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By Jessica Duchen. 2008
Do you ever wish that you could be someone else? Just step out of your life and wake up as…someone new? Karina's life was once mapped out for her -- she was meant to follow in the footsteps of her Hungarian grandmother, a world-famous violinist. Instead, she's a teacher, a mum and wife to Julian, a very English husband who's not always in step with her. But when disaster befalls her best friend, Karina feels forced to question the very foundations of her existence. Encouraged by a chance encounter with a like-minded musician, she begins to delve into her grandmother's Gypsy past, and to discover the secrets of her Hungarian family history. Life will never be the same again. Like most people, Karina isn't sure the life she chose was the right one. But she is willing to take drastic steps to change it.
By Stephen King, Richard Bachman. 1996
'Thinner' - the old gypsy man barely whispers the word. Billy feels the touch of a withered hand on his…cheek. 'Thinner' - the word, the old man's curse, has lodged in Billy's mind like a fattening worm, eating at his flesh, at his reason. And with his despair, comes violence
By Rebecca Shaw. 2009
Friendship, a newcomer - and romance ... from the author of THE VILLAGE GREEN AFFAIR.When Seb joins Barleybridge, the last…thing on his mind is romance. Keen to settle into his first real job and make a good impression he embraces the working life of a country vet. He has almost forgotten his high maintenance ex-girlfriend Carly and concentrates on settling down to a job he really loves.Seb is to find that his expertise with animals and their owners leads to a friendship with the upper-class Jilly and rather more than that with Maggie whose family is heartbroken when he diagnoses their alpacas with TB. But when a surprise meeting in the Practice itself turns his world upside down...
By Katharine McMahon. 2009
The secrets and tragedies of a family's past, and the far-reaching effects on succeeding generations of women...The women in Helena…Mayrick's family have always led secretive and tragic lives, and when Helena's comfortable marriage is devastated by her husband's violent death, it seems that she, too, is locked into the cycle.Helena is invited to research a book on her grandfather, H. Donaldson, the celebrated Edwardian photographer. At first she is reluctant to immerse herself in family history, particularly as Donaldson's relationship with her grandmother, Ruth, is shrouded in mystery and turmoil.But gradually, as the story of enigmatic Ruth and the elusive, passionate Donaldson unfolds, Helena finds that the past, like the present, was shaped by cruel dilemmas and the demands of love...
By Iain Banks. 2002
Iain Banks' daring new novel opens in a loft apartment in the East End, in a former factory due to…be knocked down in a few days. Ken Nott is a devoutly contrarian vaguely left wing radio shock-jock living in London. After a wedding breakfast people start dropping fruits from a balcony on to a deserted carpark ten storeys below, then they start dropping other things; an old TV that doesn't work, a blown loudspeaker, beanbags, other unwanted furniture...Then they get carried away and start dropping things that are still working, while wrecking the rest of the apartment. But mobile phones start ringing and they're told to turn on a TV, because a plane has just crashed into the World Trade Centre...At ease with the volatility of modernity, Iain Banks is also our most accomplished literary writer of narrative-driven adventure stories that never ignore the injustices and moral conundrums of the real world. His new novel, displays his trademark dark wit, buoyancy and momentum.
By Alexander McCall Smith. 2006
With his characteristic warmth, inventiveness and brilliant wit, Alexander McCall Smith gives us more of the gloriously entertaining comings and…goings at 44 Scotland Street, the Edinburgh townhouse. Six-year-old prodigy Bertie perseveres in his heroic struggle for truth and balanced good sense against his insufferable mother and her crony, the psychotherapist Dr Fairbairn, going as far as to make a short-lived bid for freedom on a trip to Paris with the Edinburgh youth orchestra. Domenica sets off on an anthropological odyssey with pirates in the Malacca Straits, while Pat attracts several handsome admirers, including a toothsome suitor named Wolf. And Big Lou, eternal source of coffee and good advice to her friends, has love, heartbreak and erstwhile boyfriend Eddie's misdemeanours on her own mind.
