Coming this week – my fiction picks to 10th July

Here’s this week’s bumper list of new fiction titles – best get the kettle on!

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

Farewell Fountain Street by Selcuk Altun

Ziya Bey has six months left to live. From his mansion on Farewell Fountain Street, the Ottoman aristocrat plans to tie up some questionable business affairs and say goodbye to the people he cherishes. He hires Artvin, a disillusioned professor with a troubled past, to assist him. Intrigued by his employer’s mysterious household, Artvin spends the days uncovering Ziya Bey’s turbulent life story. The two men become bound together as they reveal dark elements from their pasts. But when Ziya Bey releases Artvin from his duties sooner than expected, Artvin inherits a spiral of violence he cannot control. In this gripping ride through the streets of Istanbul, two men learn one another’s secrets. But can either of them learn to live with themselves?

One Last Secret by Adele Parks

One last client

A week at a beautiful chateau in the south of France – it should be a straightforward final job for Dora. She’s a smart, stunning and discreet escort and Daniel has paid for her services before. This time, all she has to do is convince the assembled guests that she is his girlfriend. Dora is used to playing roles and being whatever men want her to be. It’s all about putting on a front.

One last chance

It will be a last, luxurious look at how the other half lives, before Dora turns her back on the escort world and all its dangers. She has found someone she loves and trusts. With him, she can escape the life she’s trapped in. But when Dora arrives at the chateau, it quickly becomes obvious that nothing is what it seems…

One last secret

Dora finds herself face to face with a man she has never forgotten, the one man who really knows her. And as old secrets surface, it becomes terrifyingly apparent that one last secret could cost Dora her life…

Confidence by Denise Mina

DECEPTION. THEFT. MURDER. ALL YOU NEED IS CONFIDENCE.

When amateur film-maker Lisa Lee vanishes from a Scottish seaside town, journalists Anna and Fin find themselves at the centre of an internet frenzy to find her.

But she may not be the hapless victim everyone thinks she is. The last film she made showed her breaking into an abandoned French chateau and stumbling across a priceless Roman silver casket. The day after Lisa vanishes the casket is listed for auction in Paris, reserve price fifty million euros, with a catalogue entry that challenges the beliefs of a major world religion.

On a thrilling chase across Europe to discover what happened to Lisa, Anna and Fin are caught up in a world of international art smuggling, religious zealotry and murder.

But someone doesn’t want them to find the missing girl… and will do anything to stop them.

Listen to Me by Tess Gerritsen

The murder of Sofia Suarez is both gruesome and seemingly senseless. Why would anyone target a respected nurse who was well-liked by her friends and her neighbours? As Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles investigate the baffling case, they discover that Sofia was guarding a dangerous secret — a secret that may have led the killer straight to her door.

Meanwhile, Jane’s watchful mother Angela Rizzoli is conducting an investigation of her own. She may be a grandmother, not a police detective, but she’s savvy enough to know there’s something very strange, perhaps even dangerous, about the new neighbours across the street. The problem is, no one believes her, not even her own daughter.

Immersed in the hunt for Sofia’s killer, Jane and Maura are too busy to pay attention to Angela’s fears. With no one listening to her, and danger mounting in her neighbourhood, Angela just may be forced to take action on her own…

No Secrets by David Jackson

THEY BELIEVE HIS LIES. SHE KNOWS THE TRUTH.

You can’t lie to Izzy Lambert. Her highly developed empathic abilities allow her to read people’s emotions with terrifying accuracy – and consequences. As a child her insights sparked her parents’ divorce. As an adult she avoids getting too close to people for fear of what she might learn.

But now young girls are going missing in her town. The police have no suspects but, seeing her old school caretaker interviewed on the news about the story, Izzy comes to a chilling realisation: he knows where the missing girls are. When the police won’t take her seriously despite the lives at stake, she will risk everything to uncover the truth.

Truly Darkly Deeply by Victoria Selman

Twelve-year-old Sophie and her mother, Amelia-Rose, move to London from Massachusetts where they meet the charismatic Matty Melgren, who quickly becomes an intrinsic part of their lives. But as the relationship between the two adults fractures, a serial killer begins targeting young women with a striking resemblance to Amelia-Rose.

When Matty is eventually sent down for multiple murder, questions remain as to his guilt — questions which ultimately destroy both women. Nearly twenty years later, Sophie receives a letter from Battlemouth Prison informing her Matty is dying and wants to meet. It looks like Sophie might finally get the answers she craves. But will the truth set her free — or bury her deeper?

