Reading Group Set A-J

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Reading Group Sets for Authors A - J

Click on the author links below to have a look at the books. Please note titles are listed in alphabetical order by the author’s surname.

          Authors A - J          Authors K - S          Authors T - Z

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Purple HibiscusAdichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Purple Hibiscus

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili's father, involved in mysterious ways with the unfolding political crisis, sends Kambili and her brother away to their aunt's. Here she discovers love and a life - dangerous and heathen - beyond the confines of her father's authority.

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Half of a yellow sunAdichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Half of a yellow sun

Set in Nigeria during the 1960s, this novel contains three main characters who get swept up in the violence during these turbulent years. It is about Africa, about the end of colonialism, about class and race, and the ways in which love can complicate these things.

Ali, Monica. In the KitchenAli, Monica. In the Kitchen

This novel opens with a mysterious death in the cellars of a smart, cosmopolitan hotel and over the course of the ensuing pages, peels back the layers of polyglot London to reveal the melting pot which exists below.

Alison, Rosie. The very thought of youAlison, Rosie. The very thought of you

England, 31st August 1939: the world is on the brink of war. As Hitler prepares to invade, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated to a large Yorkshire estate opened up to evacuees by a childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn into their unravelling relationship.


Aslan, Nadeem. The blind man's gardenAslam, Nadeem. The blind man's garden

Jeo and Mikal, foster-brothers from a small Pakistani city, secretly enter Afghanistan: not to fight with the Taliban, but to help and care for wounded civilians. But it soon becomes apparent that good intentions can't keep them out of harm's way...From the wilds of Afghanistan to the heart of the family left behind - their blind father haunted for years by the death of his wife, by the mistakes he may have made in the name of Islam and nationhood, Jeo's steadfast wife and her superstitious mother - Aslam's prose takes us on an extraordinary journey.

Atkinson, Kate. Case historiesAtkinson, Kate. Case histories

Cambridge is sweltering during an unusually hot summer. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, Jackson Brodie, a former police inspector turned private investigator, attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realise that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected.


Barry, Sebastian. The secret scriptureBarry, Sebastian. The secret scripture

Nearing her 100th birthday, Roseanne faces an uncertain future, as the mental hospital where she's spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks often with her psychiatrist Dr Grene. This relationship intensifies as he mourns the death of his wife.

Bragg, Melvyn. Soldier's returnBragg, Melvyn. Soldier's return

When Sam Richardson returns from World War II to Wigton in Cumbria, he finds little has changed, as far as his own limited prospects go. In his absence, though, his young family has changed immensely, and Sam struggles to adjust to life in peacetime.


Bryson, Bill. Notes from a small islandBryson, Bill. Notes from a small island

After nearly two decades in Britain, Bill Bryson took the decision to move back to the States for a while, to let his kids experience life in another country, to give his wife the chance to shop until 10 p.m. seven nights a week, and, most of all, because he had read the 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, and it was thus clear to him that his people needed him. But before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.


Burton, Jessie. The miniaturistBurton, Jessie. The miniaturist

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . . Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Chandler, Raymond. The Big SleepChandler, Raymond. The Big Sleep

Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood's two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA's seedy backstreets, Marlowe's got his work cut out - and that's before he stumbles over the first corpse . . .

Chevalier, Tracy. Remarkable creaturesChevalier, Tracy. Remarkable creatures

In the year of the 150th anniversary of Origin of Species, set in a town where Jane Austen was a frequent visitor, Tracy Chevalier once again shows her uncanny sense for the topical.

Christie, Agatha. The ABC murdersChristie, Agatha. The ABC murders

There's a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim's corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place.
Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught - until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans.

Cezair-Thompson, Margaret. The pirate's daughterCezair-Thompson, Margaret. The pirate's daughter

An 'adventure story' about the extraordinary meeting of two worlds -1940s Hollywood, and    the tropical paradise of Jamaica. The Pirate's Daughter is the novel that has everything:  passion, intrigue, drama and suspense, rumours of ghosts and buried treasure, 1940s decadence, the struggle for independence, the birth of dancehall and the reggae scene.

