The Middle Child is a story about three sisters brought together by the death of their cruel and abusive mother.
Alex, the youngest, is a bitter, unforgiving woman who refuses to face the events of her childhood. She hides in a bottle and destroys any chance of happiness that comes her way. Her life is spiralling dangerously out of control but she doesn’t have the strength to stop it.
Catherine, the eldest, has strived to achieve everything her mother said she would not. She has everything she ever wanted but appears to be more like her mother than she thought. One single act brings her carefully constructed world tumbling down around her.
Beth, the middle child, suffered the worst of them all. She has no memory of the cruelty and remained with their mother until she died. But eventually the memories must return.
When they are brought together as strangers, the sisters must embark on a painful journey to the past to discover themselves and each other.
But will all of them make it back safe?
Jojo Moyes - The Girl You Left Behind
In 1916 French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything - her family, reputation and life - in the hope of seeing her true love one last time. Nearly a century later and Sophie's portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting's dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened... In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most - whatever the cost.
Toni Morrison - A Mercy
Nobel laureate Morrison returns more explicitly to the net of pain cast by slavery, a theme she detailed so memorably in Beloved. Set at the close of the 17th century, the book details America's untoward foundation: dominion over Native Americans, indentured workers, women and slaves. A slave at a plantation in Maryland offers up her daughter, Florens, to a relatively humane Northern farmer, Jacob, as debt payment from their owner. The ripples of this choice spread to the inhabitants of Jacob's farm, populated by women with intersecting and conflicting desires. Jacob's wife, Rebekka, struggles with her faith as she loses one child after another to the harsh New World. A Native servant, Lina, survivor of a smallpox outbreak, craves Florens's love to replace the family taken from her, and distrusts the other servant, a peculiar girl named Sorrow. When Jacob falls ill, all these women are threatened. Morrison's lyricism infuses the shifting voices of her characters as they describe a brutal society being forged in the wilderness. Morrison's unflinching narrative is all the more powerful for its relative brevity; it takes hold of the reader and doesn't let go until the wrenching final-page crescendo.
Michael Cunningham - The Hours
Exiled in Richmond in the 1920s, Virginia Woolf struggles to tame her rebellious mind and make a start on her new novel. In 1990s New York, Clarissa Vaughan goes shopping for flowers for a party for her AIDS-suffering poet-friend. This novel meditates on artistic behaviour, love and madness.
Alice Munro - Runaway
In Alice Munro's new collection, we find stories about women of all ages and circumstances, their lives made palpable by the subtlety and empathy of this incomparable writer." The runaway of the title story is a young woman who, though she thinks she wants to, is incapable of leaving her husband. In "Passion," a country girl emerging into the larger world via a job in a resort hotel discovers in a single moment of stunning insight the limits and lies of that mysterious emotion. Three stories are about a woman named Juliet - in the first, she escapes from teaching at a girls' school into a wild and irresistible love match; in the second she returns with her child to the home of her parents, whose life and marriage she finally begins to examine; and in the last, her child, caught, she mistakenly thinks, in the grip of a religious cult, vanishes into an unexplained and profound silence. In the final story, "Powers," a young woman with the ability to read the future sets off a chain of events that involves her husband-to-be and a friend in a lifelong pursuit of what such a gift really means, and who really has it.
Margaret Atwood - Cat's Eye
Herself the daughter of a Canadian forest entomologist, Atwood writes in an autobiographical vein about Elaine Risley, a middle-aged Canadian painter (and daughter of a forest entomologist) who is thrust into an extended reconsideration of her past while attending a retrospective show of her work in Toronto, a city she had fled years earlier in order to leave behind painful memories. Most pointedly, Risley reflects on the strangeness of her long relations with Cordelia, a childhood friend whose cruelties, dealt lavishly to Risley, helped hone her awareness of our inveterate appetite for destruction even while we love, and are understood as characteristically femininea betrayal of other women that masks a ferocious betrayal of oneself. Atwood's portrayal of the friendship gives the novel its fraught and mysterious center, but her critical assessment of Cordelia and the "whole world of girls and their doings" also takes the measure of a coercive, conformist society (not quite as extreme as in the futuristic The Handmaid's Tale ). Emerging "the stronger" for her latecoming understanding of herself, Risley in the final pages rises above the ties that bound her, transcendently alive to the possibilities of "light, shining out in the midst of nothing." (From Publisher's Weekly)
Magda Szabó - The Door
A busy young writer struggling to cope with domestic chores, hires a housekeeper recommended by a friend. The housekeeper's reputation is one built on dependable efficiency, though she is something of an oddity. Stubborn, foul-mouthed and with a flagrant disregard for her employer's opinions she may even be crazy. She allows no-one to set foot inside her house; she masks herself with a veil and is equally guarded about her personal life. And yet Emerence is revered as much as she is feared. As the story progresses, her energy and passion to help becomes clear, extinguishing any doubts arising out of her bizarre behaviour. A stylishly told tale which recounts a strange relationship built up over 20 years between a writer and her housekeeper. After an unpromising and caustic start, benign feelings develop and ultimately the writer benefits from what becomes an inseparable relationship. Simultaneously we learn Emerence's tragic past which is revealed in snapshots throughout this book.
