Looking to find your next page turner? Our expert book recommendations are here to help.
Each month, our books editor Fanny Blake picks the best new books to add to your reading list.
And, whether you’re looking for a thriller, romance or something to pull at the heartstrings, there’s sure to be something that takes your fancy on this month’s reading list…
PICK OF THE MONTH
Fanny says: When her daughter Lana is found unharmed after having been missing for four days, Jen is
mightily relieved but Lana refuses to say what happened to her. When they return home, their family starts falling apart. As Jen struggles to connect with Lana, this is less a “whodunwhat” and more a sensitive study of a mother-daughter relationship.
Fanny says: Mike is on trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Verity’s new husband. On the advice of his lawyer, he writes down what really happened. But how will his lawyer twist what he knows to save him? I devoured this gripping, unsettling and brilliantly constructed thriller in one breathless gulp.
Fanny says: 13-year-old Jasper suffers
from face blindness and synaesthesia, which means he interprets the world through colours. Then he is confronted by a new colour – that of his neighbour Bee Larkham’s murder. The author’s insight into her subject is impressive and her gripping novel is sure to be a bestseller.
Fanny says: In this electrifying story of a man’s obsession, the setting is a remote Pacific island in 1879, where the Peacock family are joined by a pair of Polynesian brothers. Appalled by the decrepitude of the Peacocks, missionary-trained Kalala strikes up a friendship with the daughter Lizzie, to discover that the situation is far worse than he imagined. Lushly written, with immaculate historical detail, it worked for me on many levels.
Fanny says: I defy anyone to finish this without weeping and giving thanks for the NHS. A nurse for 20 years, Christie Watson dealt with every kind of illness and injury, and was present at difficult births, comforted the dying and assisted at complex operations. Kindness, compassion and dedication are her watchwords, even when pushed to breaking point. An important book that should be on every reading list.
Fanny says: Grandmother Tina Hopgood writes to a professor at the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark about Tollund Man, an Iron Age man found in a Danish bog and kept in his museum. She doesn’t expect a reply and certainly not the subsequent lengthy correspondence that becomes a lifeline for both of them as they lay bare their souls to one another. An intriguing and tender read that I found unexpectedly affecting.
Fanny says: Born into a wealthy banking dynasty, 21-year-old Greta Goldbaum moves from Vienna to London to marry distant cousin Albert. That’s what’s expected of her. Her marriage is not easy from the start but the gift of a garden changes everything. Greta first falls in love with the garden, then with her husband. When the First World War breaks out, she is forced to choose between the family she has made and the one she left behind. A delightful and involving saga that’s rich in atmosphere and character.
Fanny says: "Lily Decker escapes her traumatic childhood by going to Las Vegas and becoming a showgirl. But despite forging a new identity as Ruby Wilde and finding success in the glitter and glamour of the Strip, the past refuses to let her go. A vivid backstage portrait packed with Sixties’ detail as well as a heart-wrenching story of friendship, guilt and personal redemption."
FANNY'S PICK OF THE MONTH
Fanny says: "1940 London. Determined to be a Lady War Correspondent, Emmy mistakenly takes a job on Woman’s Realm, assisting the agony aunt, Mrs Bird. But Mrs Bird has Standards, refusing to reply to certain problems, so Emmy feels bound to take matters into her own hands. Meanwhile her own love life is far from straightforward. This is a delight: witty, well-observed, tear-jerking and a vivid depiction of the time. I loved it."
Fanny says: "Imagine arriving home to find another family has moved into your house, and all your belongings have disappeared. Your husband, too. This is the clever premise that kicks off a novel that had me second-guessing and completely gripped all the way through. As Fi Lawson begins to unravel what has happened, she finds more out about her husband and herself than she might otherwise have wanted. Packed with twists and surprises till the last page – terrific stuff."
Fanny says: "Tremain returns to her youth in this elegant and poignant memoir. Rosie and her sister Jo’s happy childhood ended when her father left them, and they were sent to boarding school. They lost their friends, their London home and, most painfully, their nanny who had shown them love when their parents couldn’t. A telling portrait of what went into the making of one of our most acclaimed and well-loved novelists."
Fanny says: "In 1969, police constable Florence Loveday was instrumental in putting away Larry Glassbrook, coffin-maker and twisted killer of three young children. The case made Florence famous. Thirty years later, he is dead and she has returned to Lancashire for his funeral. Confronting the past, she begins to realise the case is far from over. A chilling novel of witchcraft and suspense that’s not for the faint-hearted."
Fanny says: "When Brockwell Lido is threatened with closure, its possible salvation comes in the shape of two unlikely heroines: 20-something local journalist, Kate who’s lonely and prone to panic attacks, and widowed pensioner Rosemary who swims there every day. Together they take a stand against the local council and voracious developers. A novel of friendship, love, and the importance of community - this is an absolute pleasure."
CURL UP WITH
Fanny says: "The Wilde family spend idyllic summers at The Bosky, their house by the beach in Dorset. Beneath the surface shine, the lives of celebrated actor, Tony, his glamorous wife Althea and their children Cordelia and Ben are far more complicated than at first glance. With plenty of family secrets, a gorgeous old house, an involving story featuring characters that leap off the page – there’s nothing not to love about this captivating family saga."
Fanny says: A week-long affair is enough to tell Sarah she's in love. But then Eddie disappears. What has happened to him? This captivating high-concept love story is chock-full of secrets, loss and grief, with plenty of twists and tissue-sodden emotional moments.
COMPELLING AND FUNNY
If you read Evans's superb Crooked Heart, you'll recognise Mattie Simpkin, once a militant suffragette. Going back to 1928, we meet her again when her search for a new worthwhile cause has dramatic results. Quirky characters plus great storytelling make a terrific read.