Cobbold, Marika. Drowning RoseCobbold, Marika. Drowning Rose

It is winter in London. Eliza Cummings, a ceramics restorer at the V&A Museum, is leaving work when she receives an unexpected phone call. Standing in the haze of the Christmas lights she hears a voice which draws her back twenty-five years - to the tragic death of her best friend. But why does Rose's father want her to visit him? Why now? And why is he killing her with kindness when they both know that he blames her for what happened to his daughter?

Coelho, Paulo. The AlchemistCoelho, Paulo. The Alchemist

Santiago, a young shepherd living in the hills of Andalucia, feels that there is more to life than his humble home and his flock. One day he finds the courage to follow his dreams into distant lands, each step galvanised by the knowledge that he is following the right path: his own. The people he meets along the way, the things he sees and the wisdom he learns are life-changing. With Paulo Coelho's visionary blend of spirituality, magical realism and folklore, The Alchemist is a story with the power to inspire nations and change people's lives.

Daley, Debra. Turning the stonesDaley, Debra. Turning the stones

As a foundling the young Em Smith is brought to the Cheshire country home of the ambitious Waterland family, where she serves as a companion to their daughter, Eliza. But as they grow up, Em's position becomes uncertain and she is increasingly troubled by the mystery of her birth. When Eliza goes in pursuit of a husband and a fortune in London, Em finds herself implicated in a horrific crime and must flee for her life

De Waal, Edmund. The Hare with Amber EyesDe Waal, Edmund. The Hare with Amber Eyes

264 wood and ivory carvings of animals, plants and people, none of them larger than a matchbox; apprentice potter Edmund de Waal was entranced by the collection when he first encountered it in the Tokyo apartment of his great uncle Iggie. When he inherited them, he discovered that they unlocked a story larger than he could have imagined.

Dickens, Charles. Hard TimesDickens, Charles. Hard Times

'Hard Times' is Dickens's portrait of a Lancashire mill town in the 1840s. Through the characters of Gradgrind & Bounderby he examines the ethos of 19th century industrialization which allows human beings to be enslaved to machines.

Dickens, Charles. Oliver TwistDickens, Charles. Oliver Twist

The story of the orphan Oliver, who runs away from the workhouse only to be taken in by a den of thieves, shocked readers when it was first published. Dickens's tale of childhood innocence beset by evil depicts the dark criminal underworld of a London peopled by vivid and memorable characters - the arch-villain Fagin, the artful Dodger, the menacing Bill Sikes and the prostitute Nancy.

Dickens, Charles. Our mutual friendDickens, Charles. Our mutual friend

John Harmon returns to England after years in exile to claim his inheritance: a great fortune and a beautiful young woman to whom he is betrothed, but has never met. When Harmon's body is pulled out of the Thames, all of London is fascinated by the mystery of the murdered man and his unclaimed riches. Scavengers, social-climbers, lawyers and teachers, a money-lender and a dolls-dressmaker, men and women both honest and villainous, will all become embroiled in this tale of love and obsession, death and rebirth.

Du Maurier, Daphne. Rebecca

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again... Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of REBECCA learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers... Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman.

Edwards, Kim. The Memory's Keeper Daughter

It's 1964 and Dr David Henry finds himself delivering his wife's twins. Relieved, he sees that his son is born healthy, but recognises the signs of Down's syndrome in his daughter's face. In a split-second decision that will haunt their family forever, he asks the nurse to take his daughter away.


Faulks, Sebastian. A week in DecemberFaulks, Sebastian. A week in December

London, the week before Christmas 2007. Over seven wintry days, we follow the lives of seven characters across the city, from a hedge fund manager to a Tube train driver. Above the complex patterns of modern urban life, the writing on the wall appears in letters ten feet high, but the characters refuse to see it . As the gripping climax looms, they are forced, one by one, to awake from their blinkered present to confront the true nature of the world they inhabit.