Tan Twan Eng - The Garden of Evening Mists
It's Malaya, 1949. After studying law at Cambrige and time spent helping to prosecute Japanese war criminals, Yun Ling Teoh, herself the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle fringed plantations of Northern Malaya where she grew up as a child. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the Emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in Kuala Lumpur, in memory of her sister who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses, but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice 'until the monsoon comes'. Then she can design a garden for herself. As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to her sensei and his art while, outside the garden, the threat of murder and kidnapping from the guerrillas of the jungle hinterland increases with each passing day. But the Garden of Evening Mists is also a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? Why is it that Yun Ling's friend and host Magnus Praetorius, seems to almost immune from the depredations of the Communists? What is the legend of 'Yamashita's Gold' and does it have any basis in fact? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?
Marina Lewycka - We Are All Made of Glue
We Are All Made of Glue is Marina Lewycka’s third novel — or, more accurately, her third published novel, since she famously made her way through several other works and a rain-forest’s worth of rejection-slips before finding success with A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005) at the age of 59. It is a multi-stranded book narrated by Georgie Sinclair, a Yorkshire-born woman in her forties who now lives in London. Georgie’s husband recently walked out, leaving her alone with, among other things, a mounting level of sexual frustration and a tragic job writing for a trade magazine, Adhesives in the Modern World (this is one of many self-mocking references: Lewycka was also once a non-fiction hack). Shortly after throwing her husband’s possessions into a skip, she meets Mrs Shapiro, an elderly Jewish émigrée. Mrs Shapiro, who is a compulsive scrimper, retrieves the items and invites Georgie to her tumbledown, cat-strewn house for a thrifty meal of out-of-date fish. The women become friends, and Georgie’s shiftless life begins to liven up when she has to fend off a weird lady from Social Services who is desperate to put Mrs Shapiro into residential care and a pair of unscrupulous estate agents who are trying to harass Mrs Shapiro into selling her house. All the while, a story of wartime abuse and lost love emerges, as Georgie finds out about the old woman’s past. This is a flawed yet charming novel. Some episodes are just silly, and Georgie is implausibly blind to her own teenage son’s burgeoning loopiness. The satire is not subtle; the dodgy estate agents are called Mr Wolfe and Mr Diabolo. However, that broadness can arguably be seen as a natural side-effect of the book’s main strength: We are All Made of Glue is a big, bustling novel, told with enthusiasm by a narrator who is warm, winningly disaster-prone and, crucially, believable.
Jojo Moyes - Silver Bay
When Mike Dormer heads out from London to a small seaside town in Australia to kick-start a hotel development, he expects just another deal. But Silver Bay is not just any seaside town, and the inhabitants of the eccentric ramshackle Silver Bay Hotel - the enigmatic skipper Liza McCullen, her ten-year-old daughter, and her legendary shark-catching aunt Kathleen, as well as the crews of the local whale-watching boats - swiftly begin to temper his own shark-like tendencies. He is left wondering who really has the greater right to the bay's waters. As the development begins to take on a momentum of its own, and the effect on the whales that migrate past the bay begins to reveal itself, Mike's and Liza's worlds collide, with dramatic results. New, unforeseen hazards emerge to confront both the creatures and the McCullen women. How close can you get, before you end up destroying what you love?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - The Thing Around Your Neck
From Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Orange Prize-winning author of _Half of a Yellow Sun,_ come twelve dazzling stories in which she turns her penetrating eye on the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Nigeria and the West. In 'A Private Experience', a medical student hides from a violent riot with a poor Muslim woman whose dignity and faith force her to confront the realities and fears she's been pushing away. In 'Tomorrow Is Too Far', a woman unlocks the devastating secret that surrounds her brother's death. The young mother at the center of 'Imitation' finds her comfortable life threatened when she learns that her husband back in Lagos has moved his mistress into their home. And the title story depicts the choking loneliness of a Nigerian girl who moves to an America that turns out to be nothing like the country she expected; though falling in love brings her desires nearly within reach, a death in her homeland forces her to re-examine them. Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow and longing, this collection is a resounding confirmation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's prodigious storytelling powers.
