Coming over the next two weeks, my fiction picks to 26th June 2022

Here’s this week’s list of new fiction titles. These are titles appearing in hardback/paperback for the first time. In some cases the ebook might already be available. All titles are based on the listings found in The Bookseller, so I’m not working from a list of all titles being published.

Just a reminder I don’t see any advance copies, my choices are based on the blurb, gut instinct and what takes my fancy at the time.

(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)

Index

Crime, Thriller and Mystery

General Fiction

Historical (I tend to take this as pre 1960’s ie not in my lifetime!)

Crime, Thriller & Mystery

The Other Guest by Helen Cooper

One year ago, Leah’s twenty-one-year-old niece, Amy, mysteriously drowned near her family-owned luxury resort on the shores of Lake Garda.

Now, returning to Italy for the first time since Amy’s death, Leah is shocked to find her family seem to have erased all reminders of Amy. Despite the murky circumstances, they insist her death was an accident but Leah knows she must look deeper if she is to uncover the truth.

Meanwhile, in Derby, university counsellor Joanna is recovering from a surprising break-up when she is swept off her feet by a handsome bartender. But after she invites him into her home, Joanna is forced to accept that she doesn’t know him as well as she thought.

What follows is a propulsive game of cat-and mouse as both women begin to realise that appearances can be deceptive – and that the darkest secrets often lie closest to home.


One Fatal Secret by Jane Isaac

Sometimes your enemies are closer than you think…

Nicole Jameson has always been proud of her husband, Ethan. He’s built a successful career in finance, and his employers, the Harrisons, treat them like family. They’re a firm who look after their own, and even gave a loan to the company chauffeur, Conrad, to fund his pilot licence.

When the two men are returning from a business trip, the worst possible thing happens – their plane crashes into the sea. No survivors are expected to be found. Nicole is heartbroken, much like Conrad’s wife, Ania. She never warmed to Nicole, but now they share a bond of grief.

When evidence is found that Conrad took drugs shortly before the plane departed with him at the controls, the two women begin to wonder if all is not what it seems. But when they ask questions about events leading up to the crash, unsettling occurrences suggest it wasn’t a good idea. Sinister-looking men follow them, the Harrisons are increasingly cagey, and the women wonder if there is not more to this than a tragic accident.

But are the most dangerous people the ones they have already allowed to get too close…?

A Kiss After Dying by Ashok Banker

Hannah is shy and sometimes spiky; no one ever seems to notice her.

Which is exactly how she’s planned it.

Ricky is anything but shy: rich, charming, good-looking, he always gets what he wants.

And now he wants Hannah.

There’s a spark between them that even Hannah can’t resist.

But soon it’ll burn down in flames . . .

The Lover by Helene Flood

Is it worse to lie to your husband or the police?

Rikke is deceiving them both. When their upstairs neighbour Jørgen is found dead, she’s questioned alongside her husband Åsmund.

How can Rikke admit in front of Åsmund that Jørgen and she were having an affair? Or explain to the police the complexity of her feelings for Jørgen? The hint of relief that he’s dead. And, as the investigation closes in on the neighbourhood, how long can she conceal the affair from her neighbours, her husband and her teenage daughter?

Rikke knows she can’t hide the phone calls, emails and messages from the police. So she cuts herself a deal. In return for a few days’ grace to tell Åsmund before anyone else does, she’ll share everything about the affair.

But before she can summon the courage to confess, Rikke is struck by a chilling revelation. Jørgen can only have been killed by someone living in their small apartment building.

The Apartment Upstairs by Lesley Kara

Scarlett‘s aunt lived – and was brutally murdered – in the apartment upstairs. But Scarlett is determined that life should return to some kind of normal, even if that means living with just a ceiling between her and the scene of such a devastating crime. After all, this is her home. She’s safe here. Isn’t she?

Dee is busy balancing her job as a funeral director with organizing an event to mark the disappearance of her best friend, ten years ago. So she’s got enough on her plate without worrying about the threatening messages that are appearing on her company’s Facebook page.

When Scarlett approaches Dee about planning her aunt’s funeral, an unexpected link between them emerges. Together, the two women could uncover secrets that have long been buried. Even while someone wants to stop them digging . . .

The Guest House by Robin Morgan-Bentley

KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE.
WHATEVER THE COST…

Jamie and Victoria are expecting their first baby.

