Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything - arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, dances with prophets, appeals to God. But when her in-laws insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair. The story unravels against the social and political turbulence of 80s Nigeria. Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
In The Power the world is a recognizable place- there's a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge, with devastating effects. Now, with the flick of a switch, teenage girls can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly. Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds.
Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge.
After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall? Buy the book here in Australia and in the UK.
It's every mother's worst nightmare. But Ruth Malone is not like other mothers . . .
Noting Ruth's perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation. Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can't help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.
Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive - is she really capable of murder? Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
Ginger is forty-seven and a recovering alcoholic when she meets and marries Paul. It's too late for her to have a baby of her own, so she tries to persuade him to consider adoption, but he already has a child and doesn't share her longing to be a parent. As a compromise, they sign up to an organisation that sends poor inner-city kids to stay with country families for a few weeks in the summer, so one hot July day Velveteen Vargas arrives in their lives, and Ginger is instantly besotted.
Velvet is an eleven-year-old Dominican girl from one of Brooklyn's toughest neighbourhoods. Bemused by her gentle middle-aged hosts, but deeply intuitive in the way of clever children, Velvet quickly senses the longing behind Ginger's affection for her. Although she can't reciprocate, the two of them do forge a bond, but when Ginger begins to entertain fantasies of adopting Velvet, things begin to get complicated.
Narrated in turn by Velvet and Ginger, Mary Gaitskill has created a devastating portrait of the unbridgeable gaps between people, and the way we long for fairytale endings even when we know they don't exist. Heartbreakingly honest and utterly convincing, it marks her triumphant return. Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
The Second World War is over, a new decade is beginning but for an East End teenage brother and sister living on the edge of the law, life has been suspended. Sent away to a tuberculosis sanatorium in Kent to learn the way of the patient, they find themselves in the company of army and air force officers, a car salesman, a young university graduate, a mysterious German woman, a member of the aristocracy and an American merchant seaman.
They discover that a cure is tantalisingly just out of reach and only by inciting wholesale rebellion can freedom be snatched. Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
An eighteen-year-old girl, recently arrived in London from Ireland, is enrolled in drama school. Innocent, nervous, the youngest in her class, she is eager to make an impression, to do well. She meets a man-older, a well-regarded actor in his own right-and falls for him. But he's haunted by more than a few demons-and their tumultuous relationship might be the undoing of them both. Set across the bedsits and squats of mid-nineties north London, The Lesser Bohemians is a story of love and innocence, joy and discovery, the grip of the past and the struggle to be new again. Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
Father and Son, Landyn and Vale Midwinter, are men of the land. Suffolk farmers. Times are hard and they struggle to sustain their property, their livelihood and their heritage in the face of competition from big business.
But an even bigger, more brutal fight is brewing: a fight between each other, about the horrible death of Cecelia, beloved wife and mother, in Zambia ten years earlier. A past they have both refused to confront until now.
Over the course of a particularly mauling Suffolk winter, Landyn and Vale grapple with their memories and their pain, raking over what remains of their fragile family unit, constantly at odds and under threat of falling apart forever. While Vale makes increasingly desperate decisions, Landyn retreats, finding solace in the land, his animals - and a fox who haunts the farm and seems to bring with her both comfort and protection. Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
Hellsmouth, a wilful thoroughbred filly, has the legacy of a family riding on her. The Forges: one of the oldest and proudest families in Kentucky; descended from the first settlers to brave the Wilderness Road; as mythic as the history of the South itself – and now, first-time horse breeders. Through an act of naked ambition, Henry Forge is attempting to blaze this new path on the family's crop farm. His daughter, Henrietta, becomes his partner in the endeavour but has desires of her own.
When Allmon Shaughnessy, an African American man fresh from prison, comes to work in the stables, the ugliness of the farm's history rears its head. Together through sheer will, the three stubbornly try to create a new future – one that isn't determined by Kentucky's bloody past – while they mould Hellsmouth into a champion. Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbours. One is black, one white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed. And both are sworn enemies, sharing hedge and hostility and pruning both with a vim and zeal that belies the fact that they are both over eighty. But one day an unforeseen event forces the women together. And gradually the bickering and sniping softens into lively debate, and from there into memories shared. But could these sparks of connection ever transform into friendship? Or is it too late to expect these two ever to change? Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
Two children were born in the Montreal winter of 1914: Pierrot of a twelve-year-old mother named Ignorance; Rose, rescued from a snowdrift. They were fated to meet in the Catholic orphanage. There, in the face of cold, hunger and unpredictable beatings, Rose and Pierrot create a world of talking bears, of circus tricks and a secret language; shielding the spark of their curiosity from the terrorism of those meant to protect them. But even the most extraordinary of spirits can be hurt - especially when it comes disguised as love - and Rose and Pierrot are torn apart.
When they meet again, each will have changed; having struggled through the Depression, through what they have done to fill the absence of the other. But their childhood vision remains - a dream to storm the world, a spectacle, an extravaganza that will lift them out of the gutter and onto a glittering stage. Rose has the means, Pierrot the talent; but their fame will come at a cost, for in the roaring twenties little that is pure remains so for long, and understanding this will bring Rose to a new destiny. Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890's, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way.
They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist is enthralled, convinced the beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his parishioners' agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart. Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
Barkskins, Annie Proulx
In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a “seigneur,” for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters – barkskins. René suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business.
Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years – their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions; the revenge of rivals; accidents; pestilence; Indian attacks; and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse.Proulx’s inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid – in their greed, lust, vengefulness, or their simple compassion and hope – that we follow them with fierce attention. Buy the book here in Australia and her in the UK.
Neve is a writer in her mid-30s married to an older man, Edwyn. For now they are in a place of relative peace, but their past battles have left scars. As Neve recalls the decisions that led her to this marriage, she tells of other loves and other debts, from her bullying father and her self-involved mother to a musician who played her and a series of lonely flights from place to place. Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. Her name is Ai-Ming.
As her relationship with Marie deepens, Ai-Ming tells the story of her family in revolutionary China, from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao's ascent, to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989. It is a history of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians, the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai struggle during China's relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to. Forced to re-imagine their artistic and private selves, their fates reverberate through the years, with deep and lasting consequences for Ai-Ming - and for Marie. Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
Gustav grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav’s father has mysteriously died, and his adored mother Emilie is strangely cold and indifferent to him. Gustav’s life is a lonely one until he meets Anton. An intense lifelong friendship develops but Anton fails to understand how deeply and irrevocably his life and Gustav’s are entwined until it is almost too late ... Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.
We are delighted that Jenny Ackland joins us today to share her five most influential books.On November 12, 2015
The title of the first volume of Philip Pullman’s highly-anticipated The Book of Dust has been announced today, Friday 26 May, as La Belle Sauvage. The identity of its hero...On May 26, 2017
The much anticipated sequel to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has a revised cover.On March 27, 2015
Lisa loves words, reading and everything there is to love about books. She has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl – either that or a...On November 3, 2016
In this confronting film a couple battle against opinion as society threatens to tear apart their lives.On July 14, 2016
By Sophia WhitfieldOn September 1, 2016