Wivenhoe Bookshop Magazine & Newsletter | Saturday 16 October 2021

Wivenhoe Bookshop Reading Group at the Black Buoy


October’s Choice – I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clarke


The Black Buoy

About the Reading Group

Join us for book talk and fine dining at the Black Buoy, Wivenhoe, where we meet monthly for an informal discussion of our chosen book. The group was founded in 2003, and we celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2013.

The Black Buoy is a 300-year-old inn located close to the River Colne near the waterfront of the historic port of Wivenhoe serving freshly-prepared and home-cooked dishes and award-winning ales in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

Discussion is informal, and many new friendships have been made – what better way to break the ice with a stranger than to have both read the same book and be eager to discuss it over a relaxing glass of wine?

How To Join

To join us simply provide us with your email address, and we’ll let you know the monthly book choice. We’ll also email you the menus for the dinner meeting. All you need to do is read the book, reply with your menu choices, and pop into the shop to pay before the meeting. Membership also entitles you to a special price on the book. N.B. Payment must be received by the Saturday before each meeting.

The requirements of the restaurant mean that should you need to cancel we are unable to refund payment unless a minimum of 24 hours notice is given by calling 01206 824050.

2021 Dates

27th September, 25th October, 29th November, NO MEETING IN DECEMBER.

I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clarke

Monday 25th October 7pm

The Black Buoy

This is a memoir as wry, funny, moving and vivid as its inimitable subject himself. This book will be a joy for both lifelong fans and for a whole new generation.

‘I Wanna Be Yours covers an extraordinary life, filled with remarkable personalities: from Nico to Chuck Berry, from Bernard Manning to Linton Kwesi Johnson, Elvis Costello to Gregory Corso, Gil Scott Heron, Mark E. Smith and Joe Strummer, and on to more recent fans and collaborators Alex Turner, Plan B and Guy Garvey. Interspersed with stories of his rock and roll and performing career, John also reveals his boggling encyclopaedic take on popular culture over the centuries: from Baudelaire and Edgar Allan Poe to Pop Art, pop music, the movies, fashion, football and showbusiness – and much, much more, plus a few laughs along the way.’

About John Cooper Clarke

John Cooper Clarke is a phenomenon: Poet Laureate of Punk, rock star, fashion icon, TV and radio presenter, social and cultural commentator. At 5 feet 11 inches (32in chest, 27in waist), in trademark dark suit, dark glasses, with dark messed-up hair and a mouth full of gold teeth, he is instantly recognizable. As a writer his voice is equally unmistakable and his own brand of slightly sick humour is never far from the surface.

Praise for I Wanna Be Yours

‘The godfather of British performance poetry.’

Daily Telegraph

‘The bookshop shelves have been clogged up for years by musicians and artists who made their debuts in the sulphurous days of 1976-7, but I Wanna Be Yours, the autobiography of the “punk poet” John Cooper Clarke, aka “the Bard of Salford”, knocked most of the competition into a cocked hat.’

TLS ‘Books of the Year’

‘Any autobiography that features both Bernard Manning and Nico is unlikely to disappoint; even less so when it’s written with such brilliantly Dickensian vigour by the Bard of Salford, John Cooper Clarke . . .this fast, funny book catches his life in its lines.’

Sunday Times ‘Music Books of the Year’


The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Monday 27th September 7pm

The Black Buoy

On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardo is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves, the menfolk of Vardo wiped out in an instant.

Now the women must fend for themselves. The Mercies is a story about how suspicion can twist its way through a community, and a love that may prove as dangerous as it is powerful.

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Kiran Millwood Hargrave was born in Surrey in 1990, and her earliest ambition was to be a cat, closely followed by a cat-owner or the first woman on Mars. She has achieved only one of these things, but discovered that being a writer lets you imagine whatever you want. She started writing poetry in her final year at university, producing three poetry books and a play before she turned to children’s fiction.

Her bestselling children’s books The Girl of Ink & Stars, The Island at the End of Everything and The Way Past Winter received numerous awards. Her first book for adults, The Mercies debuted at number 1 on The Times Bestseller Chart, number 5 on the Sunday Times Bestseller List, and was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize.

Kiran lives in Oxford with her husband, artist Tom de Freston, and the fulfilment of one of her earliest ambitions: their rescue cat, Luna.

Praise for The Mercies

‘A gripping novel inspired by a real-life witch hunt. Hargrave’s prose is visceral and immersive; the muddy, cold life and politics of a fishing village leap to vivid life. But her most vital insights are about the human heart: how terrifyingly quickly prejudices can turn into murder, and how desperately we need love and courage to oppose it. Beautiful and chilling’ – Madeline Miller

‘The Mercies is among the best novels I’ve read in years. In addition to its beautiful writing, its subject matter is both enduring and timely.’ – The New York Times

‘The Mercies took my breath away. A beautifully rendered portrait of a community, a landscape, a relationship, I read it with equal parts hope and dread. Kiran Millwood Hargrave has masterfully built up an incredible claustrophobic atmosphere, shot through with delicate intimacy. On finishing it I pressed the book to me, hoping to absorb some of her skill.’ – Tracy Chevalier

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Mon 2nd August 7pm

A Wivenhoe Bookshop Zoom Event with

Jhalak Prize Winner Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

& Dr Wendy McMahon in conversation










Join us in conversation with Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Dr Wendy McMahon. There will be conversation, readings and an opportunity for questions. This event is open to Bookshop Reading Group members and the public. Tickets for this Zoom event are £5.00 and spaces are limited so please book in advance. Book your place using the form on the righthand side of the page, and a link will be circulated before the event. Signed copies of the book can ordered in advance (price £8.99)

At once epic and deeply personal, the second novel from prize-winning author Jennifer Makumbi is an intoxicating mix of Ugandan folklore and modern feminism that will linger in the memory long after the final page. 

As Kirabo enters her teens, questions begin to gnaw at her – questions which the adults in her life will do anything to ignore. Where is the mother she has never known? And why would she choose to leave her daughter behind? Inquisitive, headstrong, and unwilling to take no for an answer, Kirabo sets out to find the truth for herself.

Her search will take her away from the safety of her prosperous Ugandan family, plunging her into a very different world of magic, tradition, and the haunting legend of ‘The First Woman’.

About the Author

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer. She has a PhD from Lancaster University.

Her first novel, Kintu (Oneworld, 2018), won the Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013 and was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014. She was awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for ‘Let’s Tell This Story Properly’, which featured in her first collection, Manchester Happened (Oneworld, 2019).
She was awarded the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction 2018 and lives in Manchester, where she lectures in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. In 2020, she was selected as one of 100 Most Influential Africans of 2020 by New African magazine.

About Dr Wendy McMahon

Dr Wendy McMahon is a Senior Lecturer in American Studies with the School of American Studies at UEA.
Her research interests centre around the literatures of the American hemisphere and include African American literatures and human rights, literature and law, literature and social justice, representations of capitalism and globalisation, post-9/11 literature, literature, conflict and security, diaspora and exile writing, literary engagements with ideas of home, belonging, and citizenship, and  literature, space, place, and the natural environment.


The First Woman is captivating, wise, humorous and tender: Makumbi has come back stronger than ever. This is a tale about Kirabo and her family, and her place in the world as she searches for her mother and a true sense of belonging. But most of all, this is a book about the stories that define us, and those we tell to redefine ourselves. A riveting read.’

Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King

‘Jennifer Makumbi is a genius storyteller.’

Reni Eddo-Lodge

‘The genius of this novel is in its subtlety: home truths about the treatment of women throughout history are hidden like gems within the utterly engaging tale of a single girl… So, I’m calling it now: The First Woman will soon be considered a coming-of-age classic. And rightly so.’


‘At turns rapturous and devastating… Makumbi’s writing uplifts and inspires, evoking the grand tradition of folklore and stories passed down, one woman to the next.’


The First Woman is a wonder, as clear, vivid, moving, powerful, and captivatingly unpredictable as water itself… With wry wisdom, great humor, and deep complexity, Makumbi has created a feminist coming-of-age classic for the ages.’

Namwali Serpell, author of The Old Drift

‘A mesmerizing feminist epic.’

O, the Oprah magazine

‘With each new work, Makumbi cements her position as a writer of great influence in our time and for future generations.’

Booklist (starred review)

‘Makumbi’s prose is irresistible and poignant, with remarkable wit, heart and charm — poetic and nuanced, brilliant and sly, openhearted and cunning, balancing discordant truths in wise ruminations. The First Woman rewards the reader with one of the most outstanding heroines and the incredible honor of journeying by her side.’

New York Times

‘Ugandan literature can boast of an international superstar in Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi.’


‘Makumbi balances heartbreak with humour… The novel is also a discourse on power (whether political, social or sexual), but executed with a beautifully light touch.’

Daily Telegraph, 16 New Season Reads

‘A beautiful coming-of-age story, The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is set to the backdrop of a small Ugandan village. Surrounded by strong women, protagonist Kirabo starts to miss the mother she never knew and the book follows her journey growing up and finding her place in the world. It’s a tale steeped in folklore and feminism, rebellion and longing.’

Evening Standard

‘Makumbi taps the shoulders of readers lest they forget the power of being able to tell your own story. Whether it be teaching something new or overwriting something old—[The First Woman] makes clear the importance of being able to speak for yourself.’

Chicago Review of Books

‘Makumbi’s writing is lyrical and vivid as she not only captures Kirabo, but the world and community that Kirabo is navigating.’


‘Bewitching… Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a mesmerising storyteller, slowly pulling readers in with a captivating cast of multifaceted characters and a soupcon of magical realism guaranteed to appeal to fans of Isabel Allende, Julia Alvarez, or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing.’

Library Journal (starred review)

‘A magnificent blend of Ugandan folklore and more modern notions of feminism… This book is a jewel.’

Kirkus, starred review

‘Ambitious…unapologetically African.’

The Millions

‘Superb. An intoxicating tale that combines mythic and modern elements to make the headiest of feminist brews.’
Irenosen Okojie, author of Nudibranch

‘A beautiful coming-of-age story…steeped in folklore and feminism, rebellion and longing.’

Evening Standard

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is the feminist coming-of-age story we’ve been waiting for. With the timeless quality of a story shared from lips to ears, this novel is a page-turner and a mind-blower.’

Tayari Jones, author or An American Marriage

‘All around, Nansubuga Makumbi opens up vistas of oppression: Idi Amin’s reign of terror and the patriarchal despotism against which women have to struggle. Bursting with resilient humour, the novel is as engaging as it is informative.’

The Times, Best Books of 2020

‘Fantastic… Packed with passion and drama — and in possession of sharp political elbows — The First Woman finally becomes a moving and resonant celebration of sisterhood.’

Daily Mail

‘Makumbi has told a critical story. With beautifully wrought prose, characters you cannot help but fall in love with, and the bravery to confront the complex issues of society, she gives us a vision of a brighter, stronger, and more equal world.’

Naomi Benaron, author of Running the Rift

‘Magnificent. The First Woman is ambitious and affecting in equal measure. It is that rare thing, a multifaceted novel guaranteed to stay with you long after you read it. Makumbi is indeed a singular talent.’

Tendai Huchu, author of The Hairdresser of Harare

‘[An] arresting bildungsroman… Kirabo, a strong, empathetic protagonist, reveals a society where women are routinely pitted against one another or silenced. This beautifully rendered saga is a riveting deconstruction of social perceptions of women’s abilities and roles.’

Publishers Weekly
‘In The First Woman, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi takes the classic male quest for identity and turns it spectacularly on its head. Kirabo’s journey toward self-possession is a beautiful, wise, and exhilarating read.’
Lily King, author of Writers & Lovers

‘Makumbi writes with the assurance and wry omniscience of an easygoing deity.’

New York Times

‘In her characteristically page-turning and engaging style, Nansubuga lays bare the complex power dynamics of patriarchy, capitalism and neocolonialism, not through academic jargon but via that most effective tool of education – storytelling.  An achingly beautiful tale.’

Sylvia Tamale, Professor of Law, Makerere University

‘What a ride! I feel naked while reading Makumbi—because there is so much history, and cultural nuances packed into her novels… In The First Woman, you will be enamoured by the Ugandan folktales with witches, men and betrayal, or sympathize with the coming of age narrative, or find yourself plunged into patriarchy, colonialism, spread of religion and power dynamics. The First Woman is indefinitely layered.’

The Book Satchel

‘Ugandan society is richly drawn, both in its traditions and the tumults of increasing modernity…but Makumbi keeps the focus on culture and the personal sphere… [She] writes a heroine who is vivid and with many dimensions.’

Press Association

‘It is clear that Makumbi is writing for Ugandans and, by extension, other Africans — and this is partly what makes the book a delight to read. However, the chief delight is the humour. It’s impossible to highlight just one passage as the humour shines from the first page to the last.’

