Tag Archives: Irene Nemirovsky

Persephone 100 and the Persephone Project…

I have been meaning to write about Persephone, one of the UK’s most delightful independent publishers, reaching their 100th title for some time. However the right reason never quite presented itself. Well, that is partly true. I could simply have simply said ‘Happy 100 Books Persephone’ and then put a link to all the titles of theirs that I have read so far, only one of them I didn’t ‘get’ I think, but I wanted to do something a little bit extra and a little bit different and then fate stepped in delightfully.

To me, Persephone books are a real ‘treat’ of a book. Despite this blog I am actually not really a big buyer of new books, I have the odd binge once a year in a certain chain, a brief yearly dabble with a certain online retailer (basically when they offer me prime for free, you know who I mean) and whenever I fall into, because it is never planned *cough*, an independent bookshop I like to buy a book or two. I am much more of a borrower from the library or perusing bargain hunter in second hand and charity bookshops, I think this stems from the fact it was the way it was when I was a youth. Anyway despite having borrowed many a delightful grey copy along the way, Persephone’s I saw/see as treats and so had been slowly building up a collection of titles, some I had won from the very people who had introduced me to Persephone Books, Claire and Verity (thank you ladies, why did your bookish blogs stop?) and there Persephone Reading Weeks etc, and others I had seen in independent bookstores along the way.

Well you may have remember that in the last move I lost a special bag of books and in it, amongst some other special copies of other special books were SIX, yes six, Persephone books. ‘Someone at a Distance’ by Dorothy Whipple, ‘Good Evening, Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes’, ‘The Far Cry’ by Emma Smith, ‘Dimanche and Other Stories’ by Irene Nemirovsky, ‘Still Missing’ by Beth Gutcheon, ‘Miss Buncle Married’ by DE Stevenson all just somehow disappeared. I was left with ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’ by Winifred Watson because it was in my boxes of ‘already read’ books and ‘Miss Buncle’s Book’ by DE Stevenson as that was in my ‘to read very soon’ moving box. I still haven’t read it; I think it might be the trauma, maybe. Anyway the collection I was slowly building was down to two, until I spotted this in a charity shop last week…

I actually had spotted a separate Persephone Classic, ‘The World That Was Ours’ by Hilda Bernstein which I will be writing about tomorrow, on a different shelf but I didn’t think I would spot a further five of the gorgeous grey spines!! Naturally I did a double take and scooped them all up in my arms and practically ran to the till. This joy was made all the sweeter discovering that three of them still had the bookmarks when I got home and perused my finds further. It was reading all about them and seeing how different they were, and indeed starting the Bernstein when an idea popped into my head and everything clicked… I would read ALL the 100 Persephone titles and start ‘The Persephone Project’!

Initially ‘The Persephone Project’ sounds bonkers I will admit. Especially from someone who only the other day was saying I am not sure I should start any more projects (apart from Classically Challenged and 40 Before 40, the latter which I am still mulling) or challenges as I want a year of reading by whim. Yet the more I thought about it the more sense it made.

The main point is that I will not be reading these books in one big gulp. Now this will possibly sound even madder, especially seeing as I have worked this out as taking me to March 2021 (when I will be almost 39!), but I am going to read one a month in order though should I fancy reading one of the later titles earlier that’s fine as its likely to be years until I re-read it. That makes sense in my head anyway. Having spent ages going through the catalogue and making a page with all the titles and when I will read them the diversity of the list means I won’t get annoyed either. I will talk more about this tomorrow but ‘The World That Was Ours’ really opened my eyes to how different the books are it being the polar opposite of ‘The Shuttle’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett (my favourite Persephone so far) in every way apart from the fact I love it just as much.

I am also really looking forward to building a collection as one book a month fits my budget (though I have just bought the first three, but please don’t tell The Beard – actually he might not mind as he likes the books as they match the carpet) and over the next few weeks, months and years who knows what gems I might find in any bookshop I might fall into. I may have to get a special set of shelves for Persephone books alone.