By Iain Banks. 2007
Dark family secrets and a long-lost love affair lie at the heart of Iain Banks's fabulous new novel. The Wopuld…family built its fortune on a board game called Empire! - now a hugely successful computer game. So successful, the American Spraint Corp wants to buy the firm out. Young renegade Alban, who has been evading the family clutches for years, is run to ground and persuded to attend the forthcoming family gathering - part birthday party, part Extraordinary General Meeting - convened by Win, Wopuld matriarch and most powerful member of the board, at Garbadale, the family's highland castle. Being drawn back into the bosom of the clan brings a disconcerting confrontation with Alban's past. What drove his mother to take her own life? And is he ready to see Sophie, his beautiful cousin and teenage love? Grandmother Win's revelations wll radically alter Alban's perspective for ever.
By Katharine McMahon. 2007
A spellbinding novel of love and courage set in the England, Italy and Florence Nightingale's Crimea.A Richard and Judy Book…Club bestseller - includes a fascinating and moving brand new final chapter.Russia, 1854. As the Crimean War grinds on, Rosa Barr - young, headstrong and beautiful - travels to the battlefields, determined to join Florence Nightingale and save as many of the wounded as she can. For Mariella, Rosa's cousin, the war is contained within the pages of her scrapbook, her sewing circle, and the letters she receives from Henry, her fiancé, a celebrated surgeon who has also volunteered to work within the shadow of the guns. But when Henry falls ill, and Rosa's communications cease, Mariella finds herself drawn inexorably towards the war.Following the trail of her elusive and captivating cousin, Mariella's epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian England to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea. As she ventures deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, Mariella discovers her own strengths and passions through Rosa's tough lessons of concealment, faithfulness and love.When Henry falls ill and is sent to recuperate in Italy, Mariella impulsively decides she must go to him. But upon their arrival at his lodgings, she and her maid make a heartbreaking discovery: Rosa has disappeared. Following the trail of her elusive and captivating cousin, Mariella's epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian London to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea and the tragic city of Sebastopol. As she ventures deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, Mariella's ordered world begins to crumble and she finds she has much to learn about secrecy, faithfulness and love.'This is everything a good historical romance should be' GOOD BOOK GUIDE'This book is little short of masterful. ..This is easily one of my favourite books of the last decade.' Goodreads 5 stars'Absolutely loved this book, a real insight to women of a certain time' Goodreads 5 stars'Feels like a dramatic, sweeping, tragic historical epic that you could imagine as a brilliant costume drama film' Goodreads 5 stars
By Iain Banks. 1995
A little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing... Innocent in the ways of the world, an ingenue when it…comes to pop and fashion, the Elect of God of a small but committed Stirlingshire religious cult: Isis Whit is no ordinary teenager.When her cousin Morag - Guest of Honour at the Luskentyrian's four-yearly Festival of Love - disappears after renouncing her faith, Isis is marked out to venture among the Unsaved and bring the apostate back into the fold. But the road to Babylondon (as Sister Angela puts it) is a treacherous one, particularly when Isis discovers that Morag appears to have embraced the ways of the Unsaved with spectacular abandon...Truth and falsehood; kinship and betrayal; 'herbal' cigarettes and compact discs - Whit is an exploration of the techno-ridden barrenness of modern Britain from a unique perspective.
By Willa Cather. 1918
During that burning day when we were crossing Iowa, our talk kept returning to a central figure, a Bohemian girl…whom we had both known long ago. More than any other person we remembered, this girl seemed to mean to us the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood . . . His mind was full of her that day. He made me see her again, feel her presence, revived all my old affection for her.'MY ANTONIA is the unforgettable story of an immigrant woman's life on the Nebraska plains, seen through the eyes of her childhood friend, Jim Burden. The beautiful, free-spirited, wild-eyed girl captured Jim's imagination long ago and haunts him still, embodying for him the elemental spirit of the American frontier.