East African

The First Woman is a wonder, as clear, vivid, moving, powerful, and captivatingly unpredictable as water itself – from the “irate noises” of Nnankya’s stream to the “theatrical” rains of Nattetta with which Makumbi’s women wash, delight, and sate themselves. With wry wisdom, great humor, and deep complexity, Makumbi has created a feminist coming-of-age classic for the ages, sure to join the company of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet. Being surrounded by Makumbi’s women – young and old – as they each struggle in different ways to clarify and achieve mwenkanonkano, feels like love, feels like learning – and best of all it often feels, as she puts it, ‘like mischief’!’

Namwali Serpell, author of The Old Drift

‘A poignant coming-of-age tale about women’s hard-won wisdom… Glorious.’

Washington Post

‘An intoxicating coming-of-age tale set amidst the brutality of Idi Amin’s Uganda, The First Woman is a hymn to survival, rebellion and the enduring power of the female spirit.’

Waterstones (October’s Best Books)

‘A feminist coming-of-age epic… Her intimate prose is charming and compulsively readable. With equal parts wisdom and wry humour, [Makumbi] casts Kirabo as a character you care about… The First Woman is a refreshing bildungsroman that offers both a formidable heroine and an ornate snapshot of 20th-century Uganda.’

Literary Review

‘A captivating feminist coming-of-age tale set in Uganda.’

Independent (Book of the Month)

‘A powerful coming-of-age tale… Kirabo is a fantastic character – headstrong and curious – and the way Ugandan myths are woven through the story is mesmerising.’

Good Housekeeping

‘Kirabo, the protagonist of Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s The First Woman, is a wonderful, daring character who is growing up in the patriarchal society of 1970s Uganda. Intricately woven with themes of feminism, mythology and tradition, this exquisitely written and compelling story delivers a thoroughly satisfying ending.’

Abi Daré, author of The Girl With the Louding Voice


Psychologies (Book of the Month)

‘Kirabo’s journey of self-discovery is at once inspiring and epic.’


‘Makumbi’s rich language and detailed descriptions are a must-read.’

Hello Giggles

‘In lyrical prose, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi renders Kirabo’s coming-of-age tale as a tender depiction of evolving womanhood, self-awareness in a tight-knit community and the path back to family and history.’

TIME, Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2020

‘The award-winning author of Kintu returns with a powerful coming-of-age tale set in Uganda. This is the story of teenage Kirabo as she searches for her mother, a woman she doesn’t remember. Kirabo is a fantastic character – headstrong and curious – and the way Ugandan myths are woven through the story is mesmerising.’

Good Housekeeping

‘A vivid, powerful coming-of-age story, which is driven by indigenous feminism… A wise, moving and a multi-layered novel, which not only immerses us in authentic Ugandan culture, but also allows the reader to look at the universal themes from a different angle.’

The Upcoming

‘A standout coming-of-age novel about parents, friendship and storytelling.’

Mail on Sunday

‘Breathtaking… What’s more important than loving and knowing yourself?’

NB magazine

The First Woman is captivating, wise, humorous and tender: Makumbi has come back stronger than ever… A timeless, universal story with a contemporary feminist message, The First Woman portrays an unforgettable group of headstrong independent women… Makumbi has written a sweeping effervescent tale of longing, femininity and courage.’


The First Woman is a lively, engaging read, and Makumbi cleverly braids the immensely personal – Kirabo’s yearning for a mother who appears to want nothing to do with her – with far larger scale social and political shifts… Its energy derives from its considerable wit and the charm of its central character.’


‘This vivid novel marries folklore with modern feminism… [A] wonderful coming-of-age story.’

Sunday Express

‘A novel bursting with resilience and warmth… Mixing the mythic and the modern, happily ignoring formal neatness to encompass Uganda’s miscellaneousness, it’s an enthralling achievement.’

The Sunday Times

‘Kirabo’s odyssey makes for a riveting, exuberant novel, a coming-of-age like no other.’

O, The Oprah Magazine (Best Books of 2020)

‘Kirabo, the heroine of this rangy, Ugandan-set novel, was the character I most enjoyed spending time with this year. We first meet her aged 12 in 1975, desperate to find her absent mother — who has her own dramatic tale. Makumbi braids Ugandan feminism, history and folklore into an utterly absorbing story.’

Daily Mail, Best Books of 2020

The First Woman is a powerhouse of a book… The writing is superb, the multi-layered plot just ensnares the reader, the characters are realistic… It’s something very special. Definitely deserving of the number one position of my fave 2020 books.’

The Bobosphere blog, ‘Best Books of 2020’

‘With The First Woman…Nansubuga Makumbi explores the power of women in a society bent on stripping them of it.’

Al Jazeera, Best Books of 2020 by African Writers

The First Woman is bold, empowered, authentic storytelling of the highest order, that embraces its cultural origins and exposes the reader to universal emotions, questions, conflicts, shame, friendships, love and humanity.’

Word by Word

‘Joyful and intimate… Makumbi revels in the female perspective of this unusual, richly detailed coming-of-age story.’

Times Literary Supplement

‘Laced with humour and delightful tales of female bonding, this book is an invaluable addition to modern feminist writing.’

Telegraph, India

‘My Name is Why’ by Lemn Sissay

Mon 28th September 7pm

This is a Zoom Event

September 28th ‘My Name is Why’ by Lemn Sissay

THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER. A memoir with a message – about growing up in care and finding hope, determination and creativity – from British poet and national treasure Lemn Sissay.

At the age of seventeen, after a childhood in a foster family followed by six years in care homes, Norman Greenwood was given his birth certificate. He learned that his real name was not Norman. It was Lemn Sissay. He was British and Ethiopian. And he learned that his mother had been pleading for his safe return to her since his birth.

This is Lemn’s story: a story of neglect and determination, misfortune and hope, cruelty and triumph.

Sissay reflects on his childhood, self-expression and Britishness, and in doing so explores the institutional care system, race, family and the meaning of home. Written with all the lyricism and power you would expect from one of the nation’s best-loved poets, this moving, frank and timely memoir is the result of a life spent asking questions, and a celebration of the redemptive power of creativity.

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Lemn Sissay

Lemn Sissay is a BAFTA-nominated, award-winning writer and broadcaster. He has authored collections of poetry and plays. His Landmark poems are visible in London, Manchester, Huddersfield and Addis Ababa. He has been made an Honorary Doctor by the universities of Manchester, Kent, Huddersfield and Brunel.

Sissay was awarded an MBE for services to literature and in 2019 he was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize. He is Chancellor of the University of Manchester. He is British and Ethiopian.

Praise for ‘My Name is Why’

“A lyrical, painful and yet hope-filled memoir … Shattering, light-searching”

“Searing … Unputdownable … My Name Is Why is authentic and beautiful, a potential game-changer in public attitudes to children raised in care. It’s about bureaucratic cruelty and what happens when love is absent. Don’t miss it”
The Times

“An extraordinary story”
Sunday Times

“The most amazing thing about this book is that it’s not made up. This actually happened. It is an incredible story”
Benjamin Zephaniah

“I have never read a memoir like it. A blistering account of a young life in the hands of neglectful authorities. It’s a quest for understanding, for home, for answers. Grips like a thriller. Astounding”
Matt Haig

March 30th ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernadine Evaristo

This is Britain as you’ve never read it.
This is Britain as it has never been told.

From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, Girl, Woman, Other follows a cast of twelve characters on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years. They’re each looking for something – a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, a missed mother, a lost father, even just a touch of hope . . .’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Bernadine Evaristo

Bernardine Evaristo is the Anglo-Nigerian award-winning author of several books of fiction and verse fiction that explore aspects of the African diaspora: past, present, real, imagined. Her novel Girl, Woman, Other won the Booker Prize in 2019. Her writing also spans short fiction, reviews, essays, drama and writing for BBC radio.

She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, London, and Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Literature. She was made an MBE in 2009. As a literary activist for inclusion Bernardine has founded a number of successful initiatives, including Spread the Word writer development agency (1995-ongoing); the Complete Works mentoring scheme for poets of colour (2007-2017) and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize (2012-ongoing). www.bevaristo.com

Praise for ‘Girl, Woman, Other’

Exuberant, bursting at the seams in delightful ways… Evaristo continues to expand and enhance our literary canon. If you want to understand modern day Britain, this is the writer to read. New Statesman

‘Girl, Woman, Other is about struggle, but it is also about love, joy and imagination. Guardian

Beautifully interwoven stories of identity, race, womanhood, and the realities of modern Britain. The characters are so vivid, the writing is beautiful and it brims with humanity. Nicola Sturgeon

Feb 24th ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’ by Sara Collins

‘They say I must be put to death for what happened to Madame, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don’t believe I’ve done?’

‘1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning – slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.

But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?

A beautiful and haunting tale about one woman’s fight to tell her story, The Confessions of Frannie Langton leads you through laudanum-laced dressing rooms and dark-as-night back alleys, into the enthralling heart of Georgian London.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Sara Collins

Sara Collins studied law at the London School of Economics and worked as a lawyer for seventeen years.

In 2014 she embarked upon the Creative Writing Masters at Cambridge University, where she won the 2015 Michael Holroyd Prize of Re-creative Writing and was shortlisted for the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Prize for a book inspired by her love of gothic fiction. This turned into her first novel, The Confessions of Frannie Langton.

Praise for The Confessions of Frannie Langton

‘Deep-diving and elegant . . . Wide Sargasso Sea meets Beloved meets Alias GraceMargaret Atwood

‘A dazzling page-turner’ Emma Donoghue

‘A star in the making’ Sunday Times

‘Gothic fiction made brand new’ Stef Penney

‘Stunning’ Guardian

‘Spectacular’ Natasha Pulley

‘Dazzlingly original’ The Times

‘A heroine for our times’ Elizabeth Day

Nov 25th ‘Conundrum’ by Jan Morris

‘As one of Britain’s best and most loved travel writers, Jan Morris has led an extraordinary life. Perhaps her most remarkable work is this grippingly honest account of her ten-year transition from man to woman – its pains and joys, its frustrations and discoveries.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

On first publication in 1974, Conundrum generated enormous interest and curiosity around the world, and was subsequently chosen by The Times as one of the ‘100 Key Books of Our Time’. Including a new introduction, this re-issue marks a return to that particular journey.

About Jan Morris

Jan Morris was born in 1926 of a Welsh father and an English mother, and when she is not travelling she lives with her partner Elizabeth Morris in the top left-hand corner of Wales, between the mountains and the sea.

Jan Morris

Her books include Coronation Everest, Venice, The Pax Britannica Trilogy (Heaven’s Command, Pax Britannica, and Farewell the Trumpets), and Conundrum. She is also the author of six books about cities and countries, two autobiographical books, several volumes of collected travel essays and the unclassifiable Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere. A Writer’s World, a collection of her travel writing and reportage from over five decades, was published in 2003. Hav, her novel, was published in a new and expanded form in 2006.

Praise for Conundrum

‘This is a book which is throughout fascinating in it’s shrewdness, warmth and honesty, and which has not a sentence in it but is fresh, and alive, and beautifully turned.’ Observer

‘Certainly the best first-hand account ever written by a traveller across the boundaries of sex.’ Daily Mail

It is the book’s remarkable value that it manages to place what is statitically and socially outlandish within the realm of human loyalty and love.’ Time

Oct 21st ‘South Atlantic Requiem’ by Edward Wilson

‘It is 1982 and the British prime minister and the Argentine president are both clinging to power.

Owing to budget cuts, senior MI6 spook William Catesby s only agent in South America is young Cambridge student Fiona Stewart who has fallen in love with an Argentine star polo player who also flies Exocet armed aircraft for the military Junta.

Downing Street, having ignored alarm bells coming from the South Atlantic, finds itself in a full-blown crisis when Argentina invades the remote and forgotten British territory of the Falklands Islands. Catesby is dispatched urgently to prevent Argentina from obtaining more lethal Exocet missiles by fair means or foul. Cunning, ingenuity and the prospect of murder will become his increasingly desperate modus operandi.

Meanwhile, a battle rages behind the scenes as the Foreign Secretary, haunted by his own memories of the horrors of war is pushing for peace, while the Prime Minister, urged on by nationalist glory, is willing to sacrifice lives to win an upcoming election.

From Patagonia to Paris, from Chevening to the White House, Catesby plays a deadly game of diplomatic cat and mouse determined to avert the loss of life. The clock is ticking as diplomats and statesmen race for a last-minute settlement while the weapons of war are primed and aimed.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Edward Wilson

Edwaard Wilson

EDWARD WILSON is a native of Baltimore where he attended the same high school as Dashiell Hammett. He went on to study International Relations on a US Army scholarship and served as a Special Forces officer in Vietnam. He received the Army Commendation Medal with ‘V’ for his part in rescuing badly wounded Vietnamese soldiers from a minefield. His other decorations include the Bronze Star and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

After leaving the Army, Wilson became an expatriate and gave up US nationality to become a British citizen. He has also lived and worked in Germany and France. The author has made his home in Suffolk since 1976. He was a lecturer at Lowestoft College for twenty-one years and continued to teach in Suffolk schools while becoming a full-time writer. He lives in a remote village with his partner. He is a keen vegetable gardener and runner who loves swimming in rivers and the sea.

