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Shortly before his death last year, Stanley Middleton completed this, his last novel, which concludes a unique depiction of middle-class life in 'Middle England', quietly and cumulatively over many volumes and decades. Once again we are in Beechnall, the constant setting of Stanley Middleton's novels, and his sense of place and his feeling for his characters remains as strong as ever.
At the heart of A Cautious Approach is a tentative love story, which begins when two lonely men meet, out walking on Christmas Day: Andy invites George home, and there he meets the captivating Mirabel, Andy's former fiancée. George has been a teacher, but ill health has deprived him of his career and confidence, and he has retrained as a postman. This chance encounter, and others that follow, have the potential to shift George's life, and soon he is drawn into a set of uncertain relationships in which past experience, present stoicism and future expectation all play a part.
As ever, but here for the last time, Stanley Middleton's bold experimentation with flashbacks, and the embedding of one scene or dialogue within another, gives added density to his depiction of ordinary, defiantly unfashionable human lives.
'In a town like Beechnall there are all sorts of rivalries, enmities and feuds.' And many of them soon swirl around the amateur dramatic society's festival production of Twelfth Night, which is under a cloud after politics result in the departure of the established director.
Extra-marital affairs, encroaching violence and emotional turmoil threaten what seems like a placid, middle-class Midlands town, and soon Alicia Smallwood, Middleton's heroine, is confronted with serious choices.
Once again Stanley Middleton weaves a strong web of intrigue around ordinary provincial life - which turns out, as the plot unfolds, not to be so ordinary after all.
Frank Montgomery is in T.S. Eliot's 'middle way', Principal of an art college, coping with an aging father and a mother in law on the dark descent into Alzheimer's. His marriage is strong, his relationships supportive - but in one way Frank is extraordinary: he is being talked of as a major figure in British art, a figurative painter of national reputation with commissions beckoning right up to royalty. As he struggles to live the good life and to create, he is much concerned by issues in both work and life: is it better to do new things, or old things perfectly?
In this novel, Frank's values are put to the test.
Once again Stanley Middleton dissects middle England with his sharp but healing scalpel, and in the process he explores family life, generational change, and the true nature of art through the complexities, pains and joys of its creation.
BORN INTO THE ROYAL FAMILY, John has always known he doesn’t want to be king. To escape his destiny he has run away and begun to build a different kind of future for himself.
But just when everything seems to be going right for John, his past catches up with him: Lord Von Dronus, the palace’s most senior courtier, is determined to hunt him down, believing that as long as John is alive, he is a threat to the nation’s security.
Forced into hiding with his best friend June, it seems as though John will never be able to live an ordinary life. Until one night he decides to return to the palace and put an audacious plan into action…
Inspiring, funny and moving, THE INVINCIBLE KINGDOM is about following your dreams and creating your own happily ever after.
Published: 22 Oct 2015
Hans Christian Andersen's magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is a unique work of art.
Sanna Annukka is familiar to many from her collaborations with Marimekko and her artwork for Keane's album, Under the Iron Sea. For her second book project, she illustrates Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen.
A beautiful gift to give and receive.
Published: 22 Oct 2015
Hoffmann's classic Christmas fairy tale, immortalised by Tchaikovsky's ballet, is brought to life by the gorgeous contemporary artwork of Finnish illustrator, Sanna Annuka.
On Christmas Eve, Fritz and Marie excitedly await the arrival of Godfather Drosselmeier and the marvellous gifts he brings for them every year. When Marie discovers a curious nutcracker doll among the presents, she suddenly finds herself caught up in an age-old battle before being transported to a magical world of sugar-frosted castles, chocolate kings, and true love.
Sanna Annukka is familiar to many from her collaborations with Marimekko and her artwork for Keane's album, Under the Iron Sea. The Nutcracker is her third book project. This cloth-bound edition combines the charm of Hoffmann's original nineteenth-century tale with the freshness of Sanna Annuka's gorgeous illustrations.
A beautiful gift to give and receive.
Gorgeous words and stunning illustrations combine in a book for anyone aged 8-80, by internationally renowned papercut artist Rob Ryan. Rob Ryan has collaborated with Paul Smith, Liberty, Fortnum and Mason and Tatty Devine, amongst others.
This is a story about a prince. He lived in a palace that seemed to have been specially designed to make someone who already felt small feel even smaller. He rarely saw his parents, who were always busy being the King and Queen; and, unlike other children, the Prince never spent time dreaming about what he would be when he grew up because he knew that when his father died, he would become King. It was his destiny.
The only person who treated the Prince like a normal child was the Bootman. Understanding that everyone needs something to call their own, the Bootman gave the Prince a pen with invisible ink and a special torch that allowed him to create a world that only he could see.
One night, as the Prince was drawing on the curtains that surrounded his bed, he noticed a small hole and beyond that a trapdoor, which led to the attic. And in the attic he found a window and a way to sneak out of the palace and experience the real world…
THE INVISIBLE KINGDOM is about a small boy, a big imagination and learning to be your own person.
