By John Grindrod
Forgotten edgelands, furious battles, suburban mysteries - discover the secret history of our green belts.Green belts are part of the landscape and psyche of post-war Britain, but have led to conflicts at every level of society - between conservationists and developers, town and country, politicians and people, nimbys and the forces of progress.Growing up on 'the last road in London' on an estate at the edge of the woods, John Grindrod had a childhood that mirrored these tensions. His family, too, seemed caught between two worlds: his wheelchair-bound mother and soft hearted father had moved from the inner city and had trouble adjusting. His warring brothers struggled too: there was the sporty one who loved the outdoors, and the agoraphobic who hated it. And then there was John, an unremarkable boy on the edge of it all discovering something magical.In the green belts John discovers strange hidden places, from nuclear bunkers to buried landfill sites, and along the way meets planners, protestors, foresters and residents whose passions for and against the green belt tell a fascinating tale of Britain today.The first book to tell the story of Britain's green belts, Outskirts is at once a fascinating social history, a stirring evocation of the natural world, and a poignant tale of growing up in a place, and within a family, like no other.
By Irina Ratushinskaya
An epic and engrossing novel set at the beginning of the twentieth century, THE ODESSANS is the story of three families from Odessa in the Ukraine: the Russian Petrovs, the Jewish Geibers, and the Teslenkos, who are of Ukrainian and Polish descent. Throughout years of war, famine, political struggle and incredible hardship, their deep friendships sustain each of the families. Their lives are rent by tragedy; some friends are hounded by anti-Semites, while others join opposite sides in the Civil War or are forced to flee to Odessa. But through it all, their characteristic good humour and faith in each other enable their close circle to survive.
By Grace McCleen
It was the year when Madeline's family moved to an island her father believed God had guided him to.It was a place where she revelled in the natural beauty of their surroundings. It was a time of euphoria, but also of successive disasters. It was the night Madeline turned fourteen, when she did something she thought would save her beloved mother. Something so traumatic that she cannot now recall it, but her suave new psychiatrist thinks he knows how to unlock her memory. He is treading on very dangerous ground.
The Outlaw Album
By Daniel Woodrell
Daniel Woodrell is able to lend uncanny logic to harsh, even criminal, behaviour in his wrenching first collection of short fiction. Desperation - both material and psychological - motivates his characters. A husband cruelly avenges the murder of his wife's pet; an injured rapist is cared for by a young girl, until she reaches breaking point; a disturbed veteran of Iraq is murdered for his erratic behaviour; an outsider's house is set on fire by an angry neighbour. There is also the tenderness and loyalty of the vulnerable in these stories - between spouses, parents and children, siblings and comrades in arms - which brings the troubled, sorely tested cast of characters to vivid, relatable life.
One Morning Like a Bird
By Andrew Miller
Tokyo, 1940. While Japan's war against China escalates, young Yuji Takano clings to his cocooned life: his beloved evenings of French conversation at Monsieur Feneon's, visits to the bathhouse with friends, his books, his poetry.But conscription looms and the mood turns against foreigners, just when Yuji gets entangled with Feneon's daughter. As the nation heads towards conflict with the Allies, Yuji must decide where his duty - and his heart - lie.
The Other Hand
By Chris Cleave
Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and Costa Novel of the Year, this international bestseller has become a reading group classic.We don't want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this:It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific.The story starts there, but the book doesn't.And it's what happens afterwards that is most important.Once you have read it, you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.
By John Le Carré
Tim Cranmer, retired secret servant, and Larry Pettifer, bored radical don, philanderer and for twenty years Tim's mercurial double agent against the now vanished Communist threat, have an unresolved rivalry that dates back decades.They follow each other into the lawless wilds of Moscow and then Southern Russia until a small, unheard-of nation becomes their proving ground in the finale to John le Carré's dazzling novel.
By Andrew Miller
The exceptional and powerful novel from the Booker-shortlisted author of OxygenIn a world where people slaughter the innocent without mercy or retribution, how can we have faith in humanity, or the future?Clem Glass, a photojournalist, returns from Africa to London convinced he knows the answer - mankind is fundamentally wicked and there is no hope for us. Yet when his sister falls ill and he takes her back to the West Country of their childhood, he cannot ignore the decency, joys and small kindnesses of those around him, or the pulse of goodness in his own heart. Until news comes that offers Clem the chance to confront the author of his nightmares.
By Alexei Sayle
Kelvin is a 33-year-old property developer living in a small Lancashire town.He has five close friends, all in well-paid jobs. Having bought their lovely houses cheaply in the early 1990s, they are free to spend money on their own pleasures - particularly clothes, meals and cars. Most of all, their life revolves around going to see things - art exhibitions, comedians, live music, plays...When we first meet the six friends they are on their way to see a new kind of circus. Once there Kelvin does something unforgivable to a clown, has a strange snack and meets the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.It's the beginning of the end of the good life.
The Office of Innocence
By Thomas Keneally
Sydney, 1942, and in a nation threatened by a Japanese invasion, with husbands absent and sleek GIs present, a spirit of recklessness takes hold. Frank Darragh, an impressionable young priest, finds the line between saving others' souls and losing his own begins to blur as he becomes entangled with an attractive married woman, a ménage a trois, and a charismatic American sergeant.
By Andrew Miller
Shortlisted for the 2001 Booker Prize and Whitbread Novel of the Year AwardIn the summer of 1997, four people reach a turning point: Alice Valentine, who lies gravely ill in her West Country home; her two sons, one still searching for a sense of direction, the other fighting to keep his acting career and marriage afloat; and László Lázár, who leads a comfortable life in Paris yet is plagued by his memories of the 1956 Hungarian uprising. For each, the time has come to assess what matters in life, and all will be forced to take part in an act of liberation - though not necessarily the one foreseen.
On Giants' Shoulders
By Melvyn Bragg
The fascinating story of science unfolds in this account of the lives and extraordinary discoveries of twelve of its greatest figures - Archimedes, Galileo, Newton, Lavoisier, Faraday, Darwin, Poincaré, Freud, Einstein, Marie Curie and Crick and Watson. Exploring their impact and legacy with leading scientists of today including Stephen Jay Gould, Oliver Sacks, Lewis Wolpert, Susan Greenfield, Roger Penrose and Richard Dawkins, Melvyn Bragg illuminates the core issues of science past and present, and conveys the excitement and importance of the scientific quest.