Click here for Wivenhoe writer Paula K Randall’s interview with Edward Wilson.

Praise for ‘South Atlantic Requiem’

‘As in earlier Wilson novels, Catesby is a spook who never takes the easy option, and the elaborate minuets he dances around the equally elaborate terpsichore of his opponents provides great satisfaction for the reader. We attempt to second-guess both Catesby and his crafty creator, and are soundly outfoxed at every turn. High calibre writing throughout, and an array of extraordinary characters. Not to be missed.’ Barry Forshaw, Independent

‘Ted Wilson, writing out of deepest Suffolk, is a magnificent addition to the English tradition of writing about this dark side of politics and government. He deserves a big readership as fact and fiction blend into great storytelling.’ Tribune’

It gets nearer to the truth of what happened in the Falklands War than any of the standard histories. Highly recommended Clive Ponting

Sept 23rd ‘Middle England’ by Jonathan Coe

‘The country is changing and, up and down the land, cracks are appearing – within families and between generations. In the Midlands Benjamin Trotter is trying to help his aged father navigate a Britain that seems to have forgotten he exists, whilst in London his friend Doug doesn’t understand why his teenage daughter is eternally enraged. Meanwhile, newlyweds Sophie and Ian can find nothing to agree on except the fact that their marriage is on the rocks . . .’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Jonathan Coe

Jonathan Coe is the author of twelve novels, all published by Penguin, which include the highly acclaimed bestsellers What a Carve Up!, The House of Sleep,The Rotters’ Club and Number 11.

He is also the author of a biography of B.S Johnson, Like a Fiery Elephant, and The Broken Mirror, a children’s book.

Praise for ‘Middle England’

‘Very funny. Coe – a writer of uncommon decency – reminds us that the way out of this mess is through moderation, through compromise, through that age-old English ability to laugh at ourselves’ Observer

‘A pertinent, entertaining study of a nation in crisis’ Financial Times, Books of the Year

‘The book everyone is talking about’ The Times

‘A comedy for our times’ Guardian

July 22nd ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life-changing begins.

Normal People is a story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find they can’t.

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney was born in 1991 and lives in Dublin, where she graduated from an MA at Trinity College in 2013. Her work has appeared in Granta, The White Review, The Dublin Review, The Stinging Fly, Kevin Barry’s Stonecutter and The Winter Pages anthology. Conversations with Friends was her first novel.

Praise for ‘Normal People’



‘The literary phenomenon of the decade.’Guardian

‘The first great millennial novelist’ – The New Yorker

‘Effortlessly brilliant … tender and devastating.’ – Guardian Books of the Year

‘What makes Rooney’s books so captivating and impossible to put down is the way she crafts characters and dialogue-at times, the conversations in her books can seem so real that you almost feel like you’re eavesdropping on something you shouldn’t be.’ – Vanity Fair

June 17th ‘Murmur’ by Will Eaves

‘Taking its cue from the arrest and legally enforced chemical castration of the mathematician Alan Turing, Murmur is the account of a man who responds to intolerable physical and mental stress with love, honour and a rigorous, unsentimental curiosity about the ways in which we perceive ourselves and the world.

Formally audacious, daring in its intellectual inquiry and unwaveringly humane, Will Eaves’s Murmur is a rare achievement.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Winner of the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize
Winner of the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize
Shortlisted for the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize
Shortlisted for the 2019 James Tait Black Prize
Longlisted for the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize

About Will Eaves

Will Eaves is the author of five novels, including Murmur, and two collections of poems. Previously Arts Editor of the Times Literary Supplement, he now teaches writing at the University of Warwick.

His work has appeared in the Guardian and the New Yorker and been shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Encore Award. Murmur won the Wellcome Book Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Prize, was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and the James Tait Black Prize, and was longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize.

Praise for ‘Murmur’

“A really extraordinary book, unlike any other”
Max Porter

“The premise is startlingly ambitious: what if we could think our way into Alan Turing’s dreams? … Scrupulous, humane, sad and strange, [Murmur] is as bracingly intelligent as it is brave”

“Ambitious … Boldly different … Murmur opens your mind to a different kind of novel, one that forges a dialogue between art and science, one that celebrates the wonder of human consciousness”
The Times

“A novel forged from an immensely beautiful writing intelligence. Murmur is a fully achieved literary experiment, digging deep into all the dimensions of human consciousness, including state sanctioned savagery”
Deborah Levy

“Remarkable … Murmur’s transgressive power lies at the level both of language and of structure … Will Eaves has achieved one of the pinnacles of novelistic endeavour: he has given deep thought to human experience, and in doing so brought to life the “self-conscious wonder” of thought itself”
Sam Byers
Times Literary Supplement

May 20th ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller

From the Orange Prize-winning, internationally bestselling author of The Song of Achilles comes the powerful story of the mythological witch Circe, inspired by Homer’s Odyssey.

‘In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Breathing life into the ancient world, Madeline Miller weaves an intoxicating tale of gods and heroes, magic and monsters, survival and transformation.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller is the author of The Song of Achilles, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012, was shortlisted for the Stonewall Writer of the Year 2012, was an instant New York Times bestseller, and was translated into twenty-five languages.

Madeline holds an MA in Classics from Brown University, and she taught Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students for over a decade. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms. Her essays have appeared in publications including the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Lapham’s Quarterly and NPR.org. She lives outside Philadelphia.

Praise for ‘Circe’

Circe gives us a feminist slant on the Odyssey … Miller makes these age-old texts thrum with contemporary relevance … An airy delight, a novel to be gobbled greedily in a single sitting” –  Observer“Enough magic, enchantment, voyages and wonders to satisfy the most jaded sword-and-sorcery palate. Miller approaches Odysseus’s story from Circe’s point of view, richly evoking her protagonist’s overlapping identities as goddess, witch, lover and mother” –  Adam Roberts, Guardian, Books of the Year“Circe back as superwoman … Homer’s witch get a kickass modern makeover… Miller’s Me Too-era, kickass portrait of a woman trying to defy the men and Fates arrayed against her is enchanting… Blisteringly modern” –  The Times

April 29th ‘Transcription’ by Kate Atkinson

About the Book

‘In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever.

Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.

Transcription is a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of extraordinary power, wit and empathy. It is a triumphant work of fiction from one of this country’s most exceptional writers.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson is one of the world’s foremost novelists. She won the Costa Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her three critically lauded and prizewinning novels set around World War II are Life After Life, A God in Ruins (both winners of the Costa Novel Award), and Transcription.

Her bestselling literary crime novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie, Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog became a BBC television series starring Jason Isaacs. Jackson Brodie returns in her new novel Big Sky.

Praise for ‘Transcription’

‘No other contemporary novelist has such supreme mastery of that sweet spot between high and low, literary and compulsively readable as Kate Atkinson. I look forward to a new Atkinson book like I look forward to Christmas…what lends the novel enchantment is that patented Atkinson double whammy: gravity and levity. Tragedy and comedy as so skilfully entwined that you find yourself snorting with mirth…brimming with dark wit that reminds you how deeply satisfying good fiction can be.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘How vehemently most novelists will wish to produce a masterpiece as good’ Telegraph

‘An unapologetic novel of ideas which is also wise, funny and paced like a thriller’ Observer

Mar 25th ‘The Only Story’ by Julian Barnes

About the Book

‘Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.

First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn’t know anything about that at nineteen. At nineteen, he’s proud of the fact his relationship flies in the face of social convention.

As he grows older, the demands placed on Paul by love become far greater than he could possibly have foreseen.

Tender and wise, The Only Story is a deeply moving novel by one of Britain’s greatest mappers of the human heart.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes is the author of twelve novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

He has also written three books of short stories, four collections of essays and two books of non-fiction, Nothing to be Frightened Of and the Sunday Times number one bestseller Levels of Life. In 2017 he was awarded the Légion d’honneur.

Praise for ‘The Only Story’

‘A novelist at the height of his powers….Quietly devestating’ The Times

‘The story of an affair told from two vantage points, with captivating results…. the ending is quietly breathtaking, evidence of the subterranean magic that’s wrought by those seemingly austere sentences.’ Alex Preston, The Guardian

Emotionally acute, profoundly beautiful, as droll as it is deep.’ Mail on Sunday

So sad and so powerful.’ Anne Tyler

Feb 25th ‘The Sixteen Trees of the Somme’ by Lars Mytting

About the Book

‘Edvard grows up on a remote mountain farmstead in Norway with his taciturn grandfather, Sverre. The death of his parents, when he was three years old, has always been shrouded in mystery – he has never been told how or where it took place and has only a distant memory of his mother.

But he knows that the fate of his grandfather’s brother, Einar, is somehow bound up with this mystery. One day a coffin is delivered for his grandfather long before his death – a meticulous, beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Perhaps Einar is not dead after all.

Edvard’s desperate quest to unlock the family’s tragic secrets takes him on a long journey – from Norway to the Shetlands, and to the battlefields of France – to the discovery of a very unusual inheritance. The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is about the love of wood and finding your own self, a beautifully intricate and moving tale that spans an entire century.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Lars Mytting

Lars Mytting, a novelist and journalist, was born in Fåvang, Norway, in 1968. His novel Svøm med dem som drukner (published in English as The Sixteen Trees of the Somme)was awarded the Norwegian National Booksellers’ Award and has been bought for film.
His previous book, Norwegian Wood,  became an international bestseller, and was the Bookseller Industry Awards Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2016.

Praise for ‘The Sixteen Trees of the Somme’

‘Mytting follows up Norwegian Wood with a mystery that fits together like a piece of fine marquetry’ – Christian House, The Observer 

“An intricate story about war, family, secrets and,yes, wood … An engaging, satisfying read” The Times

‘The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is so cleverly plotted, and it builds up such effortless dramatic momentum as it zeroes in on its conclusion’ – Roger Cox, The Scotsman 

‘The tug of this book on the heart and mind is irresistible… And you will, I think, struggle to find a modern novel in which the emotional, imaginative lure of trees and wood is as powerful.’ – Michael Duggan, The Catholic Herald

‘Though the twists of discovery drive the plot, it is the intimacy with the natural world – as we might expect from the author of the phenomenally successful Norwegian Wood – that most compels us: potato-flowers, islets, storm petrels, walnut trees and walnut wood.’ – Paul Binding, The Times Literary Supplement

Jan 21st ‘Winter’ by Ali Smith

About the Book

From the Baileys Prize-winning, Man Booker-shortlisted author of Autumn and How to be both . . .

The unmissable second novel in Ali Smith’s acclaimed ‘Seasonal’ quartet — a Christmas story like no other.

Winter? Bleak. Frosty wind, earth as iron, water as stone, so the old song goes. The shortest days, the longest nights. The trees are bare and shivering. The summer’s leaves? Dead litter.

The world shrinks; the sap sinks.
But winter makes things visible. And if there’s ice, there’ll be fire.

In Ali Smith’s Winter, lifeforce matches up to the toughest of the seasons. In this second novel in her acclaimed Seasonal cycle, the follow-up to her sensational Autumn, Smith’s shape-shifting quartet of novels casts a merry eye over a bleak post-truth era with a story rooted in history, memory and warmth, its taproot deep in the evergreens: art, love, laughter.

It’s the season that teaches us survival.

Here comes Winter.

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Ali Smith

Ali Smith is the author of Free Love and Other Stories, Like, Other Stories and Other Stories, Hotel World, The Whole Story and Other Stories, The Accidental, Girl Meets Boy, The First Person and Other Stories, There but for the, Artful, How to be both, Public library and other stories and Autumn. Hotel World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and The Accidental was shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Orange Prize. How to be both won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Folio Prize. Ali Smith lives in Cambridge.

Praise for ‘Winter’

BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Times, Guardian, Observer, Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, New York Times . . .

‘Capacious, surprising, generous . . . A book with Christmas at its heart’ Guardian

‘Dazzling. Grief and pain are transfigured by luminous moments of humour, insight and connection . . . Even in the bleak midwinter, Smith is evergreen’ Daily Telegraph

‘Graceful, mischievous, joyful . . . Infused with some much-needed humour, happiness and hope’ Independent

‘A novel of great ferocity, tenderness and generosity of spirit . . . Luminously beautiful’ Observer

Nov 21st ‘Conversations With Friends’ by Sally Rooney

About the Book

‘Frances is a cool-headed and darkly observant young woman, vaguely pursuing a career in writing while studying in Dublin. Her best friend and comrade-in-arms is the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi. At a local poetry performance one night, Frances and Bobbi catch the eye of Melissa, a well-known photographer, and as the girls are then gradually drawn into Melissa’s world, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband, Nick.

