Is it a miracle?
Is it magic?
And who does the little girl belong to?
An exquisitely crafted multi-layered mystery brimming with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.
Milkman by: Anna Burns £8.99
‘As a brilliantly realised extended metaphor for a totalitarian state it could be anywhere from Stasi-riddled East Germany, to Chile under Pinochet’s dictatorship to Salazar’s Portugal.’ – New Statesman
Anyone seeking evidence toward the buoyant health of Irish writing need look no further than Anna Burns’ triumphant Man Booker Prize victory for Milkman.
Joining a very select group of Booker-winning Irish authors (including Anne Enright, Roddy Doyle and Iris Murdoch), Burns’ often amusing – but ultimately deeply disquieting – satire of the Troubles proved a hit with our customers long before the winner’s announcement.
At the book’s heart, a teenager – whose only means of escape is literature – is slowly ground down by the unwanted attentions and creeping psychopathy of a paramilitary many years her senior. This is the secret state, a place where gossip and hearsay are weaponised methods of control, contained in a novel written with both a sad humour and a certain kind of fury.
Eschewing mention of Belfast and cloaking every character in nameless anonymity, this is contemporary history rewritten as dystopia, where power and fear are wrought by rumour and half-truth. ‘It’s a novel,’ remarked an astute Irish Times, ‘about failing to remember and failing to forget; failing to speak and failing to remain silent.’
The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert, Aged 19 Going on 91 by: David M Barnett £8.99
Nineteen-year-old Jennifer is regretting her hasty move into Sunset Promenade, an unusual retirement home taking in students to save money. Despite their differences in age, Jennifer and the older residents thrive and embark on a series of new adventures. But when Sunset Promenade is threatened with closure, cracks begin to show, and this quirky group of friends must work together to save their home.
The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert, aged 19 going on 91 is a funny, warm and uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how it’s never too late to have the time of your life…
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by: Gail Honeyman £8.99
When people ask me what I do – taxi drivers, dental hygienists – I tell them I work in an office. In almost nine years, no one’s ever asked what kind of office, or what sort of job I do there. I can’t decide whether that’s because I fit perfectly with their idea of what an office worker looks like, or whether people hear the phrase work in an office and automatically fill in the blanks themselves – lady doing photocopying, man tapping at keyboard.
Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live
She leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself.
Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – whilst searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?
Widely hailed as the fiction debut of 2017, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a triumph of deft observation of everyday life. By turns laugh-aloud funny and deeply poignant, it is a book that champions everyday courage and the importance of friendship in a world where people are increasingly isolated. Challenging the stigmas that exist around loneliness in contemporary society, it is a gentle reminder of those we too easily overlook and how a life can be changed by small acts of kindness.
The Librarian by: Sally Vickers £8.99
A charmingly subversive novel about a library in 1950s England, by the acclaimed author of The Cleaner of Chartres.
Sylvia Blackwell, a young woman in her twenties, moves to East Mole, a quaint market town in middle England, to start a new job as a children’s librarian. But the apparently pleasant town is not all it seems.
Sylvia falls in love with an older man, but it is her connection to his precocious young daughter and her neighbours’ son which will change her life, putting them, her job and the library itself under threat.
How does the library alter the young children’s lives and how do the children fare as a result of the books Sylvia introduces them to?
A work of fiction that also reflects Salley Vicker’s own lifelong love of literature, The Librarian brims with references to favourite novels from childhood onwards (readers will appreciate the accompanying list of all the fiction mentioned in the book).
Carrying echoes of Penelope Fitzgerland’s The Bookshop and Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, it’s a book about love, education and the relationship between an individual and a community. Most of all, however, it is a book about the ways in which reading can shape and foster a life.
Uncommon Type by: Tom Hanks £8.99
A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.
A hectic, funny sexual affair between two best friends. A World War II veteran dealing with his emotional and physical scars. A second-rate actor plunged into sudden stardom and a whirlwind press junket.
A small-town newspaper columnist with old-fashioned views of the modern world. A woman adjusting to life in a new neighborhood after her divorce. Four friends going to the moon and back in a rocket ship constructed in the backyard.
A teenage surfer stumbling into his father’s secret life.
These are just some of the people and situations that Tom Hanks explores in his first work of fiction, a collection of stories that dissects, with great affection, humour, and insight, the human condition and all its foibles. The stories are linked by one thing: in each of them, a typewriter plays a part, sometimes minor, sometimes central.
To many, typewriters represent a level of craftsmanship, beauty and individuality that is harder and harder to find in the modern world. In his stories, Mr Hanks gracefully reaches that typewriter-worthy level.
Known for his honesty and sensitivity as an actor, Mr Hanks brings both those characteristics to his writing.
Alternatingly whimsical, moving and occasionally melancholy, Uncommon Type is a book that will delight as well as surprise his millions of fans. It also establishes him as a welcome and wonderful new voice in contemporary fiction, a voice that perceptively delves beneath the surface of friendships, families, love and normal, everyday behaviour.
A Hollywood name, Tom Hanks has been an actor, screenwriter, director and producer. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Uncommon Type is his first collection of fiction.