Another varied week this week, the summery reads are starting to creep in, so if you can’t get away in real life you can transport yourself to sunny climes. Failing that lose yourself in a gripping mystery or transport yourself back in time with some cracking historical titles. Whatever you choose, happy reading!
The index is a guide as to what format the title is being released in. In some cases the title might already have been published in a different format. For those readers interested in new audio editions I’ve indicated availability with the addition of a red button after the purchasing links – this makes it a bit easier to scan through and pick them up. The categories are intended to give you an indication of price and/or suitability depending on your preferred reading format. I have not complicated matters further by attempting to throw genres into the mix.
Where I’ve read the book, and would recommend it, I’ve added a new ‘Recommended’ button
(NB As an Amazon Associate, Bookshop and Hive Affiliate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
The remarkable story of J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation, from New York Times author Marie Benedict, and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray.
In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection.
But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.
The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.
Hardback & eBook releases
Assembly by Natasha Brown
Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Step out into a world of Go Home vans. Go to Oxbridge, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy a flat. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.
The narrator of Assembly is a Black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?
Assembly is a story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers. And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life. With a steely, unfaltering gaze, Natasha Brown dismantles the mythology of whiteness, lining up the debris in a neat row and walking away.
Two Women in Rome by Elizabeth Buchan
In the Eternal City, no secret stays hidden forever…
Lottie Archer arrives in Rome excited to begin her new job as an archivist. When she discovers a valuable fifteenth-century painting, she is drawn to find out more about the woman who left it behind, Nina Lawrence.
Nina seems to have led a rewarding and useful life, restoring Italian gardens to their full glory following the destruction of World War Two. So why did no one attend her funeral in 1978?
In exploring Nina’s past, Lottie unravels a tragic love story beset by the political turmoil of post-war Italy. And as she edges closer to understanding Nina, she begins to confront the losses in her own life.
Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan
In Venice, Frances Croy is working to leave the previous year behind: another novel published to little success, a scathing review she can’t quite manage to forget and, most of all, the real reason behind her self-imposed exile from London: the incident at the Savoy.
Sequestered within an aging palazzo, Frankie finds comfort in the emptiness of Venice in winter, in the absence of others. Desperate to rediscover the success of her first novel, the one by which all her other work has been judged, she attempts to return to the page – ignoring the strained relationship with her best friend, the increasing phone calls from her editor, demanding the final book of her contract and the growing fear that the end of her career is imminent.
And then Gilly appears.
A young woman claiming a connection from back home, one that Frankie can’t quite seem to recall, Gilly seems determined for the two women to become fast friends. Frankie finds herself equally irritated and amused by the strange young woman before her – but there’s something about her that continues to give Frankie pause, that makes her wonder just how much of what Gilly tells her is actually the truth.
Those around Frankie are quick to dismiss her concerns, citing her recent fragile state and what took place that night at the Savoy. So, too, do they dismiss Frankie’s claims that someone is occupying the other half of the palazzo, which has supposedly stood empty since after the war. But Frankie has caught Gilly in numerous lies, has seen the lights across the way, has heard the footsteps too-and what’s more, knows she isn’t mad.
Set in the days before and after the 1966 flood – the worst ever experienced by the city of Venice – the trajectory of the disaster that forever altered the city mirrors Frankie’s own inner turmoil as she struggles to make sense of what is and is not the truth, ultimately culminating in a tragedy that leaves her questioning her own role and responsibility – as well as her sanity.
A Wake of Crows by Kate Evans
Donna Morris has chosen to do her probationary year as detective constable in the small seaside town of Scarborough. But on her first day, a body is found in the woods: the corpse of Henrik Grünttor presents itself as that of a homeless man, dead from his own drug use. However, until recently, Grünttor had been working at the local GCHQ centre on the Russian section and the postmortem reveals the cause of his death to be uncertain.
