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Snuggle up with us this Feb and join in with our Book Club!

Happy February ladies!! Lovely to have you here with us.

Here are the choices for this month’s read. Have a read through and see what you think. You can then cast your vote on the pinned post on our Facebook group HERE

We will then get together online in the group at the end of Feb to discuss the chosen book.

 

THE RAPTURES – JAN CARSON

When several children from the same village start succumbing to a mysterious illness, the quest to discover the cause has devastating and extraordinary consequences.

It is late June in Ballylack. Hannah Adger anticipates eight long weeks’ reprieve from school, but when her classmate Ross succumbs to a violent and mysterious illness, it marks the beginning of a summer like no other.

As others fall ill, questions about what – or who – is responsible pitch the village into conflict and fearful disarray. Hannah, ever the outsider, is haunted by guilt as she remains healthy while her friends are struck down. Isolated and afraid, she prays for help. What happens next will force her to question everything she believes.

Bursting with Carson’s trademark wit, profound empathy and soaring imagination, The Raptures explores how tragedy can unite a small community – and tear it apart. At its heart is the extraordinary resilience of one young girl. As the world crumbles around her, she must find the courage to be different in a place where conforming feels like the only option available.

 

THE MAID – NITA PROSE

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanour has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heart warming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

 

THE TWYFORD CODE – JANICE HALLETT

Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. He took it to his English teacher, Miss Isles, who became convinced it was the key to solving a puzzle – that a message in secret code ran through all of Edith Twyford’s novels. Then, Miss Isles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven’s memory won’t allow him to remember what happened. Now out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Isles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today? Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to his teacher, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. ‘The Twyford Code’ has great power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it.

 

 

FEMLANDIA – CHRISTINA DALCHER

The explosive new thriller from the bestselling author of VOX and Q
Welcome to Femlandia… It’s no place like home.

The United States has sunk into total collapse.

Men in positions of power have wrecked the economy and left women to suffer and pick up the pieces.

Miranda Reynolds has lost her husband, her job and her home. There’s only one place left that she and her daughter Emma can go. Femlandia.

Femlandia is a female-only community. A utopia for women. There’s a reason Miranda never joined before. Now she has no choice.

With what Miranda knows about Femlandia’s founder, she’s right to be wary. While life outside the gates is fraught with danger, there’s something just as sinister going on within.

 

MAGPIE – ELIZABETH DAY

She has almost everything. The rest she’ll take.

Marisa may have only known Jake a few months, but she has never felt this certain about anyone. When he asks her to move in with him and they start trying for a baby, she knows she has finally found the steadfast love and support she has been looking for all her life.

But their relationship is tested when they take in a lodger, Kate, who has little regard for personal boundaries and seems to take an uncomfortable interest in Jake – as well as the baby they are hoping to have.

Why is Kate so obsessed with the couple? And, more worryingly, why doesn’t Jake share Marisa’s concern?

In her determination to find the answers, Marisa risks losing everything she holds dear…

Magpie is a tense, twisting, brilliantly written novel about mothers and children, envy and possession, and the dangers of getting everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

 

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Elsie’s Attic Book Club – Vote on What we Will be Reading in June

Hola book worms!  Below is a quick summary of the five choices for you to vote on for the book we read in June.  I hope there is something there for everyone. To cast your vote, hop on over to our Book Club Facebook page here.  Big love, Amanda xx

A YEAR OF MARVELLOUS WAYS – SARAH WINMAN

Cornwall, 1947. Marvellous Ways is a ninety-year-old woman who’s lived alone in a remote creek for nearly all her life. Recently she’s taken to spending her days sitting on the steps of her caravan with a pair of binoculars. She’s waiting for something – she’s not sure what, but she’ll know it when she sees it. Freddy Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the war. He’s agreed to fulfil a dying friend’s last wish and hand-deliver a letter to the boy’s father in Cornwall. But Freddy’s journey doesn’t go to plan, and sees him literally wash up in Marvellous’ creek, broken in body and spirit. When Marvellous comes to his aid, an unlikely friendship grows between the two. Can Freddy give Marvellous what she needs to say goodbye to the world, and can she give him what he needs to go on?

