An Instance of the Fingerpost is that rarest of all possible literary beasts – a mystery powered as much by ideas as by suspects, autopsies, and smoking guns. Hefty, intricately plotted, and intellectually ambitious, Fingerpost has drawn the inevitable comparisons to Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and, for once, the comparison is apt.
The year is 1663, and the setting is Oxford, England, during the height of Restoration political intrigue. When Dr. Robert Grove is found dead in his Oxford room, hands clenched and face frozen in a rictus of pain, all the signs point to poison. Rashomon-like, the narrative circles around Grove’s murder as four different characters give their version of events: Marco da Cola, a visiting Italian physician – or so he would like the reader to believe; Jack Prestcott, the son of a traitor who fled the country to avoid execution; Dr. John Wallis, a mathematician and cryptographer with a predilection for conspiracy theories; and Anthony Wood, a mild-mannered Oxford antiquarian whose tale proves to be the book’s “instance of the fingerpost”. (The quote comes from the philosopher Bacon, who, while asserting that all evidence is ultimately fallible, allows for “one instance of a fingerpost that points in one direction only, and allows of no other possibility”.)
Like The Name of the Rose, this is one whodunit in which the principal mystery is the nature of truth itself. Along the way, Pears displays a keen eye for period details as diverse as the early days of medicine, the convoluted politics of the English Civil War, and the newfangled fashion for wigs. Yet Pears never loses sight of his characters, who manage to be both utterly authentic denizens of the 17th century and utterly authentic human beings. As a mystery, An Instance of the Fingerpost is entertainment of the most intelligent sort; as a novel of ideas, it proves equally satisfying.
Jeanette Winterson - Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
In 1985 Jeanette Winterson's first novel, _Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit_, was published. It tells the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents. The girl is supposed to grow up and be a missionary. Instead she falls in love with a woman. Disaster. Written when Jeanette was only twenty-five, her novel went on to win the Whitbread First Novel award, become an international bestseller and inspire an award-winning BBC television adaptation. Oranges was semi-autobiographical. Mrs Winterson, a thwarted giantess, loomed over that novel and its author's life. When Jeanette finally left her home, at sixteen, because she was in love with a woman, Mrs Winterson asked her: _why be happy when you could be normal_? This book is the story of a life's work to find happiness. It is a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a tyrant in place of a mother, who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the duster drawer, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in an northern industrial town now changed beyond recognition, part of a community now vanished; about the Universe as a Cosmic Dustbin. It is the story of how the painful past Jeanette Winterson thought she had written over and repainted returned to haunt her later life, and sent her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her real mother. It is also a book about other people's stories, showing how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life-raft which supports us when we are sinking. Funny, acute, fierce and celebratory, this is a tough-minded search for belonging, for love, an identity, a home, and a mother.
Jane Gardam - Old Filth
FILTH, in his heyday, was an international lawyer with a practice in the Far East. Now, only the oldest QCs and Silks can remember that his nickname stood for Failed In London Try Hong Kong. Long ago, Old Filth was a Raj orphan - one of the many young children sent 'Home' from the East to be fostered and educated in England. Jane Gardam's new novel tells his story, from his birth in what was then Malaya to the extremities of his old age. Brilliantly constructed - going backwards and forwards in time, yet constantly working towards the secret at its core - OLD FILTH is funny and heart-breaking, witty and peopled with characters who astonish, dismay and delight the reader. Jane Gardam is as sensitive to the 'jungle' within children as she is to the eccentricities of the old. A touch of magic combines with compassion, humour and delicacy to make OLD FILTH a genuine masterpiece.
J. K. Rowling - The Casual Vacancy
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early 40s, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils... Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?