Published: 24 Oct 2013
‘Never announce you are a Knight, simply behave as one. You are better than no one, and no one is better than you.’
When Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke was a boy, his grandfather taught him how to be a knight. Now, on the eve of a battle from which he fears he may not return, Sir Thomas writes a letter to his children so that he may pass on all his hard-won lessons, deepest aspirations and most instructive failures.
Full of adventure and wit, the letter provides a guide for living a good and noble life – a reminder that without a little agony none of us would bother to learn a thing; that we must work together as brothers or perish together as fools; that a friend loves you because you are true to yourself, not because you agree with him. And, most importantly, it shows that there is no obstacle that enough love cannot move.
THE POWER OF GOD. THE AMBITION OF MEN.
***SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER***
The Pope is dead.
Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election.
They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals.
Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.
Munich, Robert Harris's new spy thriller set in the days leading up to World War II, is available now.
‘Gripping’ Sunday Times
'Such is the power and wealth of the Goldbaums that on dull days, it’s said, they hire the sun just for themselves.'
The Goldbaums' influence reaches across Europe. They are the confidants and bankers of governments and emperors. Little happens without their say-so and even less without their knowledge. But Greta Goldbaum has no say at all in who she’ll marry.
While power lies in wealth, strength lies in family. Greta’s union with cousin Albert will strengthen the bond between the Austrian and the English branches of the dynasty. It is sensible and strategic. Greta is neither.
Defiant and unhappy, she is desperate to find a place that belongs to her, free from duty and responsibility. But just as she begins to taste an unexpected happiness, the Great War is looming and even the Goldbaums can’t alter its course. For the first time in two hundred years, the family will find themselves on opposing sides.
The House of Goldbaum, along with Europe herself, is about to break apart.
***SHORTLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION***
From the bestselling author of Asylum, Trauma and Spider
'[W]onderfully sinister … a delight … you are in for a thrilling ride.' Spectator
London is in ruins, there’s nothing to eat, and it’s the coldest winter in living memory.
To make matters worse, Charlie Grice, one of the great stage actors of the day, has suddenly died. His widow Joan, the wardrobe mistress, is beside herself with grief.
Then one night she discovers Gricey’s secret. Plunged into a dark new world, Joan realises that though fascism might hide, it never dies. Her war isn’t over after all.
'A brilliant evocation of the theatrical world’s seedy glamour, The Wardrobe Mistress is also a moving portrait of a woman struggling to make sense of her past and imagine a future for herself.' Sunday Times
'Ghosts of the theatre and the spectre of fascism haunt cold and grimy London in this atmospheric tale from a master of the grotesque.' Guardian
'[A] rich and highly spiced feast of a novel, even before it reaches its classically gothic McGrath climax.' Reader's Digest
‘[An] unnerving thriller.’ Stylist
'McGrath has the gift, the storyteller's gift, to compel attention, so that you gaze rapt into the fire and listen to the tale unfold.' Sunday Times
'McGrath is one of the age's most elegantly accomplished divers into the human psyche . . . a master writer.' John Banville
‘McGrath is that rare yet essential thing, a writer who can expose our darkest fears without making us run away from them.' New Statesman
'Someone had told Dex that the Queen lived in Victoria. So did he, but she had a palace and he had one room in a street off Warwick Way. Still he liked the idea that she was his neighbour.'
Dex works as a gardener for Dr Jefferson at his home on Hexam Place in Pimlico: an exclusive street of white-painted stucco Georgian houses inhabited by the rich, and serviced by the not so rich. The hired help, a motley assortment of au pairs, drivers and cleaners, decide to form the St Zita Society (Zita was the patron saint of domestic servants) as an excuse to meet at the local pub and air their grievances.
When Dex is invited to attend one of these meetings, the others find that he is a strange man, seemingly ill at ease with human beings. These first impressions are compounded when they discover he has recently been released from a hospital for the criminally insane, where he was incarcerated for attempting to kill his own mother. Dex's most meaningful relationship seems to be with his mobile phone service provider, Peach, and he interprets the text notifications and messages he receives from the company as a reassuring sign that there is some kind of god who will protect him. And give him instructions about ridding the world of evil spirits . . .
Accidental death and pathological madness cohabit above and below stairs in Hexam Place.
In HIPPIE, his most autobiographical novel to date, Paulo Coelho takes us back in time to re-live the dream of a generation that longed for peace and dared to challenge the established social order – authoritarian politics, conservative modes of behavior, excessive consumerism, and an unbalanced concentration of wealth and power.
Following the “three days of peace and music” at Woodstock, the 1969 gathering in Bethel, NY that would change the world forever, hippie paradises began to emerge all around the world. In the Dam Square in Amsterdam, long-haired young people wearing vibrant clothes and burning incense could be found meditating, playing music and discussing sexual liberation, the expansion of consciousness and the search for an inner truth. They were a generation refusing to live the robotic and unquestioning life that their parents had known.
At this time, Paulo is a young, skinny Brazilian with a goatee and long, flowing hair who wants to become a writer. He sets off on a journey in search of freedom and a deeper meaning for his life: first, with a girlfriend, on the famous “Death Train to Bolivia,” then on to Peru and later hitchhiking through Chile and Argentina.
