Absent friends - mementos
Return addresses - AIBU?
Recently widowed - surname
Great new books...surely one of the best things about summer (ice cream, anyone?) Whether they're for enjoying in the garden, the park, on the beach, on a plane (or hiding from the rain on the sofa - oh the joys of a British summer) we reckon you can't beat a cracking summer read...and here are some of the best, picked out by the people who publish them.
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Fatal Inheritance - Rachel Rhys (Doubleday - £16.99) 1948: an English housewife trapped in a dull marriage escapes to the South of France to claim a mystery inheritance. But rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge, and now they want her out of the way ...
The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes - Ruth Hogan (Two Roads - £14.99) Masha's life has been forever changed by a tragic event 12 years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds solace in the silent company of the souls of her local Victorian cemetery and at the town's lido, where she seeks refuge underwater. But a chance encounter with two extraordinary women opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again.
The Lido - Libby Page (Orion - £12.99) Meet Rosemary, 86, and Kate, 26: dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers... When the local lido is threatened with closure, journalist Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim - it is the heart of the community.
Bitter Orange - Claire Fuller (Fig Tree - £14.99) From the attic of a dilapidated English country house, she sees them - Cara first: dark and beautiful, and Peter, an Apollo. It is 1969 and they are spending the summer in the rooms below hers. But as Frances becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of the glamorous, hedonistic couple, the boundaries between truth and lies, right and wrong, begin to blur. A small crime brings on a bigger one: a crime so terrible that it will brand all their lives forever.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness - Arundhati Roy (Penguin General - £8.99) Anjum lives in a graveyard, gathering around her the misfits and outcasts of Delhi's bustling streets. Tilo is a Kashmiri woman, brilliant and beautiful, fated to be loved by three rival men. When Anjum takes in an abandoned baby, it is Tilo who claims the child as her own - and so begins a tale that will sweep across twenty years, crossing the cities and forests of a teeming continent.
Go Ask Fannie Farmer - Elisabeth Hyde (Hodder & Stoughton - £17.99) Though the adult Blair siblings have agreed to keep things calm and amiable on a trip to stay with their elderly father, each arrives, in true Blair style, with a secret agenda. But secrets will always out, especially amongst family: and this weekend, the siblings will learn that there is more to their late mother's story than they could have anticipated...
The Immortalists - Chloe Benjamin (Tinder Press - £8.99) It's 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York's Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The four Gold children, too young for what they're about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes. Over the years that follow, the siblings must choose how to live with the prophecies the fortune-teller gave them that day. Will they accept, ignore, cheat or defy them?
The Rules of Seeing - Joe Heap (HarperCollins - £12.99) Nova, a blind interpreter for the Met Police, can tell when someone is lying just from the sound of their voice. But when her brother convinces her to have an operation that will restore her sight, she wakes up to a world she no longer understands. Until she meets Kate. As their unlikely friendship blossoms, Kate’s past threatens to throw them into a different kind of darkness. Can they both learn to see the world in a different way?
An Unwanted Guest - Shari Lapena (Bantam Press - £12.00) As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. But with a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found ... and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.
Into the Water - Paula Hawkins (Black Swan - £7.99) Just days before her sister plunged to her death, Jules ignored her call. Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules must return to her sister's house to care for her daughter, and to face the mystery of Nel's death. But Jules is afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of this small town that is drowning in secrecy ... And of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.
Testament - Kim Sherwood (riverrun - £14.99) Eva's grandfather dies, leaving questions he never answered, and a past he never shared. But a museum in Berlin has uncovered the testimony he gave after his forced labour service in Hungary, which took him to the death camps and then to England as a refugee. And there is a deeper story that Eva will unravel - of how her grandfather learnt to live afterwards. As she confronts the lies that have haunted her family, their identity shifts and her own takes shape. The testament is in her hands.
Jane Seymour, the Haunted Queen - Alison Weir (Headline Review - £18.99) Eleven days after the death of Anne Boleyn, Jane is dressing for her wedding to the King. She has witnessed at first hand how courtly play can quickly turn to danger and knows she must bear a son ... or face ruin. This new Queen must therefore step out from the shadows cast by Katherine and Anne. In doing so, can she expose a gentler side to the brutal King?