 

 

 

 

THE MISEDUCATION OF EVIE HEPWORTH – MATSON TAYLOR

It is the summer of 1962 and sixteen-year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she be?
Up until now, Evie’s life has been nothing special: a patchwork of school, Guides, cows, lost mothers, lacrosse and village fetes. But, inspired by her idols (Charlotte Brontë, Shirley MacLaine, the Queen), she dreams of a world far away from rural East Yorkshire, a world of glamour lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). Standing in the way of these dreams, though, is Christine, Evie’s soon-to-be stepmother, a manipulative and money-grubbing schemer who is lining Evie up for a life of shampoo-and-set drudgery at the stinky local salon.

Luckily Evie is not alone. With the help of a few friends, and the wise counsel of the two Adam Faith posters on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’), Evie comes up with a plan to rescue her future from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches. She will need a little luck, a dash of charm and a big dollop of Yorkshire magic if she is to succeed, but in the process she may just discover who exactly it is she is meant to be.

Moving, inventive and achingly funny, with an all-star cast of bold-as-brass characters, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is a perfectly pitched modern fairy tale about love, friendship and following your dreams while having a lot of fun along the way.

 

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME – LAURA DAVE

We all have stories we never tell.
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her.

Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.

 

THE BOY FROM THE WOODS – HARLAN COBEN

In the shocking new thriller  . . . a man whose past is shrouded in mystery must find a missing teenage girl before her disappearance brings about disastrous consequences for her community . . . and the world.

The man known as Wilde is a mystery to everyone, including himself. Decades ago, he was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. After the police concluded an exhaustive hunt for the child’s family, which was never found, he was turned over to the foster system.

Now, thirty years later, Wilde still doesn’t know where he comes from, and he’s back living in the woods on the outskirts of town, content to be an outcast, comfortable only outdoors, preferably alone, and with few deep connections to other people.

When a local girl goes missing, famous TV lawyer Hester Crimstein–with whom Wilde shares a tragic connection–asks him to use his unique skills to help find her. Meanwhile, a group of ex-military security experts arrive in town, and when another teen disappears, the case’s impact expands far beyond the borders of the peaceful suburb. Wilde must return to the community where he has never fit in, and where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it’s too late.

 

THE WHISPER MAN – ALEX NORTH

In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town: Featherbank.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man. And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window.

 

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VOTE FOR OUR BOOK CLUB CHOICE FOR MAY’S READ

Hello book lovers.  Below is a quick summary of the five choices for you to vote on for the book we read in May.  I hope there is something there for everyone. To cast your vote, hop on over to our Book Club Facebook page here.  Big love, Amanda xx

UNSETTLED GROUND – CLAIRE FULLER

What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back?

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Their rented cottage is simultaneously their armour against the world and their sanctuary. Inside its walls they make music, in its garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.

But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. At risk of losing everything, Jeanie and her brother must fight to survive in an increasingly dangerous world as their mother’s secrets unfold, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.

This is a thrilling novel of resilience and hope, of love and survival, that explores with dazzling emotional power how the truths closest to us are often hardest to see.

 

KING OF RABBITS – KARLA NEBLETT

A stunning debut about the magic and confusion of childhood. A beautiful, painful, at times funny novel about how a little boy perceives the world, and how his environment leads him on a path to manhood he doesn’t want to follow.

Kai lives in a mixed-race family on a rural council estate in Somerset where he and his three older sisters have three different dads, and his mum is being led into crack addiction by his petty-thief father. He idolises his dad, adores his friend Saffie and the school rabbit Flopsy, and is full of ambition to be the fastest runner in Middledown Primary – like Linford Christie. He and Saffie build a secret world of friendship in the school garden. But Kai’s natural optimism, imagination and energy run up against adult behaviour he doesn’t understand: his parents’ on-and-off romance, his dad’s increasing addiction and the limitations of poverty. Despite the people who try to look out for him, notably his loving Nanny Sheila and his big sister Leah, Kai’s life drifts towards a tragedy from which it is hard for him to recover. The refuge he seeks in his love of nature, and the wild rabbits who have made their burrows in the woods, may not be refuge enough.Drawing on her own upbringing but turning lived experience into compelling narrative, Karla Neblett has created a vivid language that is both crafted and raw to tell a story of class, race and how our society fails working class young men.