With a few weeks to go, they head off for a final weekend break in a remote part of the North Pennines. The small and peaceful guesthouse is the ideal location to unwind together before becoming parents. Upon arrival, they are greeted by Barry and Fiona, the older couple who run the guesthouse. They cook them dinner and show them to their room before retreating to bed themselves.

The next morning, Jamie and Victoria wake to find the house deserted. Barry and Fiona are nowhere to be seen. All the doors are locked. Both their mobile phones and car keys have disappeared. Even though it’s a few weeks early, Victoria knows the contractions are starting.

The baby is coming, and there’s no way out.

Still Water by Rebecca Pert

When Jane Douglas returns to the Shetland Islands, she thinks she has escaped the dark shadows of her childhood. She carves out a simple life on the bleak, windswept island, working at the salmon fishery and spending quiet evenings at home. And for the first time in her life, she’s happy.

Then the body of Jane’s long-missing mother is found in a flooded quarry. Her mother disappeared when Jane was a teenager, following the death of Jane’s baby brother. Jane has spent her life running from her past, living in fear that she has inherited her mother’s demons. Now, Jane must face what actually happened on that fateful, tragic day twenty years ago…

Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

Durton. Dirt town. Dirt and hurt – that’s what others would remember about our town . . .

When twelve-year-old Esther Bianchi disappears on her way home from school in the small town of Durton in rural Australia, the local community is thrown into a state of grief and suspicion.

THE DETECTIVE

As Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels begins her investigation, she questions those who knew the girl, attempting to unpick the secrets which bind them together.

THE MOTHER

The girl’s mother, Constance, believes that her daughter going missing is the worst thing that can happen to her. But as the search for Esther develops, she learns that things can always get worse.

THE FRIENDS

Ronnie is Esther’s best friend and is determined to bring her home. So when her classmate Lewis tells her that he saw Esther with a strange man at the creek the afternoon she went missing, Ronnie feels she is one step closer to finding her. But why is Lewis refusing to speak to the police?

And who else is keeping quiet about what happened to Esther?

Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter

A girl with a secret…
Longbill Beach, 1982. Emily Vaughn gets ready for prom night, the highlight of any high school experience. But Emily has a secret. And by the end of the evening, she will be dead.

A murder that remains a mystery…
Forty years later, Emily’s murder remains unsolved. Her friends closed ranks, her family retreated inwards, the community moved on. But all that’s about to change.

One final chance to uncover a killer…
Andrea Oliver arrives in town with a simple assignment: to protect a judge receiving death threats. But her assignment is a cover. Because, in reality, Andrea is here to find justice for Emily – and to uncover the truth before the killer decides to silence her too…

The Guilty Couple by CL Taylor

What would you do if your husband framed you for murder?

Five years ago, Olivia Sutherland was convicted of plotting to murder her husband.

Now she’s finally free, Olivia has three goals. Repair her relationship with her daughter. Clear her name. And bring down her husband – the man who framed her.

Just how far is she willing to go to get what she wants? And how far will her husband go to stop her?

Because his lies run deeper than Olivia could ever have imagined – and this time it’s not her freedom that’s in jeopardy, but her life…

The Drowning Hour by SK Tremayne

A hotel brimming with wealthy guests

Surrounded by the Blackwater estuary, The Stanhope hotel sits on a beautiful remote island. Tonight is the grand reopening, and organiser Hannah watches the guests with pride.

Celebration leads to tragedy

But as drinking descends into debauchery, drunken revellers wade into the water, unaware of the treacherous tide at The Drowning Hour.
They are never seen again.

Fear becomes phobia

Tormented by a terror of water, Hannah is stuck on the island over winter. Whispers about That Night begin to circle.
Someone knows what really happened in The Drowning Hour – and Hannah isn’t safe…

The Loyal Friend by AA Chaudhuri

She has your back.

And may stab you in it.

Wealthy, pampered Susan is living the perfect life in leafy Kingston. She’ll never let anyone see the darkness she’s concealing behind the diamonds and rosé.

Grace is new to the group, seemingly the perfect wife and mum. Yet no one knows the truth of what’s happening behind closed doors.

Loner Natalie hides the pain of her childhood behind a carefully ordered life. But how long can the past stay hidden?

Three unlikely friends, brought together for a weekly class run by beautiful, friendly, instructor, Jade.