Faulks, Sebastian. BirdsongFaulks, Sebastian. Birdsong

This is the story of Stephen who arrives in Amiens in 1910. His life goes through a series of traumatic experiences, from the clandestine love affair that tears apart the family with whom he lives, to the unprecedented experience of the war itself.

Fletcher, Susan. Eve GreenFletcher, Susan. Eve Green

With the death of a mother and the abduction of a young girl, Susan Fletcher has written a vividly beautiful novel about the innocence and terror of childhood.

Foreman, Amanda. Georgiana, Duchess of DevonshireForeman, Amanda. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

Sex, intrigue and adultery in the world of high politics and huge wealth in late eighteenth-century England. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, was one of the most flamboyant and influential women of the eighteenth century.
The great-great-great-great aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales, she was variously a compulsive gambler, a political savante and operator of the highest order, a drug addict, an adulteress and the darling of the common people.

Forster, Margaret. Isa & MayForster, Margaret. Isa & May

The curiously named Isamay, a would-be academic, is trying to write a coherent thesis about grandmothers in history from Sarah Bernhardt and George Sand to the matriarchal Queen Victoria and other influential grannies while constantly ambushed by the secrets her own family has been keeping.
An only child, she is named after her grandmothers, Isa and May, who were there at her birth and who have formed and influenced her in very different ways.

Francis, Felix. GambleFrancis, Felix. Gamble

As one of the youngest ever winners of the Grand National, Nick 'Foxy' Foxton's career as a world class jockey is on perfect track until a near fatal accident cuts his dream brutally short. But when he returns to Aintree as a spectator years later, nothing can prepare him for what unfolds. Minutes before the biggest event on the racing calendar, Nick's affable American colleague Herb Kovak is shot at point blank range, the gunman disappearing amongst the stunned crowd. Along with the police, Nick is left baffled as to why anyone would want to kill such an apparently gentle soul. With the press speculating links to gangland crime and a crumpled note containing a threatening message found in the dead man's coat, Nick begins to doubt how well he really knew Herb. And on discovering Herb had named him as the benefactor of his will, Nick questions why he has been entrusted with the legacy. Is this a generous gift from a friend or is it, in fact, a poisoned chalice?

French, Dawn. Oh Dear SilviaFrench, Dawn. Oh Dear Silvia

Everyone knows the real Silvia, don't they? Silvia Shute lies in hospital in a coma. Family and friends gather at her bedside, each thinking they know the real Silvia. But do they? For Silvia hides a secret. One she can never tell. And as her visitors congregate so the truth about Silvia is slowly revealed. Again, and again and again . . .

Gale, Patrick. Notes from an exhibitionGale, Patrick. Notes from an exhibition

When troubled artist Rachel Kelly dies painting obsessively in her attic studio in Penzance, her saintly husband and adult children have more than the usual mess to clear up. She leaves behind an extraordinary and acclaimed body of work - but she also leaves a legacy of secrets and emotional damage that will take months to unravel.
"Interesting, with an unusual narrative structure", "An exploration of the effects of mental health issues on family”

Gaskell, Elizabeth. North and SouthGaskell, Elizabeth. North and South

When her father leaves the Church, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her home in Hampshire to move with her family to the North of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice.
"It has everything; love, dilemma, good storyline, even murder (manslaughter?)”

Gregory, Philippa. Alice Hartley’s happinessGregory, Philippa. Alice Hartley’s happiness

Alice Hartley can no longer arouse the interest of her pompous husband, the adulterous professor. Despite her efforts, she still leaves him cold. Just as she is compelled to face this chilling truth, she meets Michael, a young student with an excessive libido. In Michael, Alice discovers an endless supply of all she has sought: revenge, sex and a large house suitable for conversion. Soon the house is thigh-deep with women joyfully casting off the shackles of their oppression. Sadly, some narrow-minded neighbours and numerous forces of the law seem completely impervious to all those healing vibrations.