THE IMMORTALISTS – CHLOE BENJAMIN

If you knew the date you were going to die, then how would you live your life? asks this bestselling, critically acclaimed novel.

It’s 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York’s Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The four Gold children, too young for what they’re about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes.

Over the years that follow, the siblings must choose how to live with the phrophecies the fortune-teller gave them that day. Will they accept, ignore, cheat, or defy them? Golden-boy Simon escapes to San Francisco, searching for love; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician; eldest son Daniel tries to control fate as an army doctor after 9/11; and bookish Varya looks to science for the answers she craves.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists is a story about how we live, how we die, and what we do with the time we have.

CONTACTS – MARK WATSON

James Chiltern boards the 23:50 sleeper train from London to Edinburgh with two pork pies, six beers and a packet of chocolate digestives. At 23:55 he sends a message to all 158 people in his contacts, telling them that he plans to end his life in the morning. He then switches his phone to flight mode. He’s said goodbye. To him, it’s the end of his story – and time to crack open the biscuits. But across the world, 158 phones are lighting up with a notification. Phones belonging to his mum. His sister. His ex-best friend. The woman who broke his heart. People he’s lost touch with. People he barely knows. And for them, the message is only the beginning of the journey.

Funny and wise, tender and deeply moving, Contacts is a beautiful story about the weight of loneliness, the importance of kindness – and how it’s never too late to reach out.

 

 

THE SUBURBS – CHLOE KENT

So this is rather exciting – Chloe Kent is actually part of our epic group and this is now her second novel.  The Suburbs is based around a woman called Mia in her mid-thirties who is a sports journalist and newly divorced from her ex-rugby player husband, Alex. Her marriage to Alex was happy and glamorous, as the pair often attended parties, sports events and travelled to exotic places together. All that changed when a motorcycle accident left Mia’s husband unable to continue with his rugby career and subsequently their marriage eventually broke down after Alex turned to alcohol to deal with his pain. After feeling dejected that her life hadn’t gone to plan, Mia decided that a fresh start on her own and away from the fast-paced bustle of London would be the best choice for her. She flee’s to the countryside to bask in a new relaxed lifestyle of peace and serenity. However, all that is thrown into disarray when Mia finds herself falling for Jacob, the successful married man next door all whilst befriending his eccentric wife, Elle. Mia battles with her head and her heart. She wants to be a good person and do the right thing, but her feelings for Jacob are like none other. In turn, Jacob is learning that the successful life and status he fought so hard to achieve to appease his parents is not actually the life for him. Together they must somehow manoeuvre around an ex-husband and a difficult wife. But if that wasn’t challenging enough, Mia discovers that Jacob isn’t entirely who she thought he was and their affair leads her into dangerous territory.

 

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HAVE YOUR SAY ON OUR BOOK CLUB’S READ FOR APRIL

 

Hello book worms, so lovely to have you with us.  Here are the five choices to vote on for APRIL’S read.  I hope there is at least one option there for everyone.  Please hop on over to our Facebook group to cast your vote.  We will get together in the online group the last Sunday of the month to chat over the winning book.

Happy reading! Big love, Amanda xx

 

The Deep – Alma Katsu

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.
This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

 

Hold Back the Stars – Katie Khan

‘We’re going to be fine.’
He looks around, but there’s nothing out here: nothing but the bottomless black universe on their left, the Earth suspended in glorious technicolour to their right.

Carys and Max have ninety minutes of air left.
None of this was supposed to happen.
But, perhaps this doesn’t need to be the end…
Adrift in space with nothing to hold on to but each other, Carys and Max can’t help but look back at the well-ordered world they have left behind – at the rules they couldn’t reconcile themselves to, and a life to which they might now never return.
For in a world where love is banned, what happens when you find it?