However amusing and ironic Frances and Nick’s flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy, and Frances’s friendship with Bobbi begins to fracture. As Frances tries to keep her life in check, her relationships increasingly resist her control: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally, terribly, with Bobbi.’

Publisher’s Synopsis
Desperate to reconcile her inner life to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances’s intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new: a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment. Written with gem-like precision and marked by a sly sense of humor, Conversations with Friends is wonderfully alive to the pleasures and dangers of youth, and the messy edges of female friendship.

About Sally Rooney

SALLY ROONEY was born in 1991 and lives in Dublin. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta,The White Review, The Dublin Review, The Stinging Fly, Kevin Barry’s Stonecutter and The Winter Page anthology. Rooney’s debut novel, Conversations with Friends, was a Sunday Times, Guardian, Observer, Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard Book of the Year.

The novel has been longlisted for the 2018 International Dylan Thomas Prize, and shortlisted for the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award, the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year 2017, and the Rathbones Folio Prize. Rooney was the winner of the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser and Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award in 2017. She is the editor of the Irish journal The Stinging Fly.

Praise for ‘Conversations With Friends’

“Rooney writes so well of the condition of being a young, gifted but self-destructive woman, both the mentality and physicality of it. She is alert to the invisible bars imprisoning the apparently free. Though herself young – she was born in 1991 – she has already been shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times EFG short story award. Her hyperarticulate characters may fail to communicate their fragile selves, but Rooney does it for them in a voice distinctively her own.”
– The Guardian

“A novelist to watch: An addictive debut, with nods to Tender is the Night, heralds a bright new talent.”
– Sunday Times

“Fascinating, ferocious and shrewd. Sally Rooney has the sharpest eye for all of the most delicate cruelties of human interaction.”
– Lisa McInerney, author of The Glorious Heresies (winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction)

Oct 17th ‘Lullaby’ by Leila Slimani

Lullaby is a compulsive, riveting and bravely observed exploration of power, class, race, domesticity and motherhood – and the English-language debut of an immensely talented writer.

‘When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties.

The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul’s idyllic tableau is shattered…’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Sept 19th ‘Outline’ by Rachel Cusk


About the Book

‘A woman writer goes to Athens in the height of summer to teach a writing course. Though her own circumstances remain indistinct, she becomes the audience to a chain of narratives, as the people she meets tell her one after another the stories of their lives.

Beginning with the neighbouring passenger on the flight out and his tales of fast boats and failed marriages, the storytellers talk of their loves and ambitions and pains, their anxieties, their perceptions and daily lives. In the stifling heat and noise of the city the sequence of voice begins to weave a complex human tapestry. The more they talk the more elliptical their listener becomes, as she shapes and directs their accounts until certain themes begin to emerge: the experience of loss, the nature of family life, the difficulty of intimacy and the mystery of creativity itself.

Outline is a novel about writing and talking, about self-effacement and self-expression, about the desire to create and the human art of self-portraiture in which that desire finds its universal form.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Rachel Cusk

Rachel Cusk was born in 1967 and is the author of eight novels: Saving Agnes, which won the Whitbread First Novel Award, The Temporary, The Country Life, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, The Lucky Ones, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award, In the Fold, Arlington Park, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, The Bradshaw Variations and Outline.

Her non-fiction books are A Life’s Work, The Last Supper and Aftermath. In 2003 she was chosen as one of Granta‘s Best of Young Novelists.

Praise for ‘Outline’

‘Winter bouquets should be offered to the clever and stylish Rachel Cusk: her novel Outline is smoothly accomplished, and fascinating both on the surface and in its depths.’ Hilary Mantel, Guardian

‘A compelling study of invisibility, silence and absence.’ Lucy Scholes, The Independent

Shortlisted for the Folio Prize 2015

Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2015

Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2014.

Named one of the best fiction books of 2014 by The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Independent and Glamour.

June 27th ‘This is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay

‘Painfully funny. The pain and the funniness somehow add up to something entirely good, entirely noble and entirely loveable.’ – Stephen Fry

About the Book

“Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships .

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.”

Publisher’s Synopsis

‘This is Going to Hurt’ has been awarded the following – Winner of Blackwell’s Debut Book of the Year 2017, Sunday Times Humour Book of the Year, iBooks Book of the Year, Books Are My Bag Readers’ Award and Books Are My Bag Non-Fiction Prize.

About Adam Kay

Adam Kay is an award-winning comedian and writer for TV and film, including Mitchell & Webb and Very British Problems. He previously worked as a junior doctor, detailing his funny and sad experiences in his first book This Is Going To Hurt.

Kay also writes columns and features for The Sunday Times, The Mirror, The Guardian, The Observer and various magazines. He lives in West London.

Praise for ‘This is Going to Hurt’

‘I’m not a Doctor (despite what I sometimes say) but I’d prescribe this book to anyone and everyone. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, heartbreakingly sad and gives you the lowdown on what it’s like to be holding it together while serving on the front line of our beloved but beleaguered NHS. It’s wonderful.’ Jonathan Ross
‘Heartbreaking.’ The Times

May 23rd ‘Rules of Civility’ by Amor Towles

The first novel by the author of A Gentleman in Moscow, Rules of Civility is a witty, elegant fairytale of late 30’s New York for fans of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

‘Fabulous’ Observer
‘Achingly stylish’ Guardian
‘Irresistible’ Daily Telegraph
‘Gripping’ The Sunday Times

“In a jazz bar on the last night of 1937, watching a quartet because she couldn’t afford to see the whole ensemble, there were certain things Katey Kontent knew: the location of every old church in Manhattan
how to sneak into the cinema
how to type eighty words a minute, five thousand an hour, and nine million a year
and that if you can still lose yourself in a Dickens novel then everything is going to be fine.

By the end of the year she’d learned:

how to live like a redhead
and insist upon the very best;
that riches can turn to rags in the trip of a heartbeat,
chance encounters can be fated, and the word ‘yes’ can be a poison.

That’s how quickly New York City comes about, like a weathervane, or the head of a cobra. Time tells which.”

Publisher’s Synopsis

A delicious and memorable novel that will leave you wistful – and desperate for a martini.’ StylistElegance and hardship drip off the pageDaily Mail

Biographical Notes

Amor Towles has written fiction which has appeared in The Paris Review. This is his first novel. He lives in New York.

Praise for ‘Rules of Civility’

Impossibly glamorous . . . Towles conjures up vintage New York so marvellously that it made me feel nostalgic for a place I’ve never been to. — The Times
Achingly stylish…witty, slick production, replete with dark intrigue, period details, and a suitably Katharine Hepburn-like heroine — Guardian
The summer’s must-read: gripping and beautiful — Sunday Times
Terrific. A smart, witty, charming dry-martini of a novel — David Nicholls, author of One Day
This is a flesh-and-blood tale you believe in, with fabulous period detail. It’s all too rare to find a fun, glamorous, semi-literary tale to get lost in… While you’re lost in the whirl of silk stockings, fur and hip flasks, all you care about is what Katey Kontent does next — Viv Groskop, Observer
Irresistible… A cross between Dorothy Parker and Holly Golightly, Katey Kontent is a priceless narrator in her own right – the brains of a bluestocking with the legs of a flapper and the mores of Carrie Bradshaw — Elena Seymenliyska, Telegraph
Because who doesn’t want to be transported to Thirties Manhattan? — Lucy Mangan
Jazz-age New York is the setting for martinis and girls on the make in Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. As glamorous as it is gut-wrenching, this is the summer’s must-read — ELLE
…my book of the year. If the unthinkable happened and I could never read another new work of fiction in 2011, I’d simply re-read this sparkling, stylish book, with yet another round of martinis as dry as the author’s wit — Jackie McGlone, Herald
Set against a soundtrack of clinking glasses and saxophones, the book is a love letter to the city and the era, so confidently written it instantly plunges you into Thirties New York. Towles creates a narrative that sparkles with sentences so beautiful you’ll stop and re-read them. A delicious and memorable novel that will leave you wistful – and desperate for a martini — Stylist
This book feels special…Towles was born to write — Sun Herald
Even the most jaded New Yorker can see the beauty in Amor Towles’ RULES OF CIVILITY the antiqued portrait of an unlikely jet set making the most of Manhattan. — San Francisco Chronicle
Rattles along at the pace of a riotous night out in the book’s vividly evoked Manhattan. It is atmospheric, satisfying Great Gatsby-lite complete, with fish-out-of-water first-person narration, country house parties and a fabulously wealthy male protagonist who is not all that he seems. — Ben Hoyle, The Times
Impossibly glamorous, RULES OF CIVILITY takes in 1930s New York with a dry martini and a side order of sharp-tongued wit. with vintage period detail verging on the nostalgic, it’s a stylish tale of ambitious, wisecracking gals on the make in Manhattan…With love at its heart (love lost, regained, betrayed and shared), this book is so much more than the sum of its parts as it takes in ambition, manner and the American Dream along the way. Where it excels is not letting the style become its only substance…Rules of Civility has the feel of a classic, one that’s as rich in story as in nostalgia and love for New York…With crackling prose, a compelling story and a beautiful way with words, this clever and sassy book is not only dull of charm, it’s shockingly good fun too. — Fiction Uncovered

April 18th ‘Exit West’ by Mohsin Hamid

‘Exit West‘ is an extraordinary story of love and hope from the bestselling, Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.


*One of Barack Obama’s top ten books of 2017*Shortlisted for the LA Times Prize for Fiction

Nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Association Awards for Best Novel

The Times Top 10 Bestseller

Guardian Top 10 Bestseller

The New York Times Top 5 Bestseller

Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2018 and finalist for the Neustadt Prize 2018

About the Book

‘This is Nadia. She is fiercely independent with an excellent sense of humour and a love of smoking alone on her balcony late at night.

This is Saeed. He is sweet and shy and kind to strangers. He also has a balcony but he uses his for star-gazing.This is their story: a love story, but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow. Saeed and Nadia are falling in love, and their city is falling apart. Here is a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it.Exit West is a heartfelt and radical act of hope – a novel to restore your faith in humanity and in the power of imagination.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid writes regularly for The New York Times, the Guardian and the New York Review of Books, and is the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Moth Smoke, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Discontent and its Civilisations and Exit West.

Born and mostly raised in Lahore, he has since lived between Lahore, London and New York.

 Praise for ‘Exit West’

‘Mixing the real and the surreal, using old fairy-tale magic… Compelling, crystalline, unnervingly dystopian’ Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

‘Stunning, first-rate literature. A work of beauty that will make you think and feel.’ Spectator

‘A masterpiece.’ Michael Chabon

March 28th ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ by George Saunders

George Saunders extraordinary first novel about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War won the Man Booker and Folio Prizes.

The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm – called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo – and as ghosts mingle, squabble, gripe and commiserate, and stony tendrils creep towards the boy, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Unfolding over a single night, Lincoln in the Bardo is written with George Saunders’ inimitable humour, pathos and grace. Here he invents an exhilarating new form, and is confirmed as one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Deploying a theatrical, kaleidoscopic panoply of voices – living and dead, historical and fictional – Lincoln in the Bardo poses a timeless question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?




February 21st ‘My Name is Lucy Barton’ by Elizabeth Strout

This month’s choice is an exquisite story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge

‘Lucy is recovering from an operation in a New York hospital when she wakes to find her estranged mother sitting by her bed. They have not seen one another in years. As they talk Lucy finds herself recalling her troubled rural childhood and how it was she eventually arrived in the big city, got married and had children. But this unexpected visit leaves her doubting the life she’s made: wondering what is lost and what has yet to be found.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge, as well as The Burgess Boys, a New York Times bestseller, Abide With Me and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize.

She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize. She lives in New York City and Portland, Maine.

Praise for ‘My Name is Lucy Barton’

‘Strout is a brilliant chronicler of the ambiguity and delicacy of the human condition. Anything Is Possible is a wise, stunning novel. If there is a theme that unites these stories, it is the longing to be understood – arguably the most human desire of all.’ Elizabeth Day, The Guardian

Through Lucy Barton, Strout has made a remarkable virtue of the novelist’s trick – often missed – of telling enough but not too much. This is a glorious novel, deft, tender and true. Read it. Sarah Crown, The Telegraph

This is a magnificent book, one that explores much hurt and darkness without ever relinquishing its compassion or its light. Danielle McGlaughlin, The Irish Times

January 24th ‘The Good People’ by Hannah Kent

About the Book

Based on true events and set in a lost world bound by its own laws, The Good People is Hannah Kent’s startling novel about absolute belief and devoted love. Terrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this long-awaited follow-up to Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers.

County Kerry, Ireland, 1825.