So that is the plan! The first book, ‘William – an Englishman’ by Cicely Hamilton is on the way and I will be discussing it on Sunday the 16th of December here (the Project Persephone posts will go live every third Sunday). I am hoping some of you might join in along the way (I am sure somewhere on the internet people are already doing something similar but I want to start at the start) or if you feel a bit crazy and whimsical start with me and go for the whole lot. I feel like it is going to be a real bookish adventure, and indeed by the time I get to book 100 there will have been more added to the list.

Anyway, that is quite enough from me for now. I would love to hear what your favourite Persephone books have been so far and if you have found any forgotten but now favourite-to-you authors in the mean time. Do tell, and let me know if you might join in be it for the long haul (crazy but might be great) or just dip in and out along the way…

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Updates & Big Thank You’s

I have been meaning to say a big thanks for everyone who has popped by and wished me well over the last week or so since my hospital visit. An update on that is that I had another procedure last week and have another one coming next week after which, fingers crossed, we should know what the heck we are dealing with as everything seems a bit cloak and dagger at the minute. I am once again up at Mum’s for some recuperation and it also happens to be her birthday TODAY! Gran is here too and there have already been quite a few discussions about books… my poor step-dad and brother!

Anyway one of the things that I wanted to say a big thanks for was your recommendations for books to read whilst resting (am having a bit of a rubbish reading time at the mo) but also to those of you who have sent me some reading material especially, some of you want to remain nameless but regardless I want to share some of the lovely loot, which I photographed last week on my window seat.

The Woman’s Room by Marilyn French – really excited about this as heard its superb, hope that it lives up to the hype.

Reality and Dreams by Muriel Spark – you all know how I am quite into my Spark and this sounds like it could be a corker.

Suite Francaise
by Irene Nemirovsky – I tried this for a book group a few years ago and really didn’t love it but since reading ‘Jezebel’ I have been of a mind to give this one another try.

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle
by Catherine Webb – I had never heard of this until an email asking me for my address to receive a ‘Victorian treat’ arrived and it does indeed like this will be a wonderful escapist Victorian romp.

The Silence of the Rain
by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza – The lovely Marcia of Lizzy’s Literary Life sent me this one for my Reading for Brazil challenge which I have been a little lax on, however with my health it looks like I might not be going so I shall have to read about it instead 😦

The Great Stink by Clare Clark – another Savidge Reader thought this book and its Victorian routes might be just the thing for me, am rather excited about this one instantly.

Wait For Me!
by Deborah Devonshire – sent by the lovely Simon T of Stuck-in-a-Book as a thank you for staying at mine a while back, this is one I am desperate to read… and so am naturally holding back from reading, why do we do this to ourselves? I actually had two of these but have given the second to Gran, in fact Mum and Gran have recieved two large piles of my cast off books which they have been thrilled with!

So a HUGE thanks for all of these as they are most appreciated and will be read at some point. I do love it when surprise parcels pop through the letter box it’s been an added boost to all your kind comments and emails. So seriously thank you very much.

I should also thank the publishers as a few newly released books have appeared of late in the house which I am also looking forward to.

Book of Clouds by Chloe Aridjis – not sure where… but have heard this is brilliant.

The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek – I have never heard of this or the other ‘Serpents Tail Classic’ I was sent (see below) but this does really appeal.

They Shoot Horses Don’t They
by Horace McCoy – Another classic as mentioned above that I hadn’t heard of but sounds like it might be an interesting read. I do worry sometimes that I have such a limited knowledge of certain classics.

The Unit
by Ninni Holmqvist – Sounds a bit sci-fi and I am having some cravings for science fiction which is most unlike me, so if you have any suggestions let me know.

Packing For Mars
by Mary Roach – ridiculously excited that this has arrived as I loved ‘Stiff’ so much and think that having gotten on so well with her when she talked me through cadavers she might be just the person to get my head around the science of space, especially as she asks all the questions I would want to such as ‘what happens if you need the toilet or throw up in a spacesuit?’

The Bride Time Forgot
by Paul Magrs – I was thrilled to see this arrive as I love the ‘Brenda & Effie’ series, I then realised I still haven’t read the fourth in the series ‘Hell’s Belles’ oops.

The Distant Hours
by Kate Morton – I am not sure how I feel about this book. You see I read her first book and thought it was ok but nowt special, and this looks a monster… and yet there is something about the cover that makes me think I do want to read it! Eek!