The Cliff House - Amanda Jennings (HQ - £12.99) Cornwall, summer of 1986. The Davenports, with their fast cars and glamorous clothes, living the dream in a breathtaking house overlooking the sea. If only… thinks sixteen-year-old Tamsyn, her binoculars trained on the perfect family in their perfect home. If only her life was as perfect as theirs. If only Edie Davenport would be her friend. If only she lived at The Cliff House…
Days of Wonder - Keith Stuart (Sphere - £12.99) Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. Each year, he and its cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl. For Hannah has a heart condition that both of them know will end her life early. Now, at fifteen, that time is coming. With the theatre under threat of closure, Hannah and Tom have more than one fight on their hands to stop the stories ending. But maybe, just maybe, one final day of magic might just save them both.
The Mercy Seat - Elizabeth H. Winthrop (Sceptre - £14.99) As the sun begins to set over Louisiana one October day in 1943, a young black man faces the final hours of his life: at midnight, eighteen-year-old Willie Jones will be executed by electric chair for raping a white girl - a crime some believe he did not commit. In a tale taut with tension, events unfold hour by hour from the perspectives of nine people involved.
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How Hard Can It Be - Allison Pearson (The Borough Press - £8.99) Kate Reddy is counting down the days until she is 50, but not in a good way. 50, in Kate’s mind, equals invisibility, and she’s caught between her traitorous hormones, unknowable teenage children, ailing parents and husband who has dropped out of the rat race to master the art of mindfulness. But just as Kate is finding a few tricks to get by, her old client and flame Jack reappears – complicated doesn’t even begin to cover it …
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore - Matthew Sullivan (Windmill - £7.99) Lydia Smith lives a quiet life, spent in the company of her colleagues and customers at the bookstore where she works. But when Joey Molina, a young and mysterious regular, hangs himself in the bookstore and leaves Lydia secret messages hidden in the pages of his books, her world starts to unravel. Why did Joey do it? What did he know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?
A Grand Old Time - Judy Leigh (Avon - £7.99) Evie Gallagher is regretting her hasty move into a care home. She may be 75 and recently widowed, but she’s absolutely not dead yet. And so, one morning, she walks out of and sets off on a Great Adventure. But not everyone thinks Great Adventures are appropriate for women of Evie’s age, least of all her son Brendan and his wife. When they finally catch up with her, there are shocks in store ... because while Brendan may have given up on life and love, Evie certainly has not.
Widows - Lynda La Plante (Zaffre - £7.99) Dolly Rawlins, Linda Perelli and Shirley Miller are left devastated when their husbands are killed in a security van heist that goes disastrously wrong. When Dolly discovers her husband Harry's bank deposit box, containing a gun, money - and detailed plans for the hijack - the widows decide to carry out the robbery themselves. But can they stick together and finish the job their husbands started ...
The Half Sister - Catherine Chanter (Canongate - £14.99) At 16 Diana left her unhappy family and set out to make a new life. 25 years later, she is married to Edmund. But when she hears that her mother has died, she impulsively asks estranged half-sister Valerie and her son to stay. The night of the funeral the sisters argue and a terrible accident occurs. The foundations of a well-ordered life start to crack and the lies begin to surface, one dangerous secret after another.
The Tall Man - Phoebe Locke (Wildfire - £12.99) 1990: In the darkest woods, three girls devote themselves to a sinister figure. 2000: A young mother disappears, leaving behind her husband and baby daughter. 2018: A teenage girl is charged with murder, and her trial will shock the world. Three chilling events, connected by the shadow he casts. He is the Tall Man. He can make you special...
Three Little Lies - Laura Marshall (Little, Brown - £12.99) Sasha North has gone missing. Everyone says she's run away, but I know better. We've been best friends since we were teenagers, since Sasha swept into the neighbourhood and brought colour to my life. Until a brutal attack changed both our lives forever. I know what happened that night. I know who wants revenge. And if Sasha has been taken, does that mean I'm next?
An Ocean of Minutes - Thea Lim (Quercus - £14.99) Polly and Frank are young and in love, a lifetime together before them. But one evening in 1980, the world is suddenly pulled apart by a deadly virus. Within months, Frank is dying. Polly can save him, but only if she agrees to a radical plan: to time travel to 1993 for a corporation who can fund his life-saving treatment. She can only go forward, she cannot go back. And she must leave everything she loves behind, including Frank.
