Last year I set out to try and read 50 books in 12 months. Well it’s fair to say I failed, miserably. I managed 17. That was my own lazy fault. I could have read a lot more but there was always something better to do or I was too tired. I’m going to do it again because you know what? Even if I don’t get to 50 books, my striving to get there makes me read and 17 books isn’t that bad is it? I should be happy with that. I’m sure it’s more than a lot of people.
I have stacks of books saved on my Kindle – I can’t help it, I’m addicted to buying books on Amazon. Such a thrill when I book I have on my wish-list drops in price (got to get your kicks where you can!) so I am going to try to work through these before I buy more. I promise. Maybe.
Here’s some of what I intend on reading in 2014, with the short synopsis for your reading pleasure.
When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing the entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him – after all, he is the last remaining member of the family. A stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, featuring every second year of Bod’s life, from babyhood to adolescence. Will Bod survive to be a man?
The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen by Lindsay Ashford
When Jane Austen dies at the age of just 41, Anne, governess to her brother, Edward Austen, is devastated and begins to suspect that someone might have wanted her out of the way. Now, 20 years on, she hopes that medical science might have progressed sufficiently to assess the one piece of evidence she has – a tainted lock of Jane’s hair. Natural causes or murder? Even 20 years down the line, Anne is determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious death of the acclaimed Miss Austen.
When Rachel sets off alone for her mother’s isolated country house, she promises herself that the business of packing up and selling will only take a couple of weeks, and then she’ll be home again, and back to normal. But from the moment she steps through the front door, Rachel feels that the house contains more than she had expected: along with the memories of her mother, there is something else, a presence – not quite tangible – trying to make itself felt. As Rachel struggles to put her mother’s affairs in order, she grows ever more convinced that the house holds a message for her. Can the ghosts of the past be nudging their way into the present, or is Rachel really beginning to lose her mind?
For eight years Flora and Fin had an exciting, fun relationship, but when Flora wanted to settle down and have children, Fin decided he wanted to move on. Flora healed her broken heart and resigned herself to being alone, convincing herself that a quiet life is enough. Until Fin reappears. Back in her life once more, they pick up where they left off – his betrayal forgotten, or at least forgiven. But has Fin really changed? Can he give Flora the love that she’s given up searching for?
The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian
Gower Street, London, 1882: Sidney Grice, London’s most famous personal detective, is expecting a visitor. He drains his fifth pot of morning tea, and glances outside, where a young, plain woman picks her way between the piles of horse-dung towards his front door. Sidney Grice shudders. For heaven’s sake – she is wearing brown shoes. Set between the refined buildings of Victorian Bloomsbury and the stinking streets of London’s East End, The Mangle Street Murders is for those who like their crime original, atmospheric, and very, very funny.
Australia, 1946. 650 brides are departing for England to meet the men they married in wartime. But instead of the luxury liner they were expecting, they find themselves aboard an aircraft carrier, alongside a thousand men. On the sun-baked decks, old loves and past promises become distant memories, and tensions are stretched to the limit as brides and husbands change their minds. And for Frances Mackenzie, one bride in particular, it soon becomes clear that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell
Edinburgh in the 1930s. The Lennox family is having trouble with its youngest daughter. Esme is outspoken, unconventional, and repeatedly embarrasses them in polite society. Something will have to be done. Years later, a young woman named Iris Lockhart receives a letter informing her that she has a great-aunt in a psychiatric unit who is about to be released. Iris has never heard of Esme Lennox and the one person who should know more, her grandmother Kitty, seems unable to answer Iris’s questions. What could Esme have done to warrant a lifetime in an institution? And how is it possible for a person to be so completely erased from a family’s history?
High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Untouched since Franco’s forces tore through Spain in 1936, the whitewashed walls have crumbled; the garden, laden with orange blossom, grown wild. Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in seventy years. Guided by a series of letters and a key bequeathed in her mother’s will, she has left her job as London’s leading perfumier to restore this dilapidated villa to its former glory. It is the perfect retreat: a wilderness redolent with strange and exotic scents, heavy with the colours and sounds of a foreign time. But for her grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed here during Spain’s devastating civil war, Emma’s new home evokes terrible memories. As the house begins to give up its secrets, Emma is drawn deeper into Freya’s story: of crushed idealism, of lost love, and of families ripped apart by war. She soon realises it is one thing to let go of the past, but another when it won’t let go of you.
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale. What if there were
second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to? Life After Life
follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, Kate Atkinson finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here she is at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.
Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman
In 1929, Beattie Blaxland had dreams. Big dreams. She dreamed of a life of fashion and fabrics. One thing she never dreamed was that she would find herself pregnant to her married lover, just before her nineteenth birthday. In 2009, Emma Blaxland-Hunter was living her dream. A prima ballerina with the London Ballet, she had everything… Until the moment she lost it all. Separated by decades, both women must find the strength to rebuild their lives. A legacy from one to the other will lead to Wildflower Hill, a place where a woman can learn to stand alone long enough to realise what she really wants.
These are all loaded on my Kindle and ready to go (along with tens of others…more on that another time!). Would love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read any of these books! And do tell, what’s on your reading list this year?