Hold Back the Stars is a love story like no other.

 

The Enchanted – Rene Denfeld

Even monsters need peace. Even monsters need a person who truly wants to listen – to hear – so that someday we might find the words that are more than boxes. Then maybe we can stop men like me from happening

A prisoner sits on death row in a maximum security prison. His only escape from his harsh existence is through the words he dreams about, the world he conjures around him using the power of language. For the reality of his world is brutal and stark. He is not named, nor do we know his crime.

But he listens. He listens to the story of York, the prisoner in the cell next to him whose execution date has been set. He hears the lady, an investigator who is piecing together York’s past. He watches as the lady falls in love with the priest and wonders if love is still possible here. He sees the corruption and the danger as tensions in ‘this enchanted place’ build. And he waits. For even monsters have a story…

 

The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea

 

The Hoarder – Jess Kidd

The spellbinding tale of a lonely caregiver and a cranky hoarder with a house full of secrets.

Maud Drennan is a dedicated caregiver whose sunny disposition masks a deep sadness. A tragic childhood event left her haunted, in the company of a cast of prattling saints who pop in and out of her life like tourists. Other than visiting her agoraphobic neighbor, Maud keeps to herself, finding solace in her work and in her humble existence–until she meets Mr. Flood.

Cathal Flood is a menace by all accounts. The lone occupant of a Gothic mansion crawling with feral cats, he has been waging war against his son’s attempts to put him into an old-age home and sent his last caretaker running for the madhouse. But Maud is this impossible man’s last chance: if she can help him get the house in order, he just might be able to stay. So the unlikely pair begins to cooperate, bonding over their shared love of Irish folktales and mutual dislike of Mr. Flood’s overbearing son.

Still, shadows are growing in the cluttered corners of the mansion, hinting at buried family secrets, and reminding Maud that she doesn’t really know this man at all. When the forgotten case of a missing schoolgirl comes to light, she starts poking around, and a full-steam search for answers begins.

Packed with eccentric charms, twisted comedy, and a whole lot of heart, Mr. Flood’s Last Resort is a mesmerizing tale that examines the space between sin and sainthood, reminding us that often the most meaningful forgiveness that we can offer is to ourselves.

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ELSIE’S ATTIC BOOK CLUB – Vote for March’s Book of the Month!

Hello book clubbers! here are the five choices for March’s reads.  I do hope you like at least one, personally I am tempted to buy all five!  To cast your vote, hop on over to our Facebook page and have your say! The vote closes at bedtime on the Friday 26th March and the read for the month will be announced over on Facebook too! Happy reading book worms.  Much love Amanda xx

THE TWINS – J S LARK

If you liked Blood Orange you will love this!

From the moment they are born, twins Susan and Sarah are inseparable. Through good and bad, the girls will always be together…forever.

Until they meet Jonny.

Older, charming, and handsome, Jonny offers the girls the much-needed love and attention they crave. But he can only choose one and for the first time in their lives, the girls find themselves split apart – the invisible thread that binds them severed.

Set-free from her twin, Sarah builds a new life for herself, marries, has a daughter. But Susan’s life spirals further and further out of control.

And now Susan is back. And she’s determined to reclaim everything she feels Sarah has taken from her.

Her home, her husband…her life?

 

WITHIN THESE WALLS – ANIA AHLBORN

With his marriage on the rocks and his life in shambles, washed up crime writer Lucas Graham is desperate for a comeback. So when he’s promised exclusive access to notorious cult leader and death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb, the opportunity is too good to pass up. Lucas leaves New York for the scene of the crime-a split-level farmhouse on the gray-sanded beach of Washington State-a house whose foundation is steeped in the blood of Halcomb’s diviners; runaways who, thirty years prior, were drawn to his message of family, unity, and unconditional love. Lucas wants to tell the real story of Halcomb’s faithful departed, but when Halcomb goes back on his promise of granting Lucas exclusive information on the case, he’s left to put the story together on his own. Except he is not alone. For Jeffrey Halcomb promised his devout eternal life…and within these walls, they’re far from dead.