By Iain Banks. 1984
Named 'one of the top 100 novels of the century' by the Independent, The Wasp Factory is a bizarre, imaginative,…disturbing and darkly comic look into the mind of a child psychopath Frank is no ordinary sixteen-year-old. He lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Frank's mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric's escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother's inevitable return - an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.Iain Banks' celebrated first novel is a 'gothic horror story of quite exceptional quality...macabre, bizarre and...quite impossible to put down' (Financial Times) Enter - if you can bear it - the extraordinary private world of Frank, just sixteen, and unconventional, to say the least.'Brilliant...irresistible...compelling' -New York Times'One of the most brilliant first novels I have come across' -Telegraph
By Katharine McMahon. 2006
From the author of Richard and Judy Book Club choice, THE ROSE OF SEBASTOPOL'A first-rate historical romance: it's hard to…think it will be bettered this year' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAYWhen two strangers enters the manor of a brilliant alchemist and his talented young daughter, nothing will remain the same... Dark secrets haunt the manor house at Selden in Buckinghamshire, where Emilie Selden, motherless, fiercely intelligent and beautiful, has been raised in near isolation by her father. John Selden, student of Isaac Newton, is conducting a secret experiment. He aims to turn Emilie into a brilliant natural philosopher and alchemist and fills her with knowledge while recording every step she takes. In the spring of 1725, when Emilie is eighteen, father and daughter begin their most daring adventure - an attempt to breathe life into dead matter. But they are interrupted by the arrival of two strangers. During the course of a sultry August, Emilie is caught up in the passion of first love and, listening for the first time to her heart rather than her head, she makes her choice - with consequences that are far-reaching and tumultuous.
By Iain Banks. 1987
Daniel Weir used to be a famous - not to say infamous - rock star. Maybe still is. At thirty-one…he has been both a brilliant failure and a dull success. He's made a lot of mistakes that have paid off and a lot of smart moves he'll regret forever (however long that turns out to be). Daniel Weir has gone from rags to riches and back, and managed to hold onto them both, though not much else. His friends all seem to be dead, fed up with him or just disgusted - and who can blame them? And now Daniel Weir is all alone. As he contemplates his life, Daniel realises he only has two problems: the past and the future. He knows how bad the past has been. But the future - well, the future is something else.
By Iain Banks. 1992
'His masterpiece' Jay Rayner'One of the best opening lines of any novel... a warm, witty and ultimately very poignant book'…GuardianAn outstanding contemporary novel, about which readers say:'Banks' masterpiece''Iain Banks at his best''Read this immediately''A story full of wonderful characters''It was the day my grandmother exploded. I sat in the crematorium, listening to my Uncle Hamish quietly snoring in harmony to Bach's Mass in B Minor, and I reflected that it always seemed to be death that drew me back to Gallanach.'Prentice McHoan has returned to the bosom of his complex but enduring Scottish family. Full of questions about the McHoan past, present and future, he is also deeply preoccupied: mainly with death, sex, drink, God and illegal substances...
By Alexander McCall Smith. 2005
In Espresso Tales, Alexander McCall Smith returns home to Edinburgh and the glorious cast of his own tales of the…city, the residents of 44 Scotland Street, with a new set of challenges for each one of them. Bruce, the intolerably vain and perpetually deluded ex-surveyor, is about to embark on a new career as a wine merchant, while his long-suffering flatmate Pat MacGregor, set up by matchmaking Domenica Macdonald, finds herself invited to a nudist picnic in Moray Place in the pursuit of true love. Prodigious six-year-old Bertie Pollock wants a boy's life of fishing and rugby, not yoga and pink dungarees, and he plots rebellion against his bossy, crusading mother Irene and his psychotherapist Dr Fairbairn. But when Bertie's longed-for trip to Glasgow with his ineffectual father Stuart ends with Bertie taking money off legendary Glasgow hard man Lard O'Connor at cards, it looks as though Bertie should have been more careful what he wished for. And all the time it appears that both Irene Pollock and Dr Fairbairn are engaged in a struggle with dark secrets and unconscious urges of their own.
By Iain Banks. 1989
Hisako Onoda, world famous cellist, refuses to fly. And so she travels to Europe as a passenger on a tanker…bound through the Panama Canal. But Panama is a country whose politics are as volatile as the local freedom fighters. When Hisako's ship is captured, it is not long before the atmosphere is as flammable as an oxy-acetylene torch, and the tension as sharp as the spike on her cello...CANAL DREAMS is a novel of deceptive simplicity and dark, original power: stark psychological insights mesh with vividly realised scenarios in an ominous projection of global realpolitik. The result is yet another major landmark in the quite remarkable career of an outstanding modern novelist.