Now in her early fifties, Donna has her own reasons for wanting to be in Scarborough, ones she would prefer to keep from her colleagues. For she’s not been drawn there by the landscape or the light, or even the beach, but to be closer to her wayward daughter – a daughter serving time in the nearby prison for GBH. Yet beyond even this, Donna hides another secret: she grew up in East Berlin, escaping across the wall in the early 1980s.
Due to the circumstances of her past Donna is drawn to the dead man whose background is not dissimilar to hers… and her persistence reveals there are several people who wanted Grünttor dead — and gathered around him in his final days like a wake of crows…
Dead Ground by M W Craven
Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused – he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp – but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.
As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim’s background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene – and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken . . .
Still Life by Sarah Winman
1944, in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, as bombs fall around them, two strangers meet and share an extraordinary evening.
Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier, Evelyn Skinner is a sexagenarian art historian and possible spy. She has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the wreckage and relive memories of the time she encountered EM Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid in a particular Florentine room with a view.
Evelyn’s talk of truth and beauty plants a seed in Ulysses’ mind that will shape the trajectory of his life – and of those who love him – for the next four decades.
Moving from the Tuscan Hills and piazzas of Florence, to the smog of London’s East End, Still Life is a sweeping, joyful novel about beauty, love, family and fate.
Lizzie & Dante by Mary Bly
The insightful, audacious, and deeply romantic story of a woman whose life turns upside down on a magical holiday in Italy – perfect for fans of Beautiful Ruins or Under the Tuscan Sun. . .
On the heels of a difficult break-up and a devastating diagnosis, Shakespearean scholar Lizzie Delford decides to take one last lavish vacation on Elba, the sun-kissed island off the Italian coast, with her best friend and his movie-star boyfriend. Once settled into a luxurious seaside resort, Lizzie has to make big decisions about her future, and she needs the one thing she may be running out of: time.
She leaves the yacht owners and celebrities behind and sneaks off to the public beach, where she meets the unfairly gorgeous Dante, his battered dog Lily, and his wry daughter Etta, a twelve-year-old desperate for a mother. Soon Lizzie is confronted with a new dilemma. Is it fair to fall in love if time is short? Are the delicacies of life worth tasting, even if you savour them only for a short while?
The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar
Through letters with a famous author, one French librarian tells her love story and describes the brutal Nazi occupation of her small coastal village.
Saint-Malo, France: August 1938. Jocelyn and Antoine are childhood sweethearts, but just after they marry and are hoping for a child, Antoine is called up to fight against Germany. As the war rages, Jocelyn focuses on comforting and encouraging the local population by recommending books from her beloved library in Saint-Malo. She herself finds hope in her letters to a famous author.
After the French capitulation, the Nazis occupy the town and turn it into a fortress to control the north of French Brittany. Residents try passive resistance, but the German commander ruthlessly purges part of the city’s libraries to destroy any potentially subversive writings. At great risk to herself, Jocelyn manages to hide some of the books while waiting to receive news from Antoine, who has been taken to a German prison camp.
What unfolds in her letters is Jocelyn’s description of her mission: to protect the people of Saint-Malo and the books they hold so dear. With prose both sweeping and romantic, Mario Escobar brings to life the occupied city and re-creates the history of those who sacrificed all to care for the people they loved.
Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo
A funny, gripping and surprising story of a mixed-race British woman who goes in search of the West African father she never knew, by award-winning author Chibundu Onuzo.
Anna grew up in England with her white mother and knowing very little about her West African father. In middle age, after separating from her husband and with her daughter all grown up, she finds herself alone and wondering who she really is. Her mother’s death leads her to find her father’s student diaries, chronicling his involvement in radical politics in 1970s London. She discovers that he eventually became the president – some would say the dictator – of Bamana in West Africa. And he is still alive.
She decides to track him down and so begins a funny, painful, fascinating journey, and an exploration of race, identity and what we pass on to our children.
An Experiment in Leisure by Anna Glendenning
‘Can I get a refund?’ I asked the bus driver.
‘You taking the piss, love?’
