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This masterful sequel to Life after Life pursues the fate of Ursula Todd’s beloved younger brother, Teddy, would be poet, heroic bomber pilot, husband, father and grandfather, as he navigates the perils of war and tracks the progress of the twentieth century. Everything about Teddy’s boyhood innocence is reshaped by his wartime ordeals which are rendered with terrifying authenticity thanks to Atkinson’s research into actual bombers’ recollections. Rich in descriptive scenes with memorable characters throughout, Atkinson has one last trick up her sleeve which she saves for the novel’s final moment, making the effect all the more devastating for the reader. This complex novel explores not only war and the ‘fall of man from grace’ through its atrocities, but also the opportunities created by fiction about how we rebuild a future.
This is a sumptuous, sweeping, powerfully moving new novel by Louis de Berniéres, acclaimed author of Corelli’s Mandolin, about a British family whose lives are intertwined and shaped by the horrors of World War I. In the brief golden Edwardian era, the four McCosh sisters grow up in an idyllic household in the countryside south of London, with their neighbours’ children, the Pitt boys and the Pendennis boys, who all become inseparable friends. The days of childhood camaraderie are brought to an abrupt end by the outbreak of the war, in which they will all play a part: the boys wind up scattered along the Western Front, two of the McCosh sisters work in the hospitals, the third works as a photographer, and the fourth as a driver for the RAF in France. They all must navigate their way through the extraordinary times after the war, and rebuild their lives out of the opportunities and devastation that follows it. This magnificent and moving novel follows this unforgettable cast of characters as they strike out to see what happiness can still be built from the ruins of the old world.
Winner of the Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and Guardian Book of the Year, this brilliantly original political novel from Carey mixes farce with a spellbinding ferocity, combining a Dickensian cast of colourful characters within a cyberspace setting reminiscent of Assange and the computer hacking era. When Gaby Baillieux, a young Australian releases the Angel Worm into the computers of Australia’s prison system, hundreds of prisoners walk free. As the system is run by an American corporation, some 5000 US prisons are also infected with the virus with the same result. Both countries’ secrets also threaten to pour out along with their prisoners. Was the virus a mistake or has Gaby intentionally declared cyberwar on the US? Felix, a left wing Australian journalist, has no doubt that Gaby’s act was part of a covert conflict between Australia and the US that dates back decades. When Gaby disappears, Felix sets out in hot pursuit to write her story to save her, himself, and maybe his country
This is the thrilling climax to the trilogy that started with Sea of Poppies. It is now 1839 and the tension between China and British India is rapidly escalating after the crackdown on opium smuggling by Beijing. When a resolution seems impossible, the colonial government declares war. One of the ships sent to attack, The Hind, makes a voyage from Bengal to China, carrying on board various characters, each pursuing their own agenda. Ghosh follows them through this war, through China’s devastating defeat and also Britain’s seizure of Hong Kong. This utterly compelling conclusion to Ghosh’s epic and sweeping story is imbued with a great wealth of historic detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with verve – a real masterpiece!
In this superb debut, Clare Mackintosh writes passionately about love, loss, abuse and betrayal in a twisty, enthralling psychological thriller which keeps the reader gripped until the last page. After a tragic accident, gifted artist Jenna Gray’s world is shattered and her only hope now is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape from the trauma of domestic violence at the hands of a compulsive male predator bent on controlling her life, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast. But she is haunted by the past and her memories of a cruel wet November night that changed her life forever. Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse potential for happiness as an artist in Wales but the horrific past in the form of a relentless pursuit is about to catch up with her with a surprising twist. ‘A must read’.
Judging this book by its summery cover, it might seem like a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy with mouth-watering descriptions of cake. However, popular chick-lit author, Carol Matthews, has cooked up a delicious tale of family, responsibilities, dreams and love infused with humour and a greater depth of flavour. Fay Merryweather takes care of her bedridden mother, Miranda, in a house by a canal where she also runs a little cafe called Fay's Cakes along with Lija, her spiky, gothy assistant. She has a partner of ten years, Anthony, who is more interested in bell-ringing and golf and a sister, Edie, who lives in New York and expects Fay to fund her lifestyle while she waits for her married lover to leave his wife. Fay helps everyone and is used disgracefully by the demanding Miranda, inattentive Anthony and self-absorbed Edie. One day a boat comes up the canal, The Dreamcatcher, with the handsome Danny Wilde at the helm and, over the course of one glorious English summer, Fay's life is about to be propelled in a new direction. Help yourself to a slice of scrumptious escapism!
In the early hours of a freezing winter’s night, a small boat steals silently along the Thames, closing in on London’s most exclusive riverside hotel. On board is a ruthless killer who intends to murder Britain’s most powerful new politician, Vernon Rolt. Rolt has been catapulted into government thanks to his plans for a zero-tolerance crackdown on ethnic violence which have touched a popular nerve. However, his move into politics has made him some unlikely enemies including British ex-servicemen, once his most committed supporters. Ex-SAS trooper turned MI5 operative Tom Buckingham is undercover inside Rolt’s organisation. His mission is to neutralise the rogue assassins for whom he also has become a target, and to discover the deadly intentions of Rolt’s new financier, shadowy Crimean oligarch Oleg Umarov. Tom soon uncovers a far more devastating plot which could permanently alter the political landscape of Europe. A frighteningly plausible action-packed read.
This clever, complex psychological thriller looks at the tormented roots of child abuse and its later effects in adulthood. Amy Fulford., an excellent pupil and gifted athlete at a private school in Ascot, suddenly vanishes one Saturday afternoon. DSI Marsche is brought in to investigate her disappearance. The spotlight is thrown onto Amy’s parents who are embroiled in a bitter divorce. Amy’s journal surfaces revealing disturbing entries about her mother’s state of mind and her father’s sordid sexual activities. Marsche’s superior officer thinks that the father killed Amy, but Marsche is not so sure and gradually unravels more disturbing discoveries about Amy’s mother’s past, her terrifying need to control those around her and Amy’s true paternity. Did Amy have a real desire to escape out of the despair and abuse of her family and disappear into another world? If so, where did she go and can Marsche still find her? This great read is full of penetrating psychological insight which is handled with care.
In the summer of 1546, King Henry VIII is painfully dying as his Protestant and Catholic councillors battle it out in a final power struggle. Whoever wins will control the government of Henry’s successor, eight year old Prince Edward. The Catholic faction focuses its attention on smearing the reputation of Protestant Queen Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife. Hunchback lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, is summoned to Whitehall to secretly help the Queen retrieve a stolen Protestant religious tract she has written, Lamentation of a Sinner. If the book comes to the King’s attention, it would destroy not only Catherine but Shardlake. Brilliantly depicted with Shardlake as a sensitive, clever and sympathetic protagonist caught in the coils of palace intrigue, heresy charges, burnings and torture, this is historical crime fiction at its best, full of vivid imagery and atmosphere which brings this turbulent period alive. A ‘must’ read.
It is 1922 and the setting is a grand villa in Champion Hill, South London, a middle-class island in an area populated by members of the ‘clerk-class’ where genteel Frances Wray lives with her mother. Silenced by grief for her brothers killed in the Great War and impoverished by her late father’s debts, Frances is forced to take in lodgers – Lilian and Leonard Barber, a young, married couple. They do not only bring with them laughter and music but something more unnerving. The routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways and little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’ life. Also a fascinating portrait of London on the verge of great change, in this utterly engrossing tale Sarah Waters has created a love story between two women and turned it into a thriller.
For more than half a century, scientists have heatedly debated about the existence of black holes in the universe. The weirdly alien notion of an invisible time space abyss seemed to confound all logic. This timely, engrossing and well researched book shows how the black hole helped revive Einstein’s general theory of relativity into a cosmos filled with sources of titanic energy that can only be understood within such a theory. Bartusiak takes the reader on a fascinating ride around black holes showing both the beauty and the mystery of a concept that has intrigued scientists from Einstein to Hawking. This captivating, authoritative book will please all science lovers.
This major, colourful history of the Imperial Austrian army is the first English account that highlights the importance of this army in European history. Bassett tours some of the most decisive campaigns and battles in modern European history from the seventeenth century through to the First World War. He details the technical and social developments that coincided with the army’s history and provides some fascinating portraits of its military leaders. Bassett stresses that the Habsburg army was the first pan-European army made up of different nationalities and faiths which included Muslims, Jews and Christians. Arguing that the Habsburg army was a uniquely cohesive and formidable fighting force, Bassett departs from the conventional assessment that the army was ineffective, outdated and inadequate
Cadbury’s intimate and gripping account of familial tensions between the Duke of Windsor and his younger brother, George VI, is well depicted and brought to life. Drawing on personal accounts from the Royal Archives and other new sources, Cadbury explores behind palace doors to uncover a very private conflict between the new King George VI and his all too charming, hedonistic older brother which also provides a unique backdrop to one of the most turbulent periods in British history during the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. Unprepared for the demands of kingship, George not only overcame a debilitating speech impediment, but proved a worthy monarch, rising to the challenge of leading his country through its time of greatest peril as well as struggling to manage the internal divisions within the royal family.
Anthropologist and popular scientist, Brian Fagan, skilfully traces the span of human and animal relationships across time: from ancient partners in survival to the present- day master-servant dynamic, despite the efforts of animal-rights activists. Drawing on his accomplished archaeological and anthropological background, Fagan offers us an in-depth analysis, depicting how our habits and way of life were considerably and irreversibly altered by our intimate bond with animals. Fagan discusses, for example, how herding changed human behaviour, how the humble donkey helped launch the process of globalization, or how horses carried a band of nomads across the world and helped topple the emperor of China. History and anthropology enthusiasts plus animal lovers of all kind will enjoy this well researched and intelligent book!
Using material that was stowed away behind the Iron Curtain, Sarah Helm finally brings to light the truth and untold facts about Hitler’s concentration Camp for Women; Ravensbrück. Using testimonies from the Second World War, Ms. Helm interviews survivors of the concentration camp who have never spoken before about their experiences. With the help of the survivors’ accounts, the author reveals the atrocities from Ravensbrück as we learn how housewives, doctors, opera singers, politicians, prostitutes and many more were treated from the first day they entered the camp, fifty miles north of Berlin on foot through the forest and more. With first hand evidence, the reader is told in horrific detail about how easily and quickly unthinkable barbarities evolved in Hitler’s only camp for women, perpetrated by female German guards.
This is a dazzling and original portrait of one of the most remarkable women of the nineteenth century. In this broadly researched and passionately written biography, Rachel Holmes balances Eleanor’s political career, centred in the Reading Room of the British Museum among her Victorian Bloomsbury group colleagues, with the emotional figure of ‘Tussy’, whose love for Edward Aveling ends in tragedy. The irrepressible daughter of Karl and Jenny Marx produced the first translation of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, was the first woman to lead the British dock workers’ and gas workers’ trade unions and worked as a personal secretary for her father. Her most important achievement was her pioneering of feminism and believing that gender equality was a necessary precondition for a just society. Holmes’ vivid and intelligent biography of this Victorian intellectual brings her and her age to life!
Richard Kerridge’s memoir, describing a life spent in pursuit of British frogs, toads and lizards, is combined with an account of his difficult relationship with his father. It also tells, in warm-blooded prose, of the way important parts of his life: meeting girls, teaching students, being approached by a hopeful (though unsuccessful) paedophile, have intersected with his encounters with slowworms, natterjack toads and smooth snakes. Incorporating startling nuggets of research with elements of history and folklore, the author has created an engaging and personal emotional map of a lifelong relationship with these often unloved and overlooked creatures. Kerridge writes thoughtfully both on anthropomorphism and on the irrational fears most people have of his favourite creatures, helping the reader to see them in a more appreciative light.
Born naturalist and devotee of the poetic approach to nature, Matthew Oates, one of Britain’s leading butterfly experts, has dedicated most of his life to these exalted but mysterious creatures. Based on fifty years of his detailed diaries, the author takes us on a celebratory journey across mountain tops, peat bogs, sea cliffs, meadows, heaths, the chalk downs and great forests of the British Isles. This book is full of humour, zeal, digression, expertise, thinking and anecdote and offers an exploration of the personal relationships we forge with wilder places and with time itself. This is a treasure for anyone who loves butterflies and also the British countryside.
In this powerful and timely book, Sacks explores the roots of violence and its relationship to religion focussing on the historic tensions between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Despite predictions of continuing secularisation, the twenty-first century has witnessed a surge of religious extremism and violence in the name of god. Drawing on an eclectic mix of arguments from evolutionary psychology, game theory, history, philosophy, ethics and philosophy, Sacks shows how a tendency to violence through competition for resources can subvert even the most compassionate of religions, and challenges those who claim that religion intrinsically causes violence.
Traditional economics assumes that rational forces shape the economy but behavioural economics knows better! In this provocative and enlightening look into human foibles, Thaler argues that humans are central to the economy and that we are error prone, not Spock-like automatons. Whether buying an alarm clock, selling foot- ball tickets or applying for a mortgage, we all succumb to biases and make decisions that deviate from the standards of rationality assumed by economists. In other words, we misbehave and miscalculate which, in turn, affects market performance. Coupling recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behaviour, Thales both enlightens and guides the reader about how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly complex and mystifying economic world.
Journalist Stephen Witt has written the fascinating account of a major crime of his generation: the illegal downloading of digital material. A reformed illegal downloader himself, Witt traces the arrival of the MP3 player and how its development spiraled into a criminal operation that completely changed the music industry from 1995. The account is based on the narratives of three main protagonists: the German engineers who developed the innovative MP3 player; the small-town American factory worker at a CD pressing plant who leaked thousands of albums; and the music business executive who made multi-million dollar deals and took the music industry to the Internet. Witt also reports on the involvement of higher levels of authority such as the FBI. Written like a high-tech thriller but with an objective journalistic eye, this book takes the reader through an intriguing period and tries to answer the question ‘What happens when an entire generation commits the same crime?’
Reviews by Evelyn, Jayne, Liz, Michaela, Ruth and Sophie