Nóra, bereft after the sudden death of her beloved husband, finds herself alone and caring for her young grandson Micheál. Micheál cannot speak and cannot walk and Nóra is desperate to know what is wrong with him. What happened to the healthy, happy grandson she met when her daughter was still alive?

Mary arrives in the valley to help Nóra just as the whispers are spreading: the stories of unexplained misfortunes, of illnesses, and the rumours that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley.

Nance’s knowledge keeps her apart. To the new priest, she is a threat, but to the valley people she is a wanderer, a healer. Nance knows how to use the plants and berries of the woodland; she understands the magic in the old ways. And she might be able to help Micheál.

As these three women are drawn together in the hope of restoring Micheál, their world of folklore and belief, of ritual and stories, tightens around them. It will lead them down a dangerous path, and force them to question everything they have ever known.

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Hannah Kent

Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. She is the co-founder and publishing director of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings. In 2011 she won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award.

She is the author of Burial Rites and The Good People.

Praise for ‘The Good People’

‘Kent conjures up with exceptional intensity and empathy a world in which folk beliefs hold as much sway over people’s minds as religious faith . . . It would have been all too easy to present this story as a conflict between rational enlightenment and peasant superstition, but the main strength of Kent’s narrative is that it avoids such a simple dichotomy. ‘I have told you my truth,’ Nance tells the court during the trial scenes that provide the book’s climax. Such is the power of Kent’s imaginative sympathy with her characters that this becomes not merely the mantra of a deluded old woman, but a moving statement of her continuing faith in her own vision of the way the world works . . . The Good People is an even better novel than Burial Rites — a starkly realised tale of love, grief and misconceived beliefs’
Sunday Times

November 22nd ‘Autumn’ by Ali Smith

About the Book

A breathtakingly inventive new novel from the Man Booker-shortlisted and Baileys Prize-winning author of How to be both

‘Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer.

Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever . . ‘

Publisher’s Synopsis


About Ali Smith

Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962. She is the author of Free Love and Other StoriesLikeOther Stories and Other StoriesHotel WorldThe Whole Story and Other StoriesThe Accidental, Girl Meets Boy, The First Person and Other Stories, There but for the, ArtfulHow to be both, and Public Library and other stories. Hotel World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and The Accidental was shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Orange Prize.

How to be both won the Baileys Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Folio Prize. Autumn was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Ali Smith lives in Cambridge.

Praise for Autumn

‘In a country apparently divided against itself, a writer such as Smith is more valuable than a whole parliament of politicians’ Financial Times

‘Undoubtedly Smith at her best. Puckish, yet elegant; angry, but comforting’ The Times

‘A beautiful, poignant symphony of memories, dreams and transient realities… The first post-Brexit novel’ Guardian

‘Terrific, extraordinary, playful… There is an awful lot to lift the soul’ Daily Mail
‘Bold and brilliant’ Observer

October 25th ‘Best British Short Stories 2017′

The nation’s favourite annual guide to the short story, now in its seventh year.

Best British Short Stories invites you to judge a book by its cover – or more accurately, by its title. This critically acclaimed series aims to reprint the best short stories published in the previous calendar year by British writers, whether based in the UK or elsewhere. The editor’s brief is wide ranging, covering anthologies, collections, magazines, newspapers and web sites, looking for the best of the bunch to reprint all in one volume.

Featuring stories by Jay Barnett, Peter Bradshaw, Rosalind Brown, Krishan Coupland, Claire Dean, Niven Govinden, Françoise Harvey, Andrew Michael Hurley, Daisy Johnson, James Kelman, Giselle Leeb, Courttia Newland, Vesna Main, Eliot North, Irenosen Okojie, Laura Pocock, David Rose, Deirdre Shanahan, Sophie Wellstood and Lara Williams.

Praise for Previous Work

‘This annual feast satisfies again. Time and again, in Royle’s crafty editorial hands, closely observed normality yields (as Nikesh Shukla’s spear-fisher grasps) to the things we ‘cannot control’.’ —Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

‘Nicholas Lezard’s paperback choice: Hilary Mantel’s fantasia about the assassination of Margaret Thatcher leads this year’s collection of familiar and lesser known writers.’ —Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

‘Another effective and well-rounded short story anthology from Salt – keep up the good work, we say!’ —Sarah-Clare Conlon, Bookmunch

‘It’s so good that it’s hard to believe that there was no equivalent during the 17 years since Giles Gordon and David Hughes’s Best English Short Stories ceased publication in 1994. The first selection makes a very good beginning … Highly Recommended.’ —Kate Saunders, The Times

‘When an anthology limits itself to a particular vintage, you hope it’s a good year. The Best British Short Stories 2014 from Salt Publishing presupposes a fierce selection process. Nicholas Royle is the author of more than 100 short stories himself, the editor of sixteen anthologies and the head judge of the Manchester Fiction Prize, which inspires a sense of confidence in his choices. He has whittled down this year’s crop to 20 pieces, which should enable everyone to find a favourite. Furthermore, his introduction points us towards magazines and small publishers producing the collections from which these pieces are chosen. If you like short stories but don’t know where to find them, this book is a gateway to wider reading.’ —Lucy Jeynes, Bare Fiction

September  20th 2017 ‘Cousins’ by Salley Vickers

How much can love ask of us?

Brilliant and mercurial Will Tye suffers a life changing accident. The terrible event ripples through three generations of the complex and eccentric Tye family, bringing to light old tragedies and dangerous secrets. Each member of the family holds some clue to the chain of events which may have led to the accident and each holds themselves to blame.

Most closely affected is Will’s cousin Cecelia, whose affinity with Will leaves her most vulnerable to his suffering and whose own life is for ever changed by how she will respond to it.

Told through the eyes of three women close to Will, his sister, his grandmother and his aunt, Cousins is a novel weaving darkness and light which takes us from the outbreak of World War Two to the present day, exploring the recurrence of tragedy, the nature of trangression, and the limits of morality and love.

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Salley Vickers

Salley Vickers is the author of many acclaimed novels including the best-selling Miss Garnet’s Angel, Mr Golightly’s Holiday, The Other Side of You and The Cleaner of Chartres (Viking 2012) and two short story collections, the latest The Boy Who Could See Death (Viking 2015).

She has worked as a cleaner, a dancer, a teacher of children with special needs, a university lecturer and a psychoanalyst. She now writes and lectures full time.

July 19th ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman

About the Book



What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?

Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death.

All over the world women are discovering they have the power. Suddenly, every man on the planet finds they’ve lost control. The Day of the Girls has arrived – but where will it end?

With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed.

Publisher’s Synopsis

About Naomi Alderman

Naomi Alderman is the author of four novels. In 2006 she won the Orange Award for New Writers and in 2007 she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, as well as being selected as one of Waterstones’ 25 Writers for the Future.

All of her novels have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. In 2013 she was selected for the prestigious Granta Best of Young British Writers. She lives in London.

Praise for ‘The Power’

Electrifying’ Margaret Atwood

‘A big, page-turning, thought-provoking thriller’ Guardian

The Hunger Games crossed with The Handmaid’s TaleCosmopolitan

‘Superb. Insightful, thrilling, funny. Well-crafted, compelling, serious-minded’ Daily Telegraph

‘Fascinating, ingenious, rattles with a furious pace. Deserves to be read by every woman (and, for that matter, every man)’ The Times

‘Irresistible. Holds a mirror up to the here and now’ Mail on Sunday

‘Chilling, thrilling, a blast’ Financial Times

‘A shocking, thrill-a-minute story’ Observer

June 21st ‘The Cut’ by Anthony Cartwright

About the Book

The Cut is a Brexit novel. The story offers a fictional response to a complex issue. It is also a plot-driven page-turner by one of the most exciting novelists in the country.

Cairo Jukes, a boxer from Dudley, supports himself on zero-hour contracts. He has grown up among the canals – or the cuts – that web the Black Country like the open veins of an old industrial order. Then he meets Grace, a successful documentary film maker from London.

The Cut will not put you at ease. It describes a relationship built on misunderstandings, intolerance and guilt – one where each side desires something that the other cannot give.

‘Writing The Cut made me understand that we live in a country where we see prejudice in others but not in ourselves. This is a lesson that I, and my two characters Cairo and Grace, have tried to learn, with varying levels of success. It is a hard lesson for us all.’

Anthony Cartwright

Why Peirene chose to commission this book:

‘The result of the EU referendum shocked me. I realized that I had been living in one part of a divided country. What fears – and what hopes – drove my fellow citizens to vote for Brexit? I commissioned Anthony Cartwright to build a fictional bridge between the Britains that opposed each other on referendum day.’

Meike Ziervogel

Anthony Cartwright will be in conversation with Anthony Clavane, author & freelance journalist.

About Anthony Cartwright

Anthony Cartwright was born in Dudley, West Midlands, in 1973.

Anthony Cartwright

He studied English and American literature at the University of East Anglia, and taught first in East London and now in Nottinghamshire.

His first novel, The Afterglow (2004), a family drama set in the Black Country, won a 2004 Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn-Rhys Memorial Prize, The James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Eurasia Region, First Novel).

His second novel, Heartland (2009), a novel about football and the threat of the far-right in a Midlands local election campaign, was adapted for BBC Book at Bedtime and was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Eurasia Region, Best Book).

In 2012 his third novel, How I Killed Margaret Thatcher, was published. His latest novel, Iron Towns, due to be published by Serpent’s Tail in 2016 is a stunning portrayal of Britain, set against the backdrop of an ageing footballer at a struggling football team, will confirm him to be one of the best young writers in Britain today.

About Anthony Clavane

Journalist and author Anthony Clavane writes for the Guardian, New Statesman and New European.

Anthony Clavane

His latest book ‘A Yorkshire Tragedy’ , is the final part of a triptych examining belonging, identity and the rise and fall of tightly knit sporting communities through the prism of the author’s own personal experience.

The first part of the trilogy, ‘Promised Land’ was awarded  ‘Best Sports Book 2011’, and ‘Best Football Book 2011. The second book, ‘Does Your Rabbi Know You’re Here?’  won ‘Best Book of the year’ on top football website EPL Talk.

About Peirene Press

Peirene Press is an award-winning boutique publishing house with an extra twist, based in London. We are committed to first class European literature in high-quality translation. Our books are beautifully designed paperback editions, using only the best paper from sustainable British sources. Affordable, timeless collector items.

May 24th ‘Vinegar Girl’ by Anne Tyler

‘A thoroughly modern love story’ Guardian, Books of the Year.

‘Kate Battista is stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and infuriating younger sister Bunny?Dr Battista has other problems. His brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, his new scientific breakthrough will fall through…When Dr Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Will Kate be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to win her round?Anne Tyler’s brilliant retelling of The Taming of the Shrew asks whether a thoroughly modern woman like Kate would ever sacrifice herself for a man. The answer is as surprising as Kate herself.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About the Author

Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Breathing Lessons and many other bestselling novels.

In 1994 she was nominated by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby as ‘the greatest novelist writing in English’ and in 2012 she received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, which recognises a lifetime’s achievement in books. In 2015 A Spool of Blue Thread was a Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for both the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize. Her latest novel, Vinegar Girl, is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew.

April 26th ‘Stronger Than Skin’ by Stephen May

About the Book

A story of a toxic love gone wrong, with a setting that moves easily between present day London and 1990s Cambridge, Stronger Than Skin is compulsively readable, combining a gripping narrative with a keen eye for the absurdities of the way we live now.

‘Mark Chadwick is cycling home from work, eager to get back to his pregnant wife Katy and two children, when he sees the police calling at his house. He knows exactly why they are there and he knows that the world he has carefully constructed over twenty deliberately uneventful years is about to fall apart. He could lose everything.’

About the Author

Stephen May’s first novel TAG was longlisted for Wales Book of The Year and won the Media Wales Reader’s Prize. His second, Life! Death! Prizes! was shortlisted for the 2012 Costa Novel Award and The Guardian Not The Booker Prize. He also collaborates on performance pieces with theatre-makers, artists, film-makers, musicians and dancers.

Praise for ‘Stronger Than Skin’

Author Stephen May

‘From the first hook on page four, the reader is held in the grip of a pacy, clever plot which drip-feeds revelations to keep the pages of this literary thriller turning. Excellent stuff.’
-The Daily Mail

‘Stronger than Skin is a sexy and compelling love story. Bold in its conception, enchanting with its characters, this book delivers fresh insights into the affairs of the heart, and grips the reader right until its twisted end. ’
-Monique Roffey

‘A gripping tale with a well designed plot and great twists. A definite page-turner.’
-Jess Richards

‘Full of warmth with a dark, complex heart.’
-Emma Unsworth

‘The story hooks you in lightly, and then takes a grip; a proper page-turner to the last. ’
-Rachel Seiffert

To book or join call 01206 824050 or send an email

March 22nd 2017 ‘Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain’ by Barney Norris

‘There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.’