By J. G. Farrell. 2012
In the Spring of 1857, with India on the brink of a violent and bloody mutiny, Krishnapur is a remote…town on the vast North Indian plain. For the British there, life is orderly and genteel. Then the sepoys at the nearest military cantonment rise in revolt and the British community retreats with shock into the Residency. They prepare to fight for their lives with what weapons they can muster. As food and ammunition grow short, the Residency, its defences battered by shot and shell and eroded by the rains, becomes ever more vulnerable.The Siege of Krishnapur is a modern classic of narrative excitement that also digs deep to explore some fundamental questions of civilisation and life.'Suspense and subtlety, humour and horror, the near-neighbourliness of heroism and insanity: it is rare to find such divergent elements being controlled in one hand and being raced, as it were, in one yoke. But Farrell manages just this here: his imaginative insight and technical virtuosity combine to produce a novel of quite outstanding quality' The Times'The magnificient passages of action in The Siege of Krishnapur, its gallery of characters, its unashamedly detailed and fascinating dissertations on cholera, gunnery, phrenology, the prodigal inventiveness of its no doubt also well-documented scenes should satisfy the most exacting and voracious reader. For a novel to be witty is one thing, to tell a good story is another, to be serious is yet another, but to be all three is surely enough to make it a masterpiece' John Spurling, New Statesman
By Julian Fellowes. 2008
A SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLERFROM THE CREATOR OF DOWNTON ABBEY and BELGRAVIA 'A gloriously funny ride through modern times' Evening Standard…Damian Baxter is very, very rich. But he has but one concern, which is becoming more urgent at the weeks go by: who should inherit his fortune. A letter from an ex-girlfriend suggests that, as a young man, Damian may have fathered a child, but the letter is anonymous. Finding the truth will not be easy - and the only man who Damian can turn to for help also happens to be his sworn enemy... 'A must-read' Sunday Express'An elegant satire, it offers an entertaining commentary on our times and a heartfelt lament for a kinder, more courteous Britain' Tatler'A witty take on the world as it was and is now' Woman & Home
A darkly comic tale of exile, unrequited love and the redemptive power of books.Firmin is born in the basement of…a ramshackle old bookstore. He's a sensitive, creative soul but misunderstood. Because Firmin is a rat. Not only that, but as the runt of the litter, he is forced to compete for food and ends up chewing on the books that surround him. Firmin soon realizes his source of nourishment has given him the ability to read and this discovery fills him with an insatiable hunger for literature and a very unratlike sense of the world and his place in it. As Firmin navigates the shadowy streets of his decaying area, looking for understanding, his excitement, loneliness, fear, and self-consciousness become remarkably human and undeniably touching. But the days of the bookshop and of the close community around it are numbered. The area has been marked out for 'urban regeneration' and soon the faded glory of the bookshop, the small local theatre, the unique shops and small cafes will face the bulldozers and urban planners...Brilliantly original and richly allegorical, Firmin is brimming with charm and wistful longing for a world that understands the redemptive power of literature and treasures its seedy theaters, one-of-a-kind characters, and cluttered bookshops.'A wonderful celebration of the way reading enriches your life. Firmin may be a rat - poisoned by people he thinks are his friends - but his imagination soars as high as that of any human.' GUARDIAN'Surprising and moving meditation on the advantages (and disadvantages) of an entirely fictional life. Eloquent and witty, Firmin speaks for the book-loving rodent in all of us.' Karen Joy Fowler, bestselling author of WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES
By Andrea Levy. 2004
Small Island by bestselling author Andrea Levy won the Orange Prize for Fiction, as well as the Commonwealth Writers' Prize…and the Whitbread. It is possibly the definitive fictional account of the experiences of the Empire Windrush generation. Now a major BBC drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris, its enduring appeal will captivate fans of Maya Angelou and Zadie Smith. 'A great read... honest, skilful, thoughtful and important' - GuardianIt is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh's neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn't know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do? Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. It's desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door. Gilbert's wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England. But when she joins him she is shocked to find London shabby, decrepit, and far from the golden city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was...