Dark Objects by Simon Toye

An Impossible Crime Scene
A wealthy woman is found brutally murdered in the locked fortress of her London mansion. Surrounding her are four mysterious objects, including a book on forensics by Dr Laughton Rees.

An Inescapable Past
As a teenager, Laughton’s life was destroyed after witnessing her mother’s brutal murder. Now a mother herself and forensic analyst, she is an expert on how to read crime scenes – but never works live cases.

An Uncatchable Killer
Pressured by the lead detective to help with the investigation, Laughton begins to realise that the objects left by the body are not just about the victim, they’re also about her. Her childhood was destroyed by one killer. Now she must catch another before her daughter’s is destroyed too.

The Ruins by Phoebe Wynne

Amidst the glamour of the French Riviera lies the crumbling façade of Chateau de Sètes, a small slice of France still held by the British aristocracy. But this long since abandoned chateau is now up for sale, and two people are desperate to get their hands on it despite its terrible history.

Summer, 1985: Ruby has stayed at the chateau with her family every summer of her twelve years. It was her favourite place to be, away from the strictures of her formal childhood, but this year uninvited guests have descended, and everything is about to change…

As the intense August heat cloaks the chateau, the adults within start to lose sight of themselves. Old disputes are thrown back and forth, tempers rise, morals loosen, and darkness begins to creep around them all. Ruby and her two young friends soon discover it is best not to be seen or heard as the summer spirals down to one fateful night and an incident that can never be undone…

Summer, 2010: One of the three young girls, now grown and newly widowed, returns to the chateau, and in her fight to free herself from its grip, she uncovers what truly happened that long, dark summer.

Keep The Close by Sophie Flynn

She trusted a stranger with her secrets. Now she’s paying the price.

Emily loves her four-year-old twin daughters. Like any frazzled mum, she spends her time wiping up spills, cooking their favourite meals and putting plasters on scraped knees, trying her best to be the perfect mum as well as keep her sanity.

Internet forum MumsOnline proves to be a lifeline in her darkest days, an anonymous place where she can voice the problems that she never would say in real life.

She finds a connection with fellow mum-of-twins, TwoIsTrouble, and soon, the internet friends are chatting daily. But when Emily tries to pull back, realising she has shared too much about the darkness in her past, she finds herself being stalked.

As Emily’s past is exposed, it’s clear that someone is using her secrets to destroy her perfect life…and they will threaten everything Emily loves to take her down.

The Woman on the Bridge by Holly Seddon

How far would you go to save a perfect stranger?

Maggie is trapped. Dumped on her wedding day, rejected by her family and hounded by a man determined to make her suffer.

Charlotte is desperate. Double-crossed by her only friend and facing total ruin, she will go to any lengths to save what matters.

Two women, one night. A decision that will change everything.

Old Bones Lie by Marion Todd

DI Clare Mackay is about to face a test of her loyalty…

When a report comes in that a van containing two prison officers and a convicted jewel thief is missing, the police in St Andrews work quickly to locate the vehicle. Their efforts prove in vain when no trace is found and they realise the wives of both officers also appear to have left the area. Is this a case of corrupt guards springing a felon, or innocent people caught in the crossfire?

DI Clare Mackay leads the team but has to do without her right hand man; DS Chris West is a cousin to one of the missing prison officers and must not be involved in the case. With a new sergeant at her side plus a previously unencountered DCI, Clare’s people skills are pushed to the limit. Especially once she realises her boss is keeping her on the sidelines. Just what is it that Clare doesn’t know? And if she has to choose between keeping secrets from a friend, or letting slip something that could see a culprit go free, which path will she take?

What Doesn’t Break Us by Helen Sedgwick

Take a sip and enter the world of the dead…

As the station prepares to close down for good, DI Georgie Strachan is running out of time to find out what is really going on in Burrowhead and put a stop to it. A deadly drug appears in the small Scottish village, best consumed with the blood of a freshly slaughtered animal. But what does this have to do with the deaths and suicides? And who is responsible for supplying it?

As rituals and threats reach a frantic high, no one wants to speak. It seems the drug is ingrained in the very fabric of the village. Suspects abound as Georgie questions who she can really trust.

Where Demons Hide by Douglas Skelton

Something scared Nuala Flaherty to death. When her body is found in the centre of a pentagram on a lonely moor, Rebecca is determined to find out what. Was she killed by supernatural means, or is there a more down-to-earth explanation?

