By Keith Waterhouse
As editor of the local newspaper in the small, pleasant town of Badgers Heath, Oliver Kettle is expected to join in the locals' constant efforts to raise money for good causes, from karaoke marathons to sponsored funerals. But with Bananaskin Week, the biggest fund-raising drive of them all, the hapless Kettle finds himself drawn into a spiralling nightmare of adultery, blackmail and intrigue. Too late, he realises that charity is the last consideration of his fellow citizens.
Unexpected Lessons in Love
By Bernardine Bishop
Shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel AwardCecilia Banks has a great deal on her plate. But when her son Ian turns up on her doostep with the unexpected consequence of a brief fling, she feels she has no choice but to take the baby into her life. Cephas's arrival is the latest of many challenges Cecilia has to face. There is the matter of her cancer, for a start, an illness shared with her novelist friend Helen. Then there is Helen herself, whose observations of Cecilia's family life reveal a somewhat ambivalent attitude to motherhood. Meanwhile Tim, Cecilia's husband, is taking self-effacement to extremes, and Ian, unless he gets on with it, will throw away his best chance at happiness.Cecilia, however, does not have to manage alone. In a convent in Hastings sits Sister Diana Clegg who holds the ties that bind everyone not only to each other, but to strangers as yet unmet. As events unfold and as the truth about Cephas is revealed, we are invited to look closely at madness, guilt, mortal dread and the gift of resilience. No one will remain unchanged.'Frank, courageous and entertaining. I felt better for reading it' Margaret Drabble
Urban Grimshaw and The Shed Crew
By Bernard Hare
You're twelve years old. Your mother's a junkie and your father might as well be dead. You can't read or write, and you don't go to school. An average day means sitting round a bonfire with your mates smoking drugs, or stealing cars. Welcome to Urban's world.Bernard Hare was on society's margins, living on one of Leeds' roughest estates and with a liking for drink and drugs. So he knew what life in the underclass was like in '90s Britain. But even he was shocked when he met Urban, an illiterate, glue-sniffing twelve-year-old. And through Urban he got to know the Shed Crew - an anarchic gang of kids between the ages of ten and fourteen; joy-riding, thieving runaways, who were no strangers to drugs or sex. Nearly all had been in care, but few adults really cared. Bernard decided to do what he could. He didn't know what he was letting himself in for.