The White Tower tells the story of Livy, a lonely, bereaved girl, trembling on the edge of adolescence. When her father becomes the librarian at ancient, hallowed Temple College, Livy is granted a scholarship there. A marvellous tale of alchemy, magic, and villainy unfolds.
Wow, what a novel! Rarely have I read such an emotionally charged, foreboding book. A truly gripping tale, seething with rage. The Woman Upstairs is the story of single, 42 year-old Nora Eldridge, ‘the quiet woman at the end of the third-floor hallway’, a kind, dutiful primary school teacher who has put aside her artistic ambitions to care for her sick elderly parents. A woman who, in her own words, obediently eats all the greens while the ice cream for dessert slowly melts away. Enter the Lebanese-Italian Shahid family. The family of Nora’s dreams: Reza the beautiful, charming child, Skandar the handsome, intelligent husband and Sirena the glamorous, successful artist wife…
Lib Wright, a nurse trained by ‘Miss Nightingale’ is hired for a two-week position in the ‘dead centre’ of Ireland. A young girl has not eaten for 4 months, yet appears to be well. Her fanatically religious parents have proclaimed her to be a miracle, and pilgrims make their way to the cottage to worship the little saint-in-making. If you enjoyed Room, Emma Donoghue’s first book, then you might be put off by the very different subject matter she has chosen here. Don’t be. It is moving, lyrical, intense and surprising.
Machine gunner and poet? Two absurdly contradictory roles. Kevin Powers is both, as well as an extremely talented author. A Michener Fellow of Poetry from the University of Texas at Austin, Powers served as a machine gunner in the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tal Afar in 2004 and 2005. His novel The Yellow Birds, inspired by his own experiences of war, is a superb book, heart wrenching, moving and beautifully written. Read full Review
Is it true? Do they really die at the end? Well, the Grim Reaper certainly stalks through this book, but it’s also very much concerned with big, bold, shining life. Teenagers Mateo and Rufus inhabit an alternative New York City, one in which an agency known as Death-Cast informs citizens when their demise is near. Death will occur within 24 hours, exact means and time unknown. When this dark fate befalls Mateo and Rufus, they embark on one last grand adventure, to live a lifetime in a single day.
July in London brings the annual Pride Festival and Parade, a joyful celebration of LGBT culture and history. It’s the ideal opportunity to highlight This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson, a warm and supportive guide to all aspects of LGBT life. There’s no doubt that fizzing hormones and emerging sexuality can lead to tumultuous times. If that sexuality feels different or ‘other’ to the mainstream, then embracing it must sometimes seem impossibly hard and terrifying.
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A treat for you on Women’s Day! Austrian author Stefan Zweig (The Post Office Girl, Beware of Pity and many novellas) was once the world’s most translated author. No wonder. This steaming hot novella about a woman and her whirlwind 24 hour affair with a much younger man is absolutely spellbinding, even more so when you know it was written by a man and almost 90 years ago!
There’s something wonderfully innocent and warm about this 1950s classic, despite its dead serious subject matter of racism. Life is simple; the goodies are good, the baddies are bad. Fundamentally, the book is about tolerance, for the lonely, weirdo neighbour, for the sick, angry, old lady down the road and, of course, for blacks, otherwise ostracised by 1930s Alabamian white society. I read this book 20 years ago and found it a joy to re-read, although my older more cynical self did think it a bit sentimental at times.
The Wizard of Oz is surely the most famous of American fairy tales. L. Frank Baum’s band of merry characters and their epic journey of discovery, is now enshrined in our popular culture. In this quirky re-telling, we examine eventsfrom the perspective of Toto, the dog. What is his uniquely canine take on this world of Munchkins, witchery, and magical shoes?
I’ve made a list (in no particular order) of seven books that come to mind every time I think of classics. Most of these I read a while ago and some of them I have read several times, but all of them are brilliant. There is a wide variety, from stories about love and betrayal to dark outposts and surreal transformations, from very long to very short. Take your pick and enjoy!