But when Jade goes missing in mysterious circumstances, the group starts to unravel. And as their darkest secrets come to light, it seems that no one can be trusted. Even their closest friends…

Back to Index

General/Contemporary Fiction

The Spanish Wedding Disaster by Karen King

Some people are romantics. Some aren’t. When Sophie and Maddie are summoned to a mysterious, top-secret meeting by their best friend Kate’s partner, and told that he’s planning to whisk Kate away for a surprise wedding in Gibraltar, it’s immediately clear that bubbly florist Sophie is a total romantic. And that freewheeling, purple-haired Maddie is not.

Soon, Maddie finds herself reluctantly organising venues, planners and ceremonies; trying not to think of her own memories of Andalucia, and those she’s lost touch with there. Meanwhile Sophie’s hoping this dreamy gesture might spur on her own boyfriend to similar plans . . . and absolutely not thinking at all about Kate’s gorgeous brother-in-law-to-be.

But Kate’s got no idea what’s going on. And as the stresses pile up and the group jet off to the sunny south, it seems it’s not just Kate who might get a surprise in Spain – one that could change everything . . .

The Amusements by Aingeala Flannery

In the seaside town of Tramore, County Waterford, visitors arrive in waves with the tourist season, reliving the best days of their childhoods in its caravan parks, chippers and amusement arcades.

Local teenager Helen Grant is indifferent to the charm of her surroundings; she dreams of escaping to art college with her glamorous classmate Stella Swaine and, from there, taking on the world. But leaving Tramore is easier said than done. Though they don’t yet know it, Helen and Stella’s lives are pulled by tides beyond their control.

Following the Grant and Swaine families and their neighbours over three decades, The Amusements is a luminous and unforgettable story about roads taken and not taken – and a brilliantly observed portrait of a small-town community.

Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen

Smart-mouthed and filthy-minded, Maeve Murray has always felt like an outsider in the shitty wee town in Northern Ireland that she calls home. She hopes her exam results will be her ticket to a new life in London; a life where no one knows her business, or cares about her dead sister. But first she’s got to survive a tit-for-tat paramilitary campaign as brutal as her relationship with her mam, iron 800 shirts a day to keep her summer job in the local factory, and dodge the attentions of Handy Andy Strawbridge, her dubious English boss.

Maeve and her two best friends try to squeeze as much fun as possible into their last summer at home. But as marching season raises tensions among the Catholic and Protestant workforce, Maeve realises something is going on behind the scenes at the factory, forcing her to make a choice that will impact her life – and the lives of others – for ever.

These Streets by Luan Goldie

Jess is a single mother to two teenage children, and although life can be tough she’s just about keeping things together. But when her landlord asks her to move on, so he can sell the house they’re living in without warning, Jess’s worries take on a whole new meaning. As Jess struggles to regain her footing, cracks begin to appear in other areas of her life, and suddenly she feels she’s failing at everything. Her daughter Hazel is becoming more and more distant, her son Jacob is struggling to find where he fits in the world, and the menacing spectre of Jess’s older brother, someone she cut out of her life years ago, begins to make his presence felt again.

Jess knows she’s the only one who can keep her family together, but how can she keep going when life keeps beating her back?

Set on the streets of East London, These Streets is a searing and powerful novel that explores how we are meant to find our place in a world that is designed for only the privileged to succeed. Beautiful and honest, it is an essential story about living in Britain today.

Little Prisons by Ilona Bannister

When you can’t get out, let kindness in.

In a non-descript building in a gentrifying corner of London, Penny is doing daily battle with her mind. She is convinced that the world beyond her door is too dangerous for her, though her heart knows it isn’t. Penny’s neighbour, Carla, an American expat and single mother of two teens, has lived in a coercive relationship for many years, too worn down by her controlling husband to escape her situation. Mable, Penny’s upstairs neighbour, an elderly Jamaican pensioner and devout Jehovah’s Witness, has sacrificed everything for her faith, including her relationship with her family. And Woman, the housekeeper and nanny on the second floor, has been trafficked. When she is not cleaning and cooking, she works in the laundrette the landlord owns on the ground floor, a hidden slave in full view of the public.

Through grocery deliveries, glimpses through windows, and overheard conversations in the stairwell, the women come to know each other. Their small acts of compassion help them each find a way to mend the broken paths in their lives.

Just Got Real by Jane Fallon

When happily divorced Joni is reluctantly talked into joining a dating app, she is surprised to quickly hit it off with Ant. Phone calls and texts soon evolve into a plan to meet up.

