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.