Gregory, Philippa. The white queenGregory, Philippa. The white queen

'The White Queen' tells the tale of one woman's ambitious ascent to royalty during the Wars of the Roses and the unsolved mystery around her sons' imprisonment in the Tower.

Grissom, Kathleen. The kitchen houseGrissom, Kathleen. The kitchen house

When seven-year-old Irish orphan Lavinia is transported to Virginia to work in the kitchen of a wealthy plantation owner, she is absorbed into the life of the kitchen house and becomes part of the family of black slaves whose fates are tied to the plantation. But Lavinia's skin will always set her apart, whether she wishes it or not. And as she grows older, she will be torn between the life that awaits her as a white woman and the people she knows as kin. A compelling, powerful and poignant coming-of-age story about the fragility of family, and where love and loyalty prevail.

Guterson, David. Snow falling on CedarsGuterson, David. Snow falling on Cedars

Heavy snow falls on San Piedro and impedes the progress of Kabuo Miyomoto's trial. Hatsue, Kabuo's wife and Ishmael, a journalist on the case, find themselves reckoning with the past and their lost love.

Guy, John. A daughter's loveGuy, John. A daughter's love

This book will break open a secret. It is a gripping tale of love, loyalty and domestic happiness that came to be overwhelmed by the forces of ambition, deceit and treachery, from the award-winning author of 'My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary, Queen of Scots'.

Haddon, Mark. A spot of  botherHaddon, Mark. A spot of  bother

At fifty-seven, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement. Then Katie, his tempestuous daughter, announces that she is getting remarried, to Ray. Her mother Jean is a bit put out by all the arguing the wedding has occasioned, which gets in the way of her late-life affair with one of her husband's former colleagues. And the tidy life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials. Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind. This is a deeply moving portrait of a family who fall apart - and come together.

Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese FalconHammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon

Sam Spade is hired by the fragrant Miss Wonderley to track down her sister, who has eloped with a louse called Floyd Thursby. But Miss Wonderley is in fact the beautiful and treacherous Brigid O?Shaughnessy, and when Spade's partner Miles Archer is shot while on Thursby's trail, Spade finds himself both hunter and hunted: can he track down the jewel-encrusted bird, a treasure worth killing for, before the Fat Man finds him?

Hannah, Sophie. Little FaceHannah, Sophie. Little Face

The first time she goes out after their daughter is born, Alice leaves the two-week-old infant at home with her husband, David. When she returns two hours later, she insists that the baby in the crib is not her child. Despite her apparent distress, David is adamant that she is wrong. The police are called to the scene. Detective Constable Simon Waterhouse is sympathetic, but he doubts Alice's story. His superior, Sergeant Charlie Zailer, thinks Alice must be suffering from some sort of delusion brought on by postpartum depression. With an increasingly hostile and menacing David swearing she must either be mad or lying, how can Alice make the police believe her before it's too late?

Hart, Josephine. DamageHart, Josephine. Damage

A successful doctor and politician arrives at middle age and the high point of his career, having pursued a dutiful and passionless life. Then he becomes obsessed by his son's lover, the strange and secretive Anna.


Healey, Emma. Elizabeth is missingHealey, Emma. Elizabeth is missing

Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn't remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Sometimes her home is unrecognizable - or her daughter Helen seems a total stranger. But there's one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so.

Heller, Zoe. Notes on a scandalHeller, Zoe. Notes on a scandal

'Notes on a Scandal' is a sinister lesson in keeping your friends close and your enemies even closer. When Sheba Hart is discovered having an affair with a pupil, her colleague, Barbara Covett, becomes her chief defender. But all is not as it first seems and Sheba soon discovers that a friend can be as treacherous as any lover.