The Great Believers - Rebecca Makkai (Fleet - £14.99) 1985. As Yale Tishman's career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. His friends are dying, his partner is infected, he might even have the virus himself. Fiona, his friend's sister, is the only person he has left. Thirty years later, as Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter, she finds herself finally grappling with the ways the AIDS crisis affected her life. Yale and Fiona's stories unfold as both struggle to find goodness in the face of disaster.
In the Dark - Cara Hunter (Penguin Paperback - £7.99) A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive. No one knows who they are - the woman can't speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. The elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before. The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock. But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible. And that no one is as innocent as they seem ...
The Which Way Tree - Elizabeth Crook (Scribe - £8.99) In the remote hill country of Texas, Samantha Shreve, the young daughter of a former slave, and her half-brother are terrorised by a ferocious panther. Orphaned, without protection or money, she craves revenge on the beast that killed her mother and enlists the help of a charismatic outlaw, a haunted preacher, and an ancient tracking dog. But as this unlikely posse closes in on the panther, they find themselves pursued in turn by a sadistic Confederate soldier who has a score to settle with Samantha.
After the Party - Cressida Connolly (Viking - £14.99) Summer, 1938 and Phyllis Forrester has returned to England after years abroad. Moving into her sister's grand country house, she soon finds herself entangled in a new world of idealistic beliefs and seemingly innocent friendships. At a party hosted by her new friends, Phyllis lets down her guard for a single moment, with devastating consequences. Years later, alone and embittered, she recounts the dramatic events which led to her imprisonment and changed the course of her life forever.
Now You See Her - Heidi Perks (Century - £12.99) Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. Now she must do the unthinkable: tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again. Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface. Someone is hiding the truth about what really happened to Alice.
The Drama Teacher - Koren Zailckas (Crown - £23.50) Gracie Mueller is a proud mother of two and devoted wife, living with her husband Randy in upstate New York. But underneath all that's marked her life as average, Gracie has a lot to hide about where she's from, who she is, and who she's been. And when Randy's failing career as a real estate agent makes finances tight, their home goes into foreclosure, and Gracie feels she has no choice but to return to the creatively illegal and high-stakes lifestyle of her past in order to keep all that she's worked so hard to have.
The Queens of Innis Lear - Tessa Gratton (HarperVoyager - £12.99) The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle and the king’s three daughters know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted. Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war – but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.
The Summer House - Philip Teir (Serpent's Tail - £12.99) Erik and Julia shove their children into the car and start the drive towards the house on the west coast of Finland where they will spend the summer. From the outside they are a happy young family, but look under the surface, and their happiness shows signs of not lasting the summer. And the arrival of Julia's childhood friend - along with her charismatic husband - deepens the hairline cracks that had so far remained invisible.
The Temptation of Gracie - Santa Montefiore (Simon & Schuster - £14.99) When Gracie Burton stumbles upon an ad for a week-long cookery course in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, she can't resist, and ploughs her life savings into the trip. Her daughter and granddaughter are hesitant about what has prompted this seemingly random venture. But they have no sense of Gracie’s past; of what could possibly be calling her to Italy. They have no idea that Gracie is harbouring the secret of an extraordinary life that preceded them ...
The Hideaway - Sheila O'Flanagan (Headline Review - £18.99) When a shocking news report shatters Juno Ryan's world, she suddenly finds herself without the man she loves - and with no way of getting the answers she so desperately needs. Distraught, she flees to the enchanting Villa Naranja in Spain. The blue skies and bountiful orange groves - along with Pep, the winemaker's handsome son - begin to soothe her broken heart, but only Juno herself can mend it. Can she put the past behind her? And will she ever learn to trust herself again?
The Emperor of Shoes - Spencer Wise (No Exit - £16.99) Alex Cohen, a 26-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs the family shoe factory. Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but soon comes to a grim realization: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex's own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line. When Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy, his sympathies begin to shift. Will Alex remain loyal to his father and his heritage? Or will the sparks of revolution ignite?