 

 

THE SNAKES – SADIE JONES

‘I wonder if it hurts them to shed their skins,’ she said. She didn’t feel afraid standing in the darkness, imagining snakes, even with the smell of death in the air.

Bea and Dan, recently married, let out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving down through France they visit Bea’s dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic.

When Alex and Bea’s parents make a surprise visit Dan can’t understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she’s never wanted him to know them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming, and rich. They are the richest people he has ever met. Maybe Bea’s ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she’s been keeping.

Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath the family is stripped back to its heart, and then its rotten core, and even Bea with all her strength and goodness can’t escape.

 

THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS – LAURIE FRANKEL

This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

 

THE GREAT BELIEVERS – REBECCA MAKKAI

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup: bringing an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDs epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, he finds his partner is infected, and that he might even have the virus himself. The only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago epidemic, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways the AIDS crisis affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. Yale and Fiona’s stories unfold in incredibly moving and sometimes surprising ways, as both struggle to find goodness in the face of disaster.

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THE VOTE IS ON FOR FEBRUARY’S READ IN OUR VERY OWN BOOK CLUB

Hello bookclubbers! Below is a little more info on the five choices for February’s read, I do hope there is something there for everyone.  To cast your vote, hop on over to our Facebook page and have your say! The vote closes at bedtime on the 3rd Feb and the read for February will be announced over on Facebook too! Happy reading book worms.  Much love Amanda xx

SURVIVOR SONG – PAUL TREMBLAY

A riveting novel of suspense and terror from the Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts.

In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government’s emergency protocols are faltering.

Dr. Ramola “Rams” Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie’s husband has been killed—viciously attacked by an infected neighbor—and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie’s only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.

Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares—terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink.

Paul Tremblay once again demonstrates his mastery in this chilling and all-too-plausible novel that will leave readers racing through the pages . . . and shake them to their core.

 

 

BROKEN MONSTERS – LAUREN BEUKES

This genre-bending read is a truly unsettling pageturner. After the strange body of a boy fused with a deer is found in the city, even more horrifying bodies begin to turn up. Detective Versado is desperate to solve the case and keep her city from collapsing. Meanwhile her daughter begins a dangerous flirtation with an online predator and a freelance journalist will do whatever it takes to grab an exclusive lead on this new story. Lauren Beukes expertly weaves a large cast of characters into this supernatural mystery. Serial killers and supernatural elements, perfect to keep you hooked and on the edge of your seat!

 

 

 

 

SAVING MISSY – BETH MORREY

Prickly. Stubborn. Terribly lonely.
But everyone deserves a second chance…
A dazzling debut for 2020 – are you ready to meet Missy Carmichael? If you like Eleanor Oliphant then this one is for you!

Missy Carmichael’s life has become small.

Grieving for a family she has lost or lost touch with, she’s haunted by the echoes of her footsteps in her empty home; the sound of the radio in the dark; the tick-tick-tick of the watching clock.

Spiky and defensive, Missy knows that her loneliness is all her own fault. She deserves no more than this; not after what she’s done. But a chance encounter in the park with two very different women opens the door to something new.

Another life beckons for Missy, if only she can be brave enough to grasp the opportunity. But seventy-nine is too late for a second chance. Isn’t it?

 

THE MERCIES – KIRAN MILLWOOD

After a storm has killed off all the island’s men, two women in a 1600s Norwegian coastal village struggle to survive against both natural forces and the men who have been sent to rid the community of alleged witchcraft.

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Bergensdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Northern town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty evil.

As Maren and Ursa are pushed together and are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1620 witch trials, The Mercies is a feminist story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.

 

FIVE DAYS OF FOG – ANNA FREEMAN

London, December, 1952. At the beginning of what will come to be known as the Great Smog, Ruby Palmer waits to be released from prison.

At home her daughter, Florrie, also waits, knowing that the moment her mother returns she herself will face a choice: stay where she is, in the heart of her matriarchial and criminal family, or leave it all to make a safer, duller life with a decent young man. But what will she do if she’s too crooked to go straight, and too good to go bad?