Which is a problem, as Joni’s profile picture is of someone else.

Joni daren’t confess her lie. Yet unable to stop thinking about what might have been, she hatches a plan to ‘meet’ Ant in real life without revealing who she really is.

Once she and Ant are an item, however, it’s soon clear that the only thing Ant was honest about was his profile picture. He’s still online dating. And intimately texting other women.

So Joni contacts them: they need to know. And once they’re comparing notes on Ant, upset turns to thoughts of revenge.

But how do you get your own back on a truly heartless man?

First Time for Everything by Henry Fry

Danny Scudd is absolutely fine.

At twenty-seven his life isn’t exactly awful – he’s escaped his parents’ tiny fish and chip shop for a ‘proper’ writing job in London, his beloved collection of house plants are thriving and he’s just celebrated his first anniversary with his boyfriend Tobbs.

But Danny’s life is thrown into chaos when he discovers at an STI clinic that Tobbs might be cheating on him. And then he ­- and his plants – are unceremoniously evicted from his London flat. So, he’s forced to move in with his best friend Jacob, a flamboyant non-binary artiste who Danny’s known since childhood, and their eccentric group of friends in East London.

For the first time, and with the help of his inscrutable therapist and colourful new housemates, Danny realises how little he knows about himself – and slowly starts to question whether he is fine after all…

The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh

Who are you?

Emma loves her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she’s told them about herself is a lie.

And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer and Emma is a well-known marine biologist, so, when she suffers a serious illness, Leo copes by doing what he knows best – reading and writing about her life. But as he starts to unravel her past, he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t really exist. Even her name is fictitious.

When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past life finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was . . .

But first, she must tell him about the love of her other life.

A Golden Cornish Summer by Phillipa Ashley

Under the golden Cornish sun, buried treasure and family secrets will change Emma’s life forever…

Emma loved her life in the seaside village of Silver Cove. But when the discovery of sunken treasure ignited a feud between her family and that of Luke, her first love, everything fell apart. Heartbroken and betrayed, she fled.

Now, as she wades into the sparkling surf for the first time in fifteen years, she remembers everything she loved about this beautiful place. Then a huge wave knocks her off her feet. Wet and dripping, Emma is rescued by none other than Luke – who is, to her dismay, even more handsome than ever.

As their paths continue to cross, and Emma is reminded of everything she ran away from, she starts to wonder if returning home was a huge mistake.

Or could the real treasure have been waiting here for her all along?

Nothing Else by Louise Beech

Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet.

But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again.

When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night … coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.

An exquisitely moving novel about surviving devastating trauma, about the unbreakable bond between sisters, Nothing Else is also a story of courage and love, and the power of music to transcend – and change – everything.

Note to Self by Anna Bell

It’s never too late to follow your heart.

One summer’s day seventeen years ago Edie and Joel meet.
Their connection is instant and a friendship is born, although Edie can’t help but wish for more. But just as she builds up the courage to lay her heart on the line, one night changes everything…

Edie’s moved on from the heartbreak of years ago. So the last thing she expects to receive on her thirty-fifth birthday is an email… from her eighteen-year-old self. As more emails arrive, she starts to remember what – or rather who – she left behind.

Following her own advice, Edie heads back to the place where it all began, and finds her path unexpectedly crossing with Joel’s once more. Could this finally be their chance at love? Or are some things better left in the past?

The Summer Trip by Isabelle Broom

What if your life worked out perfectly . . . for someone else?

It’s been 18 years since Ava spent the summer on the Greek island of Corfu, but she has never forgotten what happened during those months – or who she left behind.

Now single, estranged from her family, and preparing to wave her daughter off to university, Ava’s life seems a million miles away from the one she dreamed about as a teenager – a life now being lived by her sister instead.

When Ava decides to return to Corfu for the summer, she knows she must finally face the place and the people that broke her heart. But with old resentments festering, long-buried secrets lurking, and familiar feelings resurfacing, it looks set to be a holiday that will change all their lives forever. . .

Lucie Yi is Not a Romantic by Lauren Ho

Lucie Yi has tried love – it didn’t work.

She’s decided that finding Mr Right is a myth, and that finding Mr Right-enough-to-have-children-with is the next best option. So when she meets easy-going Collin Read on a platonic co-parenting website, it finally feels like she has found her version of happily ever after.
 