His travels take him further, to the famous square in Amsterdam, where Paulo meets Karla, a Dutch woman also in her 20s. She convinces Paulo to join her on a trip to Nepal, aboard the Magic Bus that travels across Europe and Central Asia to Kathmandu. They embark on a journey in the company of fascinating fellow travelers, each of whom has a story to tell, and each of whom will undergo a transformation, changing their priorities and values, along the way. As they travel together, Paulo and Karla explore their own relationship, an awakening on every level that brings each of them to a choice and a decision that sets the course for their lives thereafter.
Haunting, uplifting, beautiful: the final work from Helen Dunmore
Helen Dunmore passed away in June 2017, leaving behind this remarkable collection of short stories. With her trademark imagination and gift for making history human, she explores the fragile ties between passion, love, family, friendship and grief, often through people facing turning points in their lives:
A girl alone, stretching her meagre budget to feed herself, becomes aware that the young man who has come to see her may not be as friendly as he seems.
Two women from very different backgrounds enjoy an unusual night out, finding solace in laughter and an unexpected friendship.
A young man picks up his infant son and goes outside into a starlit night as he makes a decision that will inform the rest of his life.
A woman imprisoned for her religion examines her faith in a seemingly literal and quietly original way.
This brilliant collection of Helen Dunmore’s short fiction, replete with her penetrating insight into the human condition, is certain to delight and move all her readers.
Drift down sun-bleached streets
Lose yourself in the California sound
Find beauty in a dirty bar
Love like your life depends on it
Carry on after the party stops
Believe in what you’re fighting for
Fall for Daisy Jones and the Six
'Every now and then I come across a book I wish I’d written. The Possible World is one of those... A gorgeously wrought exploration of who gets to tell the story of our lives, and who gets to inhabit that story with us' Jodi Picoult
Ben is the sole survivor of a crime that claims his mother and countless others. He is just six years old, and already he must find a new place for himself in the world.
Lucy, the doctor who tends to Ben, is grappling with a personal upheaval of her own. She feels a profound connection to the little boy who has lived through the unthinkable. Will recovering his memory heal him, or damage him further?
Clare has long believed that the lifetime of secrets she’s been keeping don’t matter to anyone anymore, until an unexpected encounter prompts her to tell her story.
As they each struggle to confront the events – past and present – that have defined their lives, something stronger than fate is working to bring them together...
Three classic Ruth Rendell stories: Means of Evil, The Fallen Curtain and The Fever Tree.
Ruth Rendell is unequalled in her ability to weave stories that challenge our preconceptions and prejudices. From Wexford and Burden's investigation of a wife's apparent suicide, with all the evidence pointing to the husband in Means of Evil to the unsettling psychology behind a man's friendship with a boy in The Fallen Curtain and the paranoia that plagues two people who no longer know how to trust, in The Fever Tree.
KISSING THE GUNNER'S DAUGHTER
A sergeant in the Kingsmarkham police force is tragically killed. Ten months later, Wexford enters a bloodbath of a crime scene, where a family has been brutally murdered.
'Her most brilliant Wexford mystery to date- The plot is complicated and elaborately detailed but, as usual, there is not one superfluous word- stunning imagery' Kate Saunders, Cosmopolitan
'Beyond praise, completely compelling - will delight all Wexford's admirers' Allan Massie, The Scotsman
When a young black woman is murdered, Wexford must overcome his prejudices to allow his investigative skills to succeed...
'Impressive and courageous- Rendell's psychological and social insights are so absorbing, it's easy to forget what a superb plotter she is. As a mystery, Simisola is exceptional- pace, surprise, tension and a climax of stunning unexpectedness' The Times
When Wexford's wife goes missing, the detective is in a race against time to solve a murder case, before Dora Wexford is placed in mortal danger...
'The book could hardly be more readable- A brilliant evocation of place, character and mood' Evening Standard
'With immaculate control, Ruth Rendell builds a menacing crescendo of tension and horror that keeps you guessing right up to the brilliantly paced finale' Good Housekeeping
Published: 6 Jun 2002
‘A phenomenal, haunting debut’ Gillian Flynn, bestselling author of Gone Girl
'Dark, disturbing, and compulsively readable’ Ruth Ware, bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10
Nothing burns as bright as the truth.
It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.
But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town's economic heart, she begins to find strange connections to a decade-old scandal involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.
But as Abby tries desperately to find out what happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations. And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret, her search threatens the reputations, and lives, of the community and risks exposing a darkness that may consume her.
With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of what happens when your past and present collide.
The first novel from the star of Marvel's Jessica Jones and Breaking Bad
'In Abby Williams Ritter has created an appealingly feisty yet vulnerable heroine...An excellent debut' The Times
'Packed with suspense and moves at a cracking pace...Ritter is spot on. Abby makes a terrific, kickass heroine who you'll root for all the way' Daily Mail
'Dark but compulsively readable' Image Magazine