Stories to share this Christmas

A Legacy of Spies

John le Carré

Chosen as a Book of the Year in The Times Literary Supplement, the Evening Standard, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, The Times

'A brilliant novel of deception, love and trust to join his supreme cannon' Evening Standard

'Vintage le Carré. Immensely clever, breathtaking. Really, not since The Spy Who Came in from the Cold has le Carré exercised his gift as a storyteller so powerfully and to such thrilling effect' John Banville, Guardian

Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, has retired to his family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London are to be scrutinised by a generation with no memory of the Cold War. Somebody must be made to pay for innocent blood once spilt in the name of the greater good.

Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own story, John le Carré has given us a novel of superb and enduring quality.

'Utterly engrossing and perfectly pitched. There is only one le Carré. Eloquent, subtle, sublimely paced' Daily Mail

'Splendid, fast-paced, riveting' Andrew Marr, Sunday Times

'Remarkable. Vintage John le Carré. It gives the reader, at long last, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that have been missing for 54 years. Like wine, le Carré's writing has got richer with age. Don't wait for the paperback' The Times

'Perhaps the most significant novelist of the second half of the 20th century in Britain. He's in the first rank' Ian McEwan

'The literary event of the Autumn' Evening Standard

'One of those writers who will be read a century from now' Robert Harris

La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One

Philip Pullman

Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them; a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua . . .

Winter

Ali Smith

The dazzling second novel in Ali Smith's essential Seasonal Quartet -- from the Baileys Prize-winning, Man Booker-shortlisted author of Autumn and How to be both

A Book of the Year according to: the Daily Telegraph, the Observer, the Evening Standard, The Times.

'Dazzling' Daily Telegraph

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.

The Break

Marian Keyes

'Classic Marian Keyes: a blizzard of wit and wisecracks. Mercilessly funny' The Times

Amy's husband Hugh has run away to 'find himself'. But will he ever come back?

'Myself and Hugh . . . We're taking a break.'
'A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?'

If only.

Amy's husband Hugh says he isn't leaving her.

He still loves her, he's just taking a break - from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in South East Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it's a mid-life crisis, but let's be clear: a break isn't a break up - yet . . .

However, for Amy it's enough to send her - along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers - teetering over the edge.

For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? Will Amy be the same woman?

Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then so is she . . .

The Break is a story about the choices we make and how those choices help to make us. It is Marian Keyes at her funniest, wisest and brilliant best.

'Just brilliant' Sunday Times

'Girl-power at its best. I laughed . . . I cried' Daily Mail

'Another belter. Full of brilliantly fun characters, genuine emotion and heaps of charm. We loved it!' Heat

'Keyes writes extremely well about modern women. A breezy, candid and deeply felt account of a wife, mother and career woman rediscovering herself' Metro

'Fabulously entertaining. Classic Keyes. The queen of intelligent women's fiction' Sunday Mirror

'A glorious life-affirming novel with Keyes on top form' Woman & Home

'When it comes to writing page-turners that put a smile on your face and make you think, Keyes is in a class of her own' Daily Express

.

Find your next read

Discover the greatest stories with our newsletter

 

.

New in fiction

The News Quiz: Series 94

BBC Radio Comedy (and others)

The complete 94th series from the long-running topical BBC Radio 4 comedy panel show, hosted by Miles Jupp.

Eight more episodes featuring a panel of comedy guests who trawl through news stories big and small to provide comedy, commentary, irony and irreverence.

Guests featured in this series include Jeremy Hardy, Andy Hamilton, Desiree Burch, Lucy Porter, Holly Walsh, Rich Hall, Mark Steel and Katy Brand. The panellists discuss the week's headlines, with stories such as the North Korean nuclear stand-off, the death of the yellow pages, Ryanair's flight chaos, Donald Trump's feud with the NFL, and the potential discovery of Santa Claus' grave...

Maigret Enjoys Himself

Georges Simenon (and others)

Inspector Maigret is meant to be taking a holiday, but he can't resist following the development of his colleague Janvier's case in the papers - and playing a few tricks on the way.

Standing here at the window in the middle of the morning, vaguely observing the comings and goings in the street, he had a feeling that reminded of certain days in his childhood, when his mother was still alive and he was off school because he had the 'flu or it was the end of term. It was the feeling of finding out 'what went on when he wasn't there'.

Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels in new translations. This novel has been published in a previous translation as Maigret's Little Joke.


