See also: recommended new physical audiobooks
“They say I must be put to death for what happened to Madame, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don’t believe I’ve done?
“1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning - slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.
“For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.
“But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?”
“The people of Japan believe that everyone has an ikigai – a reason for being; the thing that gets you out of bed each morning. And according to the residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa – the world’s longest-living people – finding it is the key to a longer and more fulfilled life.
“Inspiring and comforting, this book will bring you closer to these centenarians’ secrets: how they leave urgency behind; keep doing what they love for as long as possible; nurture friendships; live in the moment; participate in their communities and throw themselves into their passions. And it provides practical tools to help you discover your own personal ikigai.
“Because who doesn’t want to find happiness in every day?”
"”In this very personal work, Bryan Stevenson recounts many and varied stories of his work as a lawyer in the U.S. criminal justice system on behalf of those in society who have experienced some type of discrimination and/or have been wrongly accused of a crime and who deserve a powerful advocate and due justice under the law.
“Through the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an organisation Stevenson founded as a young lawyer and for which he currently serves as Executive Director, this important work continues. EJI strives to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”
“Mudlark (/’mAdla;k/) noun A person who scavenges for usable debris in the mud of a river or harbour.
“Lara Maiklem has scoured the banks of the Thames for over fifteen years, in pursuit of the objects that the river unearths: from Neolithic flints to Roman hair pins, medieval buckles to Tudor buttons, Georgian clay pipes to Victorian toys. These objects tell her about London and its lost ways of life.
“Moving from the river’s tidal origins in the west of the city to the point where it meets the sea in the east, Mudlarking is a search for urban solitude and history on the River Thames, which Lara calls the longest archaeological site in England.
“As she has discovered, it is often the tiniest objects that tell the greatest stories.”
“Paris, today. The Museum of Broken Promises is a place of wonder and sadness, hope and loss. Every object in the museum has been donated – a cake tin, a wedding veil, a baby’s shoe. And each represent a moment of grief or terrible betrayal. The museum is a place where people come to speak to the ghosts of the past and, sometimes, to lay them to rest. Laure, the owner and curator, has also hidden artefacts from her own painful youth amongst the objects on display.
“Prague, 1985. Recovering from the sudden death of her father, Laure flees to Prague. But life behind the Iron Curtain is a complex thing: drab and grey yet charged with danger. Laure cannot begin to comprehend the dark, political currents that run beneath the surface of this communist city. Until, that is, she meets a young dissident musician. Her love for him will have terrible and unforeseen consequences.
“It is only years later, having created the museum, that Laure can finally face up to her past and celebrate the passionate love which has directed her life.”
“You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late…
“These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3000, to be precise.
“Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?
“Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s really getting rather good at this murder investigation business.
“But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realises that these secrets must be exposed – even at the risk of death…”
“Shinrin-Yoku or forest bathing is the practice of spending time in the forest for better health, happiness and a sense of calm. A pillar of Japanese culture for decades, Shinrin-Yoku is a way to reconnect with nature, from walking mindfully in the woods, to a break in your local park, to walking barefoot on your lawn.
“Forest Medicine expert Dr Qing Li’s research has proven that spending time around trees (even filling your home with house plants and vaporising essential tree oils) can reduce blood pressure, lower stress, boost energy, boost immune system and even help you to lose weight.”
The Volunteer: the true story of the resistance hero who infiltrated Auschwitz, by Jack Fairweather, read by David Rintoul
“This is untold story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War.
“In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interred at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich. His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and raise a secret army to stage an uprising. The name of the detention centre - Auschwitz. It was only after arriving at the camp that he started to discover the Nazis’ terrifying designs.
“Over the next two and half years, Witold forged an underground army that smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities to the West, culminating in the mass murder of over a million Jews.”
“Young Betty dreams of settling down to an ordinary life in Hallsands with her fisherman husband. But when he returns broken and haunted from the Great War, she finds herself persecuted by his distraught mother – and yearns to escape.
“It is only when a storm devastates the village that Betty sees her chance. Fleeing to Bristol and changing her name to Mabel Brook, she seeks a new life – only to discover destiny has other plans.
“Penniless and alone, Mabel suffers a brutal attack before being rescued by a psychic named Nora Nightingale. She gets her first taste of those who receive messages from the dead and realises she may have this power herself. But Mabel fears her gift may be a terrible curse as it becomes ever harder to hide from the truth about who she once was – and the tragic life she left behind.
“Soon Mabel receives her own message and is forced back to the very place she has escaped. A place of heartbreak and perhaps even murder – but to secure her future Mabel must confront her past one last time.”
“In his late thirties, Edward Parnell found himself trapped in the recurring nightmare of a family tragedy. For comfort, he turned to his bookshelves, back to the ghost stories that obsessed him as a boy, and to the writers through the ages who have attempted to confront what comes after death.
