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The Raptures by Jan Carson
It’s late June in Ballylack. Hannah Adger anticipates eight long weeks away from school, but when her classmate Ross succumbs to a violent and mysterious illness, it marks the beginning of a summer like no other. As others fall ill, questions about what – or who – is responsible pitch the village into conflict and fearful disarray. Hannah is haunted by guilt as she remains healthy, while her friends are struck down. Isolated and afraid, she prays for help. Elsewhere in the village, tempers simmer, panic escalates, and long-buried secrets threaten to emerge. Bursting with Jan Carson's wit, empathy and imagination, The Raptures explores how tragedy can unite a small community – and tear it apart.
To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara
From the author of the classic A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise is a bold novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia. In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the Aids epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him – and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances. These three sections come together, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another. What unites these characters are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: fear, love, shame, need and loneliness.
Free Love by Tessa Hadley
From Tessa Hadley, bestselling author of Late in the Day and The Past, comes a compulsive new novel about one woman's sexual and intellectual awakening in 1960s London. While London comes alive with the new youth revolution, the suburban Fischer family seems to belong to an older world of conventional stability: pretty, dutiful homemaker Phyllis is married to Roger, a devoted father with a career in the Foreign Office. Their children are Colette, a bookish teenager, and Hugh, the golden boy. But when the 20-something son of an old friend pays the Fischers a visit one summer evening, and kisses Phyllis in the dark garden after dinner, something in her catches fire. Newly awake to the world, Phyllis makes a choice that defies all expectations of her as a wife and a mother. Nothing in these ordinary lives is so ordinary after all, it turns out, as the family's upheaval mirrors the dramatic transformation of the society around them. Daring and sensual, Free Love is a compulsive exploration of love, sexual freedom and living out the most meaningful version of our lives.
The Maid by Nita Prose
Nita Prose’s new novel is already set to be a film starring Florence Pugh, so it’s safe to say we’re looking forward to getting stuck into the book. Molly is all alone in the world. She's used to being invisible in her job as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn't a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And so, Molly becomes embroiled in a hunt for the truth, learning who to trust as she navigates the secret underbelly of the Regency Grand Hotel. Escapist, charming, and featuring a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how everyone deserves to be seen, and how the truth is rarely black and white.
The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children's book, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. He took it to his English teacher, Miss Isles, who became convinced it was the key to solving a puzzle – that a message in secret code ran through all of Edith Twyford's novels. Then, Miss Isles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven's memory won't allow him to remember what happened. Now out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Isles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today? Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to his teacher, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear Twyford wasn't just a writer of forgotten children's stories. ‘The Twyford Code’ has great power, and he isn't the only one trying to solve it.
Violeta by Isabel Allende
Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first daughter in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life is marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth. Through her father's foresight, the family comes through the crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she comes of age, and her first suitor comes calling, as we hear about Violeta’s life over her full 100 years. Through the eyes of a woman whose passion, determination and sense of humour will carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende has created an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.
Real Easy by Marie Rutkoski
Described as Three Women meets Tana French, this is a compulsive, unflinching and unexpectedly hopeful thriller set in a midwestern strip club. It's 1999, and Samantha has danced for years at the Lovely Lady strip club. She's not used to taking anyone under her wing – after all, between her disapproving boyfriend and his daughter, who may as well be her own child, she has enough to worry about. But when Samantha overrides her better judgment to drive a new dancer home, they are run off the road. The police arrive at the scene of the accident but find only one body. Georgia, another dancer, is drawn into the investigation as she tries to assist Holly, a detective with a complicated story of her own. As the point of view shifts from detectives to club patrons, the women circle around a list of suspects, all the while grappling with their own understanding of loss and love.
Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King
From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Writers & Lovers and Euphoria comes a new collection of short stories. Told in the intimate voices of complex, endearing characters, Five Tuesdays in Winter intriguingly subverts expectations as it explores desire, loss, jolting violence and love at all costs. A reclusive bookseller begins to feel the discomfort of love again. Two college roommates have a devastating middle-aged reunion. A proud old man rages powerlessly in his granddaughter's hospital room. And a writer receives a visit from all the men who have tried to suppress her voice. Romantic, hopeful, raw and honest, this wide-ranging collection of selected stories by Lily King is a must-read for those looking to dip their toe into a book this month.