Stephen Fry - The Liar
The spirits of Oscar Wilde and Evelyn Waugh glower benignly over this very funny first novel by Stephen Fry. The novel has an ingenious plot filled with surprises and glittering with hilarious, often indecent inventions: a pugnacious faculty meeting that collapses into an exchange of obscenities, the fabrication of a 'lost' pornographic novel by Charles Dickens, and an exercise in intellectual gamesmanship that engages some of the finest minds and blackest hearts in England. Stephen Fry's sympathetic portrayal of his defiantly unconventional hero makes for an outrageously entertaining debut.
Iain Pears - The Portrait
This is a dark and disturbing novel of suspense, set at the turn of the 20th century, by the bestselling author of _An Instance of the Fingerpost._ The windswept isle of Houat, off the coast of Brittany, is no picturesque artists' colony. At the turn of the twentieth century, life is harsh and rustic. So why did Henry MacAlpine forsake London - where he had been feted by critics and gallery owners, his works exhibited alongside the likes of Cezanne and Van Gogh - to make his home in this remote outpost? The truth begins to emerge when, four years into his exile, MacAlpine receives his first visitor. Influential art critic William Naysmith has come to the island to sit for a portrait. Over the course of the sitting, the power balance between the two men shifts dramatically as the critic whose pen could anoint or destroy careers becomes a passive subject. And as the painter struggles to capture Nasmith's true character on canvas, a story unfolds... _The Portrait_ is a darkly atmospheric, psychologically complex, macabre and chilling novel from a master storyteller.
Junot Diaz - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Areader might at first be surprised by how many chapters of a book entitled The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are devoted not to its sci fi–and–fantasy-gobbling nerd-hero but to his sister, his mother and his grandfather. However, Junot Diaz's dark and exuberant first novel makes a compelling case for the multiperspectival view of a life, wherein an individual cannot be known or understood in isolation from the history of his family and his nation.Oscar being a first-generation Dominican-American, the nation in question is really two nations. And Dominicans in this novel being explicitly of mixed Taíno, African and Spanish descent, the very ideas of nationhood and nationality are thoughtfully, subtly complicated. The various nationalities and generations are subtended by the recurring motif of fukú, the Curse and Doom of the New World, whose midwife and... victim was a historical personage Diaz will only call the Admiral, in deference to the belief that uttering his name brings bad luck (hint: he arrived in the New World in 1492 and his initials are CC). By the prologue's end, it's clear that this story of one poor guy's cursed life will also be the story of how 500 years of historical and familial bad luck shape the destiny of its fat, sad, smart, lovable and short-lived protagonist. The book's pervasive sense of doom is offset by a rich and playful prose that embodies its theme of multiple nations, cultures and languages, often shifting in a single sentence from English to Spanish, from Victorian formality to Negropolitan vernacular, from Homeric epithet to dirty bilingual insult. Even the presumed reader shape-shifts in the estimation of its in-your-face narrator, who addresses us variously as folks, you folks, conspiracy-minded-fools, Negro, Nigger and plataneros. So while Diaz assumes in his reader the same considerable degree of multicultural erudition he himself possesses—offering no gloss on his many un-italicized Spanish words and expressions (thus beautifully dramatizing how linguistic borders, like national ones, are porous), or on his plethora of genre and canonical literary allusions—he does helpfully footnote aspects of Dominican history, especially those concerning the bloody 30-year reign of President Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. The later Oscar chapters lack the linguistic brio of the others, and there are exposition-clogged passages that read like summaries of a longer narrative, but mostly this fierce, funny, tragic book is just what a reader would have hoped for in a novel by Junot Diaz.
Anne Enright - The Gathering
The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother Liam. It wasn't the drink that killed him - although that certainly helped - it was what happened to him as a boy in his grandmother's house, in the winter of 1968. His sister, Veronica was there then, as she is now: keeping the dead man company, just for another little while. The "Gathering" is a family epic, condensed and clarified through the remarkable lens of Anne Enright's unblinking eye. It is also a sexual history: tracing the line of hurt and redemption through three generations - starting with the grandmother, Ada Merriman - showing how memories warp and family secrets fester. This is a novel about love and disappointment, about thwarted lust and limitless desire, and how our fate is written in the body, not in the stars. The "Gathering" sends fresh blood through the Irish literary tradition, combining the lyricism of the old with the shock of the new. As in all Anne Enright's work, fiction and non-fiction, this is a book of daring, wit and insight: her distinctive intelligence twisting the world a fraction, and giving it back to us in a new and unforgettable light.
