The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

The Paying GuestsI feel very spoilt having two of my favourite authors publish new books this summer. First, ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage‘ by Haruki Murakami and now ‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters. Set in London shortly after the First World War, unmarried Frances Wray and her widowed mother have fallen on hard times and are forced to rent out rooms at their home in Camberwell. Frances becomes increasingly close to their young and modern “paying guests”, Leonard and Lilian Barbour. However, her relationship with Lilian soon triggers an unexpected and violent chain of events. Continue reading

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Book Launch: Of Bodies Changed by Cliff James

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Last weekend, I went to a book launch in Cambridge for Cliff James’ debut novel ‘Of Bodies Changed’. The novel tells the story of Jackie, who travels to the South Downs in search of her childhood home. As she tries to find out what happened to her estranged brother, Chris, she uncovers a number of dark family secrets. Based on what Cliff describes as a “close encounter” with the Church as a teenager, the story follows Jackie as she is introduced to a world of heathens, priests and paganism. Continue reading

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The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie EffectDue to be published in the UK next week, ‘The Rosie Effect’ is the sequel to Graeme Simsion’s bestselling ‘The Rosie Project‘. Now married and living with Rosie in New York City, socially awkward genetics professor Don Tillman has successfully completed the Wife Project. However, just as Don is about to announce that Gene is coming to stay, Rosie announces that she is expecting a baby – the biggest possible disruption to Don’s ordered life. His careful research into pregnancy and fatherhood inevitably lands him into trouble very quickly. Continue reading

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The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver

The Post-Birthday World‘The Post-Birthday World’ by Lionel Shriver tells the story (or stories) of Irina McGovern, a children’s book illustrator in her early forties living in London with her partner of nearly ten years, Lawrence Trainer, a fellow American expatriate. When Irina finds herself alone with Ramsey Acton, a famous snooker player, her life takes diverging paths in alternate chapters where in one life, she starts a new relationship with Ramsey and in another life, she stays loyal to Lawrence. Continue reading

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The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

The Lives of OthersShortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, ‘The Lives of Others’ by Neel Mukherjee tells the story of twenty-one year old Supratik Ghosh who has left his comfortable family home in Calcutta/Kolkata to join the Communist Party of India. Set primarily in 1967, the story alternates between Supratik’s new life as a Naxalite activist and guerilla fighter working in the rice fields of West Bengal and the everyday lives of the relatives he has left behind.  Continue reading

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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Colorless Tsukuru TazakiAfter selling more than one million copies in its first week of publication in Japan in April 2013, ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ by Haruki Murakami has been one of the most highly anticipated novels of the year arriving in bookshops in the UK earlier this month. It tells the story of Tsukuru Tazaki who had four friends in high school whose names all coincidentally contained a colour: Akamatsu (‘red pine’), Oumi (‘blue sea’), Shirane (‘white root’) and Kurono (‘black field’). During his second year of university, Tsukuru’s friends announce without warning that they no longer want to see him or talk to him ever again and refuse to tell him why. Now in his mid-thirties, Tsukuru meets Sara who thinks he should finally come to terms with what happened and find out why he was suddenly shut out by his friends all those years ago. Continue reading

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Top Ten Quotes About Reading

Southbank Book Market

From the works of Cicero (“A room without books is like a body without a soul”) to George W. Bush’s pearls of wisdom (“One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures”), there are thousands of quotes about the wonders of reading. Here are a few of my favourites:

10) “When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you.” (Keith Richards)

9) “It would be a good thing to buy books if one could also buy the time to read them.” (Schopenhauer)

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