“In Ghostland, Parnell goes in search of the ‘sequestered places’ of the British Isles, our lonely moors, our moss-covered cemeteries, our stark shores and our folkloric woodlands. He explores how these landscapes conjured and shaped a kaleidoscopic spectrum of literature and cinema, from the ghost stories and weird fiction of M. R. James, Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood to the children’s fantasy novels of Alan Garner and Susan Cooper; from W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn and Graham Swift’s Waterland to the archetypal ‘folk horror’ film The Wicker Man…
“Ghostland is Parnell’s moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists – and what is haunting him.”
“Ann Patchett’s award winning, New York Times bestselling Bel Canto balances themes of love and crisis as disparate characters learn that music is their only common language. The author’s lyrical prose and lucid imagination make Bel Canto a captivating story of strength and frailty, love and imprisonment, and an inspiring tale of transcendent romance.”
“In the autumn of 1936, some 200 men from the Tyneside town of Jarrow marched 300 miles to London in protest against the destruction of their towns and industries. Precisely 80 years on, Stuart Maconie walks from north to south retracing the route of the emblematic Jarrow Crusade. Following history’s footsteps, Maconie is in search of what Britain is really like today.
“Travelling down the country’s spine, Maconie moves through a land that is, in some ways, very much the same as the England of the thirties with its political turbulence, austerity, north/south divide, food banks and of course, football mania. Yet in other ways, it is completely unrecognisable; high streets peppered with pound shops and e-cigarette vendors, smoothie bars and Costas on every corner.
“Maconie visits the great, established and yet evolving cities of Leeds, Sheffield and London, as well as the sleepy hamlets, quiet lanes and roaring motorways. He meets those with stories to tell and whose voices build a funny, complex and entertaining tale of Britain, then and now. Written in Maconie’s signature style, this is a fascinating exploration of a modern nation that, though looks and sounds strangely familiar, has been completely transformed.”
“On Halloween night, the residents of Black Gale gather for a dinner party. As the only nine people living there, they’ve become close friends as well as neighbours. They eat, drink and laugh. They play games and take photographs. Except those photographs will be the last record of any of them. By the next morning, the whole village has vanished. With no bodies, no evidence and no clues, the mystery of what happened at Black Gale remains unsolved two and a half years on.
“But then the families of the missing turn to investigator David Raker - and their obsession becomes his. What secrets were the neighbours keeping from their families - and from each other? Were they really everything they seemed to be? And is Raker looking for nine missing people - or nine dead bodies?”
“There is one serial killer who has shaped police profiler Tony Hill’s life. One serial killer who has the power to chill him to the bone: Jacko Vance. And now Jacko is back. Even more twisted and cunning than ever before, he is focused on wreaking revenge. Tony doesn’t know when Jacko will strike, or where. All he knows is that Jacko will cause him to feel fear like he has never known before…”
“The story opens with the apparently accidental drowning of a sixth form student in the Norfolk countryside. As a matter of routine, or so it seems, the case passes across the desk of Detective Sergeant Smith, recently returned to work after an internal investigation into another case that has led to tensions between officers at Kings Lake police headquarters. As an ex DCI, Smith could have retired by now, and it is clear that some of his superiors wish that he would do so. The latest trainee detective to work with him is the son of a member of his former team, and together they begin to unravel the truth about what happened to Wayne Fletcher.
“As the investigation proceeds, it becomes clear that others are involved-some seem determined to prevent it, some seem to be taking too much interest. In the end Smith operates alone, having stepped too far outside standard procedures to ask for support. He knows that his own life might be at risk but he has not calculated on the life of his young assistant also being put in danger.”
“Confined to the secure unit of a women’s prison, Lisbeth Salander finds herself in relative safety. Flodberga is a failing prison and for a computer hacker with her exceptional gifts, there are no boundaries. When Mikael Blomkvist makes his weekly visit, Salander tells him to check out Leo Mannheimer, who is somehow connected to the death of a psychologist and to the psychiatric unit where Lisbeth was an involuntary patient as a child. Lisbeth knows she is coming closer to solving the mysteries of her early life and feels the deadly influence exerted by her twin sister.”
“At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognise the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannised by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.
“As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life — sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition — its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.”
“Mags Barkworth still suffers the effects of a life-changing tragedy over a decade ago. She knows her husband loves her. She knows he would never do anything to hurt her, or their daughter. But what if the voice in her head, the one she’s pushed away with therapy and anti-depressants, is telling the truth? What if it’s all a lie?
“When Tam, their daughter, draws an uncannily detailed picture of a place she’s never been, Mags’s life starts to unravel. But even in her most paranoid moment, Mags could never have guessed the secret she is destined to uncover.”
Seven funny, joyous and poignant stories themed around Christmas but enjoyable all year round.
“Joyce Conway remembers things she shouldn’t. She knows about tiny cobbled streets in Paris, which she has never visited. And every night she dreams about an unknown little girl with blonde hair.
“Justin Hitchcock is divorced, lonely and restless. He arrives in Dublin to give a lecture on art and meets an attractive doctor, who persuades him to donate blood. It’s the first thing to come straight from his heart in a long time.
“When Joyce leaves hospital after a terrible accident, with her life and her marriage in pieces, she moves back in with her elderly father. All the while, a strong sense of déjà vu is overwhelming her and she can’t figure out why…”