One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters. As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain’

‘One of our most exciting young writers’ The Times

‘Wonderful…I was hooked from the first page. It’s the real stuff.’ – Michael Frayn
‘Deeply affecting’ – Guardian
‘Superb’ – Mail on Sunday
‘Barney Norris is a rare and precious talent’ – Evening Standard

About the Author

Barney Norris was born in Sussex in 1987, and grew up in Salisbury.
Upon leaving university he founded the theatre company Up In Arms. He won the Critics’ Circle and Offwestend Awards for Most Promising Playwright for his debut full-length play Visitors.
He is the Martin Esslin Playwright in Residence at Keble College, Oxford.



Feb 22nd 2017 ‘Poems on the Underground’ a miscellany

After thirty one years and almost 500 poems, Poems on the Underground has become a familiar and welcome sight on London’s Tube, paying tribute to the magnificent tradition of English poetry, and to those who have contributed to its richness and diversity.
In this beautiful paperback edition, poems old and new, familiar and unfamiliar explore such diverse topics as love, London, exile, family, dreams, war, music and nature.
Hundreds of poets are featured, including Owen Sheers, Paul Muldoon, Sylvia Plath, William Blake, D. H. Lawrence, Kathleen Raine, Roger McGough, Wilfred Owen, Wendy Cope and John Clare, among many others.

January 18th 2017 ‘Golden Hill’ by Francis Spufford

‘One rainy evening in November, a handsome young stranger fresh off the boat pitches up at a counting-house door in Golden Hill Street: golden_hill-xlarge_transildtzbe0ua51vhhtywffp8py0-7ablnmn1-ad8kbcbqthis is Mr Smith, amiable, charming, yet strangely determined to keep suspicion simmering. For in his pocket, he has what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds, a huge amount, and he won’t explain why, or where he comes from, or what he can be planning to do in the colonies that requires so much money.

Should the New York merchants trust him? Should they risk their credit and refuse to pay? Should they befriend him, seduce him, arrest him; maybe even kill him?’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘Golden Hill’

Golden Hill is a novel of gloriously capacious humanity, thick-woven with life in all its oddness and familiarity, a novel of such joy it leaves you beaming, and such seriousness that it asks to be read again and again … this novel is verifiable gold.’ Sunday Telegraph

The intoxicating effect of Golden Hill is much more than an experiment in form. [Spufford] has created a complete world, employing his archivist skills to the great advantage of his novel … This is a book born of patience, of knowledge accrued and distilled over decades, a style honed by practice. There are single scenes here more illuminating, more lovingly wrought, than entire books.’ Financial Times

A cunningly crafted narrative that, right up to its tour de force conclusion, is alive with tantalising twists and turns … This is a dazzlingly written novel. Little brilliances of metaphor and phrasing gleam everywhere. Sunday Times

Like a newly discovered novel by Henry Fielding with extra material by Martin Scorsese. Why it works so well is largely down to Spufford’s superb re-creation of New York … His writing crackles with energy and glee, and when Smith’s secret is finally revealed it is hugely satisfying on every level. For its payoff alone Golden Hill deserves a big shiny star. The Times

Splendidly entertaining and ingenious … Throughout Golden Hill, Spufford creates vivid, painterly scenes of street and salon life, yet one never feels as though a historical detail has been inserted just because he knew about it. Here is deep research worn refreshingly lightly … a first-class period entertainment. Guardian

Golden Hill shows a level of showmanship and skill which seems more like a crowning achievement than a debut . [Spufford] brings his people and situations to life with glancing ease … They all live and breathe with conviction … His descriptive powers are amazing … Spufford’s extraordinary visual imagination and brilliant pacing seems to owe more to the movies than anything else. Evening Standard

Utterly captivating … pitch perfect from the opening sentence. BBC Radio 4

About the Author

Francis Spufford was born in 1964, is married with a ten-year-old daughter, and teaches on the MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College, London. he talks about his writing here:

‘Officially, I’ve been a writer of non-fiction for the last twenty years – now, though, I’ve completed my shy, crabwise crawl towards fiction, and have a book which is an honest-to-goodness entirely made-up story. No foot-notes, no invisible scaffolding of facts holding it up: “Golden Hill” .

More specifically, it’s an eighteenth century novel. It’s set in the winter of 1746, in what was then the very small British colonial town of New York; but it’s also written like a novel from the eighteenth century. So the story of the charming but unreliable-seeming young Mr Smith, who turns up from London with a document in his pocket that may be a fraud or may be worth a fortune, is as hectically stuffed with event as it would have been if Fielding or Smollett had written it.

Eighteenth-century readers expected to get their money’s worth, and “Golden Hill” contains (among other things) a mystery, a political intrigue, a love story, a ball, a duel, a high-stakes card game, a trial, a dash of horror, a play-within-a-play, some surprisingly graphic sex and a rooftop chase. As a slow writer, I enjoyed working on something that runs fast. It was intricate fun devising and winding up the book’s clockwork. But I hope it’s also a story that feels alive, and makes the past feel alive too, while Mr Smith runs for his life, and the snow falls on Manhattan Island.’

November 23rd ‘His Bloody Project’ by Graeme MaCrae Burnett

bloodyMan Booker Prize 2016, shortlisted

Graeme Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary.

The year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae.

A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence.

Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows.

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘His Bloody Project’

‘Spellbinding… Riveting, dark and ingeniously constructed.’ – Sunday Times

‘A fiendishly readable tale that richly deserves the wider attention the Booker has brought it.’ – The Guardian

‘Gripping, blackly playful and intelligent.’ – The Times

‘One of the most convincing and engrossing novels of the year.’ – The Scotsman

‘An astonishing piece of writing… a voice that sounds startlingly authentic.’ – The Telegraph

About the Author

Graeme is one of Scotland’s brightest literary talents. Born and brought up in Kilmarnock, he spent some years working as an English teacher in Prague, Bordeaux, Porto and London, before returning to Glasgow and working for eight years for various independent television companies. He has degrees in English Literature and International Security Studies from Glasgow and St Andrews universities respectively.

His first novel, The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau (Contraband, 2014), received a New Writer’s Award from the Scottish Book Trust, was longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award and was a minor cult hit. Set in small-town France, it is the compelling psychological portrayal of a peculiar outsider pushed to the limit by his own feverish imagination.

His second novel, His Bloody Project, has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016.


October 19th ‘The Good Son’ by Paul McVeigh

Mickey Donnelly is smart, which isn’t a good thing in his part of town. Despite having a dog called Killer and being in love with the girl next door, everyone calls him
‘gay’. It doesn’t help that his best friend is his little sister, Wee Maggie, and that everyone knows he loves his Ma more than anything 9781784630232in the world. He doesn’t think much of his older brother Paddy and really doesn’t like his Da. He dreams of going to America, taking Wee Maggie and Ma with him, to get them away from Belfast and Da. Mickey realises it’s all down to him. He has to protect Ma from herself. And sometimes, you have to be a bad boy to be a good son.

Praise for ‘The Good Son’

‘Mickey is the funniest, most endearing human being for whom we feel huge compassion as he faces each adversity. This novel envelops the reader with its humanity and its down-to-earth humour leaves you laughing.’ —BookTrust

‘A vivid, poignant and thrilling tale of troubled boyhood, The Good Son is a lot better than good – it’s outstanding.’ —Toby Litt

‘The Good Son is bursting with action, love, loss, betrayal and so much more – it is the sort of book you pick up and hours later emerge from, wondering where the time went.’ – Culture Northern Ireland

About the Author

Paul McVeigh’s work has been performed on stage and radio, published in print and been translated into 7 languages.

He began his career as a playwright in his home town, Belfast, before moving to London where he wrote comedy shows, which were performed at the Edinburgh Festival and in London’s West End.

Paul won The McCrea Literary Award in 2015, and his short stories have been published in literary journals and anthologies, read on BBC Radio 5 and commissioned by BBC Radio 4. He is the co-founder of London Short Story Festival and Associate Director at Word Factory.

The Good Son, his first novel, was Brighton’s City Reads for 2016, and has received the following accolades:

Shortlisted for The Polari First Book Prize 2016

Finalist for The People’s Book Prize 2016

Shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2016

Chosen for City Reads 2016

Shortlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker prize

ELLE Best Books of 2015

The Reading Agency: Books of 2015

September 21st ‘The Crossing’ by Andrew Miller

millerShe is sailing. She is alone. Ahead of her is the world’s curve and beyond that, everything else. The known, the imagined, the imagined known.

‘Who else has entered Tim’s life the way Maud did? This young woman who fell past him, lay seemingly dead on the ground, then stood and walked. That was where it all began.

As magnetic as she is inscrutable, Maud defies expectations and evades explanation – a daughter, girlfriend and mother who, in the wake of a tragedy, embarks on a dangerous voyage across the Atlantic, not knowing where it will lead . . .’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘The Crossing’

‘Exquisite prose…infused with nautical detail and the cool brine of the sea, this is perfect summer reading.’ — Sarah Hall, Observer

‘Fabulous….questions about Maud, will linger in your mind long after you close this remarkable novel.’ — Kate Clanchy, Guardian

‘Hypnotic… Andrew Miller has a poet’s ear but he can also write white-knuckle passages that will leave you winded by towering waves. Most surprising of all, you’ll find yourself rooting for Maud as she confronts the limits of her own detachment.’ — Mail on Sunday

Part relationship study, part sailing yarn, this odd yet enthralling book lingers long in the mind.’— Neville Hawcock, Books of the Year, Financial Times

‘A beautiful novel; moving, funny, mysterious and compelling. Maud is a stunning creation – a great modern heroine with a pure ancient heart.’ — Patrick Marber

About the Author

Andrew Miller’s first novel, Ingenious Pain, was published by Sceptre in 1997 and greeted as the debut of an outstanding new writer. It won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the

Andrew Miller Costa Book Awards 2012 London, England - 24.01.12 Mandatory Credit: Lia Toby/WENN.com

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Grinzane Cavour Prize for the best foreign novel published in Italy.

It was followed by Casanova, then Oxygen, which was shortlisted for both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award in 2001, The Optimists, and One Morning Like A Bird. In 2011, his sixth novel, Pure, was published to great acclaim and went on to win the Costa Book of the Year Award.

Andrew Miller’s novels have been translated into thirty languages. Born in Bristol in 1960, he has lived in Spain, Japan, France and Ireland, and currently lives in Somerset.

July 20th ‘Sweet Caress’ by William Boyd


‘Amory Clay’s first memory is of her father doing a handstand – but it is his absences that she chiefly remembers.

Her Uncle Greville, a photographer, gives her both the affection she needs and a camera, which unleashes a passion that irrevocably shapes her future. She begins an apprenticeship with him in London, photographing socialites for magazines.

But Amory is hungry for more and her search for life, love and artistic expression will take her to the demi-monde of 1920s Berlin, New York in the 1930s, the Blackshirt riots in London, and France during the Second World War, where she becomes one of the first women war photographers. ‘

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘Sweet Caress’

“An utterly compelling read … The effect of Amory is that of an interesting woman with a life well-lived, who is not content to sit back and be beautiful as an adored wife or mistress. She grasps every opportunity with both hands, wherever it leads her. Not a bad epitaph, and a tribute to Boyd’s skill that we miss her like a friend when we, and she, reach the end” – Independent

“Sweet Caress is a rattling good “what will happen next?” story and, on another level, a meditation, in fiction, on women and the lens…”Caress” is just the right word for the feel of this novel. Boyd deals with heavy themes with the lightest touch. We’re lucky to have him writing for us” – John Sutherland, The Times

“Boyd is a brilliant novelist … Sweet Caress is an audacious, sweeping, rich layer cake of a novel, at once a textual hall of mirrors and a brilliant tale of a life well lived” – Elizabeth Day, Observer

“Clever and compelling … A thrilling piece of craft, a meditation on work and life and everything in between” – Guardian

About the Author

WILLIAM BOYD has received world-wide acclaim for his novels, which have been published around the world and translated into over thirty languages.

Born in Accra, Ghana, in 1952, Boyd grew up there and in Nigeria. He was educated at Gordonstoun School and attended the universities of Nice and Glasgow and Jesus College, Oxford, where he studied for a D.Phil in English Literature. He was also a lecturer in English Literature at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, from 1980-83. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He has been presented with honorary Doctorates in Literature from the universities of St. Andrews, Stirling, Glasgow and Dundee. In 2005 he was awarded the CBE.

He is married and divides his time between London and South West France.

June 22nd ‘The Loney’ by Andrew Michael Hurley

About the Book

loney‘Two brothers. One mute, the other his lifelong protector.

Year after year, their family visits the same sacred shrine on a desolate strip of coastline known as the Loney, in desperate hope of a cure.

In the long hours of waiting, the boys are left alone. And they cannot resist the causeway revealed with every turn of the treacherous tide, the old house they glimpse at its end . . .

Many years on, Hanny is a grown man no longer in need of his brother’s care.

