unite to help and as the search continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds.
In this delicate yet powerful novel of loves lost and new, of past griefs and of the hidden side of a teeming metropolis, Aminatta Forna asks us to consider the values of the society we live in, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures – and the true nature of happiness.
The classic evocative tale of an idyllic childhood in the English countryside
Cider with Rosie is a wonderfully vivid memoir of childhood in a remote Cotswold village, a village before electricity or cars, a timeless place on the verge of change. Growing up amongst the fields and woods and characters of the place, Laurie Lee depicts a world that is both immediate and real and belongs to a now-distant past.
Alan Johnson’s childhoodwas not so much difficult as unusual, particularly for a man who was destined to become Home Secretary. Not in respect of the poverty, which was shared with many of those living in Britain’s post-war slums, but in its transition from being part of a two-parent family to having a single mother and then to no parents at all…
This is essentially the story of two incredible women: Alan’s mother, Lily, who battled against poor health, poverty, domestic violence and loneliness to try to ensure a better life for her children; and his sister, Linda, who had to assume an enormous amount of responsibility at a very young age and who fought to keep the family together and out of care when she herself was still only a child.
This Boy is one man’s story, but it is also the story of England and the West London slums which are hard to imagine in the capital today. No matter how harsh the details, Alan Johnson writes with a spirit of generous acceptance, of humour and openness which makes his book anything but a grim catalogue of miseries.
The Riviera Set is the story of the group of people who lived, partied, bed-hopped and politicked at the Château de l’Horizon near Cannes, over the course of forty years from the time when Coco Chanel made southern French tans fashionable in the twenties to the death of the playboy Prince Aly Khan in 1960. At the heart of this was the amazing Maxine Elliott, the daughter of a fisherman from Connecticut, who built the beautiful art deco Château and brought together the likes of Noel Coward, the Aga Khan, the Windsors and two very saucy courtesans, Doris Castlerosse and Daisy Fellowes, who set out to be dangerous distractions to Winston Churchill as he worked on his journalism and biographies during his ‘wilderness years’ in the thirties.
After the War the story continued as the Château changed hands and Prince Aly Khan used it to entertain the Hollywood set, as well as launch his seduction of and eventual marriage to Rita Hayworth.
What if you could live your great love story again?
Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’ve been together for almost a decade, and Lydia thinks their love is indestructible.
But she’s wrong. Because on her 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a tragic accident.
So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob ’til her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to live her life well. So, enlisting the help of his best friend and her sister Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world and starts to live – perhaps even to love – again.
Then something unbelievable happens, and Lydia gets another chance at her old life with Freddie. But what if there’s someone in her new life who wants her to stay?
The thing is, the letters don’t always tell me truths about myself. Sometimes they tell me truths about other people. And Reid Sutherland is – was – one of those people.
In the last year, Meg Mackworth’s beautiful hand-lettering skills have seen her rocket to social media fame, and now she has a booming business crafting stationery for the stars. But she has a secret: sometimes, she just can’t resist hiding messages in her work. Slightly unprofessional, maybe – but harmless. Right?
Analyst Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée had their future mapped out. Until he noticed a pattern in his wedding invitation that made him think twice.
When Meg looks up from her desk one day and sees Reid standing in front of her with no wedding ring, holding the invitation she created, she thinks that her career is over.
But her life may be about to begin . . .
The Cotswolds: the perfect retreat for a stressed-out teacher. And Lucy has found just the right cottage for a bargain rent. All she has to do is keep an eye on Bunty, her extremely feisty ninety-something neighbour . . .
With her West Highland terrier Hamish at her side, Lucy plans to relax and read up on the women of nearby Bletchley Park. But the villagers of Little Maudley have other ideas, and she finds herself caught up in the campaign to turn a dilapidated telephone box into a volunteer-run library.
Along the way, she makes friends with treehouse designer Sam, and finds herself falling for the charms of village life. And it seems Bunty has a special connection to Bletchley and the telephone box, one that she’s kept secret for decades . . .
1627. In a notorious historical event, pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted 400 people into slavery in Algiers. Among them a pastor, his wife, and their children.
In her acclaimed debut novel Sally Magnusson imagines what history does not record: the experience of Asta, the pastor’s wife, as she faces her losses with the one thing left to her – the stories from home – and forges an ambiguous bond with the man who bought her. Uplifting, moving, and sharply witty, The Sealwoman’s Gift speaks across centuries and oceans about loss, love, resilience and redemption.
In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, now a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train upends Sami’s visit and changes his life forever.
Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair, while Oliver, a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic.
Aciman is a master of sensibility, of the intimate details and the nuances of emotion that are the substance of passion. Find Me brings us back inside the world of one of our greatest contemporary romances to show us that in fact true love never dies.
Happy Reading !!!