The Kindness of Women continues the story of Jim, the young boy whose experiences in Japanese-occupied Shanghai were described in Empire of the Sun. It follows his return to post-war England, setting his childhood in the context of a lifetime. Jim tries, and fails, to find stability as a medical student at Cambridge, then as a trainee RAF pilot in Canada.

Having finally settled into happy family life, his world is ripped apart by domestic tragedy. He plunges into the maelstrom … More

It was tempting to think, at times like this, that some bizarre hysteria had gripped the British people’ Beginning eight years ago on the outskirts of Birmingham, where car factories have been replaced by Poundland, and London, where frenzied riots give way to Olympic fever, Middle England follows a brilliantly vivid cast of characters through a time of immense change.

There are newlyweds Ian and Sophie, who disagree about the future of the country and, possibly, the future of their … More

A stunning debut novel about a little girl growing up in Belfast, from the author of the Man Booker Prize winning novel, The Milkman. A young woman struggles with growing up in Belfast during the Troubles in this darkly humorous, sexually twisted debut. It starts off solidly as a coming-of-age story about Amelia Lovett, who spends her childhood playing with rubber bullets while her family dodges real ones in the ongoing battle between the Brits and the IRA.

Amelia’s dangerous road continues when she enters school and has to fight off some fellow schoolgirls after they start a … More

Will Ashon’s debut novel Clear Water concerns a shopping centre lying close to the Thames estuary in Kent. The centre descends 400 metres below sea level and has a sinister black space-shuttle decorated with a woman in a white ballgown on its trunk. The shuttle is designed to defend Clearwater (and potentially the whole of London) from attack but, instead, it makes the shopping centre a place of almost occult attraction to six strange but beguiling characters, ranging from an alcoholic ex-spin bowler to a murderous psychopath who has named himself King James.

The most immediately attractive of Ashon’s cast is Peter Jones, “the premier lifestyle journalist of his generation”, who has generated … More

Often considered one of the first mystery novels, The Woman In White follows protagonist Walter Hartright, an art teacher, as he has a mysterious late night encounter on a London street with a lost woman, dressed all in white, who he later finds out had escaped from an asylum. The figure of this woman and the words they exchanged during their meeting come to haunt Walter, even as he accepts a job at Limmeridge House outside of London to instruct heiress Laura Farlie in art

Walter soon recognizes the astonishing resemblance between Laura and The Woman In White, and finds out that the mystery woman … More

In the heart of London’s Bloomsbury, Gwendolen – not yet truly famous as the writer `Jean Rhys’ – is presented with the opportunity she has been waiting for. Her husband has received an unexpected inheritance; she can, at last, return to the island of her childhood. For Gwendolen, Dominica is a place of freedom and beauty, far away from the lonely nights and failed dreams of England. But this visit home compels her to reflect on the events of her past, and on what they may mean for her future.

`Phillips’ novel of being and becoming, of memory, and the mythology of writers and writing is a wonder. This is … More

Matthew Halland is an architect, intimately involved with the new face of the city, while haunted by earlier times of destruction and loss in its history. Although he is divorced and lonely, Matthew has a rich and moving relationship with his daughter Jane. She offers a fresh perspective on love, loss, and even the city of London.

Matthew becomes entangled with an array of fascinating characters, from Rutter, a corrupt real estate developer whose mafia-like ways disgust … More

Unsheltered is about shelter, which we find in structures, people, nature, & work. It’s about the discoveries of science that are often put up against the ideas of faith. It’s about today’s sad political climate in which our true climate, our Earth, is in crisis. And it’s about people, some living in the 1870s, & some living in our present time, who sheltered for a time in the same neighborhood, the same house, in Vineland, Kingsolver has built a book that honors the biologists & naturists & shames the shenanigans of our political leaders, revealing what is most important for all of us: finding shelter.

2016 Vineland Meet Willa Knox, a woman who stands braced against an upended world that seems to hold no mercy … More

Born OTD in 1919, Iranian-born novelist, poet & playwright, Doris Lessing. The landmark novel of the 60s – a powerful account of a woman searching for her personal, political & professional identity while facing rejection and betrayal. In 1950s London, novelist Anna Wulf struggles with writer’s block. Divorced with a young child, & fearful of going mad, Anna records her experiences in four coloured notebooks: black for her writing life, red for political views, yellow for emotions, blue for everyday events.

  But it is a fifth notebook – the golden notebook – that finally pulls these wayward strands of her … More

First published OTD in 1851, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Moby Dick is the story of Captain Ahab’s quest to avenge the whale that `reaped’ his leg. The quest is an obsession and the novel is a diabolical study of how a man becomes a fanatic. But it is also a hymn to democracy. Bent as the crew is on Ahab’s appalling crusade, it is equally the image of a co-operative community at work: all hands dependent on all hands, each individual responsible for the security of each. Among the crew is Ishmael, the novel’s narrator, ordinary sailor, and extraordinary reader.

Digressive, allusive, vulgar, transcendent, the story Ishmael tells is above all an education:in the practice of whaling, in the art … More