Skip to content
Recommendations

New fiction for February 2020

The Founding, Big Lies in a Small Town, Here We Are

The Lantern Men, by Elly Griffiths

There is no need to promote this one really as we already have a huge waiting list for it and it will be massively successful. Get your name on the waiting list if you haven’t already!

"Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway. She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police's resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal.

"Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried - but only if Ruth will do the digging. Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees.

"March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths. Is Ivor March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?"

Actress, by Anne Enright

Seventh novel from the Booker Prize winning author.

"This is the story of Irish theatre legend Katherine O'Dell, as written by her daughter Norah. It tells of early stardom in Hollywood, of highs and lows on the stages of Dublin and London's West End. Katherine's life is a grand performance, with young Norah watching from the wings.

"But this romance between mother and daughter cannot survive Katherine's past, or the world's damage. As Norah uncovers her mother's secrets, she acquires a few of her own. Then, fame turns to infamy when Katherine decides to commit a bizarre crime.

"Actress is about a daughter's search for the truth: the dark secret in the bright star, and what drove Katherine finally mad."

The Rock Blaster, by Henning Mankell & George Goulding (trans.)

The debut novel from the Swedish writer of the brilliant Kurt Wallander series who died in 2015 is finally published in English.

"At 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon in 1911, Oskar Johansson is caught in a blast in an industrial accident. The local newspaper reports him dead, but they are mistaken. Because Oskar Johansson is a born survivor. Though crippled, Oskar finds the strength to go on living and working. The Rock Blaster charts his long professional life - his hopes and dreams, sorrows and joys. His relationship with the woman whose love saved him, with the labour movement that gave him a cause to believe in, and with his children, who do not share his ideals."

Here We Are, by Graham Swift

Swift's 2016 novel, Mothering Sunday, was a great success and a popular book club choice. His latest book is a tale of three young end of pier performers in Brighton during the summer season of 1959.

"It is Brighton, 1959, and the theatre at the end of the pier is having its best summer season in years. Ronnie, a brilliant young magician, and Evie, his dazzling assistant, are top of the bill, drawing audiences each night. Meanwhile, Jack - Jack Robinson, as in 'before you can say' - is everyone's favourite compère, a born entertainer, holding the whole show together. As the summer progresses, the off-stage drama between the three begins to overshadow their theatrical success, and events unfold which will have lasting consequences for all their futures.

"Rich, comic, alive and subtly devastating, Here We Are is a masterly piece of literary magicianship which pulls back the curtain on the human condition."

The Foundling, by Stacey Halls

New novel from the author of The Familiars.

"London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London's Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst - that Clara has died in care - the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed - by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl - and why.

"Less than a mile from Bess' lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend - an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital - persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart."

The Guest List, by Lucy Foley

If you enjoyed Lucy Foley’s first book, The Hunting Party, you will have been waiting for this one to appear. A party on a remote island ends in murder

"It starts with a party. On a remote island, guests gather for the wedding of the year - the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped. All have a secret. All have a motive. It'll end in murder."

Big Lies in a Small Town, by Diane Chamberlain

"North Carolina, 2018. Morgan Christopher's life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a 3-year stint in the North Carolina Women's Correctional Centre. Her dream of a career in the arts is put on hold - until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration but, desperate to leave prison, she accepts.

"North Carolina, 1940. Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn't expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors and where the price for being different might end in murder."

Saving Missy, by Beth Morrey

"Missy Carmichael's life has become small. Grieving for a family she has lost or lost touch with, she's haunted by the echoes of her footsteps in her empty home; the sound of the radio in the dark; the tick-tick-tick of the watching clock. Spiky and defensive, Missy knows that her loneliness is all her own fault. She deserves no more than this; not after what she's done.

"But a chance encounter in the park with two very different women opens the door to something different. A new life beckons for Missy, if only she can be brave enough to grasp the opportunity. But seventy-nine is too late for a second chance. Isn't it?"

Read our Meet the Author interview with Beth Morrey →

The Burial Circle, by Kate Ellis

"On a stormy night in December, a tree is blown down on an isolated Devon farm. And when the fallen tree is dragged away a rucksack is found caught amongst the roots - and next to it is a human skeleton.

"The discovery of the body and the rucksack revives memories for DI Wesley Peterson. A young hitchhiker who went missing twelve years ago was last seen carrying a similar backpack. Suddenly a half-forgotten cold case has turned into a murder investigation.

