Years ago, Lucy Barton, a successful New York writer, spent time in hospital, with her mother at the foot of her bed to keep her company. Avoiding the distance between them, they spoke at length about people from their home town, the rural, dusty town of Amgash, Illinois. Writing these stories, Lucy imagines the lives of the people that she especially remembers. And the people she has imagined that, in small ways, have remembered her too. For isn't it true that we all hope to be remembered? Or to think in some way - even fleetingly - that we have been important to someone?
What happens when you can't run any further from your past? Ohio, 1838. James and Sadie Goodenough have settled in the Black Swamp, planting apple trees to claim the land as their own. Life is harsh in the swamp, and as fever picks off their children, husband and wife take solace in separate comforts. James patiently grows his sweet-tasting 'eaters' while Sadie gets drunk on applejack made fresh from 'spitters'. Their fighting takes its toll on all of the Goodenoughs - a battle that will resonate over the years and across America. Fifteen years later their youngest son, Robert, is drifting through Goldrush California. Haunted by the broken family he fled years earlier, memories stick to him where mud once did. When he finds steady work for a plant collector, peace seems finally to be within reach. But the past is never really past.
A philandering art dealer tries to give up casual love affairs - seeking only stolen kisses as a substitute. A man recounts his personal history through the things he has stolen from others throughout his life. A couple chart the journey of their five year relationship backwards, from awkward reunion to lovelorn first encounter. And, at the heart of the book, a 24-year old young woman, Bethany Mellmoth, embarks on a year-long journey of wishful and tentative self-discovery.
In this story, a man haunted by guilt from a childhood incident recounts the events that led him to shun a friend in need. In doing so, he vividly conjures up two families, two failed marriages and the tragedy that led to murder.
Duneen is a quiet place, far enough from the big towns to have kept its own rhythms. Its residents include castdown policeman PJ who lives a lonely, uneventful life punctuated only by the next meal - until now; the beautiful and mysterious family of three spinster sisters each with their own secrets and sorrows; and of course, the town's gossip who think she knows the answers. When a grim discovery is made on a building site up by the old school, it becomes the catalyst for long buried secrets and rivalries to come to light and this silent, once innocent and repressed-seeming town is revealed to have a much darker, hungrier undertow.
Florence Green opens a bookshop in a small coastal town in East Anglia. She does so in spite of polite but ruthless opposition. Eventually she has to battle against supernatural as well as natural forces to achieve her ends.
She noticed him before anyone else. Arriving at his fourth school in six years, diplomat's son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day - so he's lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can't stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players - teachers and pupils alike - will never be the same again.
England, 1932: Grace Hamblin is growing up in a rural idyll. The beekeeper's daughter, she knows her place and her future - that is until her father dies and leaves her alone. Alone, that is, except for one man who she just can't shake from her thoughts. Massachusetts, 1973: Grace's daughter Trixie Valentine is in love with an unsuitable boy. He's wild and romantic, and in a band that might be going somewhere. But when tragedy strikes and he has to go home to England, he promises to come back to Trixie one day, if only she will wait for him. Both mother and daughter are searching for love and happiness, unaware of the secrets that bind them. To find what they are longing for they must confront the secrets of the past, and unravel the lies told long ago.
In 'The Power', the world is a recognisable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
June, 1933: the Edevane family's country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. Alice Edevane, sixteen years old and a budding writer, is especially excited. Not only has she worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she's also fallen helplessly in love with someone she shouldn't. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever.