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Fiction recommendations and reviews

In Emmett Farmer's world, books are the feared receptacles of the memories 'bound' into them. Experiences are erased and secrets are hidden. Collins' prose is magical, immersing the reader in a world that is strange yet familiar, real but constantly shifting. The most original and captivating novel this reviewer has read in a long time!

We think: Barnett's book of the year! 

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Having survived Auschwitz due to her youth and beauty, Cilka's liberation is short-lived as she is sent to a Siberian gulag for collaborating with the enemy. This heart-rending novel follows her unimaginable struggle to survive and ultimately find love.

We think: fitting sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris

Riveting sequel to Margaret Atwood's dystopian classic, The Handmaid's Tale.  Fast-paced and narrated from three different perspectives (the testaments), the novel takes us into the heart of Gilead which is beginning to rot from within...

We think: lives up to expectation

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Frannie Langton's 'confessions' encompassing life as a plantation house slave, abandonment and love in Georgian London and trial for murder at the Old Bailey are the framework for this accomplished and gripping novel. Fantastic period detail and a compelling heroine combine in an engrossing page-turner.

We think: atmospheric and original - so good we can't wait for her next novel!

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

It's perfectly normal for sisters to help each other out, though disposing of dead bodies would stretch any relationship! This darkly funny debut novel opens with Korede cleaning up after her sister who has an inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends...what happens when the love lives of the sisters intersect?

We think: fast paced and funny

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Nostalgic, bittersweet and funny tale of one teenager's life-changing summer, celebrating friendship and first love. We've all been there...

We think: look no further for a perfect summer read

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

'Great Achilles. Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles, godlike Achilles...How the epithets pile up. We never called him any of those things; we called him the 'butcher'.'

Pat Barker imagines the untold story of the women at the heart of history's greatest epic. Timeless themes resonate through the voice of her narrator, Briseis, a pawn in the machinations of the Greek warriors.

We think: a fresh look at an old tale 

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

According to the judges, this is an 'exquisitely intimate portrait of a marriage shattered by racial injustice...a story of love, loss and loyalty, the resilience of the human spirit painted on a big political canvas'. Not to mention the fact that the Obamas apparently loved it... 

We think: worthy winner but check out the rest of the short list in Latest News  

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

'Artificial intelligence is not sentimental - it is biased towards best possible outcomes. The human race is not a best possible outcome'. So says one of the key characters in this darkly entertaining novel which grapples with future prospects for humanity.  

We think: funny and thought-provoking

Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson

Novel based on the memories of Dita Kraus who, aged 14, became the secret 'librarian' of Auschwitz, custodian of a handful of illegal books. A moving testimony to the power of the written word which transcends the misery of life in the camps. 

We think: incredibly powerful story, sensitively told

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

Epic tale of ancient magic by prize-winning author. Narrated by Circe, the witch from Homer's Odyssey, this literary novel is a shimmering, captivating read that enchants like its eponymous heroine.

We think: you'll be lost like Odysseus in Circe's world of sorcery!

Circe by Madeline Miller

In 1940, eighteen year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage...ten years later, a bill of reckoning is due when she realises that all actions have consequences. Funny, pacy and a great read. 

We think: Atkinson at her best - well crafted and entertaining

Transcription
by Kate Atkinson

Introducing Ulf Varg, head of the Sensitive Crimes Squad, tasked with solving cases that other detectives can't or won't handle. A funny, light-hearted and gentle foray into crime fiction in these turbulent times! 

We think: a relaxing antidote to Nordic Noir!

The Department of Sensitive Crimes
by Alexander McCall Smith

Edvard's desperate quest to unlock a buried family secret takes him from Norway to the Shetlands and the battlefields of France to discover a very unusual inheritance. 

A surprising page-turner of a novel from one of Norway's leading authors. 

We think: a beautifully intricate and moving tale - keeping its secrets to the end

Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting

19 year old Paul navigates an unconventional relationship in Julian Barnes' acclaimed new novel which explores the question: 'Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less and suffer the less?'

Is it even possible to choose?

We think: elegant, heart-felt and sophisticated - from an old master

The Only Story by Julian Barnes

Gretel's estrangement from her mother comes to an end with a chance phone call - and there is nothing for Gretel to do but to wade deeper into her past, where family secrets and aged prophesies all come tragically alive.

We think: a "weird and wonderful" debut novel already getting great reviews

Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

An island nation surrounds itself with an enormous concrete barrier. 'Defenders' protect The Wall from rising seas and attacks from the 'Others' trapped outside.

"A kafkaesque nightmare whose richly-imagined world is very different from our own yet all too familiar." London Review of Books

We think: a thought-provoking modern fable

The Wall by John Lanchester

Scandinavia's latest literary star draws the reader into the atmosphere of 18th century Sweden with this bloody and enthralling historical thriller.

Not for the faint-hearted!

We think: a historical thriller with Nordic Noir overtones

The Wolf and the Watchman by Scott Johnson