It’s January 2015, and Grace is supposed to have what she wants. She’s swapped West Yorkshire for north London, her accent carefully edited and with a Cambridge degree under her belt. Her friends drink beer out of artful tins. She makes flat whites for people with berets. She’s found a psychoanalyst.
But this fantasy of metropolitan cool is turning out to be more costly than she thought, and Grace is running out of credit. Painfully adrift from her mother and twin sister and trying desperately both to forget her roots and disown her ambition, she’s lost and confused in the face of complicated crises of identity, class, sex and geography. She finds herself fleeing up and down a country on the verge of an intractable schism, and begins to reckon with her own divisions. Can she find a life amid these contradictions? Can she remember how to love?
Mammon in Malmo by Torquil MacLeod
With a new Skåne County Police commissioner wanting to make his mark in Malmö, the Criminal Investigation Squad is under pressure when they are called in to solve the killing of a private investigator. The nature of the victim’s work throws up some obvious suspects, yet not all is what it seems. When another murder takes place, there seems to be a politically sensitive connection.
Anita Sundström, out of the force for a year after her resignation, is approached by a dying woman to track down a collection of paintings stolen from her family. The artworks were looted by the Nazis in Budapest in 1944. But needing the money, Anita takes on this seemingly impossible task. As she heads off to Hungary, she has no idea of the dangers ahead. This is the eighth mystery in the best-selling Anita Sundström crime series.
Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan
Bombay, New Year’s Eve, 1949
As India celebrates the arrival of a momentous new decade, Inspector Persis Wadia stands vigil in the basement of Malabar House, home to the city’s most unwanted unit of police officers. Six months after joining the force she remains India’s first female police detective, mistrusted, sidelined and now consigned to the midnight shift.
And so, when the phone rings to report the murder of prominent English diplomat Sir James Herriot, the country’s most sensational case falls into her lap.
As 1950 dawns and India prepares to become the world’s largest republic, Persis, accompanied by Scotland Yard criminalist Archie Blackfinch, finds herself investigating a case that is becoming more political by the second. Navigating a country and society in turmoil, Persis, smart, stubborn and untested in the crucible of male hostility that surrounds her, must find a way to solve the murder – whatever the cost.
A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville
It is 1788. Twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth is hungry for life but, as the ward of a Devon clergyman, knows she has few prospects. When proud, scarred soldier John Macarthur promises her the earth one midsummer’s night, she believes him.
But Elizabeth soon realises she has made a terrible mistake. Her new husband is reckless, tormented, driven by some dark rage at the world. He tells her he is to take up a position as Lieutenant in a New South Wales penal colony and she has no choice but to go. Sailing for six months to the far side of the globe with a child growing inside her, she arrives to find Sydney Town a brutal, dusty, hungry place of makeshift shelters, failing crops, scheming and rumours.
All her life she has learned to be obliging, to fold herself up small. Now, in the vast landscapes of an unknown continent, Elizabeth has to discover a strength she never imagined, and passions she could never express.
Inspired by the real life of a remarkable woman, this is an extraordinarily rich, beautifully wrought novel of resilience, courage and the mystery of human desire.
When the Dead Come Calling by Helen Sedgwick
In the first of the Burrowhead Mysteries, an atmospheric murder investigation unearths the brutal history of a village where no one is innocent.
When psychotherapist Alexis Cosse is found murdered in the playground of the sleepy northern village of Burrowhead, DI Strachan and her team of local police investigate, exposing a maelstrom of racism, misogyny and homophobia simmering beneath the surface of the village.
Shaken by the revelations and beginning to doubt her relationship with her husband, DI Strachan discovers something lurking in the history of Burrowhead, while someone (or something) equally threatening is hiding in the strange and haunted cave beneath the cliffs…
Mac & His Problem by Enrique Vila-Matas
Mac is not writing a novel. He is writing a diary, which no one will ever read. At over sixty, and recently unemployed, Mac is a beginner, a novice, an apprentice – delighted by the themes of repetition and falsification, and humbly armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of literature. Mac’s wife, Carmen, thinks he is simply wasting his time and in danger of sliding further into depression and idleness. But Mac persists, diligently recording his daily walks through the neighbourhood. It is the hottest summer Barcelona has seen in over one hundred years.