Rebecca’s investigation leads her to a mysterious cult and local drug dealings. But what she doesn’t know is that crime matriarch Mo Burke still has her in her crosshairs. Mo wants payback for the death of her son, and after one failed attempt to hurt Rebecca, she is upping the ante. And this time, it could be lethal.

Death in Blitz City by David Young

1942. Hull, East Yorkshire – It is the most heavily-bombed city outside of London – but for the sake of national morale the Hull Blitz is kept top secret. Only the politicians in Whitehall and Hull’s citizens themselves know of the true chaos.

Newly-posted Inspector Ambrose Swift cannot believe the devastation he finds. But for Swift and his two deputies – part-time bare-knuckle boxer Jim ‘Little’ Weighton and Dales farmer’s daughter Kathleen Carver – it’s murder, not the war, that’s at the forefront of their minds.

When a series of sadistic killings is wrongly blamed on locally-stationed black American GIs, Swift, a one-armed former WW1 cavalryman who tours the rubble-strewn city on a white horse, soon discovers these are no ordinary murders. The fetid stench of racism, corruption and perversion go to the very top. And for Swift, Weighton and Carver, finding the real killers means putting their own lives at risk – because powerful forces in the US and Britain cannot let the war effort be undermined. Not even by the truth.

Back to Index

General/Contemporary Fiction

Dream On by Angie Hockman

When law graduate Cass Walker wakes up after surviving a car accident, she is flooded with memories of a man named Devin. The only problem? Devin – as confirmed by family, friends and doctors – doesn’t exist. Everything about him, from his coffee-brown eyes to the slightly crooked angle of his pinkie finger to his high-wattage charm, is a figment of Cass’s coma-addled imagination. Still, she can’t get him out of her head.

So when she happens upon the real Devin a year later in a Cleveland flower shop, she’s completely shocked. Even more surprising is that Devin actually believes her story and – despite his protective younger brother’s doubts – they soon embark on a real-life romance.

With her dream man by her side and a new job at a prestigious law firm, Cass’s future seems perfect. But fate might have other plans . . .

A Summer of Second Chances by Carol Thomas

Does first love deserve a second chance?Ava Flynn sometimes feels like the clothes donated to her charity shop have seen more life than her, but ‘maximum dedication for a minimal wage’ is what it takes to keep her mother’s beloved wildlife charity, All Critters Great and Small, running – especially in the village of Dapplebury, where business is certainly not booming. But when Ava’s first love, Henry Bramlington, returns to the village, suddenly life becomes a little too eventful. Henry escaped Dapplebury many years before, but now he has the power to make or break the village he left behind – All Critters Great and Small included. Can Ava trust the boy who ran away to give both her and her charity a second chance?

Love Me, Love Me Not by Kirsty Capes

Lucy Banbury is fine. Until she isn’t…

Lucy Banbury isn’t the sort of person that everyone gets along with – she’s prickly and secretive, and she likes things ordered ‘just so’. But things couldn’t be going better for her – she swims three times a week, she’s on the cusp of a huge promotion at work and she’s dating someone perfect on paper.

But when she discovers at a family wedding that she’s adopted, her whole world is shattered. Those cracks she’s taken years to plaster over are beginning to surface and she’s not sure how much longer she can keep all her secrets hidden, all whilst pretending to be someone she’s not…

Because how can you pretend to love your life, when nobody loves you?

The Time of My Life by Rosie Mullender

Imagine the worst day of your life. Now imagine living it on repeat…

This Friday the 13th has been particularly unlucky.

Jess has been fired from her comfortable job. She’s gone from dating two guys to none. She’s been kicked out of her mediocre flat. And worst of all, she’s really really let down her best friend.

As she drifts off to sleep, she is filled with relief that this terrible day is over. Tomorrow she will try to fix things, tomorrow cannot be any worse than this.

Except it is. Maybe not worse… but exactly the same. When Jess wakes up the next morning, it is Friday the 13th again. And again. And again. And again.

Jess knows how this goes, she’s seen the films, this is her wake up call. But she had no idea she needed a wake up call. How is Jess supposed to work out where she’s gone wrong when, as far as she’s concerned, she’s been having the time of her life?

Amy and Lan by Sadie Jones

This is the story of how we came to Frith. And we’re never, ever, ever leaving.’

