Set in a shuttered pub – The Paper Lantern – in a village in the very middle of the country adjacent to the Chequers estate, the narrator embarks on a series of walks in the Chiltern Hills, which become the landscape for evocations of a past scarred with trauma and a present lacking compass. From local raves in secret valleys and the history of landmarks such as Halton House, to the fallout of the lockdown period, climate change and capitalism, this book creates a tangible, lived-in, complicated rendering of a place.
‘Dead Souls’ follows the course of a single big night – most of which is spent in the bar at the Travelodge just off Waterloo Bridge. There the unnamed narrator meets Solomon Wiese, a poet who has been ostracized by the community after failing to pass a technology-based authenticity test. Solomon Wiese’s account of his rise and fall is a story that takes him the entire night and the remainder of the novel to tell.
Olga is an orphan raised by her grandmother in a Prussian village around the turn of the 20th century. Smart and precocious, she fights against the prejudices of the time to find her place in a world that sees her as second-best.When she falls in love with Herbert, a local aristocrat obsessed with the era’s dreams of power, glory and greatness, her life is irremediably changed. Theirs is a love against all odds, entwined with the twisting paths of German history, leading us from the late 19th to the early 21st century, from Germany to Africa and the Arctic, from the Baltic Sea to the German south-west. This is the story of that love, of Olga’s devotion to a restless man – told in thought, letters and in a fateful moment of great rebellion.
As Governor of Galicia, SS BrigadesfÃ¼hrer Otto Freiherr von WÃ¤chter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for ‘mass murder’. Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans and the British, as well as groups of Poles and Jews, WÃ¤chter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps before making his way to Rome and being taken in by the Vatican where he remained for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the ‘ratline’ he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after having lunch with an ‘old comrade’ whom he suspected of having been recruited by the Americans. Here, Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a Nazi fugitive, the love between WÃ¤chter and his wife Charlotte, who continued to write regularly to each other while he was on the run.
1957, south-east suburbs of London. Jean Swinney is a feature writer on a local paper, disappointed in love and – on the brink of 40 – living a limited existence with her truculent mother: a small life from which there is no likelihood of escape. When a young Swiss woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud. But the more Jean investigates, the more her life becomes strangely (and not unpleasantly) intertwined with that of the Tilburys.
An immeasurably influential female voice in post-war Japanese literature, Kono writes with a strange and disorienting beauty: her tales are marked by disquieting scenes, her characters all teetering on the brink of self-destruction. In the famous title story, the protagonist loathes young girls but compulsively buys expensive clothes for little boys so that she can watch them dress and undress. Taeko Kono’s detached gaze at these events is transfixing: What are we hunting for? And why? Kono rarely gives the reader straightforward answers, rather reflecting, subverting and examining their expectations, both of what women are capable of, and of the narrative form itself.
Ava, newly arrived in Hong Kong from Dublin, spends her days teaching English to rich children. Julian is a banker. A banker who likes to spend money on Ava, to have sex and discuss fluctuating currencies with her. But when she asks whether he loves her, he cannot say more than ‘I like you a great deal’. Enter Edith, a lawyer. Refreshingly enthusiastic and unapologetically earnest, Edith takes Ava to the theatre when Julian leaves Hong Kong for work. Quickly, she becomes something Ava looks forward to. And then Julian writes to tell Ava he is coming back to Hong Kong. Should Ava return to the easy compatibility of her life with Julian or take a leap into the unknown with Edith?
Dogs and humans: in the last 200 years no inter-species relationship has developed so fast nor come so far. Dogs accompany us in every walk of life, usually three times a day. How and why did this relationship begin? How has it changed over the centuries? And who’s getting the upper hand? This title investigates this unique bond by revisiting some of the most important milestones in our shared journey. It begins with the earliest visual evidence on ancient rock art, and ends at the laboratory that sequenced the first dog genome.
Just shy of 18, Deborah Orr left Motherwell – the town she both loved and hated – to go to university. It was a decision her mother railed against from the moment the idea was raised. Win had very little agency in the world, every choice was determined by the men in her life. And strangely, she wanted the same for her daughter. Attending university wasn’t for the likes of the Orr family. Worse still, it would mean leaving Win behind – and Win wanted Deborah with her at all times, rather like she wanted her arm with her at all times. But while she managed to escape, Deborah’s severing from her family was only superficial. She continued to travel back to Motherwell, fantasising about the day that Win might come to accept her as good enough. Though, of course, it was never meant to be.
It’s 1969, the summer of love still lingers in London, but Gilda is haunted by her wartime past. She walked out on her son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her. When he marries a small, blonde gentile, she takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? As Gilda’s obsession builds, she starts to follow her daughter-in-law, copies her hairstyle and breaks into the newlyweds’ home. Watching her son and his wife stumble through their first few months of marriage, she is forced to reflect on how she ended up so alone. And when new and shocking truths come to light, she has the opportunity to put the past to rest. She must decide between doing what is right and the tantalising prospect of revenge.