The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. Pan Macmillan. 4th March 2021
They say we’ll never know what happened to those men. They say the sea keeps its secrets . . .
Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week. What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves? Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface. Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.
See my full review of The Lamplighters here:
Madam by Phoebe Wynne. Quercus. 18th Feb 2021.
For 150 years, Caldonbrae Hall has loomed high above the Scottish cliffs as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises that its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.
Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher and new head of department. Rose is overwhelmed by the institution: its arcane traditions, unrivalled prestige, and terrifyingly cool, vindictive students. Her classroom becomes her haven, where the stories of fearless women from ancient Greek and Roman history ignite the curiosity of the girls she teaches and, unknowingly, the suspicions of the powers that be.
But as Rose uncovers the darkness that beats at the very heart of Caldonbrae, the lines between myth and reality grow ever more blurred. It will be up to Rose – and the fierce young women she has come to love – to find a way to escape the fate the school has in store for them, before it is too late.
See my full review of Madam here:
The Split by Laura Kaye. Quercus. 18th March 2021.
Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless… but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily’s cat.
After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again. In an inspired effort to hold each other up, the pair decide to sign up for the local half marathon in a bid to impress their exes with their commitment and athleticism. Given neither of them can run, they enlist the support of athletic, not to mention beautiful, Jo. But will she have them running for the hills… or will their ridiculous plan pay off…? I’ve seen this described as ‘humour, kindness, cake and a cat’ – sounds like the perfect day to me. My full review will be out soon.
Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen. Orenda Books. 10th June 2021.
Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss. When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son. Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results… Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reasonis a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.
While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart. Headline. 4th March 2021.
On a platform in occupied Paris, a mother whispers goodbye.
It is the end.
But also the beginning.
A young woman’s future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.
Santa Cruz 1953
Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi Occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door. On a darkened platform, two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined.
Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn. Weidenfeld and Nicholson. 10th June 2021.
See my very personal preview of this exciting book here:
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. Serpent’s Tail/Viper. 18th March 2021.
I have been excited about this book for months now and was so excited to receive an ARC on NetGalley! It’s now at the top of my TBR pile and I’m looking forward to getting started this week. Why so excited? When I read that Stephen King had said ‘I haven’t read anything this exciting since Gone Girl’ I started to take notice. Another favourite author of mine, Joanne Harris, agreed that ‘Books like this don’t come around too often’ . This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street. All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies. You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it’s not what you think… Based on the reviews I’ve read, I would pre- order now ( I’ve already got my hardback on order because this is one of those ARC’s I need a real copy of). Review coming soon.
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin. Doubleday/ Random House UK. 18th Feb 2021.
Everything I’ve read about this novel tells me it’s made for me. I’ve had a pending request for it on NetGalley for a while, but not long to wait until I can pop to the local bookshop for it. We all need something to keep our hopes alive, especially at the moment and this book seems to uplift people. It’s about an extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories. Their last one begins here. Life is short – no one knows that better than seventeen year-old Lenni Petterssen. On the Terminal Ward, the nurses are offering their condolences already, but Lenni still has plenty of living to do. When she meets 83-year-old Margot Macrae, a fellow patient offering new friendship and enviable artistic skills, Lenni’s life begins to soar in ways she’d never imagined. As their bond deepens, a world of stories opens up: of wartime love and loss, of misunderstanding and reconciliation, of courage, kindness and joy. Stories that have led Lenni and Margot to the end of their days.
The One Hundred Years is a celebration of life, hope and kindness. The perfect read to shine a light on dark days.
The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley. Bloomsbury. 27th May 2021.
Such are the problems of a book bloggers world – I’ve had this proof for a couple of months but have such a pile of proofs I need to wait till we’re a bit closer to publication. It’s calling to me though, because I became a die-hard fan of Natasha Pulley’s writing in 2016 when I fell in love with a clockwork octopus and a lonely Japanese watchmaker. This promises to be another imaginative mash-up of history and fantasy.
Come home, if you remember.
The postcard has been held at the sorting office for ninety-one years, waiting to be delivered to Joe Tournier. On the front is a lighthouse – Eilean Mor, in the Outer Hebrides. Joe has never left England, never even left London. He is a British slave, one of thousands throughout the French Empire. He has a job, a wife, a baby daughter. But he also has flashes of a life he cannot remember and of a world that never existed – a world where English is spoken in England, and not French. And now he has a postcard of a lighthouse built just six months ago, that was first written nearly one hundred years ago, by a stranger who seems to know him very well. Joe’s journey to unravel the truth will take him from French-occupied London to a remote Scottish island, and back through time itself as he battles for his life – and for a very different future.
These are just a few of the releases I’m looking forward to in the first part of this year. Look out for part 2 later in the week, but be prepared for your wish list to grow even longer. Happy Reading!