So what have you had arrive or been out and bought of late? What have you read that’s blinking brilliant that everyone should know about? Right I best get back to Mum’s birthday celebrations, we are all shortly off to see ‘RED’ at the cinema, Mums choice (!!!) and then off to a Charity Hog Roast, Bonfire Party and Firework Display later on. Hope you’ve got good weekends lined up?

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Thank You Dear Readers

If you are interested in the Man Booker prize then you can go here, but if you a bit over it already then here is post that’s not booker related at all, its very book related though. Firstly a big thank you for all your thoughts and comments (and emails too) after I had a small grump ‘moment’ last week. I am still working on my review policy and my guidelines to Savidge Reads; it’s harder than you think, they will be up before the end of the week though – there’s just a lot of brainstorming going on at the moment.

My second thanks goes to five of you lovely readers who wish to remain nameless (you shouldn’t be so modest as what you have done is a lovely thing, but I have emailed you with individual thanks) who have sent me some books which are…

 

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards & The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lilian Jackson Braun – I had not heard of this possibly cosy crime series which not only has an amateur detective by the name of Jim Qwilleran but an even more unusual one named Koko… a Siamese cat! I will be tucking into the first one of these very soon.

On The Beach by Nevil Shute – Well I have already recently read this but I had gotten mine from the library, a reader very kindly sent me one of their old copies which is now sat on my lovely new shelves.

My Turn To Make The Tea by Monica Dickens – I saw this a while back on Kim’s blog and as a journalist myself this sounded right up my street, well I couldn’t buy one but a lovely reader sent me their old copy, another book I will be reading swiftly (I have so many books I want to read RIGHT NOW its getting a bit out of hand).

The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter – I loved ‘The Bloody Chamber’ and when I was asked if I would take a copy of a readers hands I thought ‘oooh why not’. I wasn’t expecting it to be this lovely green Virago Modern Classic edition.

David Golder by Irene Nemirovsky – I seem to be a changed man after rather disliking ‘Suite Francaise’ but really liking ‘Jezebel’ so am hoping this book also falls into the latter camp, I seem to be gaining a Nemirovsky collection now as I managed to get her short stories published by Persephone from my local library.

What a lovely haul! I am really chuffed with these and can’t thank you enough. Has anyone read any of these, where would you recommend I start… or what would you like to hear more about and see me read, though it will be done on whim?

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Jezebel – Irène Némirovsky

When on a break between re-reads of The Green Carnation Longlist last week (yes, I have started all that again so blogging may go a little sporadic) I was looking for a short book as a break. My eyes fell upon a few of the Irène Némirovsky novels and so I thought it was about time I gave her a second chance, you see I tried the renowned ‘Suite Francaise’ a few years ago for a book group and simply didn’t get on with it. So I looked at the three I had indoors (I had actually been wanting to get her short story collection published by Persephone from the library but someone snaffled it first) and thought that ‘Jezebel’ was the one that could most likely get me and Irène Némirovsky to become firm reading companions.

Opening any book to a court scene is enough to have me itching to pop a book down, I don’t tend to get on with courtroom dramas. ‘Jezebel’ by Irène Némirovsky starts in such a very place however rather than draw the whole drama out and devote a chapter to a witness the whole event is done in 40 pages with witnesses and intrigue page upon page. Why are we in court? Well Irène Némirovsky’s protagonist of ‘Jezebel’, the elegant and beautiful Gladys Eysenach, is on trial for the murder of a much younger man.

I’m not going to tell you whether Gladys is guilty or not, despite the fact that you actually find out her plea and indeed her verdict within the first few pages, because it might still take something away from the book. I was slightly baffled that you knew so much so early on, only Irène Némirovsky has great plans for the reader, you much first see where we find Gladys and then you must go on the journey from her childhood and through society, marriages, liaisons and tragedy (the book has quite an intense charge throughout) to get to the event that found her in this courtroom. It is through this that Irène Némirovsky creates a tale about a woman obsessed with the days of her youth and how as time goes by age creeps upon her and for someone like Gladys Eysenach this is the cruellest thing imaginable.