Amy Connell and Lan Honey
 are having the best childhood, growing up on a West Country farm – three families, a couple of lodgers, goats, dogs and an orphaned calf called Gabriella Christmas.
The parents are best friends too. Originally from the city, they’re learning about farming: growing their own vegetables, milking the goats, slaughtering chickens and scything the hay–

‘Mind your eyes! Don’t break your neck! Careful!’

The adults are far too busy to keep an eye on Amy and Lan, and Amy and Lan would never tell them about climbing on the high barn roof, or what happened with the axe that time, any more than their parents would tell them the things they get up to – adult things, like betrayal – that threaten to bring the whole fragile idyll tumbling down…

To Fill a Yellow House by Sussie Anie

When Kwasi and his family move abruptly from one side of London to the other, he sets out to explore his new home. Escaping the watchful eyes of Ma and Da and his irrepressible Aunties, he discovers the local high street and a hidden river. Back at the yellow house, he spends hours drawing, distracting himself from thoughts of the new school that awaits.

As the years pass, the high street remains a source of fascination for Kwasi. But behind the ever-changing shopfronts, it’s a different story. Business is slow and times are getting tougher. Widower Rupert has been trying to hold on to the dreams he and his wife poured into their eclectic charity shop, The Chest of Small Wonders, but now he is close to giving up.

One October night, Kwasi finds himself in trouble and takes refuge in the Chest, and an unexpected friendship begins. As he and Rupert unite to save the shop, they each find a sense of belonging. But old patterns are hard to change, and as tensions around them escalate, difficult choices lie ahead.

Girls They Write Songs About by Carlene Bauer

A fabulous power ballad to female friendship, Girls They Write Songs About is a thrumming, searching novel about the bonds that shape us more than any love affair

Rose and Charlotte arrive in 1990s New York, fresh out of university and fizzing with ambition. When they end up working at the same music magazine, Charlotte – earnest, bookish – is wary of brash, outspoken Rose. But hesitancy soon gives way to a unique friendship that will change both girls forever.

Determined to take advantage of every day in this exasperating, jubilant city, their lives become entirely entwined. Together they find love and lose it, hit their strides and stumble, see each other through marriages, motherhood, divorces, career glories and catastrophes. But what happens when your lives start to fall out of sync? What does it mean to give up on the dreams that held a friendship together?

The Measure by Nikki Erlick

Eight ordinary people. One extraordinary choice.

It seems like just another morning.

You make a cup of tea. Check the news. Open the front door.

On your doorstep is a box.

Inside the box is the exact number of years you have left to live.

The same box appears on every doorstep across the world.

Do you open yours?

The Trio by Johanna Hedman

Thora, August and Hugo come from different worlds – one an art school dreamer, one a wealthy scion of the old elite, and one an ordinary boy from out of town. But over the course of two sky-blue summers in Stockholm, they are drawn together magnetically.

The novel opens years later, when Hugo, long estranged from Thora and August, is visited by their daughter – who has questions about her parents which she believes Hugo can answer – and the memories of those luminous days come flooding back.

Modern yet timeless, poignant and euphoric, The Trio is a novel about the path not taken, the people we might have become, and the relationships which shape and haunt us long after they come to a close.

This is Gonna End in Tears by Liza Klaussmann

Growing up, it was always the three of them: Miller and Olly and Ash. They stuck together like they were keeping a secret; they were successful, best friends, lovers. It was perfect – a shining life – until it fell apart.

Now Miller and Ash are married and living in Wonderland, the tidal island of sugary coloured houses they ran away from.

Miller feels like she’s disappearing. She wears her tinted sunglasses so often sometimes she forgets the world isn’t green.

Ash is having an affair with a helmet-haired TV presenter.

Olly lives a charmed life in LA but it’s on the precipice of disaster.

Over the long, hot summer of 1984, unanswered questions draw the three of them back together. They are so consumed with the possibility of a redemptive third act, they don’t notice what’s going on between Miller’s son, his best friend and the girl who lives next door. . .

Some summers are spent yearning for something to happen, others are charged with the terrifying, exhilarating feeling that everything is going to change.

Blue Hour by Sarah Schmidt

She thinks of blue mountain, her favourite place. ‘We’re going somewhere where we can be safe. We never have to come back here.’

As the rest of the world lies sleeping, Eleanor straps her infant daughter, Amy, into the back of her car. This is the moment she knew must come, when they will walk out on her husband Leon and a marriage in ruins since his return from Vietnam. Together, she and Amy will journey to blue mountain, a place of enchantment and refuge that lit up Eleanor’s childhood.