Soon, despite his best intentions (not to write a novel), Mac begins to notice that life is exhibiting strange literary overtones and imitating fragments of plot. As he sizzles in the heatwave, he becomes ever more immersed in literature – a literature haunted by death but alive with the sheer pleasure of writing.
This is Yesterday by Rose Ruane
Peach is alone and adrift in London’s sprawl, with a stalled art career and an unhappiness she knows won’t be cured by a boyfriend or baby. Then she gets a shocking phone call that brings her face to face with her fractured family, and sends her spiralling into her past, to a scorched summer years ago in 90s suburbia . . .
Back in 1994, Peach longs to flee the stifling nowhere that makes her a misfit. Hot listless days and sleepless drunken nights have awakened in her a latent, destructive curiosity; she haunts airless attics, unlocks sealed doors, pries into private affairs and finally unearths a secret that rips her family apart, disrupting everything and setting the course for the rest of her life.
Now, facing this new crisis, Peach and her sister set out to confront a past they have avoided for two decades and meet a future they have no idea how to navigate. This is Yesterday is a book about beginnings and endings, about adolescence and ageing, failures, families, love and loneliness. It is the story of how the girls we once were shape the women we become.
A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion
Rage. That’s the feeling engulfing the car as Ellen’s mother swerves over to the hard-shoulder and orders her daughter out onto the roadside. Ignoring the protests of her other children, she accelerates away, leaving Ellen standing on the gravel verge in her school pinafore and knee socks as the light fades.
What would you do as you watch your little sister getting smaller in the rear view window? How far would you be willing to go to help her? The Gallagher children are going to find out. This moment is the beginning of a summer that will change everything.
Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin
Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Her daily life is lived to the rhythms of the hilarious and touching confidences of random visitors and her colleagues―three gravediggers, three groundskeepers, and a priest.
Violette’s routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of police chief Julien Seul, wishing to deposit his mother’s ashes on the gravesite of a complete stranger. Julien is not the only one to guard a painful secret: his mother’s story of clandestine love breaks through Violette’s carefully constructed defences to reveal the tragic loss of her daughter, and her steely determination to find out who is responsible.
The funny, moving, intimately told story of a woman who believes obstinately in happiness, Fresh Water for Flowers brings out the exceptional and the poetic in the ordinary. A delightful, atmospheric, absorbing tale.
Paperback & eBook releases
Grown Ups by Marie Aubert
Ida is a forty-year-old architect, single and starting to panic. She’s navigating Tinder and contemplating freezing her eggs, but forces these worries to the back of her mind as she sets off to the family cabin for her mother’s sixty-fifth birthday.
But family ties old and new begin to wear thin, out in the idyllic Norwegian countryside. Ida is fighting with her sister Marthe, flirting with Marthe’s husband and winning the favour of Marthe’s stepdaughter. Some supposedly wonderful news from her sister sets tensions simmering even further, building to an almighty clash between Ida and her sister, her mother, her whole family.
These Tangled Vines by Julianne MacLean
If Fiona has learned anything in life, it’s how to keep a secret—even from the father who raised her. She is the only person who knows about her late mother’s affair in Tuscany thirty years earlier, and she intends to keep it that way…until a lawyer calls with shocking news: her biological father has died and left her an incredible inheritance—along with two half siblings.
Fiona travels to Italy, where the family is shocked to learn of her existence and desperate to contest her share of the will. While the mystery of her mother’s affair is slowly unraveled, Fiona must navigate through tricky family relationships and tense sibling rivalries. Fiona both fears and embraces her new destiny as she searches for the truth about the fateful summer her mother spent in Italy and the father she never knew.
Spilling over with the sumptuous flavors and romance of Tuscany, These Tangled Vines takes readers on a breathtaking journey of love, secrets, sacrifice, courage—and most importantly, the true meaning of family.
