By Lex Coulton
'Vastly enjoyable' Daily MailFrances Pilgrim's father went missing when she was five, and ever since all sorts of things have been going astray: car keys, promotions, a series of underwhelming and unsuitable boyfriends . . . Now here she is, thirty-bloody-nine, teaching Shakespeare to rowdy sixth formers and still losing things. But she has a much more pressing problem. Her mother, whose odd behaviour Frances has long put down to eccentricity, is slowly yielding to Alzheimer's, leaving Frances with some disturbing questions about her father's disappearance, and the family history she's always believed in. Frances could really do with someone to talk to. Ideally Jackson: fellow teacher, dedicated hedonist, erstwhile best friend. Only they haven't spoken since that night last summer when things got complicated . . . As the new school year begins, and her mother's behaviour becomes more and more erratic, Frances realises that she might just have a chance to find something for once. But will it be what she's looking for?
Flood of Fire
By Amitav Ghosh
The thrilling climax to the Ibis trilogy that began with the phenomenal Booker-shortlisted Sea of Poppies.It is 1839 and tension has been rapidly mounting between China and British India following the crackdown on opium smuggling by Beijing. With no resolution in sight, the colonial government declares war. One of the vessels requisitioned for the attack, the Hind, travels eastwards from Bengal to China, sailing into the midst of the First Opium War. The turbulent voyage brings together a diverse group of travellers, each with their own agenda to pursue. Among them is Kesri Singh, a sepoy in the East India Company who leads a company of Indian sepoys; Zachary Reid, an impoverished young sailor searching for his lost love, and Shireen Modi, a determined widow en route to China to reclaim her opium-trader husband's wealth and reputation. Flood of Fire follows a varied cast of characters from India to China, through the outbreak of the First Opium War and China's devastating defeat, to Britain's seizure of Hong Kong.Flood of Fire is a thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with verve. It is a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story - it is nothing short of a masterpiece.
A Family Daughter
By Maile Meloy
Brilliantly entertaining, A Family Daughter might also be the most insightful novel about families and love that you will read this year.It's 1979, and seven-year-old Abby, the youngest member of the close-knit Santerre family, is trapped indoors with the chicken pox during a heat wave. The events set in motion that summer will span decades and continents and change the Santerres forever. A rich, full novel about passion and desire, fear and betrayal, A Family Daughter illuminates both the joys and complications of contemporary life, and the relationship between truth and fiction.
The Final Testament
By James Frey
James Frey isn't like other writers. He's been called a liar. A cheat. A con man. He's been called a saviour. A revolutionary. A genius. He's been sued by readers. Dropped by publishers because of his controversies. Berated by TV talk-show hosts and condemned by the media. He's been exiled from America, and driven into hiding. He's also a bestselling phenomenon. Published in 38 languages, and beloved by readers around the world. What scares people about Frey is that he plays with truth; that fine line between fact and fiction. Now he has written his greatest work, his most revolutionary, his most controversial. The Final Testament of the Holy Bible.What would you do if you discovered the Messiah were alive today? Living in New York. Sleeping with men. Impregnating young women. Euthanizing the dying, and healing the sick. Defying the government, and condemning the holy. What would you do if you met him? And he changed your life. Would you believe? Would you?The Final Testament of the Holy Bible. It will change you. Hurt you. Scare you. Make you think differently. Live differently. Enrage you. Offend you. Open your eyes to the world in which we live. We've waited 2,000 years for the Messiah to arrive. We've waited 2,000 years for this book to be written. He was here. The Final Testament of the Holy Bible is the story of his life.
By Tawni O'dell
Growing up in hard-scrabble coal country with a drunk father and a runaway mother hasn't been easy for teen brothers Kyle and Klint. And when their dad smashes his truck and dies after a few too many beers, the boys are shocked that their often-absent mother plans to take them back to her new home out West. After all, their mom hasn't cared for Kyle and Klint for years.She still doesn't. Their mom quickly hands the boys over to 75-year-old Candace Jack, a curmudgeon with an acidic tongue who surprises herself in agreeing to take the boys.Living together isn't easy, but the boys discover that Candace has a tragic, passionate past and the three discarded souls help each other to heal.With Tawni O'Dell's trademark tenderness, vivid sense of place, and complex characters, Fragile Beasts is a beautifully crafted novel told from two very different points of view: a fourteen-year-old boy's and a seventy-five-year-old woman's.It's a wonderfully touching novel with two fascinating narrators who will wholly capture readers' hearts.