As the car eats up the miles, so Eleanor’s mind dives back into her fractured relationship with her mother, Kitty. Kitty who asked for so much from life, from love, from family. Kitty who had battled so hard to prise her husband George out of the grip of war. Kitty, whose disapproving voice rings so loud in Eleanor’s head.

Other Names for Love by Taymour Soomro

A hypnotic debut novel about a boy’s life-changing summer in rural Pakistan: a story of fathers, sons, and the consequences of desire.

On the train from Karachi, as dusk begins to fall, Fahad’s dreams of his summer in London are fading. He is headed to Abad, the family’s feudal estate, where his father intends to toughen up his sensitive boy, to teach him about power, duty, family — to make him a man.


Instead, over the course of one shimmering, indolent season, Fahad finds himself seduced by the wildness of the land and by the people he meets: those who revere and revile his father; cousin Mousey, who lives alone with a man he calls his manager; and Ali, a teenager like him, whose presence threatens to unearth all that is hidden.

What a Mother’s Love Don’t Teach You by Sharma Taylor

At eighteen years old, Dinah gave away her baby son to the rich couple she worked for before they left Jamaica. They never returned. She never forgot him.

Eighteen years later, a young man comes from the US to Kingston. From the moment she sees him, Dinah never doubts – this is her son.

What happens next will make everyone question what they know and where they belong.

A powerful story of belonging, identity and inheritance, What a Mother’s Love Don’t Teach You brings together a blazing chorus of voices to evoke Jamaica’s ghetto, dance halls, criminal underworld and corrupt politics, at the beating heart of which is a mother’s unshakeable love for her son.

The Halfways by Nilopar Uddin

Nasrin and Sabrina are two sisters, who on the face of things live successful and enviable lives in London and New York. When their father, Shamsur suddenly dies, they rush to be with their mother at the family home and restaurant in Wales, and reluctantly step back into the stifling world of their childhood.

When Shamsur’s will is read, a devastating secret is revealed that challenges all that people thought and loved about him. It also profoundly changes the lives and identities of the sisters, and creates an irreparable family rift…

Moving between London, Wales, New York and Bangladesh, this is an epic family drama that spans over four decades. A story of mothers and daughters, of fathers and daughters, of sisterhood, it is a tale that explores belonging, family and what makes forgiveness and redemption possible.

In Case of Emergency by Poorna Bell

Bel Kumar wakes up in hospital surprised and confused.

Surprised to be told she had a near-fatal accident outside work. And confused as to why her ex-boyfriend is by her bedside.

Bel’s HR record still lists her ex as her next of kin, but she can’t think of a less appropriate person to nurse her back to health.

But who can she turn to in a crisis? Over-invested parents? A sister whose life has turned out perfectly? Friends she exchanges dating woes with over cocktails?

If this experience has taught Bel anything, it’s that she should reconnect with the most important people from her past. But that’s going to be easier said than done because Bel has never been good at asking for help.

And she’s doing just fine on her own… Isn’t she?

Not Exactly What I Had in Mind by Kate Brook

Flatmates, friends or family? It’s complicated…

Hazel and Alfie have just moved in together as flatmates. They’ve also just slept together, which was either a catastrophic mistake, or the best decision of their lives.

Before they can decide, Hazel’s sister Emily and her wife Daria arrive for a visit, setting in motion a chain of events that will turn everything upside down.

What follows will bind the four of them together, bringing joy and heartache, hope and anxiety, and reshaping their relationships in ways that none of them quite predicted.

Owner of a Lonely Heart by Eva Carter

What are you most afraid of . . . ?

Gemma is terrified of slowing down, because if she does, she’ll have to admit how lonely she’s felt since losing the love of her life. So she fills her days with work and taking her dog, Bear, to comfort young patients at the local hospital. That’s enough, isn’t it?

Dan is scared of anyone getting to know the real him. He’s the life and soul of every party, but he’s certain that if people find out what he’s done, everything will fall apart.

Casey is Dan’s twelve year old daughter – though they barely know each other. She’s starting four weeks of treatment for a benign tumour, and is scared this summer could be her last.

When Gemma, Dan and Casey meet one scorching July, the connection is instant. Yet they’re all used to protecting themselves from heartbreak by keeping their distance. Now that fate – and a small, scruffy terrier – have brought them together, can they find the courage to connect?