But then the child’s body is found.

And the Loney always gives up its secrets, in the end.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘The Loney’

This is a novel of the unsaid, the implied, the barely grasped or understood, crammed with dark holes and blurry spaces that your imagination feels compelled to fill’ Observer

‘A masterful excursion into terror’ The Sunday Times

‘Here is the masterpiece by which Hurley must enter the Guild of the Gothic: it pleases me to think of his name written on some parchment scroll, alongside those of Walpole, Du Maurier, Maturin and Jackson’ Guardian

‘Written with the skill of a poet’ The Times, Books of the Year
‘An eerie, disturbing read that doesn’t let up until its surprise ending’ Daily Mail

About the Author

Andrew Michael Hurley has lived in Manchester and London, and is now based in Lancashire, where he teaches English

Andrew Michael Hurley

Andrew Michael Hurley

Literature and Creative Writing.

He has had two collections of short stories published by Lime Tree Press. The Loney is his first novel – it was first published in October 2014 by Tartarus Press, a tiny independent publisher based in Yorkshire, as a 300-copy limited-edition.

It won the 2015 Costa First Novel award, Times ‘Book of the Year’ 2015, and was voted Book of the Year at the British Book Industry 2016 awards.

May 25th ‘Carol’ by Patricia Highsmith

About the Book


Therese is just an ordinary sales assistant working in a New York department store when a beautiful, alluring woman in her thirties walks up to her counter. Standing there, Therese is wholly unprepared for the first shock of love.
Therese is an awkward nineteen-year-old with a job she hates and a boyfriend she doesn’t love; Carol is a sophisticated, bored suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce and a custody battle for her only daughter. As Therese becomes irresistibly drawn into Carol’s world, she soon realizes how much they both stand to lose..
Publisher’s Synopsis
First published pseudonymously in 1952 as The Price of Salt, Carol is a hauntingly atmospheric love story set against the backdrop of fifties’ New York.

Praise for ‘Carol’

“’Has the drive of a thriller but the imagery of a romance … This is a book that is hard to set aside; it demands to be read late into the night with eyes burning and heart racing’” – Val McDermid

“’A document of persecuted love … perfect’” – Independent

“’Gently exploratory, genuinely moving’” – Mail on Sunday

“’An original, honest novel, a remarkable imaginative achievement by any standard … compelling’” – Financial Times

About the Author

patPatricia Highsmith was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1921.

Her first novel, Strangers On A Train, was made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. The Talented Mr Ripley, published in 1955, was awarded the Edgar Allan Poe Scroll by the Mystery Writers of America and introduced the fascinating anti-hero Tom Ripley, who was to appear in many of her later crime novels.

Patricia Highsmith died in Locarno, Switzerland, in February 1995. Her last novel, Small g: A Summer Idyll, was published posthumously just over a month later.

April 20th ‘At Hawthorn Time’ by Melissa Harrison


About the Book

‘Howard and Kitty have recently moved to Lodeshill after a life spent in London; now, their marriage is wordlessly falling apart. Custom car enthusiast Jamie has lived in the village for all of his nineteen years and dreams of leaving it behind, while Jack, a vagrant farm-worker and mystic in flight from a bail hostel, arrives in the village on foot one spring morning, bringing change. All four of them are struggling to find a life in the modern countryside; all are trying to find ways to belong.

Building to an extraordinary climax over the course of one spring month, At Hawthorn Time is both a clear-eyed picture of rural Britain, and a heartbreaking exploration of love, land and loss.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘At Hawthorn Time’

“A magical, hypnotically strange book of love and dreams, tragedy and myth, At Hawthorn Time sent shivers down my spine. Soaked deep in hedgerows and fields, it is a profoundly unsentimental yet deeply compassionate meditation on searching for myth and meaning, on our need to belong, and the place of history in the history of place. Harrison is writing us a new kind of modern pastoral: peopled, raw, messy, and shining” – Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk

“At Hawthorn Time is intensely moving, a book overshadowed by disaster but still careful, precise, and hypnotically beautiful” – Evie Wyld

“Her perceptions encompass both the beauty and the indifference of nature to us and the way human beings are doing their best to destroy nature … Harrison plays with our expectations very skilfully. Every time someone gets into their car or goes near a road, you wonder whether this will be the moment; the rich vitality of the season underscores the poignancy of what is to come … Harrison has mastered a kind of writing which links people to place in a manner that amplifies both … An absorbing work of fiction – one that promises bigger things in the future from this notably gifted author” – Amanda Craig, Literary Review

“The novel is as much a hymn to the ancient life-force of nature as it is a reminder of the underlying fragility of our busy modern world … Harrison writes with impressive detail about our hedgerows, fields, and woodlands … Carefully crafted writing” – Holly Williams, Independent on Sunday

“Acute, effortless … So much unforced life is here that Harrison is readily comparable with Elizabeth Taylor and Penelope Lively; but she has a distinction all her own – and her growing audience must hope to live long enough to read everything she writes” – Spectator

“Harrison’s love of the natural world and its traditions vibrates poetically through every page, but this is an up-to-date reading of the national psyche … Harrison’s imagination is wonderfully strange, her writing beautifully assured and controlled. At Hawthorn Time is social satire, but also a political protest against the intensive and increasing privatisation of the countryside, and a love letter to the power of nature – which persists whether we understand it or not” – Kate Saunders, The Times

About the Author

Melissa Harrison’s debut novel ‘Clay‘ won the Portsmouth First Fiction Award, and was chosen by Ali Smith as a Book of the Year for 2013.
Her second novel ‘At Hawthorn Time’ was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2015 and longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016. A freelance writer, occasional photographer and columnist for The Times, the Weekend FT and the Guardian, she lives in South London.

March 23rd ‘The Buried Giant’ by Kazuo Ishiguro


The extraordinary new novel from the author of Never Let Me Go and the Booker Prize winning The Remains of the Day.

About the Book

‘There’s a journey we must go on, and no more delay . . .

The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased. The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years.

They expect to face many hazards – some strange and other-worldly – but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another. Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.’

Publishers Synopsis

Praise for ‘The Buried Giant’

‘This novel…touches deeply on human concerns, and takes us on a journey that is as deep as it is mesmerising.’ The Independent

‘The Buried Giant is an exceptional novel.’ The New York Times

About the Author


Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro’s seven previous books have won him wide renown and many honours around the world. His work has been translated into over forty languages. The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go have each sold in excess of 1,000,000 copies in Faber editions alone, and both were adapted into highly acclaimed films.

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954 and came to Britain at the age of five. He is the author of six novels: A Pale View of Hills (1982, Winifred Holtby Prize), An Artist of the Floating World (1986, Whitbread Book of the Year Award, Premio Scanno, shortlisted for the Booker Prize), The Remains of the Day (1989, winner of the Booker Prize), The Unconsoled (1995, winner of the Cheltenham Prize), When We Were Orphans (2000, shortlisted for the Booker Prize) and Never Let Me Go (2005, Corine Internationaler Buchpreis, Serono Literary Prize, Casino de Santiago European Novel Award, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize). Nocturnes (2009), a collection of stories, was awarded the Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa International Literary Prize.

In 1995 Ishiguro received an OBE for Services to Literature, and in 1998 the French decoration of Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Feb 17th 2016 ‘A God in Ruins’ by Kate Atkinson

About the Book

‘A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction.

Those who loved the bestselling Life After Life will recognise Teddy as Ursula Todd’s adored younger brother – but for those who have not read it, A God in Ruins stands fully on its own. Few will dispute that it proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the most exceptional novelists of our age.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘A God in Ruins’

Better than most fiction you’ll read this year‘ The Times

Brilliant…a major writer‘ David Mitchell

Magnificent‘ Washington Post

Extraordinarily affecting, dazzling’ Telegraph

Devastating‘ New York Times

Engrossing‘ Irish Independent

Inexhaustibly ingenious‘ Hilary Mantel

A marvel‘ Gillian Flynn

Bleakly funny‘ Financial Times

About the Author

Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh.

She won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her four bestselling novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie became the BBC television series Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs. Her last novel, Life After Life, was the winner of the Costa Novel Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Prize, and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize. It was also voted Book of the Year for the independent booksellers associations on both sides of the Atlantic. Her new novel, A God in Ruins, is a companion to Life After Life, although the two novels can be read independently.

She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, and was voted Waterstones UK Author of the Year at the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards.

January 20th 2016 ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’ by Anne Tyler

Happy New Year – joy, love and peace to all!

Join us for our first gathering of 2016 to discuss Anne Tyler’s Booker Prize shortlisted award-winning novel.

‘It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon…’

About the Book

‘This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she and Red fell in love that summer’s day in 1959. The whole family on the porch, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before.

From that porch we spool back through the generations, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define the family. From Red’s father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century – four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their home…’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’

Tyler’s twentieth novel finds fresh fictional riches in imaginative territory she has been exploring for half a century… Atmospherically rendered, the passage of time has both entertaining and heart-rending results. She has never written with more finesse, vitality and acuteness
Sunday Times, book of the year

Tyler’s sentences are wholly hers, instantly recognisable and impossible to duplicate
Observer, Books That Made Our Year 2015

May be her best yet, though, to be honest, this is what I always tend to say after reading the latest Anne Tyler. I’ve now read it twice, and I may well read it again
Mail on Sunday

The extraordinary thing about her writing is the extent to which she makes one believe every word, deed and breath

What a wonderful, natural writer she is… she knows all the secrets of the human heart
Monica Ali

A glorious, unsentimental treat

The writing is beautiful, unshowy, spare yet bountiful, the distilled style of a long lifetime of creating great novels

About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Breathing Lessons and many other bestselling novels, including The Accidental Tourist, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Saint Maybe, Ladder of Years, A Patchwork Planet, Back When We Were Grownups, The Amateur Marriage, Digging to America and The Beginner’s Goodbye.
In 2012 she received the Sunday TimesAward for Literary Excellence, which recognises a lifetime’s achievement in books and her most recent novel, A Spool of Blue Thread, was a Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for both the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize 2015.


November 25th ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ by Marlon James

We’re ending the year on a high note with Marlon James’s superb 2016 Man Booker Prize Winner. Thank you to all for top notch book talk in 2015 – have a very Merry Christmas, and we look forward to more enjoyable evenings in 2016.

About the Book

‘JAMAICA, 1976 – Seven gunmen storm Bob Marley’s house, machine guns blazing. The reggae superstar survives, but the gunmen are never caught.

From the acclaimed author of The Book of Night Women comes a dazzling display of masterful storytelling exploring this near-mythic event. Spanning three decades and crossing continents, A Brief History of Seven Killings chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters – slum kids, one-night stands, drug lords, girlfriends, gunmen, journalists, and even the CIA. Gripping and inventive, ambitious and mesmerising, A Brief History of Seven Killings is one of the most remarkable and extraordinary novels of the twenty-first century.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’

‘Marlon James’s writing can be at once at once punchy and lyrical; can alternate strange, dreamy poetry with visceral action; and can bring persuasive life to a kaleidoscopic range of characters. [This book] showcases the extraordinary capabilities of a writer whose importance can scarcely be questioned’ – Independent

‘A vivid plunge into a crazed, violent and corrupt world… executed with swaggering aplomb’ – Irvine Welsh

‘It’s like a Tarantino remake of “The Harder They Come” but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner…epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex.’ – New York Times

‘[James’s] talent has grown from book to book, and his imagination consistently shines a light on dark and gory places…this is a work that explores the aesthetics of cacophony and also the aesthetics of violence.’ – Guardian

‘resembles James Ellroy’s LA Quartet in its blistering violence, multiple voices and view of history”from the gutter to the star”‘ – The Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Marlon James was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1970. He graduated from the University of the West Indies with a degree in literature. He currently teaches a creative writing course in Minnesota and is working on his next novel.

October 21st ‘A Place Called Winter’ by Patrick Gale

About the Book

To find yourself, sometimes you must lose everything.

A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence – until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything.

Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before.

In this exquisite journey of self-discovery, loosely based on a real life family mystery, Patrick Gale has created an epic, intimate human drama, both brutal and breathtaking. It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and, ultimately, of great love.

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘A Place Called Winter’

‘Written in prose of beautiful lucidity…..a tender tale of loss and love.’

Sunday Times

‘Harry Cane is one of the many, the disappeared who were not wanted by their families or their societies, and whose stories were shrouded with shame. This fascinating novel is their elegy.’

The Guardian

‘A mesmerising storyteller, this novel is written with intelligence and warmth.’

The Times

About the Author

Patrick was born on 31 January 1962 on the Isle of Wight, where his father was prison governor at Camp Hill, as his grandfather had been at nearby Parkhurst. He was the youngest of four – one sister, two brothers, spread over ten years. The family moved to London, where his father ran Wandsworth Prison, then to Winchester. At eight Patrick began boarding as a Winchester College Quirister at the cathedral choir school, Pilgrim’s. At thirteen he went on to Winchester College. He finished his formal education with an English degree from New College, Oxford in 1983.

