The Paris Library by Janet Skeslion Charles. John Murray Press 9th Feb 2021.
IN THE DARKNESS OF WAR, THE LIGHT OF BOOKS
I’ve had a particular interest in WW2 fiction more recently, because it’s a subject I’m using for my MA portfolio in Writing and Well-being. PARIS, 1939
Odile Souchet is obsessed with books, and her new job at the American Library in Paris – with its thriving community of students, writers and book lovers – is a dream come true. When war is declared, the Library is determined to remain open. But then the Nazis invade Paris, and everything changes. In Occupied Paris, choices as black and white as the words on a page become a murky shade of grey – choices that will put many on the wrong side of history, and the consequences of which will echo for decades to come.
Lily is a lonely teenage desperate to escape small-town Montana. She grows close to her neighbour Odile, discovering they share the same love of language, the same longings. But as Lily uncovers more about Odile’s mysterious past, she discovers a dark secret, closely guarded and long hidden. Based on the true Second World War story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable novel of romance, friendship, family, and of heroism found in the quietest of places. I have my pre-order in already! Watch out for my review in February.
Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson. Pan Macmillan. 18th February 2021.
Murder awaits in the illuminated night of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens …
I love reading about the seedy underbelly of society, or different groups in society that aren’t usually represented in historical fiction. I love the work of Sarah Waters and one of my favourite books ever is Michael Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White, where we follow the prostitute Sugar into an underclass of women trying to survive in a man’s world. These books change our one dimensional perceptions of a particular society or historical period. From an award-winning new star of historical fiction, Daughters of Night reveals the dangerous underbelly of Georgian London – giving a voice to the female victims history so often forgets, and the women who remembered them. Set in London, 1782. Caro Corsham finds a woman mortally wounded in the bowers of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. When the constables discover that the deceased woman was a high-society lady of the night, they stop searching for her killer – and it’s up to Caro to seek justice. But the hidden corners of Georgian society are filled with artifice, deception and secrets, and finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous, than she can know … I’ve been lucky enough to have an ARC of this one and you won’t be disappointed.
Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner. Bloomsbury Publishing. 15th April 2021.
This novel is coming in early spring and I’m so looking forward to getting lost in the psyche of these two characters, Rachel and Helen. It fascinates me to see how the author has constructed these difficult selves and how they interact with each other. The overuse of the word ‘perfect’ in the blurb tells me that all in Helen’s world is maybe not as good as it appears.
Helen has it all… Daniel is the perfect husband. Rory is the perfect brother. Serena is the perfect sister-in-law. And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare. When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel. Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret… I can tell already that this is the book I won’t be able to put me down.
The Silk House by Katye Nunn. Orion. 21st January 2021.
This is a book I’m going to find myself completely immersed in. It has that combination of an old house filled with a weight of secrets, and a present day resident feeling the weight of that past, sucked into the mystery. An enchanting mystery kept hidden for hundreds of years…
1700s Rowan Caswell leaves her village to work at the home of an English silk merchant. Very soon, she finds herself thrust into a dangerous world, where her talent for herbs and healing starts to attract unwanted attention. Mary-LouiseStephenson dreams of becoming a silk designer, a path that has remained largely forbidden to women. A length of fabric she weaves with a pattern of deadly flowers will have shocking consequences for all who dwell at the Silk House. In the Present Day, Thea Rust arrives at an exclusive boarding school in the British countryside to look after the first intake of girls in its history. She is to stay with them in the Silk House, a converted silk factory from the 18th century, where the shadows hide secrets waiting to be discovered… I can’t wait to discover them with her.
The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent. Viking. 15th April 2021
Have you ever imagined running away from your life?
Well Birdy Finch didn’t just imagine it. She did it. Which might’ve been an error. And the life she’s run into? Her best friend, Heather’s. The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather. Actually there are a few other problems… Can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be her best friend (who incidentally is a world-class wine expert)? And can she stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked (but who thinks she’s someone else)?
WANT TO ESCAPE REAL LIFE FOR A WHILE? RUN AWAY WITH BIRDY FINCH, A MESSY HEROINE WITH A HEART OF GOLD. THE SUMMER JOB IS THE HOTTEST DEBUT TO LOSE YOURSELF IN THIS YEAR.
‘Fresh, funny and oh so relatable – the perfect tonic’ — ABBIE GREAVES
‘Fun with a capital F . . . If you’ve ever felt you’re getting left behind in life, or don’t have everything worked out quite yet, this is the book for you’ — SOPHIE COUSENS
‘I fell for Birdy on the very first page and inhaled the rest of her story . . . A brilliantly original plot paired with fabulously funny writing – a pure joy to read!’ — HELLY ACTON
I’ve been lucky enough to receive a proof of this, with my very own lobster bookmark! When I watched a documentary on Helen Fielding and the phenomenon of Bridget Jones’s Diary I was thinking about how ready we are for a new heroine to fall in love with. This is going to be an indulgent weekend read for me, and I’m sure I will fall in love with Birdy too.
The World at my Feet by Catherine Isaac. Simon and Schuster U.K. Publication Date TBC
The dazzling new novel from Richard & Judy book club author Catherine Isaac, The World at my Feet is a story about the transforming power of love, as one woman journeys to uncover the past and reshape her future.
1990. Harriet is a journalist. Her job takes her to dangerous places, where she asks questions and tries to make a difference. But when she is sent to Romania, to the state orphanages the world is only just learning about, she is forced to rethink her most important rule. 2018. Ellie is a gardener. Her garden is her sanctuary, her pride and joy. But, though she spends long days outdoors, she hasn’t set foot beyond her gate for far too long. Now someone enters her life who could finally be the reason she needs to overcome her fears. From post-revolution Romania to the idyllic English countryside, The World at My Feet is the story of two women, two worlds, and a journey of self-discovery that spans a lifetime. I wanted to read this because I was a teenager when the news of the Romanian orphanages first came to light. I was deeply affected by the pictures of babies and toddlers, in rows of cots, rocking to comfort themselves. It was the silence that scared me most, the fact that they knew it was pointless to cry because no one would come. It was my first sense of wanting to do something, to get involved in some way and help. I am looking forward to reading about someone who was there on the ground and did just that.
The Last One At The Party by Bethany Clift. Hodder and Stoughton. 4th Feb 2021
THE END OF EVERYTHING WAS HER BEGINNING
It’s December 2023 and the world as we know it has ended. I’m not sure how I feel about reading this book at this height of this second wave, but I know that I’m intrigued by the premise. The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself). But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own. Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth. And with no one else to live for, who will she become now that she’s completely alone? I’m prepared for a few nightmares when I delve into this next week.
Tall Bones by Anna Bailey. Random House U.K. 1st April 2021.
I know that when I start this book, it’s going to be one of those I can’t put down! When I’m like that I tell my other half to clear the weekend. I’ve been known to be still awake at 3am because I can’t stop. The blurb is so enticing. When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again. Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him. Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….
The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell. Raven Books. 21st Jan 2021
Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness…
Victorian Gothic novels are like cat nip to me and Laura Purcell has become one of my go-to authors. That means she’s one of the privileged few writers whose books I will buy without reading a single review, Silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another… Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…
What secrets lie hidden in the darkness? I can’t wait to find out.