Square One by Nell Frizzell

Everyone is moving on… and then, there’s Hanna

By thirty, Hanna expected to have it all (or at least some of it)


· A fulfilling and successful career

· A healthy, long-term relationship, maybe even an engagement ring

· A house (or at least a flat) of her own

But in reality, she’s back at square one…

· Single after breaking up with someone she’s not sure ever loved her

· Flooded with wedding invitations and pregnancy scan pictures from friends

· Unable to afford to live on her own and forced to move in with her father who is also single and dating

Everyone moves at different paces, but Hanna’s life is in reverse. With the pressure to keep up and her dad’s insufferable musings on Tinder, will she be able to figure out what she really wants?

The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle

Still reeling from the sudden death of her mother, Jess is about to do the hardest thing she’s ever done: empty her childhood home so that it can be sold.

But when in the process Jess stumbles across the mysterious Alex, together they become custodians of a strange archive of letters, photographs, curios and collections known as The Museum of Ordinary People.

As they begin to delve into the history of the objects in their care, Alex and Jess not only unravel heartbreaking stories that span generations and continents, but also unearth long buried secrets that lie much closer to home.

Yours, Mine, Ours by Sinead Moriarty

What’s another branch on the family tree?

Things are finally looking up for Anna. Seventeen miserable years of marriage to man-child Connor have left her drained and ready for a new start. So when they separate, she couldn’t be more thrilled to move in with James, a handsome lecturer who is everything her ex-husband is not: kind, thoughtful, and above all, reliable.

But Anna and James’s kids hate living with the loved-up couple and the new set-up. Their teenage daughters – one a studious high achiever and the other a cool rich girl unbothered by grades or exams – have nothing in common. And Anna’s wild football-mad nine-year-old son declares war on bookish James.

Nobody said step-parenting was easy; Anna and James are about to find out exactly how complicated it can be. With exes, new partners-of-exes and money all in the mix, home life is fast becoming a minefield and their new-found happiness hangs in the balance. Do they have what it takes to make their blended family work?

The Double Life of Daisy Hemmings by Joanna Nadin

The characters in this book are works of fiction. But, then, isn’t everyone . . . ?

1988, Pencalenick, Cornwall.
At seventeen, Jason wants much more from life than working at his father’s pub and when fate, in the form of twins Daisy and Bea and their small circle of friends, offers him a glimpse of another, more glamorous, world, he’s determined to become a part of it. It’s Daisy who Jason is most entranced by, though. Everyone is: she’s the sun around which others orbit.
The trouble with the sun, of course, is that those who get too close risk getting burned – and by the end of the summer, one of the group will be dead.

2018, Camberwell, London.
When famous actress Daisy Hemmings decides it’s time to publish her autobiography, she chooses James Tate to write it. James is a ghost writer: it’s his job to step into other people’s shoes; to tell their stories for them. And he’s good at it. Very good. After all, he’s had years of practice at pretending to be someone he’s not.
But what happens when past and present – and truth and lies – collide?

The Yellow Kitchen by Margaux Vialleron

London E17, 2019. A yellow kitchen stands as a metaphor for the lifelong friendship between three women: Claude, the baker, goal-orientated Sophie and political Giulia. They have the best kind of friendship, chasing life and careers; dating, dreaming and consuming but always returning to be reunited in the yellow kitchen.

That is, until a trip to Lisbon unravels unexplored desires between Claude and Sophie. Having sex is one thing, waking up the day after is the beginning of something new.

Exploring the complexities of female friendship, The Yellow Kitchen is a hymn to the last year of London as we knew it and a celebration of the culture, the food and the rhythms we live by.

Finding Mr Perfectly Fine by Tasneem Abdur-Rashid

Last week I turned 29. Along with the usual homemade Victoria sponge, helium balloon and Selfridges gift vouchers, my Mum’s birthday present to me was the threat that if I’m not engaged by my 30th birthday, she’s sending me off to the Motherland to find a fresh-from-the-Desh husband

When Zara’s Mum puts together the most archaic of arranged marriage resources (not exactly the romcom-worthy love story she had envisioned for herself), she is soon exhausted by her family’s failed attempts to set her up with every vaguely suitable Abdul, Ahmed and Farook that they can find. Zara decides to take matters into her own hands. How hard can it be to find a husband at twenty-nine?