But things take a turn for the worse when they move back home to Singapore where her very traditional family and remorseful ex-fiancé await.
 
With pressure mounting on all sides and her perfect plan unravelling, Lucie has to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice for a chance at happiness – and maybe, just maybe, love.

The Cornish Cream Tea Holiday by Cressida McLaughlin

It’s going to be an unforgettable Cornish summer…

Thea Rushwood was looking forward to exploring the beautiful Cornish tourist spot of Port Karadow, but when her friend drops out at the last minute, she is forced to go solo. Arriving at her cosy holiday cottage to discover a building site next door, Thea and the annoyingly attractive, but grumpy builder, Ben, don’t get off to the best start.

Thea starts to wonder if her perfect escape wasn’t meant to be. That’s before she realizes there is more to Ben – and to the community – than she first thought. As a magical Cornish summer stretches out in front of her, Thea discovers this is one holiday that she never wants to end…

The First Wife by Muna Shehadi

Holly Penny expects that attending the funeral of her ex-husband at the elegant mountain resort they enjoyed together so often will be momentous and emotional. Lyle was the love of her life; they were happier than she’d ever imagined being, until a split second changed their lives and eventually destroyed their marriage.

Surrounded by luxury she could once take for granted, what Holly doesn’t expect is to discover that Lyle kept their long, loving relationship a secret from the two women he married after her. Even more troubling, stories the other wives tell bear little resemblance to the man Holly knew so well.

As the weekend unfolds, guided by detailed instructions Lyle left behind, new jarring surprises surface and new connections are formed that will force Holly to redefine both her future and, more wrenchingly, her past.

Rome for the Summer by Lynne Shelby

Kate Harper has always loved the painting that has hung in her parents’ dining room for years, never suspecting that it is worth a fortune. When her art dealer boyfriend cheats her family out of the proceeds of the painting’s sale, she is left devastated and alone.

Kate discovers that two hundred years ago, the girl in the painting, Charlotte Browne, ran off to Rome with the artist who painted her portrait, but her eventual fate is unknown.

Hoping to uncover the mystery of what happened to Charlotte, Kate seizes the chance of a summer job in Rome, where she strikes up a friendship with Jamie Taylor, an English artist. As they explore the city and start to piece together the surprising secrets of Charlotte’s life, Kate finds herself wondering if a summer in Rome can mend a broken heart…

Retreat to the Spanish Sun by Jo Thomas

Eliza has a full house! When her three children grew up and moved out, she downsized to a smaller property… but now they’re all back. Every room in the house is taken and Eliza finds herself sharing her bed with her eldest daughter and her daughter’s pug. Combined with the online course she’s trying to finish, plus her job to fit in, there just isn’t the peace and quiet that Eliza needs.

So when an ad pops up on her laptop saying ‘house-sitters wanted’, Eliza can’t resist the chance to escape. She ends up moving to a rural finca in southern Spain, looking after the owner’s Iberico pigs, learning about secret gastronomic societies… and finding a new zest for life and love along the way.

An Island Wedding by Jenny Colgan

Olivia and Anthony are planning A Very Extravagant Wedding at the newest hotel on the tiny Scottish island of Mure. They’re flying in chefs, musicians and something called a living flower wall… and no one is even allowed to think the word bridezilla.

Flora is trying – and failing – not to let Olivia and Anthony’s wedding distract her from planning her own big day with Joel. But the couple have wildly different ideas about how to celebrate and somehow, just when their relationship should be plain sailing, everything is suddenly very hard indeed.

And then there’s Lorna and Saif. The local headmistress and the GP desperately keeping their relationship a secret to protect his sons. But while they’re looking out for the boys, who’s looking out for them?

Three couples. One midsummer’s night. Can everyone get their happy ever after?

Back to Index

Historical

Belle Greene by Alexandra Lapierre

New York in the 1900s. A young girl, fascinated by rare books, defies the odds and climbs all the ranks. She becomes the director of the fabulous library of the magnate J. P. Morgan and the darling of the international aristocracy, under the false name of Belle da Costa Greene. Belle Greene to close friends.

But the flamboyant collector who turns heads and reigns over the world of bibliophiles hides a terrible secret for the violently racist America of her time. Although she looks white, she is actually African American and, moreover, the daughter of a famous black activist who sees her desire to hide her origins as a betrayal. It is this drama of a being torn between history and a woman’s choice to belong to the society which oppresses her people that Alexandra Lapierre recounts.