'His artistry is supreme' John Banville

'One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century . . . Simenon was unequalled at making us look inside, though the ability was masked by his brilliance at absorbing us obsessively in his stories' Guardian'

The Navy Lark: Volume 32

Lawrie Wyman (and others)

Jon Pertwee, Leslie Phillips and Stephen Murray star in four more episodes of the popular nautical comedy

Frenchmen in J.41 (‘Having a Bit of Trouble with the French’) 13 August 1967
Troutbridge returns from trials to find a French frigate docked in their berth – to Pertwee's great concern...

The Police Drop In (‘Tangling with the Law’) 20 August 1967
Povey is told to co-operate with the law over a theft from a local museum – but the Troutbridge crew get nervous when a police helicopter drops in.

The Bumble Spit Lighthouse Affair (‘Cavorting About’) 23 April 1972
Troutbridge has an unfortunate collision with the Bumble Spit Light Vessel, and Murray is feeling tetchy because Rita is away.

The Tonipouhaha Treasure (‘Digging Themselves Stupid’) 30 April 1972
An MOD decision that Troutbridge should ‘show the flag’ in the South Seas leads the Master to head to Tonipouhaha in search of buried treasure…

These classic BBC radio episodes also feature Ronnie Barker, Richard Caldicot, Heather Chasen, Tenniel Evans, Michael Bates and Elizabeth Morgan.

Duration: 2 hours approx.

Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet

Gerry Davis (and others)

Anneke Wills reads this exciting novelisation of the First Doctor’s final TV adventure - and his original encounter with the Cybermen!

“This range of classic Target audiobooks continues to go from strength to strength...” Doctor Who Magazine

The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Ben and Polly to a space tracking station in the Antarctic — and straight into trouble. A space mission is going badly wrong, and a new planet has appeared in the sky. Mondas, ancient fabled twin planet of Earth, has returned.

Soon the inhabitants of Mondas arrive at the Snowcap base. But although they used to be just like the humans of Earth, now they are very different. Devoid of emotions, their bodies replaced with plastic and steel, the Cybermen are here!

Humanity needs all the help it can get — but as the Cybermen take over, the Doctor is dying...

Anneke Wills, who played Polly in the BBC TV series, reads Gerry Davis’s novelisation of his and Kit Pedler’s 1966 TV serial, which describes the lead-up to the Doctor’s first ever regeneration.

Duration: 3 hours 55 minutes approx.

The Doctor Who Audio Annual

BBC (and others)

For two decades, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, every fan of the Doctor hoped to find The Doctor Who Annual in their Christmas stocking. Larger than life and twice as colourful, the stories within were exuberant — and often charmingly naive — in their take on ‘the children’s own programme which adults adore’.

Here, for the first time on audio, Peter Purves (Steven), Anneke Wills (Polly), Geoffrey Beevers (the Master), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) and Nicola Bryant (Peri) read a selection of these colourful and energetic tales.

In The Sons of Grekk, the First Doctor is held prisoner in a brutal, otherworldly society. The King of Golden Death finds that the Second Doctor, Polly and Ben have materialised inside an Ancient Egyptian pyramid. The Third Doctor, Jo and the Brigadier confront a familiar adversary in Dark Intruders, whilst in Conundrum the Fourth Doctor, Adric and K9 experience warped physics in the corridors of the TARDIS. FacingThe Penalty, a delirious Fifth Doctor finds old friends and adversaries ganging up on him, and the Sixth Doctor and Peri plunge into a dangerous period of British history in The Real Hereward.

Also included are two vintage essays on the character of our favourite Time Lord: Who is Doctor Who? from 1966 and The Phoenix in the TARDIS from 1968.

Take a nostalgic journey through time with these vintage Doctor Who tales.

Duration: 2 hours 20 mins

The Deathwatch Journal

Ian Rankin (and others)

A gripping original story for BBC Radio 4 by award-winning crime writer Ian Rankin, written for the landmark Radio 4 Book at Bedtime slot

Saughton Prison, Edinburgh. 1962.

Prison guard Thomas Scott watches over a condemned man sentenced to hang for the murder of his wife.

His prisoner is a guilty man, that’s for sure. William Telfer has done enough bad things in his life. And Scott has been in his job long enough to know that guilty men often proclaimed their innocence right up until the moment the noose was placed around their necks. But as they wait out the days until his execution, Scott begins to suspect that Telfer is innocent of this murder.

An innocent man could be hanged by the neck until dead. And his jailer doesn’t know what to do about it…

To find out the truth, Scott must explore Edinburgh’s darkest corners. And he is running out of time.

From the best-selling author of the Rebus novels, this original story asks what you would do in the face of doubt, and in the search for justice.

(This release contains additional material not included in the radio broadcast, plus an extended postscript.)

Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes approx.

.

Practical tote bags with a bold use of colour 

shop tote bags

 

.