With just a year to go, time is of the essence, so Zara joins a dating app and signs up for speed dating.
She meets Hamza, a kind British Egyptian who shares her values and would make a good husband. Zara knows that not all marriages are based on love (or lust) at first sight but struggles with the lack of spark. Particularly when she can’t stop thinking of someone else . . .

As her next birthday looms, and family pressure intensifies, Zara knows she must make a decision, but will she make the right one?

The Spa Break by Caroline James

A weekend at the spa will leave four old friends with a whole lot more than they’d bargained for…

The glossy brochure promised a serene experience of total tranquillity and rejuvenation, but what best friends Bridgette, Emily, Serena and Marjory get is a weekend that upends their lives!

There for a girls’ weekend to celebrate Bridgette’s impending seventieth birthday, the spa soon has these spicy sexagenarians realising that there are unexpected benefits to age and experience, and that over the hill certainly doesn’t mean out of the game…in any respect…

The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis

Can you ever really find the one after ‘the one’?

Some people spend their whole lives trying to find the one. But Natalie had found him – and married him. And then Russ died.

Two years ago, her whole world was shattered. Still now, she feels like she’s trying to piece her broken heart back together, one day at a time.

But then she finds a sheet of music – one that only Russ would know – in the piano stool in St. Pancras station where she’s secretly been playing for the last few months.

For the first time, Natalie realizes that maybe life does still hold a little magic. And with every note she plays, she feels as if she’s unlocking another fragment of her heart…

But will she ever truly find love again after she’d already found forever?

I’m Sorry You Feel That Way by Rebecca Wait

For Alice and Hanna, saint and sinner, growing up is a trial. There is their mother, who takes a divide-and-conquer approach to child-rearing, and their father, who takes an absent one. There is also their older brother Michael, whose disapproval is a force to be reckoned with. There is the catastrophe that is never spoken of, but which has shaped everything.

As adults, Alice and Hanna must deal with disappointments in work and in love as well as increasingly complicated family tensions, and lives that look dismayingly dissimilar to what they’d intended. They must look for a way to repair their own fractured relationship, and they must finally choose their own approach to their dominant mother: submit or burn the house down. And they must decide at last whether life is really anything more than (as Hanna would have it) a tragedy with a few hilarious moments.


Water Over Stones by Bernardo Atxaga

Their lives run into each other, like water running over stones

As the Basque mining town of Ugarte moves from the hazy summer of the 1972 Olympics, through the mining strikes of the turbulent Eighties and into the modern day, her people navigate the silences, secrets, joys and tragedies of their lives.
From the story of a traumatised teenage boy at the town’s bakery, to the tale of a group of comrades on an army base in the twilight of Franco’s dictatorship, the interconnected narratives of Water Over Stones confront the changes time brings to Ugarte’s close-knit community, as the lives of its inhabitants run into to each other like water running between stones.
This extraordinary novel of friendship, nature, love and the immensity of death shows Bernardo Atxaga’s mastery of his craft, and his ability to create places and characters that are impossible to forget.

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Historical

The Bewitching by Jill Dawson

A dazzling, shocking novel that speaks to our times, drawing on the 16th-century case of the witches of Warboys.

Alice Samuel might be old and sharp-tongued, but she’s no fool. Visiting her new neighbours in her Fenland village, she suspects Squire Throckmorton’s household is not as God-fearing as it seems and finds the children troubled. Yet when one of the daughters accuses her of witchcraft, Alice has no inkling of how quickly matters will escalate and fails to grasp the danger she is in.

As evidence mounts against Alice, soon the entire village is swept up in the frenzied persecution of one of their own community.

Exploring a neglected episode of English history to powerful effect, The Bewitching vividly conveys the brutal tribalism that can erupt in a closed society and how victims can be made to believe in their own wickedness.

The House of Fortune by Jessie Burton

In the golden city of Amsterdam, in 1705, Thea Brandt is turning eighteen, and she is ready to welcome adulthood with open arms. At the city’s theatre, Walter, the love of her life, awaits her, but at home in the house on the Herengracht, all is not well – her father Otto and Aunt Nella argue endlessly, and the Brandt family are selling their furniture in order to eat. On Thea’s birthday, also the day that her mother Marin died, the secrets from the past begin to overwhelm the present.

Nella is desperate to save the family and maintain appearances, to find Thea a husband who will guarantee her future, and when they receive an invitation to Amsterdam’s most exclusive ball, she is overjoyed – perhaps this will set their fortunes straight.