Over the next four days, as London grinds to a halt in impenetrable and poisonous fog, Florrie will have to find her own path and the courage to stumble along it.

Four Days of Fog follows the last days of a crumbling female gang in post-war London, in a fog so thick that you can’t see your own feet. It’s a story of family, of finding your way, and of deciphering a route through the greyest areas of morality.

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CAST YOUR VOTE FOR OUR BOOK CLUB BOOK FOR JANUARY

Hi book clubbers! Hope you all had a really lovely Christmas and happy new year to you all!  So, as we face a tough start to the year, why not join us in this month’s read?  Have a read through the below for this month’s choices and then hop on over to our Facebook group here to cast your vote. I hope you love this month’s choices as much as I do – a copy of each might have just fallen into my Amazon basket! Oh, and watch this space – we are hoping to start working with some fab independent book shops to bring the books to you each month – I think Jeff has enough money for now 😉

Happy reading! Much love Amanda

DISAPPEARING EARTH – JULIA PHILLIPS

One August afternoon, on the shoreline of the north-eastern edge of Russia, two sisters are abducted. In the ensuing weeks, then months, the police investigation turns up nothing. Echoes of the disappearance reverberate across a tightly woven community, with the fear and loss felt most deeply among its women.

Set on the remote Siberian peninsula of Kamchatka, Disappearing Earth draws us into the world of an astonishing cast of characters, all connected by an unfathomable crime. We are transported to vistas of rugged beauty – densely wooded forests, open expanses of tundra, soaring volcanoes and the glassy seas that border Japan and Alaska – and into a region as complex as it is alluring, where social and ethnic tensions have long simmered, and where outsiders are often the first to be accused.

In a story as propulsive as it is emotionally engaging, and through a young writer’s virtuosic feat of empathy and imagination, this powerful novel provides a new understanding of the intricate bonds of family and community, in a Russia unlike any we have seen before.

Beautifully written, thought-provoking, intense and cleverly wrought, this is the most extraordinary first novel from a mesmerising new talent.

 

THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES – SHARON CAMERON

The extraordinary story of Stefania Podgorska, a Polish teenager who chose bravery and humanity by hiding thirteen Jews in her attic during WWII — from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sharon Cameron.

One knock at the door, and Stefania has a choice to make…

It is 1943, and for four years, sixteen-year-old Stefania has been working for the Diamant family in their grocery store in Przemsyl, Poland, singing her way into their lives and hearts. She has even made a promise to one of their sons, Izio — a betrothal they must keep secret since she is Catholic and the Diamants are Jewish.

But everything changes when the German army invades Przemsyl. The Diamants are forced into the ghetto, and Stefania is alone in an occupied city, the only one left to care for Helena, her six-year-old sister. And then comes the knock at the door. Izio’s brother Max has jumped from the train headed to a death camp. Stefania and Helena make the extraordinary decision to hide Max, and eventually twelve more Jews. Then they must wait, every day, for the next knock at the door, the one that will mean death. When the knock finally comes, it is two Nazi officers, requisitioning Stefania’s house for the German army.

With two Nazis below, thirteen hidden Jews above, and a little sister by her side, Stefania has one more excruciating choice to make.

 

 

THINGS IN JARS – JESS KIDD

Bridie Devine, female detective extraordinaire, is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times

 

WILD – CHERYL STRAYED

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

 

 

 

KNOW MY NAME – CHANEL MILLER

She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.

Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways–there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.

Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic.

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Vote for November’s Lockdown Read

How is it November already! Anyway, time to vote on our monthly read for Elsie’s Attic Book Club. Here we are, back in lockdown so I have tried to choose some really decent reads to distract us and to cosy up with. To cast your vote, hop on over to our Facebook group here. Here’s a little about the five choices . . .

 

Just Ignore Him – Alan Davies

So this book is a hardback, which I know aren’t always popular but the reviews have been so unbelievable that I just thought I would put it out there . . .  Told with immense emotional depth, Davies’s memoir is an arresting and devastatingly honest account of childhood trauma, the quest for belonging, and the complex role of humour in overcoming adversity.