Jennifer Weiner - Then Came You
The lives of four very different women intertwine in unexpected ways in this new novel by bestselling author Jennifer Weiner (In Her Shoes; Best Friends Forever). Each woman has a problem: Princeton senior Jules Wildgren needs money to help her dad cure his addiction; Pennsylvania housewife Annie Barrow is gasping to stay financially afloat; India Bishop yearns to have a child, an urge that her stepdaughter Bettina can only regard with deeply skepticism until she finds herself in a most unexpected situation. Interlocking dramas designed to ensnare; bound to be a bestseller.
Isabel Allende - The House of the Spirits
Spanning four generations, Isabel Allende's magnificent family saga is populated by a memorable, often eccentric cast of characters. Together, men and women, spirits, the forces of nature, and of history, converge in an unforgettable, wholly absorbing and brilliantly realised novel that is as richly entertaining as it is a masterpiece of modern literature.
Jennifer L. Armentrout - White Hot Kiss
One kiss could be the last. Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses. Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever. Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul. But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.
Samantha Young - Down London Road
Johanna Walker is used to taking charge. But she’s about to meet someone who will make her lose control.... It has always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole. With an absent father and a useless mother, she’s been making decisions based on what’s best for Cole for as long as she can remember. She even determines what men to date by how much they can provide for her brother and her, not on whatever sparks may—or may not—fly. But with Cameron MacCabe, the attraction is undeniable. The sexy new bartender at work gives her butterflies every time she looks at him. And for once, Jo is tempted to put her needs first. Cam is just as obsessed with getting to know Jo, but her walls are too solid to let him get close enough to even try. Then Cam moves into the flat below Jo’s, and their blistering connection becomes impossible to ignore. Especially since Cam is determined to uncover all of Jo’s secrets…even if it means taking apart her defenses piece by piece.
Liane Moriarty - The Husband's Secret
_Your husband writes a letter to be opened after his death. Do you read it?_ My Darling Cecilia If you're reading this, then I've died . . . Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret - something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . . Cecilia Fitzpatrick achieved it all - she's an incredibly successful business woman, a pillar of her small community and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia - or each other - but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband's devastating secret.
Colm Tóibín - The Testament of Mary
Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary is a short, powerful novel about one of the most famous mothers in history. From the author of Brooklyn, in a voice that is both tender and filled with rage, The Testament of Mary tells the story of a cataclysmic event which led to an overpowering grief. For Mary, her son has been lost to the world, and now, living in exile and in fear, she tries to piece together the memories of the events that led to her son's brutal death. To her he was a vulnerable figure, surrounded by men who could not be trusted, living in a time of turmoil and change. As her life and her suffering begin to acquire the resonance of myth, Mary struggles to break the silence surrounding what she knows to have happened. In her effort to tell the truth in all its gnarled complexity, she slowly emerges as a figure of immense moral stature as well as a woman from history rendered now as fully human.
Dubravka Ugrešić - In the Jaws of Life
The short novel from which this volume takes its name explores the issue of "women's writing" through the character of Steffie Speck, a typist from a lonely hearts column, whose life is shaped entirely by cliche. Several other short prose works are included in this volume.
Amy Ewing - The Jewel
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty––because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring. Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life. Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence . . . and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
Mary Lawson - Crow Lake
Crow Lake is that rare find, a first novel so quietly assured, so compelling, and with an emotional charge so perfectly controlled, that you sense at once that this is the real thing - a literary experience to relish, a book to lose yourself in, and a name to watch. Here is a gorgeous, slowburning story of families growing up and tearing each other apart in rural Northern Ontario, where tragedy and hardship are mirrored in the landscape. Centre stage are the Morrisons whose tragedy is insidious and divisive. Orphaned young, Kate Morrison was her older brother Matt's protegee, her curious fascination for pond-life fed by his passionate interest in the natural world. Now a zoologist, she can identify organisms under a microscope, but seems blind to the tragedy of her own emotional life. She thinks she's outgrown her family, who were once her entire world - but she can't seem to outgrow her childhood or lighten the weight of their mutual past.
Alice Munro - Who Do You Think You Are?
Rose and her stepmother, Flo, live in Hanratty - across the bridge from the "good" part of town. Rose, alternately fascinated and appalled by the rude energy of the people around her, grows up nursing her hope of outgrowing her humble beginnings and plotting an escape to university. Rose makes her escape and thinks herself free. But Hanratty's question - Who Do You Think You Are? - rings in her ears during her days in Vancouver, mocks her attempts to make her marriage successful, and haunts her new career. In these stories of Rose and Flo, Alice Munro explores the universal story of growing up - Rose's struggle to accept herself tells the story of our lives.