And indeed, the ball does set things spinning: new figures enter their life, promising new futures. But their fates are still unclear, and when Nella feels a strange prickling sensation on the back of her neck, she remembers the miniaturist who entered her life and toyed with her fortunes eighteen years ago. Perhaps, now, she has returned for her . . .

The Last Hours in Paris by Ruth Druart

Paris 1944. Elise Chevalier knows what it is to love…and to hate. Her fiancé, a young French soldier, was killed by the German army at the Maginot Line. Living amongst the enemy Elise must keep her rage buried deep within.

Sebastian Kleinhaus no longer recognises himself. After four years spent fighting a war he doesn’t believe in, wearing a uniform he despises, he longs for a way out. For something, someone, to be his salvation.

Brittany 1963. Reaching for the suitcase under her mother’s bed, eighteen-year-old Josephine Chevalier uncovers a secret that shakes her to the core. Determined to find the truth, she travels to Paris where she discovers the story of a dangerous love that grew as a city fought for its freedom. Of the last stolen hours before the first light of liberation. And of a betrayal so deep that it would irrevocably change the course of two young lives life for ever.

Chorus by Rebecca Kauffman

‘You don’t have to go back. You will stay here at home, with me. This is where you belong.’

One afternoon, in a little farmhouse in rural Virginia, the ailing Marie Shaw dies in ambiguous circumstances and nothing is ever the same again for the seven young children she left behind. Spanning from the Great Depression to the burgeoning of US counterculture in 1959, Chorus sensitively traces the divergent paths taken by the grieving Shaw siblings as they grow together and apart over the decades. Henry, Jack, Maeve, Lane, Sam, Wendy and Bette get married and divorced, go to war and give birth to children of their own, break down and pick themselves up again.

Chorus is a hopeful story of family, of loss and recovery, of complicated relationships forged between brothers and sisters as they move through life together, and of the unlikely forces that first drive them away and then ultimately back home.

An Italian Girl in Brooklyn by Santa Montefiore

Dark secrets and hidden sorrows abound in Santa Montefiore’s spellbinding new novel set in war-torn Italy and the streets of New York.

‘Nobody does epic romance like Santa Montefiore’ JOJO MOYES

‘A wonderful story, beautifully told. I absolutely tore through it!’ KAREN SWAN
 
New York, 1979
 
It is Thanksgiving and Evelina has her close family and beloved friends gathered around, her heart weighted with gratitude for what she has and regret for what she has given up. She has lived in America for over thirty years, but she is still Italian in her soul. 
 
Northern Italy, 1934
 
Evelina leads a sheltered life with her parents and siblings in a villa of fading grandeur. When her elder sister Benedetta marries a banker, to suit her father’s wishes rather than her own, Evelina swears that she will never marry out of duty. She knows nothing of romantic love, but when she meets Ezra, son of the local dressmaker, her heart recognises it like an old friend. 
 
Evelina wants these carefree days to last forever. She wants to bask in sunshine, beauty and love and pay no heed to the grey clouds gathering on the horizon. But nothing lasts forever.  The shadows of war are darkening over Europe and precious lives are under threat…

Deception by Lesley Pearce

What happens when the person closest to you has led a life of deception?

After the funeral of her mother, Sally, Alice Kent is approached by a man named Angus Tweedy. He claims to be her father and tells her that he served time in prison for marrying Sally bigamously.

What does he hope to gain by telling her this now, thirty years on?
How can her adored dad Ralph not be her true father?
And why did her mother betray her so badly?

She had accepted Sally’s many faults, and her reluctance to ever speak of the past. But faced with this staggering deception, Alice knows she must uncover the whole truth about her mother.

Whatever the cost.

As Alice journeys into the past she discovers her mother may never have been the woman she claimed to be . . .

The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat

In June 1940, the Channel Islands becomes the only part of Great Britain to be occupied by Hitler’s forces. Hedy Bercu, a young Jewish girl from Vienna who fled to Jersey two years earlier to escape the Anschluss, finds herself once more entrapped by the Nazis, this time with no escape.

The Girl From the Channel Islands follows her struggle to survive the Occupation and avoid deportation to the camps. Despite her racial status, Hedy finds work with the German authorities and embarks on acts of resistance. Most remarkable of all, she falls in love with a German lieutenant – a relationship on which her life soon comes to depend.


So that’s all for this week.

Happy Reading!

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