The fruit of three years of investigation, this novel retraces the victories and heartbreaks of a woman full of life, as free as she is determined, whose astonishing daring echoes today’s battles. 

The Young Accomplice by Benjamin Wood

In the summer of 1952, Joyce and Charlie Savigear are waiting on a railway platform in the quiet English countryside. The siblings have just been released from borstal to start a new life as apprentices at Leventree, an architecture practice with a difference.

The architects who’ve chosen them are Florence and Arthur Mayhood, a married couple motivated to give young offenders second chances. At first, they seem to offer the Savigears a steady path to happiness. But when a menacing figure from Joyce’s past comes knocking, they are lured back to the world they left behind. Will the Mayhoods’ goodwill be enough to steer their young apprentices away from danger, or will the darkness of their past catch up with them?

Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby

January 1804: Anne Sharpe arrives at Godmersham Park in Kent to take up the position of governess.

At thirty-one years old, she has no previous experience of either teaching or fine country houses. But her mother has died and she desperately needs an independent income if she is to survive.

For her new charge, twelve-year- old Fanny Austen, Anne’s arrival is all novelty and excitement.

But Anne is keenly aware that her new role is an awkward one: she is neither one of the servants nor one of the family, and to balance a position between the ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ members of the household is a diplomatic chess game. One wrong move may result in her instant dismissal.

She has just begun to settle into her position when dashing Henry Austen and his younger sister Jane come to stay.
Both take an immediate interest in the pretty, clever governess who quickly becomes drawn into the above stairs life of the Austen family.

Despite her best endeavours, Anne finds that she is beginning to fall in love. But has her survival at Godmersham Park just become a good deal more precarious?

The Colour Storm by Damian Dibben

In Renaissance Venice, artist Giorgione ‘Zorzo’ Barbarelli’s career hangs in the balance. Competition is fierce, and his debts are piling up. So when Zorzo hears a rumour of a mysterious new pigment brought to Venice by the richest man in Europe, he sets out to acquire the colour and secure his name in history.

Winning a commission to paint a portrait of the man’s wife, Sybille, Zorzo thinks he has found a way into the merchant’s favour. Instead he finds himself caught up in a conspiracy that stretches across Europe and a marriage coming apart inside one of the city’s most illustrious palazzos.

As the water levels rise and the plague creeps ever closer, an increasingly desperate Zorzo isn’t sure whom he can trust . . .

Will Sybille prove to be the key to Zorzo’s success, or the reason for his downfall?

The White Hare by Jane Johnson

In a valley steeped in legend lies an abandoned house where Edens may be lost, found and remade…

The White Valley in the far west of Cornwall cuts deeply through bluebell woods down to the sea. The house above the beach has lain neglected since the war. It comes with a reputation, which is why Mila and her mother Magda acquire it so cheaply in the fateful summer of 1954.

Magda plans to restore the house to its former glory: the venue for glittering parties, where the rich and celebrated gathered for bracing walks by day and sumptuous cocktails by night. Mila’s ambitions, meanwhile, are much less grand; she dreams of creating a safe haven for herself, and a happy home for her little girl, Janey.

The White Valley comes with a long, eventful history, laced with tall tales. Locals say that a white hare may be seen running through the woods there; to some she’s an ill omen, to others a blessing. Feeling fragile and broken-hearted, Mila is in need of as many blessings as she can get. But will this place provide the fresh start she so desperately needs?

Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens

In 1838 Frédéric Chopin, George Sand and her children travel to a monastery in Mallorca. They are there to create and to convalesce, to live a simple life after the wildness of their Paris days.

Witness to this tumultuous arrival is Blanca, the ghost of a teenage girl who has been at the monastery for over three hundred years. Blanca’s was a life cut short and she is outraged. Having lived in a world full, according to her mother, of ‘beautiful men’, she has found that in death it is the women she falls for, their beauty she cannot turn away from, and it is the women and girls who, over her centuries in the village and at the monastery, she has sought to protect from the attentions of men with what little power she has. And then George Sand arrives, this beautiful woman in a man’s clothes, and Blanca is in love.

But the rest of the village is suspicious of the newcomers, and as winter sets in, as George tries to keep her family and herself from falling apart, as Chopin writes prelude after prelude in despair on his tuneless piano, their stay looks likely to end in disaster . . .

Back to Index

So that’s all for this week.

Happy Reading!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.