What is sometimes wonderful about going to a book that sounds intriguing and yet you have low expectations of (especially if you didn’t like the first book you read of theirs) is that when you then really enjoy it it’s almost all the more enjoyable. This was the case for me with ‘Jezebel’. I read it in two sittings and the mixture of the murder and how I was sure it couldn’t just be as clear a crime as Irène Némirovsky originally makes it look and the tale of a woman’s rise through beauty and old ages betrayal of that was a fascinating read and one that I would highly recommend. 8/10

I have been wondering if maybe I should try and get a copy of ‘Suite Francaise’ from the library (as I gave my copy to my Gran who thought it was marvellous) and give it a second chance, did anyone else struggle with that book or did everyone but me really love it? Who still hasn’t read it? Maybe I should go with one of the other two titles of Irene’s that I have which are ‘Fire in the Blood’ and ‘The Dogs and the Wolves’ – has anyone read either of those two? Which other Irène Némirovsky novels have any of you read and had great success with?

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Library Loots & Latest Incomings

I do find it odd that only a few months when my ‘refurbished’ local library reopened its doors I was a little bit snobbish about it. I didn’t like the fact that it was self service and though the building still has its old exterior I weirdly missed the old interior and the fact that trying to find a book published after 2000 was pretty much impossible. However over the last week or two I have been converted and have been visiting a lot.

Unlike the library I did like (especially as it has a new swanky supermarket next door killing two birds with one bus journey) one tube stop away the one just down the road now always seems to have just the books I want or have been mulling over. It also helps they have been lottery funded and so they keep getting the latest books in pristine condition. It’s almost like going into a book store which as I am on a book buying ban and can cart a load off for free is ideal. This week I got four new ones to read…

  • The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington – I had not heard of this Penguin Modern Classic until I got an email from a reader last weekend telling me that the tale of Marian Leatherby’s committal to an institution by her family would be just my cup of tea, low and behold the library had it in pristine condition.
  • Solo by Rana Dasgupta – Libraries are great for taking risks with books and I have been watching the Not The Man Booker Prize with interest this year and was actually going to see if I could get any of the books listed for this year, I couldn’t but I did get last years winner which I have mulled over before.
  • The City &The City by China Mieville – I asked you all if I wanted to read this, pretty much all of you said I did and the library had it so it seemed like fate.
  • The Big Four by Agatha Christie – A graphic novel of Agatha Christie which sounds like it could be a James Bond novel only with Poirot. I think I will either love this or hate it but its something different to try.

I have also been lucky enough to get some more unsolicited books in the last week or four. Actually no I tell a lie two of these books I had emails asking if I fancied and indeed I did (I will pop a star next to those) but that’s not asking which I have banned myself from. A few I had already but are now in lovely new editions (such as the Atwood) or paperback editions have come out, so maybe I will do some more giveaways over the next few weeks – don’t forget there is a giveaway here at the moment.

  • Angels of Destruction by Keith Donoghue
  • Ransom by David Malouf
  • Waiting For Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk*
  • London Labour & The London Poor by Henry Mayhew
  • The End by Salvatore Scibona
  • The Alchemasters Apprentice by Walter Moers
  • To The End of the Land by David Grossman
  • Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason
  • Small Memories by Jose Saramago
  • Begginers by Ramond Carver
  • Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London by Julia Stuart*
  • The Complete Fairy Tales by Charles Perrault
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Dogs & The Wolves by Irene Nemirovsky

The David Grossman has a bit of a funny story attached to it, not as in the story of the book which is apparently heartbreaking… let me explain. I was banging on about ‘To The End of the Land’ to one of my friends saying how much I wanted it and how I couldn’t ask for it or buy it myself only when I then, less than 24 hours later, finally sorted through all my latest books and other books I had been moving around the last week or two proceeded to discover I did indeed have it already! Oh dear, a sign of too many books on the TBR? Actually I don’t think you can have too many books on a TBR.

So what lovely library loots have you got recently? Been bought any books or treated yourselves to any? Have you read any of the above?