The story of a life built on sand. In the rain.

In this compelling memoir, comedian and actor Alan Davies recalls his boyhood with vivid insight and devastating humour. Shifting between his 1970s upbringing and his life today, Davies moves poignantly from innocence to experience to the clarity of hindsight, always with a keen sense of the absurd.

From sibling dynamics, to his voiceless, misunderstood progression through school, sexuality and humiliating ‘accidents’, Davies inhabits his younger mind with spectacular accuracy, sharply evoking an era when Green Shield Stamps, Bob-a-Job week and Whizzer & Chips loomed large, a bus fare was 2p – and children had little power in the face of adult motivation. Here, there are often exquisitely tender recollections of the mother he lost at six years old, of a bereaved family struggling to find its way, and the kicks and confusion of adolescence.

Through even the joyous and innocent memories, the pain of Davies’s lifelong grief and profound betrayal is unfiltered, searing and beautifully articulated. Just Ignore Him is not only an autobiography, it is a testament to a survivor’s resilience and courage.

 

The Split – Sharon Bolton

A year ago Felicity Lloyd fled England to South Georgia, one of the most remote islands in the world, escaping her past and the man she once loved. Can she keep running her whole life? Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder – and now he wants her back. Wherever she is, he won’t stop until he finds her. Will he be able to track her to the ends of the earth?

 

 

 

 

 

The Second Sleep – Robert Harris

All civilisations think they are invulnerable. History warns us none is.

1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts – coins, fragments of glass, human bones – which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death? The young priest finds an iPhone and what unfolds is truly captivating.

As Fairfax is drawn more deeply into the isolated community, everything he believes – about himself, his faith and the history of his world – is tested to destruction.

 

 

I am Watching You – Teresa Driscoll

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

 

Here to Stay – Mark Edwards

A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

From the two million copy bestselling author comes a tale about the chilling consequences of welcoming strangers into your home.

 

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Cast Your Vote for October’s Read

Is it really October already!? Perfect month for snuggling up in front of the fire with a good book, so let’s see of we can choose one!  I hope you find something you like amongst this month’s choices . . . to cast your vote, hop on over to the Facebook group.  Happy reading. Big love Amanda xx

 

The Jane Austen Society – Natalie Jenner 

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

 

 

The Invited – Jennifer McMahon

A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house–they build one . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artefacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbours toward unimaginable danger.

 

The Institute – Stephen King

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

 

Lariat Girl – Suzanne Prescott

What would you do if your child was abducted—and the ransom was your other child?
AN ORIGINAL, GRIPPING THRILLER WITH A STRONG FEARLESS HEROINE WHO RISKS HER LIFE TO SAVE HER BROTHER—AND AN UNFLINCHING DESCENT INTO THE DISTURBED MIND OF A KILLER. Based on the award-winning screenplay.

A routine blood donation puts high school senior and gifted athlete Kenley Madson in the path of a twisted serial killer who collects women who resemble his dead mother. When her little brother is kidnapped and held for an unthinkable ransom, Kenley must choose between her freedom and his. The choice is easy. What comes after is anything but.

While detectives and her family search for her, Kenley wakes up to a special kind of depraved hell—in a facility populated with blonde, green-eyed girls who all look like her. It’s a museum curated for one man. And every exhibit is a replica of his dead mama, their bodies primped and preened and scoured into perverted perfection. Although she’s never met a physical challenge she couldn’t master, surviving the mercurial whims of a perverse and delusional man—and the people who enable him—will push Kenley to her limits.

Lockdown – Peter May

Written over fifteen years ago, this prescient, suspenseful thriller is set against a backdrop of a capital city in quarantine, and explores human experience in the grip of a killer virus.

‘They said that twenty-five percent of the population would catch the flu. Between seventy and eighty percent of them would die. He had been directly exposed to it, and the odds weren’t good.’