The North Face of the Heart by Dolores Redondo
Amaia Salazar, a young detective from the north of Spain, has joined a group of trainees at the FBI Academy in Virginia. Haunted by her past and having already tracked down a predator on her own, Amaia is no typical rookie. And this is no ordinary student lecture at Quantico. FBI agent Aloisius Dupree is already well acquainted with Amaia’s skills, her intuition, and her ability to understand evil. He now needs her help in hunting an elusive serial killer dubbed “the Composer,” and in solving another case that’s been following him his whole life.
From New Jersey to Oklahoma to Texas, the Composer’s victims are entire families annihilated in the chaos of natural disasters, their bodies posed with chilling purpose amid the ruins. Dupree and Amaia follow his trail to New Orleans. The clock is ticking. It’s the eve of the worst hurricane in the city’s history. But a troubling call from Amaia’s aunt back home awakens in Amaia the ghosts from her childhood and sends her down a path as dark as that of the coming storm.
The Cannonball Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu
Has Su Lin summoned a tree demon who is now killing on her behalf?
The overpoweringly fragrant flowers, snakelike vines and deadly fruit of the cannonball tree are enough to keep most people away. But when a piece of expensive photographic equipment is found nearby, on closer inspection Su Lin discovers the body of Mimi, her horrible relative who has been trying to blackmail her.
Su Lin is not the only one to realise how much easier this death makes things for her in the new normal of life in Syonan (Japanese Occupied Singapore). And then more fortuitious deaths follow. But is someone really killing people on her account?
As Su Lin contends with the fear and rancour of those around her, the resentment of former friends and a whistling demon, can she hope not only to survive but untangle the cannonball tree’s secrets to prevent further deaths… and possibly turn the tide of the war?
Diving for Pearls by Jamie O’Connell
A young woman’s body floats in the Dubai marina. Her death alters the fates of six people, each one striving for a better life in an unforgiving city.
A young Irish man comes to stay with his sister, keen to erase his troubled past in the heat of the Dubai sun. A Russian sex worker has outsmarted the system so far – but will her luck run out? A Pakistani taxi driver dreams of a future for his daughters. An Emirate man hides the truth about who he really is. An Ethiopian maid tries to carve out a path of her own. From every corner of the globe, Dubai has made promises to them all. Promises of gilded opportunities and bright new horizons, the chance to forget the past and protect long-held secrets.
But Dubai breaks its promises, with deadly consequences. In a city of mirages, how do you find your way out?
The Cursed Girls by Caro Ramsay
Megan Melvick has spent years avoiding her inheritance, the dark and disquieting family estate Benbrae, now home only to her distant, aristocratic father, and her sister Melissa, dying quietly in an upstairs bedroom. Trapped behind her unreliable hearing aids and vulnerable to what others want her to see, Megan is unable to find the answers she wants: why is there a new woman on her father’s arm? And why has their absent mother not returned to say a final goodbye to Melissa?
Benbrae has always been a place of loss and misfortune for Megan, but as the Melvick family diminishes still further, she must ask one final question. If there is a curse on the house, will she be its next victim?
For Any Other Truth by Denzil Meyrick
When a light aircraft crash-lands at Machrie airport, DCI Jim Daley and his colleague Brian Scott rush to the scene. But it soon becomes clear that both occupants of the plane were dead before take-off …
Meanwhile in Kinloch, local fisherman Hamish is unwittingly dragged into danger when he witnesses something he shouldn’t, and hotel manager Annie is beginning to suspect her new boss may not be as he first appeared.
And just as Chief Superintendent Carrie Symington thinks she has finally escaped the sins of her past, she finds herself caught in an even deadlier trap.
As the action spills across the sea to County Antrim – all under the scrutiny of the Security Service – the search is on for any other truth.
The Forever Home by Sue Watson
You thought you’d always be safe there… you were wrong.