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A Trip To Gran’s… Do Come Along

I know a lot of you like all things Granny Savidge Reads and so I thought I would do a little report back from the trip that myself and The Converted One went on two weekends ago back to my homeland of the Derbyshire Dales. I have already shared a trip we took to Scarthin Books which deserved its own post and so I thought I would share some more pictures of both the peaks, my past, more books (Persephone ones, really old ones and damaged ones – the latter caused me real horror) and lost of other bits and bobs – including a charity that I would love you all to have a look into.

So on the Saturday morning we left the grey skies of London for what I assumed would be the even greyer skies of ‘oop north’. However it would appear I was very wrong as the further north we got the sunnier it became.

First up was an early lunch both preceeded and followed by tea and coffee. This provided the perfect picture for any of you who love Persephone books as Gran had hers placed rather delightfully on a tray with some rather wonderful china.

It was soon off to Matlock Bath for a wander down the promenade and over the wonderful old Victorian Jubilee Bridge (you know how I love my Victoriana)

This takes you across the River Derwent to a land of rather marvellous grottos, fountains and fantastic views from which you can see my old house (where I lived with my grandparents for half of every year growing up) in the distance below The Heights of Abraham.

 

Here’s a close up of that very house, the one I have sworn I will buy back one day.

We were in Matlock Bath both for a bit of nostalgia and to go to an event organised to ‘Save the Pavilion’ (or the Pav as we call it) and celebrate its 100th Birthday it is a rather historical old building on the main promenade. It’s a place that means a lot to me personally as my Mum and Dad actually met at a school disco in the dome on the roof. They had allsorts going on including a Punch and Judy show which had The Converted One in awe and I let Gran explain.

 

It was actually a ‘typically British fate’ with both a wonderful band…

And a Women’s Institute charity book store of delightful old (and rather saucy if you look at the picture in detail) books, I had a rather longing look and had to move away swiftly.

Soon it was time to dash back for more tea and cake with my aunty and cousins back over the hills and in Gran’s rather wonderful garden before dinner, it was a real treat to sit, drink and natter outside over that view.

Later on we went through the family albums and I found this rather wonderful picture of my Gran as a little girl in her nursery which I just love, I am going to have to get it blown up and framed for one of my walls.

Next day after visiting my Dad’s parents who I hadn’t seen for five years and who hadn’t yet met The Converted One we headed to the grandeur of Chatsworth and its wonderful park land.

After a nice cream tea we toured the village of Edensor where the Dowager Duchess and last surviving Mitford sister Deborah lives where I found a house that I desperately wanted, I have a thing about turrets and could be ‘Debo’s’ neighbour.

Then it was all too soon time to go home which was rather a fraught journey as we almost had a fight with a man who was sat in our booked seats. Then, if that wasn’t stressful enough, a woman sat with this opposite me…

I could almost hear the book and its pain. However my distressed spirits at both that poor book and the fact I wanted to stay up north longer were somewhat eased when I found two gifts on the bed from that book stall I mentioned above I had no idea I had been bought! (Village Tales by Miss Mitford and The Lamplighter by Miss Cummins – anyone read either of these?)

So hopefully that hasn’t bored you all silly and you have enjoyed that little tour of a small part of Derbyshire. Do these break in bookish posts appeal to you all now and again? Should I be sharing little bits of my non bookish life with you now and again? Let me know as I don’t know if I share too much, not enough or just about right! Have you had any nice trips lately?

You can find out more about the great cause of ‘Save The Pavilion’ and watch a marvellous video about Matlock Bath and the Pav here. Do pop by!

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Latest Incomings

Now before you all baulk at how many books have arrived you might want to pop and see an explanation of how such a backlog developed, there could actually be more that have simply vanished. The latter part of that sentence doesn’t bear thinking about. So here are what delights (though I took out quite a few cricket and celeb books – again see above post for my thoughts on those) have arrived in the last month, I have even organised them into two groups for you…

