Jo McMillan - Motherland - Hodder & Stoughton

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  • Hardback £16.99
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    • ISBN:9781473611993
    • Publication date:02 Jul 2015

Motherland

A Novel

By Jo McMillan

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A charming, witty and original debut reminiscent of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit meets Goodbye Lenin.

'I hadn't expected the Berlin Wall to be clean and white and smooth. It looked more like the edge of the swimming baths than the edge of the Cold War. On the grass of No-man's Land, fat rabbits ate and strolled about as if they'd never been hunted and nothing could disturb them. This was their land and they ruled it, and there were three parts to Berlin: East, West and Rabbit.'

It is 1978, Jess is thirteen and she already has a reputation - as the daughter of the only communist in town. But then, it's in the blood. The Mitchells have been in the Party since the Party began. Jess and her mother Eleanor struggle to sell socialism to Tamworth - a sleepy Midlands town that just doesn't want to know.

So when Eleanor is invited to spend a summer teaching in East Germany, she and Jess leap at the chance to see what the future looks like. On the other side of the Iron Curtain they turn from villains into heroes. And when Eleanor meets widower Peter and his daughter, Martina, a new, more peaceful life seems possible.

But the Cold War has no time for love and soon the trouble starts. Peter is dispatched for two years of solidarity work in Laos. Friends become enemies, and Jess discovers how easy it is to switch sides, and how sides can be switched for you, sometimes without you even knowing.

Motherland is a tender mother-daughter story and a tragi-comic portrait of a childhood overcome with belief. It's about loss of faith and loss of innocence, and what it's like to grow up on the losing side of history.

Biographical Notes

Jo McMillan grew up in the UK and has lived and worked in China and Malaysia. She is currently based in Berlin. Motherland is her first novel.

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  • ISBN: 9781473612013
  • Publication date: 02 Jul 2015
  • Page count:
  • Imprint: John Murray
Funny, smart, and packed full of all the melancholy you would expect from a novel that slowly sheds a child's innocence — Red
There's a great deal of humour in Motherland, all underpinned with a sober tone . . . Jess makes an engaging narrator — alifeinbooks
In its warm and witty portrait of offbeat mother-daughter relations, Motherland often recalls Nina Stibbe's Man At The Helm. Jess's gift for wry observations also gives rise to some wonderfully quotable lines — Lady
Motherland cuts a swathe through history without feeling like a lesson . . . Even though Motherland is full of historical detail, between 1980s Tamworth and the GDR, the oppression of the era never overwhelms. At the heart, and most important are the human relationships and which bonds survive — Emerald Street
I'm sure that these are characters (and the voice of a new novelist) that I for one will gladly revisit over and over again . . . A beautiful story tinged with fun, sadness and insight — Bookbag
A delightful tragi-comic novel, primarily about a mother/daughter relationship (hence the title) and also about coming of age and disillusionment . . . Motherland combines a teenager's cold-eyed view of adult absurdities and a wistfulness for lost certainties; a compelling blend — Historical Novel Review
A funny and poignant first novel — Daily Mail
This assured debut from Jo McMillan was a delight from start to finish; I was immediately drawn into the lives of the main characters and was sorry to get to the end. McMillan is now based in Berlin and she writes convincingly of both sides of the Cold War, she has a very distinct voice and will be a writer to watch in the future — We Love This Book
McMillan's writing is excellent; she captures brilliantly the voice of Jess, naive and committed at the start of the book, knowing and more questioning by the end. Although there's perhaps a certain irony in places in her portrayal of the various members of the counter-culture groups, she never belittles their belief and their faith in their cause . . . Motherland is McMillan's debut, and it's an excellent one - highly recommended! — Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings
For those of us who remember how well youthful politics can entangle teenage love, this funny, sweet, sad first novel is both a delight and a glorious journey back to a time and place many of us only recall with a wry shake of the head — Stella Duffy
An ambitious coming-of-age novel from debut author Jo McMillan, which is wonderfully written and filled with quirky details and descriptions . . . A touching and poignant read, which uniquely explores this period in time in a way in which few other authors have attempted to — Herald
Genuinely funny — Socialist Worker
A touching and poignant read, which uniquely explores this period in time in a way in which few other authors have attempted to — Press Association
An ambitious coming-of-age story, filled with quirky details and descriptions — Scotsman
It's an ambitious coming-of-age novel from debut author Jo McMillan, which is wonderfully written and filled with quirky details and descriptions . . . a touching and poignant read, which uniquely explores this period in time in a way in which few other authors have attempted to — Catholic Universe
The book (sometimes very funny, sometimes desperately embarrassing and sad, always absorbing and moving) is full of her ineradicable love for her batty, determined Stalinist mother . . . I urge you to [read it] — Mail Online

Andrew Williams

Andrew Williams worked as a senior producer for the BBC's flagship Panorama and Newsnight programmes, and as a writer and director of history documentaries. He is the author of two bestselling non-fiction books, The Battle of the Atlantic and D-day to Berlin, and four acclaimed novels, The Interrogator, (shortlisted for the Ian Fleming Silver Dagger Award and the Ellis Peters Award), To Kill a Tsar, (shortlisted for the Ellis Peters Award and the Walter Scott Prize), The Poison Tide and The Suicide Club. You can find out more about Andrew Williams and his writing at www.andrewwilliams.tv and www.hodder.co.uk, and you can follow him on twitter at @AWilliamswriter or on Facebook.