A CITY IN QUARANTINE

London, the epicenter of a global pandemic, is a city in lockdown. Violence and civil disorder simmer. Martial law has been imposed. No-one is safe from the deadly virus that has already claimed thousands of victims. Health and emergency services are overwhelmed.

A MURDERED CHILD

At a building site for a temporary hospital, construction workers find a bag containing the rendered bones of a murdered child. A remorseless killer has been unleashed on the city; his mission is to take all measures necessary to prevent the bones from being identified.

A POWERFUL CONSPIRACY

D.I. Jack MacNeil, counting down the hours on his final day with the Met, is sent to investigate. His career is in ruins, his marriage over and his own family touched by the virus. Sinister forces are tracking his every move, prepared to kill again to conceal the truth. Which will stop him first – the virus or the killers?

 

 

 

 

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Vote for the Book of the Month for September!

Hi book peeps!  How is it September already! Looking forward to a cosy month with lots of reading, especially now the kids are back at school!  Here’s the five choices for this month, to cast your vote, hop on over to the Facebook group.  Happy reading. Big love Amanda xx

 

The Wild Silence – Raynor Winn 

Magical and life-affirming new book, The Wild Silence – the follow-up to the uplifting, Sunday Times, internationally bestselling, Wainwright prize shortlisted, and Costa shortlisted, The Salt Path.

Nature holds the answers for Raynor and her husband Moth. After walking 630 homeless miles along The Salt Path, living on the windswept and wild English coastline; the cliffs, the sky and the chalky earth now feel like their home.

Moth has a terminal diagnosis, but against all medical odds, he seems revitalized in nature. Together on the wild coastal path, with their feet firmly rooted outdoors, they discover that anything is possible.

Now, life beyond The Salt Path awaits and they come back to four walls, but the sense of home is illusive and returning to normality is proving difficult – until an incredible gesture by someone who reads their story changes everything.

A chance to breathe life back into a beautiful farmhouse nestled deep in the Cornish hills; rewilding the land and returning nature to its hedgerows becomes their saving grace and their new path to follow.

The Wild Silence is a story of hope triumphing over despair, of lifelong love prevailing over everything. It is a luminous account of the human spirit’s instinctive connection to nature, and how vital it is for us all.

 

Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

 

Fifty Fifty – Steve Cavanagh 

Two sisters on trial for murder. They accuse each other.
Who do YOU believe?

‘911 what’s your emergency?’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

One of them is a liar and a killer.

But which one?

 

 

Broken Ghost – Niall Griffiths

A Welsh community is drawn together and blown apart by a strange vision in the mountains: the huge spectre of a woman floating over a ridge. The people who live here in these mountains already have their own demons – drink, drugs, domestic violence, psychoses – but each character has a different experience of this strange apparition, a different reaction, and for some it will change everything. Is it a collective hallucination? A meteorological phenomenon? Whatever it is, they all saw something, early one morning on the shores of a mountain lake, something that will awaken in them powers and passions and, perhaps, a possibility of healing these broken people in a broken country.

An examination of modern humanity’s desperate need to live meaningfully and vividly in a mediated world – where individual autonomy is lost and the collective heart is atomised and exploited – this is a novel that gives voices to the marginalised, the dispossessed, the forgotten. Disturbing and unforgettable, darkly funny and deeply moving, written in a charged language that is vernacular, lyrical and hieratic all at once, Broken Ghost is – simultaneously – a howl of anguish and a summoning of gods.

 

The Nanny – Gillian Macmillan 

When her beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, seven-year-old Jocelyn Holt was devastated. Haunted by the loss, Jo grew up bitter and distant, and eventually left her parents and Lake Hall, their faded aristocratic home, behind.

Thirty years later, Jo returns to the house and is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew.

Then an unexpected visitor knocks on the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again. Desperate to piece together the gaping holes in her memory, Jo must uncover who her nanny really was, why she left, and if she can trust her own mother…

In this compulsively readable tale of secrets, lies, and deception, Gilly Macmillan explores the darkest impulses and desires of the human heart. Diabolically clever, The Nanny reminds us that sometimes the truth hurts so much you’d rather hear the lie.