"Meanwhile, in the nearby village of Petherham, a famous TV psychic is found dead in suspicious circumstances whilst staying at a local guesthouse. Wesley's friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, is studying Petherham's ancient mill and uncovering the village's sinister history. Could the string of mysterious deaths in Petherham over a hundred years ago be connected to the recent killings?"

Adults, by Emma Jane Unsworth

Eagerly awaited follow-up to 2015 novel Animals which was recently made into a film.

"Jenny McLaine is an adult. Supposedly. At thirty-five she owns her own house, writes for a cool magazine and has hilarious friends just a message away. But the thing is: she can't actually afford her house since her criminally sexy ex-boyfriend Art left, her best friend Kelly is clearly trying to break up with her, she's so frazzled trying to keep up with everything you can practically hear her nerves jangling, she spends all day online-stalking women with beautiful lives as her career goes down the drain.

"And now her mother has appeared on her doorstep, unbidden, to save the day. Is Jenny ready to grow up and save herself this time?"

Under a Wartime Sky, by Liz Trenow

An unlikely friendship develops between a brilliant physicist Vic and kitchen worker Kath in a Suffolk manor house in 1936.

You can see Liz Trenow in conversation with Catherine Larner at Woodbridge Library on Wednesday 26 February.

"1936: The dark clouds of war are gathering across Europe and the brightest minds in Britain have been brought together in a grand manor on the Suffolk coast. These select few have been tasked by Churchill to develop, in utmost secrecy, an invention that will help win the war and alter the course of history. In this tense atmosphere, an unlikely friendship develops between Vic, a brilliant but shy physicist, and Kathleen, a cheerful local girl helping her mother in the kitchens."

The Mercies, by Kiran Milwood Hargrave

The hugely successful author of children’s novels The Girl of Ink & Stars and The Island at the End of Everything makes her adult debut with the real life tale of the 1617 Christmas Eve storm off the Norwegian island of Vardø and the witch trials that followed.

"On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardø is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves, the menfolk of Vardo wiped out in an instant. Now the women must fend for themselves.

"Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilised world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardø to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa.

"In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty and terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs."

Weather, by Jenny Offill

"Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practise her other calling: as an unqualified shrink."

Swimming in the Dark, by Tomasz Jedrowski

Call Me By Your Name set in 1980s Communist Poland. A tale of forbidden love between undergraduate Ludwik and Janusz, a young man he meets at an agricultural camp.

"Poland, 1980. Anxious, disillusioned Ludwik Glowacki, soon to graduate university, has been sent along with the rest of his class to an agricultural camp. Here he meets Janusz - and together, they spend a dreamlike summer swimming in secluded lakes, reading forbidden books - and falling in love. But with summer over, the two are sent back to Warsaw, and to the harsh realities of life under the Party. Exiled from paradise, Ludwik and Janusz must decide how they will survive; and in their different choices, find themselves torn apart."

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, by Cho Nam-Joo & Jamie Chang (trans.)

This caused a huge sensation in South Korea when it was published.

"Kim Jiyoung is a girl born to a mother whose in-laws wanted a boy. Kim Jiyoung is a sister made to share a room while her brother gets one of his own. Kim Jiyoung is a female preyed upon by male teachers at school. Kim Jiyoung is a daughter whose father blames her when she is harassed late at night. Kim Jiyoung is a good student who doesn't get put forward for internships. Kim Jiyoung is a model employee but gets overlooked for promotion. Kim Jiyoung is a wife who gives up her career and independence for a life of domesticity. Kim Jiyoung has started acting strangely. Kim Jiyoung is depressed. Kim Jiyoung is mad. Kim Jiyoung is her own woman. Kim Jiyoung is every woman."

The Woman Who Didn't Grow Old, by Grégoire Delacourt & Vineet Lal (trans.)

A bestseller in France.

"There are those who never grow old because they are taken too soon. There are those who grow old without worries, enjoying everything life has to offer. There are those who desperately try to slow down the ticking clock. And then there's Betty. Betty, who mysteriously stops growing old on her thirtieth birthday - the same age as her mother when she died. The years leave no trace on Betty's face, but as everyone around her is transformed by the relentless march of time, her once golden life begins to come apart. Because an ageless face is a face without history, without passions, without memories. A blank canvas others will slowly, inexorably forget."