Cheryl Della Pietra

CHERYL DELLA PIETRA is a longtime New York City magazine editor, writer, and copy editor. She has published numerous stories in such magazines as Marie Claire, Redbook, and POV Magazine. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she lived with Hunter S. Thompson in Woody Creek, Colorado, for several months in 1992, where she worked as his assistant. She currently lives in Branford, Connecticut, with her husband and son.cheryldellapietra.comtwitter.com/CherylPietra

Chris Ryan

Former SAS corporal and the only man to escape death or capture during the Bravo Two Zero operation in the 1991 Gulf War, Chris Ryan turned to writing thrillers to tell the stories the Official Secrets Act stops him putting in his non-fiction. His novels have gone on to inspire the Sky One series Strike Back. Born near Newcastle in 1961, Chris Ryan joined the SAS in 1984. During his ten years there he was involved in overt and covert operations and was also sniper team commander of the anti-terrorist team. During the Gulf War, Chris Ryan was the only member of an eight-man unit to escape from Iraq, where three colleagues were killed and four captured. It was the longest escape and evasion in the history of the SAS. For this he was awarded the Military Medal. He wrote about his experiences in the bestseller The One That Got Away, which was adapted for screen, and since then has written three other works of non-fiction, over twenty bestselling novels and a series of childrens' books.

Cynthia Swanson

Cynthia Swanson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Bookseller, which is soon to be a motion picture starring Julia Roberts. An Indie Next selection and the winner of the 2016 WILLA Award for Historical Fiction, The Bookseller is being translated into more than a dozen languages and it was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award. Cynthia lives with her family in Denver, Colorado.

Dreda Say Mitchell

Born and bred in the East End of London, Dreda Say Mitchell has seen it all from the inside. After a string of jobs as a waitress, chambermaid and catering assistant she realised her dream of becoming a teacher. During this time she saw a new generation of East Enders grappling with the same problems she had but in an even more violent and unforgiving world. Dreda's books are inspired by the gritty, tough and criminal world she grew up in. She still lives in London's East End. Her debut, RUNNING HOT, was published in 2004 and won the Crime Writers' Association's John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for best first novel. She is the author of eight more novels and is currently writing the FLESH AND BLOOD series, set on 'The Devil's Estate' in Mile End. In 2016, she became a Reading Ambassador for the Reading Agency to promote literacy and libraries.Website: www.dredasaymitchell.com Facebook: /dredasaymitchell Twitter: @DredaMitchell

Edward Rutherfurd

Edward Rutherfurd was born in England, in the cathedral city of Salisbury. Educated locally, and at the universities of Cambridge, and Stanford, California, he worked in political research, bookselling and publishing. After numerous attempts to write books and plays, he finally abandoned his career in the book trade in 1983, and returned to his childhood home to write SARUM, a historical novel with a ten-thousand year story, set in the area around the ancient monument of Stonehenge, and Salisbury. Four years later, when Sarum was published, it became an instant international bestseller, remaining 23 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. Since then he has written five more bestsellers: RUSSKA, a novel of Russia; LONDON; THE FOREST, set in England's New Forest which lies close by Sarum, and two novels which cover the story of Ireland from the time just before Saint Patrick to the twentieth century.

Fiona Mitchell

Fiona Mitchell is an award-winning writer and has worked as a journalist for many years. She spent almost three years living in Singapore and now lives in London with her husband and daughter. The Maid's Room is her first novel.

Gavin Extence

Gavin Extence lives in Sheffield with his wife and children. He has written two previous novels, the Richard and Judy bestseller, THE UNIVERSE VERSUS ALEX WOODS and THE MIRROR WORLD OF MELODY BLACK, which was described as 'a cross between Bridget Jones' Diary and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' by a Simon Mayo Book Club reviewer.