Rachel Joyce - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else's life.
Bryce Courtenay - April Fool's Day
_In the end, love is more important than everything and it will conquer and overcome anything. Or that's how Damon saw it, anyway. Damon wanted a book that talked a lot about love._ Damon Courtenay died on the morning of April Fool's Day. In this tribute to his son, Bryce Courtenay lays bare the suffering behind this young man's life. Damon's story is one of lifelong struggle, his love for Celeste, the compassion of family, and a fight to the end for integrity. A testimony to the power of love, April Fool's Day is also about understanding: how when we confront our worst, we can become our best. This life-affirming book will change the way you think.
J. K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon’s house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him who’s parents have been killed in a ‘car crash’. He is bullied by them and his fat, spoilt cousin Dudley, and lives a very unremarkable life with only the odd hiccup (like his hair growing back overnight!) to cause him much to think about. That is until an owl turns up with a letter addressed to Harry and all hell breaks loose! He is literally rescued by a world where nothing is as it seems and magic lessons are the order of the day. Read and find out how Harry discovers his true heritage at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, the reason behind his parents mysterious death, who is out to kill him, and how he uncovers the most amazing secret of all time, the fabled Philosopher’s Stone! All this and muggles too. Now, what are they?? The Author: This is Jo’s first book and she has already written seven outlines for Harry’s further adventures at Hogwarts. She lives in Edinburgh.
J. K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter receives an ominous warning from a house-elf at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: if he returns to the school at the end of the summer, terrible things will happen. But return Harry must. His second year begins with a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Quidditch training and the intensification of old rivalries. Then the warning starts to ring true, as mysterious words are daubed on a wall, students are attacked and Ron's sister, Ginny, disappears. And so the search for Salazar Slytherin's heir begins, with the mystery pointing Harry to a clandestine chamber and a deadly creature at its heart...
Bryce Courtenay - Jessica
Jessica is based on the inspiring true story of a young girl's fight for justice against tremendous odds A tomboy, Jessica is the pride of her father, as they work together on the struggling family farm. One quiet day, the peace of the bush is devastated by a terrible murder. Only Jessica is able to save the killer from the lynch mob – but will justice prevail in the courts? Nine months later, a baby is born . . . with Jessica determined to guard the secret of the father's identity. The rivalry of Jessica and her beautiful sister for the love of the same man will echo throughout their lives – until finally the truth must be told. Set in the harsh Australian bush against the outbreak of World War I, this novel is heartbreaking in its innocence, and shattering in its brutality. 'A deserved best seller, based on fact, a story told with heartbreaking honesty.' The Australian Women's Weekly
Sarah Waters - The Little Stranger
After her award-winning trilogy of Victorian novels, Sarah Waters turned to the 1940s and wrote THE NIGHT WATCH, a tender and tragic novel set against the backdrop of wartime Britain. Shortlisted for both the Orange and the Man Booker, it went straight to number one in the bestseller chart. In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his. Prepare yourself. From this wonderful writer who continues to astonish us, now comes a chilling ghost story.
Ian Rankin - The Falls
A student has gone missing in Edinburgh. She's not just any student, though, but the daughter of well-to-do and influential bankers. There's almost nothing to go on until DI John Rebus gets an unmistakable gut feeling that there's more to this than just another runaway spaced out on unaccustomed freedom. Two leads emerge: a carved wooden doll in a toy coffin, found in the student's home village, and an internet role-playing game. The ancient and the modern, brought together by uncomfortable circumstance...
Terry Pratchett - Jingo
Discworld goes to war, with armies of sardines, warriors, fishermen, squid and at least oen very camp follower. As two armies march, Commander Vimes of Ankh-Morpork City Watch faces unpleasant foes who are out to get him... and that's just the people on his side. The enemy might be even worse. Jingo, the 21st in Terry Pratchett' s phenomenally successful Discworld series, makes the World Cup look like a friendly five-a-side.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón - The Shadow of the Wind
Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the 'cemetery of lost books', a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out LA SOMBRA DEL VIENTO by Julian Carax. But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from LA SOMBRA DEL VIENTO, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax's work in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind. A page-turning exploration of obsession in literature and love, and the places that obsession can lead.
Mark Haddon - A kutya különös esete az éjszakában
A tizenöt éves Christopher autista: nagyon sokat tud a matematikáról és a fizikáról, de nagyon keveset az emberi érzelmekről. Nem szereti, ha hozzáérnek, és nem hajlandó megérinteni semmit, ami sárga vagy barna. Űrhajós szeretne lenni, de még sohasem járt a szülei nélkül az utcájukon túl. És alighanem ő a világirodalom egyik legkülönösebb nyomozója - egy este ugyanis a szomszédasszony kutyáját döglötten, vasvillával átszúrva találja a kertben, és elhatározza, hogy kinyomozza, ki ölte meg. Így kezdődnek Christopher különös kalandjai, melyek során nemcsak a kutya gyilkosának kilétére derül fény, hanem ennél jóval fontosabb dolgokra is, amelyek sok mindent megváltoztatnak mind az ő, mind a szülei életében. Mark Haddon bámulatos beleérzéssel ábrázolja az autista fiú végtelenül racionális gondolkodását, sajátos érzelemvilágát, s könyve izgalmas és megható olvasmány lehet gyerekeknek és felnőtteknek egyaránt. Az angliai Oxfordban élő Mark Haddon tizenöt gyerekkönyv szerzője, emellett illusztrátor és forgatókönyvíró. A kutya különös esete az éjszakában első felnőtteknek (is) szóló könyve, amely az elmúlt időszak egyik legnagyobb világsikere, és Angliában megkapta az év legjobb gyerekkönyvének járó díjat.
Becca Fitzpatrick - Black Ice
Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late. Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage. In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target. But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally? BLACK ICE is New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick’s riveting romantic thriller set against the treacherous backdrop of the mountains of Wyoming. Falling in love should never be this dangerous…
Terry Pratchett - Night Watch
Truth! Justice! Freedom! And a hard-boiled egg! Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch had it all. But now he's back in his own rough, tough past without even the clothes he was standing up in when the lightning struck. Living in the past is hard. Dying in the past is incredibly easy. But he must survive, because he has a job to do. He must track down a murderer, teach his younger self how to be a good copper and change the outcome of a bloody rebellion. There's a problem: if he wins, he's got no wife, no child, no future. A Discworld Tale of One City, with a full chorus of street urchins, ladies of negotiable affection, rebels, secret policemen and other children of the revolution.
J. K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
There is a door at the end of a silent corridor. And it's haunting Harry Potter's dreams. Why else would he be waking in the middle of the night, screaming in terror? Here are just a few things on Harry's mind: - A Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher with a personality like poisoned honey. - A venomous, disgruntled house-elf - Ron as keeper of the Gryffindor Quidditch team - The looming terror of the end-of-term Ordinary Wizarding Level exams . . . and of course, the growing threat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. In the richest installment yet of J. K. Rowling's seven-part story, Harry Potter is faced with the unreliability of the very government of the magical world and the impotence of the authorities at Hogwarts. Despite this (or perhaps because of it), he finds depth and strength in his friends, beyond what even he knew, boundless loyalty; and unbearable sacrifice. Though thick runs the plot, listeners will race through these tapes and leave Hogwarts, like Harry, wishing only for the next train back.