Our pick for January is an extraordinary tale of love and honour from the multi-award-winning author of The Other Hand, Chris Cleave. In a powerful combination of both humour and heartbreak, this dazzling novel weaves little-known history, and a perfect love story, through the vast sweep of the Second World War, daring us to understand that, against the great theatre of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles and the daily human triumphs that change us most.
When war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up.
Tom Shaw decides to give it a miss - until his flatmate Alistair unexpectedly enlists, and the conflict can no longer be avoided.
Young, bright and brave, Mary is certain she'd be a marvelous spy. When she is - bewilderingly - made a teacher, she instead finds herself defying prejudice to protect the children her country would rather forget.
Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary.
And when Mary and Alistair meet, it is love, as well as war, that will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passion, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams.
"An addictive, propulsive read...Cleave writes with an engaging intensity, a determination to tackle big moral issues, and a willingness to take risks." The Sunday Times
Chris Cleave's debut novel, Incendiary, was a prize-winner and international bestseller and his second novel, The Other Hand, has found phenomenal success both in the UK and abroad, hitting number one on the New York Times bestseller list. He is married with three children and lives in Surrey.