Hislop, Victoria. The IslandHislop, Victoria. The Island

On the brink of her own life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother's past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London.

Hodgkinson, Nicola. Life with the lid offHodgkinson, Nicola. Life with the lid off

Like many women after a divorce, Nicola Hodgkinson found herself facing a stark reality. With three young children to raise, a ramshackle cottage by the sea she had a choice: to wallow in self pity or pull herself together and get on with it. She chose the latter.

Hosseini, Khaled. A thousand splendid sunsHosseini, Khaled. A thousand splendid suns

Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry the troubled and bitter Rasheed, who is thirty years her senior. Nearly two decades later, in a climate of growing unrest, tragedy strikes fifteen-year-old Laila, who must leave her home and join Mariam's unhappy household. Laila and Mariam are to find consolation in each other, their friendship to grow as deep as the bond between sisters, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter.

Hosseini, Khaled. The kite runnerHosseini, Khaled. The kite runner

A story of fathers and sons, friendship and betrayal, and the casualties of fate 1970s Afghanistan: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to an Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.

Indridason, Arnaldur. Jar cityIndridason, Arnaldur. Jar city

A man is found murdered in his Reykjavik flat. There are no obvious clues apart from a cryptic note left on the body and a photograph of a young girl's grave. Delving into the dead man's life Detective Erlendur discovers that forty years ago he was accused of an appalling crime, but never convicted. Had his past come back to haunt him? As Erlendur struggles to build a relationship with his unhappy daughter, his investigation takes him to Iceland's Genetic Research Centre, where he uncovers disturbing secrets that are even darker than the murder of an old man.

Ishiguro, Kazuo. The remains of the dayIshiguro, Kazuo. The remains of the day

In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the English countryside and into his past . . . A haunting tale of lost causes and lost love, The Remains of the Day, winner of the Booker Prize, contains Ishiguro's now celebrated evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House - within its walls can be heard ever more distinct echoes of the violent upheavals spreading across Europe.

Jacobson, Howard. The Finkler questionJacobson, Howard. The Finkler question

Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends.
Despite very different lives, they've never quite lost touch with each other - or with their former teacher, Libor Sevcik. Both Libor and Finkler are recently widowed, and together with Treslove they share a sweetly painful evening revisiting a time before they had loved and lost. It is that very evening, when Treslove hesitates a moment as he walks home, that he is attacked - and his whole sense of who and what he is slowly and ineluctably changes.

Jansson, Tove. A winter bookJansson, Tove. A winter book

Drawn from youth and older age, and spanning most of the twentieth century, this newly translated selection provides a thrilling showcase of the great Finnish writer's prose, scattered with insights and home truths. It has been selected and is introduced by Ali Smith. A Winter Book features 13 stories from Tove Jansson's first book for adults, The Sculptor's Daughter (1968) plus 7 of her most cherished later stories (from 1971 to 1996), translated into English and published here for the first time.

Jones, Lloyd. Mister PipJones, Lloyd. Mister Pip

On a remote South Pacific island, threatened by uprising, Matilda and her classmates find their lives surprisingly intertwined with those of a boy called Pip, and a man named Mr Dickens.

JONES. Wendy - The thoughts and happenings of Wilfred Price. purveyor of superior funeralsJones, Wendy. The thoughts and happenings of Wilfred Price, purveyor of superior funerals

Wilfred Price, overcome with emotion on a sunny spring day, proposes to a girl he barely knows at a picnic. The girl, Grace, joyfully accepts and rushes to tell her family of Wilfred's intentions. But by this time Wilfred has realised his mistake. He does not love Grace.

Joyce, Rachel. The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold FryJoyce, Rachel. The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry

When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else's life.


Click on the author links below to have a look at the books. Please note titles are listed in alphabetical order by the author’s surname.

          Authors A - J          Authors K - S          Authors T - Z

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