Water Ways: a thousand miles along Britain's canals - Jasper Winn (Profile Books - £16.99) For 150 years canals were the high-tech water machine driving the industrial revolution. Then, just when their purpose was extinguished by modern transport, they were saved from extinction and repurposed as a 'slow highways' network, a peaceful and countrywide haven from our too-busy age. In Britain most of us live within five miles of a canal, and reading this book we will see them in an entirely new light.
The Imperial Tea Party - Frances Welch (Short Books - £12.99) Russia and Britain were never natural bedfellows. But the marriage, in 1894, of Queen Victoria s favourite granddaughter, Alice, to the Tsarevich Nicholas marked the beginning of an uneasy Anglo-Russian entente that would last until the Russian Revolution of 1917. The three extraordinary meetings that took place during those years, although generally hailed as successes, were beset by misunderstandings and misfortunes and The Imperial Tea Partypresents a vivid snapshot of two dynasties at a time of social unrest.
The Temptation of Forgiveness - Donna Leon (William Heinemann - £18.99) When important information is leaked from inside the Venetian Questura, Commisario Guido Brunetti is entrusted with the task of uncovering which of his colleagues is responsible. He navigates his way through a world of mysterious informants, underground deals and secret scam networks. He turns to Sophocles’s Antigone in an attempt to understand the true purpose of justice, and, in its light, is forced to consider the terrible consequences to which the actions of a tender heart can lead.
The Innocent Wife - Amy Lloyd (Arrow - £9.99) Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl. Now he's the subject of a true-crime documentary that's whipping up a frenzy online to free a man who has been wrongly convicted. A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis' case. She exchanges letters with him, and is quickly won over by his apparent charm and kindness. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him. But when Dennis is freed, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be quite so innocent after all...
Swan Song - Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (Hutchinson - £12.99) They told him everything. He told everyone else... In the autumn of 1975, after two decades of intimate friendships, Truman Capote detonated a literary grenade, forever rupturing the elite circle he’d worked so hard to infiltrate. Why did he do it, knowing what he stood to lose? Whatever the motive, one thing remains indisputable: Capote committed an act of professional and social suicide with his most lethal of weapons ... Words.
Notes on My Family - Emily Critchley (Everything With Words - £8.99) Meet Lou, her siblings, her mum and dad, her nan who does seances , her friend Faiths who has six mums and dads ( all gay) and Hammy, the escaped hamster. A vivid present tense account of life in a dysfunctional family told by a perceptive thirteen year old girl with a sense of irony and humour.
One More Chance - Lucy Ayrton (Dialogue - £14.99) Dani hasn't had an easy life. She's made some bad choices and now she's paying the ultimate price; prison. With her young daughter Bethany, growing up in foster care, Dani is determined to be free and reunited with her. Everything she wants is on the outside, but Dani is stuck on the inside. Is it possible to break out when everyone is trying to keep you in ...
Of Men and Angels - Michael Arditti (Arcadia - £16.99) A young Judean exile transcribes the Acts of Abraham and Lot in ancient Babylon; the Guild of Salters presents a mystery play of Lot's Wife in medieval York; Botticelli paints the Destruction of Sodom for a court in Renaissance Florence; a bereaved rector searches for the Cities of the Plain in nineteenth century Palestine; a closeted gay movie star portrays Lot in a controversial biblical epic in 1980s Hollywood. The enduring power of the myth in five momentous epochs.
Putney - Sofka Zinovieff (Bloomsbury Circus - £14.99) From the moment Ralph meets nine-year-old Daphne - dark, teasing, slippery as mercury - he is consumed by an obsession to make her his. But he is twenty-five and Daphne is only a child, and even in the bohemian abandon of 1970s London their fast-burgeoning relationship must be kept a secret. It is not until years later that Daphne is forced to confront the truth of her own childhood - and an act of violence that has lain hidden for decades.
How Far We Fall - Jane Shemilt (Michael Joseph - £12.99) Meeting Albie, an ambitious young neurosurgeon, gave Beth a fresh start. But he has no idea that years ago, Beth had an affair with Ted, the boss helping Albie's star ascend. Nor that the affair's devastating ending will have consequences for their own future. When Beth senses everything she's built could crumble she sees an opportunity. To satisfy Albie's ambitions, and her own obsessive desire for revenge ...
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