The Hardbacks and larger books…

  • Dom Casmurro – Machado De Assis (printed specially from OUP for my Reading for Brazil thing, too kind)
  • By Midnight – Mia James (a young adult book set in Highgate Cemetery)
  • Stories to Get You Through the Night – Various (have started this, its great so far)
  • The Invisible Bridge – Julie Orringer (not heard of the author before have you?)
  • Dona Nicanora’s Hat Shop – Kirsten Dawkins (another kind send for Reading for Brazil)
  • God Says No – James Hannaham (hadn’t heard of this but sounds very, very me am itching to start this one)
  • Ilustrado – Miguel Syjuco (I know nothing about this but adore the cover)
  • The Lost Books of the Odyssey – Zachary Mason (they also sent me a copy for my Mum who is a classicist which was very kind)
  • Repeat Today With Tears – Anne Peile (most annoyed this was delayed as wanted to go to the launch but as hadn’t read it didn’t feel I could)
  • The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas – Machado De Assis (another book printed specially from OUP – again too kind)
  • Beatrice and Virgil – Yann Martel (I loved The Life of Pi but am going to try not to compare them when I read this one)
  • The Radleys – Matt Haig (Vampires as next door neighbours sounds fun, mind you might hold out on this one a while before I get vampired out)
  • Tony & Susan – Austin M. Wright (a book I would never have known was being republished – or had indeed been published – after many years, which has a book within a book sent to a woman from her ex-husband, sounds intriguing. We read the book as Susan does.)
  • Grace Williams Says It Loud – Emma Henderson (a tale of love and the life after of two people in a Mental Institute, an interesting debut)
  • Inheritance – Nicholas Shakespeare (have never read him but always liked the idea of doing so)

And onto the Paperbacks…

  • Cousin Phyllis and Other Stories – Elizabeth Gaskell (I have never read Gaskell and so want to and short stories might be a nice way in)
  • Dear Mr. Bigelow – Frances Woodford (I think this will be an unsolicited joy. Woodford and Bigelow never met but wrote to each other from 1949 to 1961. I cannot wait to read these letters.)
  • The Book of Fires – Jane Borodale (Too late to try and get done before The Orange First Novel Award but one I am looking forward to no less.)
  • Tender Morsels – Margo Lanagan (a modern fairytale receiving very mixed reviews around the blogosphere, wonder which camp I will be in – love it or loathe it?)
  • Jezebel  – Irene Nemirovsky (I am one of the few people who didn’t love Suite Francaise maybe a short novel with such a tempting title will do the trick?)
  • Ménage – Ewan Morrison (never heard of him but sounds like he has quite the cult following)
  • The Kindest Thing – Cath Staincliffe (another one I have never heard of but “a love story, a modern nightmare” sounds like it might be just up my street)
  • City of God – Paulo Lins (another book for Reading For Brazil that the publishers kindly sent)
  • The Lady in the Tower – Alison Weir (I am a little obsessed with Tudors and Anne Boleyn in particular, so this will be a great summer non-fiction read – I have a mate who works at Hever Castle, maybe I should read it there?)
  • Little Gods – Anna Richards (am super chuffed this one arrived as I saw it in Kew Bookshop and just wanted it from these words “an adventure, a black comedy, a fairy tale of sorts and a romance” that sounds my perfect book, let’s hope the blurb isn’t lying!)
  • Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier (love, love, loved ‘Falling Angels’ and this is Victorian again, ladies on the hunt for fossils doesn’t sound thrilling but I have been recommended it is by lots of people)
  • A Death in Brazil – Peter Robb (a historical study of Brazil looking at the country after slavery was abolished)
  • Henry VII: Wolfman – A. E. Moorat (as much as I am unsure about the Jane Austen zombie books this could be fun, and the next on ‘Queen Victoria; Demon Hunter’ I am going to beg for)
  • Troubles – J.G. Farrell (the Lost Man Booker winner which instantly made me want to read it and hoorah now I can)
  • The Scouring Angel – Benedict Gummer (another part of history that fascinates me is The Black Death and the plague years so this is perfect. Sounds like have some great long non-fiction for the summer months)
  • The Blind Side of the Heart – Julia Franck (I know nothing about this and, from the cover or the title, I am not sure how me it will be but is good to give new things a whirl)
  • Stone’s Fall – Iain Pears (I didn’t like ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost’ very much but have heard this is a cracker, has also been chosen for The TV Book Clubs summer reads)

So that’s all of them. Have you read any of these? Are they on your radar or your TBR? Have you read anything else by any of the authors? Which ones would you like to see me read first and hear about?

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