Carly had thought they’d always live there. The beautiful Cornish cliffside house they’d taken on as a wreck, that Mark had obsessively re-designed and renovated – a project that had made him famous. It was where they’d raised their children, where they’d sat cosily on the sofa watching storms raging over the sea below. It was where they’d promised to keep each other’s secrets…
Until now. Because Mark has fallen in love. With someone he definitely shouldn’t have. Someone who isn’t Carly. And suddenly their family home doesn’t feel like so much of a safe haven.
Carly thinks forever should mean forever though: it’s her home and she’ll stay there. Even the dark family secrets it contains feel like they belong to her. But someone disagrees. And, as threats start to arrive at her front door, it becomes clear, someone will stop at nothing. Because someone wants to demolish every last thing that makes Carly feel safe. Forever.
Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
When Vivian Howe, author of thirteen novels and mother of three grown-up children, is killed in a hit-and-run incident while jogging near her home, she ascends to the Beyond. Because her death was unfair, she is allowed to watch what happens below with her children, her best friend, her ex-husband, and a rival novelist whose book is coming out the same day as Vivi’s.
Vivi is also given the use of three ‘nudges’ so that she can influence the outcome of events in the world of the living. As Vivi discovers her children’s secrets, watches the investigation into her own death and worries about a secret from her youth coming to light, she must decide what she wants to manipulate – and what should be left well alone.
The Wedding Night by Harriet Walker
What do you do when the wedding of your dreams turns into a nightmare?
When Lizzie calls off her wedding in the south of France only a week before the big day, not even her closest friends know why. But since the chateau is already paid for, they figure it’s the perfect place to take Lizzie’s her mind off her suddenly single state.
But when the group arrives, the wedding is waiting for them – food, flowers, and all.
The next day, Lizzie wakes to find her friends have drunkenly revelled in the wedding-that-wasn’t – but not all their antics were benign. Someone is set on tormenting Lizzie, and she can’t think who.
The more the friends try to piece together exactly what happened that night, the more secrets start to come out . . .
The Union of Synchronised Swimmers by Christina Sandu
It’s summer behind the Iron Curtain, and six girls are about to swim their way to the Olympics — and a new life.
In an unnamed Soviet state, six girls meet each day to swim. At first, they play, splashing each other and floating languidly on the water’s surface. But soon the game becomes something more.
They hone their bodies relentlessly. Their skin shades into bruises. They barter cigarettes stolen from the factory where they work for swimsuits to stretch over their sunburnt skin. They tear their legs into splits, flick them back and forth, like herons. They force themselves to stop breathing.
When they find themselves representing their country as synchronised swimmers in the Olympics, they seize the chance they have been waiting for to escape and begin new lives.
Scattered around the globe, six women live in freedom. But will they ever be able to forget what they left behind?
A Very French Wedding by Maeve Haran
For all those who imagine escaping to a château and living the dream . . . to find that even dreams can have their complications.
Steph, Jo and Meredith have been friends since school. Their lives have all taken very different paths across the years, but when Meredith buys a romantic château in an idyllic village in the Dordogne she finds she can’t do it alone – so who better to enlist for help than her two old friends? Together they hope to bring the château back to life and create the most romantic wedding venue in France.
And it seems that the nearby village of Bratenac has much more to offer than sun, wine and delicious French food when a handsome chef and his equally charming son, a vigneron from New Zealand, not to mention the local ladies’ luncheon club and a British bulldog named Nelly all join the party.
A Family Affair by Julie Houston
Joining the family business was never going to be easy…
Frankie Piccione is done running away from her responsibilities – well, for now, anyway. Two years after fleeing Westenbury with a shattered heart, it’s time to return and take up her place on the board of the family business. Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves is floundering, and Frankie knows she can turn it around.
But with her brother Luca and the new, rather attractive, Cameron Mancini watching her every move, she’s going to have to come up with something special to persuade them that she belongs on the board just as much as they do.
With the help of her Aunt Pam and best friend Daisy, Frankie begins to thrive with her new sense of purpose. Until someone from her past walks right back into her life and threatens to ruin everything…
Always and Forever at Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters
What if we’re all just searching for something?