Jess Richards

Jess Richards was born in Wales in 1972, and grew up too fast in south west Scotland where she lived with her English parents and three brothers, watching the ferry boats going to and from Northern Ireland. She left home at 17, went over the border to England, and lived for a year in Carlisle, before moving to Devon. She gained a first class degree from Dartington College of Arts when she was 21. After brief stints busking and carrying on in both Leeds and London, she moved to Brighton aged 23 where she has grown up a bit slower, and has lived and worked ever since. Her debut novel, SNAKE ROPES, was shortlisted for the 2012 Costa First Novel Award and longlisted for the Green Carnation Prize.jessrichards.co.uk/www.twitter.com/jessgrr1

John Connolly

John Connolly is author of the Charlie Parker mysteries, The Book of Lost Things, the Samuel Johnson novels for young adults and, with his partner, Jennifer Ridyard, co-author of the Chronicles of the Invaders. John Connolly's debut - EVERY DEAD THING - introduced the character of Private Investigator Charlie Parker, and swiftly launched him right into the front rank of thriller writers. All his subsequent novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers. He was the winner of the 2016 CWA Short Story Dagger for On the Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier from NIGHT MUSIC: Nocturnes Vol 2.In 2007 he was awarded the Irish Post Award for Literature. He was the first non-American writer to win the US Shamus award and the first Irish writer to win an Edgar award. BOOKS TO DIE FOR, which he edited with Declan Burke, was the winner of the 2013 Anthony, Agatha and Macavity awards for Best Non-Fiction work.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer is the bestselling author of more than 100 inspirational books, including The Power of Simple Prayer, Approval Addiction, Power Thoughts and Battlefield of the Mind. Joyce's 'Enjoying Everyday Life' radio and television programmes are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences.

Kopano Matlwa

Kopano Matlwa Mabaso is a South African author whose bestselling first novel, Coconut , written when she was 21 years old, went on to in the European Union Literary Award and was joint winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. Her second novel, Spilt Milk made the long list for the 2011 Sunday Times Fiction Prize. Matlwa is also winner of Aspen Ideas Award for medical innovation and is currently reading for a DPhil in Population Health at the University of Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. Her third novel Evening Primrose will be published by Sceptre in 2017. @kopanomabaso

Laura McVeigh

LAURA MCVEIGH grew up in Northern Ireland. She read Modern & Medieval Languages at Cambridge University.Previously Director of PEN International, the leading worldwide writers' organisation, she has travelled widely campaigning on freedom of expression issues around the world. Laura is also a passionate advocate for girls' education having served as Director of The Global Girls Fund.She lives in London and the Balearics with her family. Under the Almond Tree is her debut novel and she is currently writing her second, The Plantation House.lauramcveigh.com@lcmcveigh

Lindsay Hawdon

Lindsay Hawdon is a writer of travel, adventure and fiction. On leaving school, she spent three years travelling around Europe, Africa and India, hitching rides and sleeping under canvas. She has since travelled to over sixty countries and writes regularly for The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, the Australian and the LA Times. Her travel column 'An Englishwoman Abroad' ran in the Sunday Telegraph in 2000 and ran for seven years. Her articles for the Sunday Times called 'Have Kids Will Travel' followed a year's trip travelling solo with her two young boys around South East Asia. She lives in Bath with her family.

Lindsey Lee Johnson

Lindsey Lee Johnson holds a master of professional writing degree from the University of Southern California and a BA in English from the University of California at Davis. She has served as a tutor and mentor at a private learning center, where her focus has been teaching writing to teenagers. Born and raised in Marin County, she now lives with her husband in Los Angeles.

Lisa McInerney

Lisa McInerney's work has featured in Winter Papers, Stinging Fly, Granta and on BBC Radio 4, and in the anthologies Beyond The Centre, The Long Gaze Back and Town and Country. Her debut novel, The Glorious Heresies, won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016 and the Desmond Elliott Prize. Her second novel, The Blood Miracles, was published by John Murray in April 2017.

Lloyd Jones

Lloyd Jones is the author of several novels and short story collections which include Mister Pip, winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize best book award and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007, The Book of Fame and Hand Me Down World, which was shortlisted for the Berlin International Prize. He has also published a memoir, A History of Silence. He lives in New Zealand.

Louise Welsh

Louise Welsh is the author of eight novels including The Cutting Room, A Lovely Way to Burn and Death is a Welcome Guest. She has received numerous awards and international fellowships, including an Honorary Doctor of Arts from Edinburgh Napier University and an honorary fellowship from the University of Iowa's International Writing Program. Louise Welsh is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.

Margot Livesey

Margot Livesey is a New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, and her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Vogue, and the Atlantic. She is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation and her novel The House on Fortune Street won the 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Born in Scotland, Livesey currently lives in the Boston area and is a professor of fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Marina Fiorato

Marina Fiorato is half-Venetian. She was born in Manchester and raised in the Yorkshire Dales. She is a history graduate of Oxford University and the University of Venice, where she read for a master's degree in Shakespeare. After university she studied art and worked in the film and music industries, creating visuals for U2, The Rolling Stones and the Queen musical We Will Rock You. Her novels Daughter of Siena and Beatrice & Benedick were shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Association Historial Fiction Award. Marina was married on the Grand Canal and lives in north London with her husband, son and daughter. You can find out more about Marina and her writing at www.marinafiorato.com and follow her on Twitter @marinafiorato