He has never had a grown-up job. For three years he lived at a succession of addresses, from a Notting Hill bedsit to a crumbling French chateau. While working on his first novels he eked out his slender income with odd jobs; as a typist, a singing waiter, a designer’s secretary, a ghost-writer for an encyclopedia of the musical and, increasingly, as a book reviewer.

His first two novels, The Aerodynamics of Pork and Ease were published by Abacus on the same day in June 1986. The following year he moved to Camelford near the north coast of Cornwall and began a love affair with the county that has fed his work ever since.

He now lives in the far west, on a farm near Land’s End with his husband, Aidan Hicks. There they raise beef cattle and grow barley. Patrick is obsessed with the garden they have created in what must be one of England’s windiest sites and which includes England’s westernmost walled rose garden, and he deeply resents the time his writing makes him spend away from working in it. As well as gardening, he plays both the modern and baroque cello. He chairs the North Cornwall Book Festival, patron of Penzance LitFest and a director of both Endelienta and the Charles Causley Trust. His chief extravagance in life is opera tickets.

Sept 23rd ‘Mr Mac and Me’ by Esther Freud

About the Book

In this tender and compelling story of an unlikely friendship, Esther Freud paints a vivid portrait of a home front community during the First World War, and of a man who was one of the most brilliant and misunderstood artists of his generation.

‘Thomas Maggs, the son of the local publican, lives with his parents and sister in a village on the Suffolk coast in 1914. He is the youngest child, and the only son surviving. Life is quiet – shaped by the seasons, fishing and farming and the summer visitors.

Then one day a mysterious Scotsman arrives. To Thomas he looks for all the world like a detective, in his black cape and hat of felted wool, and the way he puffs on his pipe as if he’s Sherlock Holmes. Mac is what the locals call him when they whisper about him in the inn. And whisper they do, for he sets off on his walks at unlikely hours, and stops to examine the humblest flowers. He is seen on the beach, staring out across the waves as if he’s searching for clues. But Mac isn’t a detective, he’s the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and together with his red-haired artist wife, they soon become a source of fascination and wonder to Thomas.Yet just as Thomas and Mac’s friendship begins to blossom, war with Germany is declared. The summer guests flee and are replaced by regiments of soldiers on their way to Belgium, and as the brutality of war weighs increasingly heavily on this coastal community, they become more suspicious of Mac and his curious behaviour.’
Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘Mr Mac and Me’

“A compelling tale beautifully told, Mr Mac & Me is as close to a perfect novel as anything I’ve read in a long time. I loved every page of it” – Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto“I was utterly absorbed in the language and the story and the world of it … You know how it is when a writer draws into a place and you begin to feel it is more substantial than the one around you? That is how this book was for me. I truly loved it” – Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry“’I loved and admired Mr Mac and Me more than I can say’” – Francis Wyndham“Attending to Esther Freud’s still, truthful voice becomes not only a pleasure but a necessity” – Jonathan Coe“Freud has a precious and remarkable gift” – The Times“A superbly gifted writer” – New York Times Book Review“The best that art can be: full of exploration, full of intuition, full of generosity – and full of love” – Julie Myerson
In 1993 Esther was named a Granta Best of Young British Novelist. She has since written seven other novels, including The Sea House, Love Falls and Lucky Break. She also writes stories, articles and travel pieces for newspapers and magazines, and teaches creative writing at the Faber Academy. Esther lives in London and Suffolk.

July 22nd ‘How to be Both’ by Ali Smith

About the Book

Passionate, compassionate, vitally inventive and scrupulously playful, Ali Smith’s novels are like nothing else.

How to be both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions.

There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

About the Author

Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962 and lives in Cambridge.
She is the author of Artful, There but for the, Free Love, Like, Hotel World, Other Stories and Other Stories, The Whole Story and Other Stories, The Accidental, Girl Meets Boy and The First Person and Other Stories.

Praise for ‘How to be Both’

‘Brims with palpable joy’ Daily Telegraph

‘She’s a genius, genuinely modern in the heroic, glorious sense’ Alain de Botton

‘I take my hat off to Ali Smith. Her writing lifts the soul’ Evening Standard

To book call us on 02106 824050 or contact us by email

24th June Literary Dinner with ‘She Rises’ author Kate Worsley

Kate Worsley’s stunning debut ‘She Rises’ was published to critical acclaim and won the HWA Debut Crown for New Historical Fiction, and is shortlisted for the New Angle Prize for Literature 2015.

Published by Bloomsbury, the novel is a seafaring adventure set in 1740s Harwich, and packed with smugglers and secret passages, rum-toting sailors, romance, and adventure in exotic parts.

About the Book

It is 1740 and Louise Fletcher, a young dairymaid on an Essex farm, has been warned of the lure of the sea for as long as she can remember – after all, it stole away her father and brother.

But when she is offered work in the bustling naval port of Harwich, as maid to a wealthy captain’s daughter, she leaps at the chance to see more of the world.

There she meets Rebecca, her haughty young mistress, who is unlike anyone Louise has encountered before: as unexpected as she is fascinating….

Publisher’s Synopsis

About the Author

Kate Worsley lives on the Essex coast. She has a BA in English Literature from University College London, and an MA in Creative Writing (Novels) from City University London.

Kate spent many years as a journalist, editor and subeditor on national and specialist newspapers and magazines such as the Independent, and the Guardian.

Her debut novel was published to great critical acclaim, and she is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow in the Department of Literature, Film & Theatre Studies at the University of Essex.

She also runs summer weekend writing retreats in Mistley, Essex and performs with the She Rises shanty crew. Her next novel is set in the 1930s.

Praise for ‘She Rises’

“An immensely enjoyable novel, full of energy, intelligence and delicious turns of phrase. Worsley does just what a great historical novelist should do: she inhabits her characters without strain, without fuss, but with obvious assurance, making them and their period feel utterly close and convincing. I can’t wait to see more of her fiction” – Sarah Waters

“This debut novel leaves convention behind to tell a rollicking story of love and adventure. Harwich is gloriously reinvented as a place of smuggling, secrets and a decidedly contemporary passion. This is a fresh take on historical fiction; enjoyably witty and playful” – The Times

“For those readers eagerly anticipating the next effort from the queen of historical revisionism Sarah Waters, look no further than Kate Worsley’s debut novel.

The maritime adventure She Rises will tide you over nicely … Meticulously and elegantly plotted from the very first page. The moment of their meeting, when it arrives, is jaw-droppingly good. Packed with smugglers and secret passages, rum-toting sailors, romance, and adventure in exotic parts, She Rises sings to its reader with the dulcet hypnotising tones of its true heroine, the sea; luring you in, then lulling you into its rolling pace” – Independent

To book call us on 02106 824050 or contact us by email

May 27th ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ by Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a love story unfolding over half a century between a doctor and his uncle’s wife, which was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2014.

‘Taking its title from one of the most famous books in Japanese literature, written by the great haiku poet Basho, Flanagan’s novel has as its heart one of the most infamous episodes of Japanese history, the construction of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway in World War II.

In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Death Railway, surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.’

Man Booker Prize synopsis

Praise for ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’

“Elegantly wrought, measured, and without an ounce of melodrama, Flanagan’s novel is nothing short of a masterpiece.” Financial Times

“A moving and necessary work of devastating humanity and lasting significance.” Seattle Times

“A novel of extraordinary power, deftly told and hugely affecting. A classic in the making.” The Observer

“Nothing could have prepared us for this immense achievement . . . The Narrow Road to the Deep North is beyond comparison.” The Australian

“A devastatingly beautiful novel.” The Sunday Times

“The book Richard Flanagan was born to write.” The Economist

“It is the story of Dorrigo, as one man among many POWs in the Asian jungle, that is the beating heart of this book: an excruciating, terrifying, life-altering story that is an indelible fictional testament to the prisoners there.” —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

“A supple meditation on memory, trauma, and empathy that is also a sublime war novel . . . Pellucid, epic, and sincerely touching.” Publishers Weekly

“Homeric . . . Flanagan’s feel for language, history’s persistent undercurrent, and subtle detail sets his fiction apart. There isn’t a false note in this book.” Irish Times

“I loved this book. Not just a great novel but an important book in its ability to look at terrible things and create something beautiful. Everyone should read it.” —Evie Wyld, author of All the Birds, Singing

“In an already sparkling career, this might be his biggest, best, most moving work yet.” —Sunday Age (Melbourne)

“An unforgettable story of men at war . . . Flanagan’s prose is richly innovative and captures perfectly the Australian demotic of tough blokes, with their love of nicknames and excellent swearing. He evokes Evans’s affair with Amy, and his subsequent soulless wanderings, with an intensity and beauty that is as poetic as the classical Japanese literature that peppers this novel.”The Times (London)

“Extraordinarily beautiful, intelligent, and sharply insightful . . . Flanagan handles the horrifyingly grim details of the wartime conditions with lapidary precision and is equally good on the romance of the youthful indiscretion that haunts Evans.”Booklist

“Virtuosic . . . Flanagan’s book is as harrowing and brutal as it is beautiful and moving . . . This deeply affecting, elegiac novel will stay with readers long after it’s over.” Shelf Awareness

“Devastating . . . Flanagan’s father died the day this book was finished. But he would, no doubt, have been as proud of it as his son was of him.” The Independent (UK)

“Mesmerising . . . A profound meditation on life and time, memory and forgetting . . . A magnificent achievement, truly the crown on an already illustrious career.” —Adelaide Advertiser

About Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan is the author of five previous novels—Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, and Wanting—which have received numerous honors and have been published in twenty-six countries.

April 22nd ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey

Meet Maud.

Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Sometimes her home is unrecognizable – or her daughter Helen seems a total stranger.

But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it.

Because somewhere in Maud’s damaged mind lies the answer to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about.

Everyone, except Maud . . .

Publisher’s Synopsis

Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2014

Shortlisted for National Book Awards Popular Fiction Book 2014

Shortlisted for National Book Awards New Writer of the Year 2014

Longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize 2014

Longlisted for the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction 2015

Praise for ‘Elizabeth is Missing’

‘A thrillingly assured, haunting and unsettling novel, I read it at a gulp’ Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Elizabeth Is Missing will stir and shake you: the most likeably unreliable of narrators, real mystery at its compassionate core…’ Emma Donoghue, author of Room

‘Resembling a version of Memento written by Alan Bennett’ Daily Telegraph

‘One of those mythical beasts, the book you cannot put down’ Jonathan Coe, author of The Rotters Club

‘Every bit as compelling as the frenzied hype suggests. Gripping, haunting’ Observer

March 25th ‘Butcher’s Crossing’ by John Williams

John William’s ‘Stoner’ was a publishing phenomonen in 2013, propelled by word of mouth, and doubtless some influential enthusiasts.

In ‘Butcher’s Crossing’ he has written an entirely different but similarly unique novel – described by his publisher as ‘skewering romantic notions of the Wild West with a brilliant, brutal tale of buffalo hunters that reverberates with understated power.’

‘Will Andrews is no academic. He longs for wildness, freedom, hope and vigour. He leaves Harvard and sets out for the West to discover a new way of living.In a small town called Butcher’s Crossing he meets a hunter with a story of a lost herd of buffalo in a remote Colorado valley, just waiting to be taken by a team of men brave and crazy enough to find them. Will makes up his mind to be one of those men, but the journey, the killing, harsh conditions and sheer hard luck will test his mind and body to their limits.’
Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘Butcher’s Crossing’

‘Stoner showed us a writer who had written a great book. To those of us who didn’t know already, Butcher’s Crossing reveals John Williams to be more than that: forgotten writer as he was, he was unquestionably also a great one.’

The Independent

‘Tough-minded and disillusioned but susceptible to beauty and human warmth….supremely well-written and built to last.’

The Spectator

‘Williams, in reducing the elements of his story to nothing more than close attention to events, has produced something timeless and great.’

The Guardian

Feb 18th ‘The Miniaturist’ by Jessie Burton

‘The Miniaturist’ is Jessie Burton’s first novel.

‘There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Praise for ‘The Miniaturist’

Powerful and richly imagined – Sunday Times

Fabulously gripping – The Observer

The Miniaturist is the rarest of things – beautifully written, yet also a compelling page-turner. It’s haunting, magical and full of surprises, the kind of book that reminds you why you fell in love with reading – S J Watson

Jan 21st – 2015 ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ by Robert Galbraith

The acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

‘ When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

A war veteran, wounded both physically and psychologically, Strike’s life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . .

A gripping, elegant mystery steeped in the atmosphere of London – from the hushed streets of Mayfair to the backstreet pubs of the East End to the bustle of Soho – The Cuckoo’s Calling is a remarkable book. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Wivenhoe Bookshop – Feed Your Head