Anna Stewart is lost. After barely surviving a car accident as a teenager, Anna is scared of settling. Flitting between jobs, boyfriends and homes whenever she gets bored, she has no idea what the future holds. Then her brother Brodie, minister of Glendale, suggests she moves to the beautiful Scottish village, lining up a housekeeper job for her at Glendale Hall.
Out of options, Anna agrees to take the job just for the summer. Once at the hall, her culinary skills impress everyone, and she agrees to give Hilltop Farm’s new manager, Cameron, cooking lessons. Sparks fly between Anna and the handsome Scot, but Cameron keeps pushing Anna away, and Anna definitely isn’t looking for love. But it’s wedding season at Glendale Hall, and Anna is about to discover that her new home has a way of working its magic on even the coldest of hearts.
Will she really be able to just walk away at the end of summer, or could Anna have finally found a place to belong?
It’s summertime so pack your bags and escape to beautiful Highlands village of Glendale with this gorgeously uplifting, romantic read. Fans of Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin will love this charming romance.
The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones
They went away as friends
They came back as suspects . . .
Jack and Rachel. Noah and Paige. Will and Ali. Five friends who’ve known each other for years. And Ali, Will’s new fiancée.
To celebrate the forthcoming wedding, all three couples are having a weekend get-away together in Portugal.
It’s a chance to relax and get to know Ali a little better perhaps. A newcomer to their group, she seems perfectly nice and Will seems happy after years of bad choices. But Ali is hiding more than one secret . . .
By the end of the weekend there’ll be one dead body and five people with guilty consciences wondering if they really know each other so well after all. Because one of them has to be the killer . . .
Spin by Peter Zheutlin
Ride away on a ’round-the-world adventure of a lifetime—with only a change of clothes and a pearl-handled revolver—in this trascendent novel inspired by the life of Annie Londonderry.
“Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”—Susan B. Anthony
Who was Annie Londonderry? She captured the popular imagination with her daring ‘round the world trip on two wheels. It was, declared The New York World in October of 1895, “the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman.”
But beyond the headlines, Londonderry was really Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, a young, Jewish mother of three small children, who climbed onto a 42-pound Columbia bicycle and pedaled away into history.
Reportedly set in motion by a wager between two wealthy Boston merchants, the bet required Annie not only to circle the earth by bicycle in 15 months, but to earn $5,000 en route, as well. This was no mere test of a woman’s physical endurance and mental fortitude; it was a test of a woman’s ability to fend for herself in the world.
Often attired in a man’s riding suit, Annie turned every Victorian notion of female propriety on its head. Not only did she abandon, temporarily, her role of wife and mother (scandalous in the 1890s), she earned her way selling photographs of herself, appearing as an attraction in stores, and by turning herself into a mobile billboard.
Zheutlin, a descendent of Annie, brilliantly probes the inner life and seeming boundless courage of this outlandish, brash, and charismatic woman. In a time when women could not vote and few worked outside the home, Annie was a master of public relations, a consummate self-promoter, and a skillful creator of her own myth. Yet, for more than a century her remarkable story was lost to history. In SPIN, this remarkable heroine and her marvelous, stranger-than-fiction story is vividly brought to life for a new generation.
Two Steps Onward by Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist
Three years after life got in the way of their long-distance relationship, Californian artist Zoe and English engineer Martin have an unexpected opportunity to reunite: a second chance to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims in Europe.
This time, they won’t be walking the famous Camino de Santiago to north-west Spain but the less-travelled Chemin d’Assise and Via Francigena to Rome, along the mountainous paths from rural France.
And rather than each setting off solo, they will accompany Zoe’s old friend Camille—who, despite her life-threatening illness, insists she will walk the whole sixteen hundred kilometres to seek an audience with the Pope—and her not-so-ex-husband, Gilbert, who sees the trip as a gourmet tour.
Then Bernhard, Martin’s young nemesis from the previous trek, shows up, along with Martin’s daughter, Sarah, who is having a quarter-life crisis and doesn’t exactly hit it off with Zoe…
The Tulip Tree by Suzanne McCourt
Henryk reached out to embrace him, formally, awkwardly. How rarely they’d touched since childhood, thought Adi, as he sank against his brother. How clumsy their love was.
Brothers Henryk and Adam Radecki’s relationship is one of fraught love and jealously. Henryk, unhappily married, becomes a rich and successful industrialist, while Adi, a devoted vet, finds and loses love. Their bond is tested throughout their lives, from the 1920s, against the background of Poland’s tragic and tumultuous relationship with Russia, through war, revolution and invasion, until 1954 in the Snowy Mountains of Australia.
Adi’s wife and son are at the heart of this riveting tale, in which family secrets threaten to tear lives apart. Caught up in momentous events, each character reminds us of our power to survive extraordinary times, of the moral choices we make and the dramatic turns our lives can take.
Beautifully written, full of the detail of everyday life, its joys and suffering, The Tulip Tree is engrossing historical fiction at its best, a profoundly moving story of love, sacrifice and loyalty.
Her Tuscan Summer by Vanessa Carnevale
I take my spot behind Luca and soon we’re racing down winding country roads through the breathtaking Italian countryside, with postcard-perfect sunflowers that carpet faraway fields. I have no other place to be, and no other person I’d rather be with.
Mia Moretti has always dreamed of becoming an artist. But after a fierce battle with a devastating illness that she is terrified will return, Mia is heartbroken to find herself unable to paint like she used to.
So when an opportunity to spend the summer in Italy presents itself, Mia jumps at the chance for a fresh start. She hopes that by travelling to the sun-drenched streets of Florence, surrounded by Tuscany’s rich green vineyards and sweeping hills, she will finally be able to heal.
What Mia doesn’t count on is meeting handsome local mechanic, Luca Bonnici. With his smouldering chestnut eyes, charming smile and irresistible joie de vivre, Mia can’t resist the invitation to jump on the back of his motorbike to the see the country she is already falling in love with. And as she slowly lets down her walls and opens her heart to Luca, Mia starts to fall in love with life again too.
But just when she is ready to let go of her past, tragedy strikes. Will Mia’s strength and her love for Luca be enough to save them, or will they lose each other forever?
Lose yourself in the blue skies and sun-kissed streets of Florence with this gorgeous, heart-wrenching story about love and second chances. Perfect for fans of That Month in Tuscany, T.A. Williams and Lucy Coleman.
The Year of Lost and Found by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
Ordinary people. Extraordinary secrets …
It’s business as usual in the sleepy town of Lissbeg on the west coast of Ireland, but, as local librarian Hanna Casey gathers material for an exhibition on Ireland’s struggle for Independence, secrets revealed in her Great-Aunt’s diary expose her own family history of love, dishonour and revenge. Will Hanna risk personal and professional fallout by keeping those war-torn secrets to herself, or will she honour the exhibition’s spirit of shared storytelling?
Meanwhile, newly-wed Aideen has just had her first baby and becomes convinced that she needs to find her own dad, whom she’s never known. But is she really prepared for the consequences?
Hanna and Aideen each face decisions and it soon becomes clear that, when old wounds are opened and forgotten memories disturbed, history is never just about the past. Will they discover that finding happiness is all about living in the present?
In 1948, Iris Digby vanishes from her London home with her American diplomat husband and their two children.
Four years later, Ruth Macallister receives a postcard from the estranged twin sister she hasn’t seen since 1940. Since that one catastrophic summer in Rome, as war was engulfing Europe and Iris was falling desperately in love…
Within days, Ruth is on her way to Moscow, posing as the wife of Agent Fox in a precarious plot to extract her sister from behind the Iron Curtain.
But the truth behind Iris’s marriage threatens to unravel everything, and as the sisters race to safety, a dogged Soviet KGB officer forces them to make a heartbreaking choice…
OK folks, that’s it for another week, anything take your fancy?
See you – same time, same place next week.