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The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid and her sole purpose in life is to breed. Her existence is strictly controlled and highly restricted by the totalitarian regime under which America now lives. The birth rate has declined so drastically that certain measures have been put in place. Offred has been assigned to a high-ranking Commander and his Wife, to provide them with a baby.
If she fails or disobeys in any way, she faces a public hanging or exile into the barren radioactive wastelands. But Offred remembers her life before becoming a Handmaid. She remembers her name, her family and the freedom she used to enjoy. Will the threat of execution or exile be enough to stop her from seeking out her family and freedom? Read More »

Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi

Effia and Esi are sisters, but they have never met. Born in Ghana, on Africa’s Gold Coast, they are destined for very different futures. One will be sold into slavery and journey to America. The other will become the wife of a white man, a slave trader. The consequences of these very different fates will be felt through the generations. This is their story and the story of those who came after them. Read More »

The Last Letter from Your Lover, by Jojo Moyes

When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in hospital in 1960, she does not remember anything. Not the terrible car accident that put her in hospital. Not her husband or her friends, nor even who she is. Discharged and returned home, Jennifer feels like a stranger in her own life, and certainly in her marriage bed. By chance, she comes across a hand-written letter urging her to leave her husband and run away. The letter is signed simply “B”.
In 2003, journalist Ellie comes across the same letter in her newspaper’s archive. She is determined to track down the people in this letter and find out their story. Her career is floundering and she hopes this feature will set it straight again. But the letter has connected with her on a personal level as well. Maybe in finding these lovers from long ago and unearthing their story, she will be able to make sense of her confused love-life as well. Read More »

The Boy in the Suitcase, by Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis

Nina Borg is a Red Cross nurse living in Copenhagen with her family. She is dedicated to her work and to helping people in need. So, when her old friend Karin calls her in a panic and asks for her help, she cannot say no. Karin gives Nina the key to a storage locker at the station and asks her to retrieve the contents. Nina was in no way expecting what she finds. Inside the locker is a suitcase, and inside the suitcase is a three-year-old boy, drugged and naked. Read More »

The Summer of Impossible Things, by Rowan Coleman

In the wake of their mother’s passing, Luna and her sister Pia have travelled to Brooklyn to oversee the sale of an old family building. They hope to find some small mementoes of their mother’s life in this place, but something else very unexpected happens. Luna finds herself drawn to this old dilapidated building, when suddenly it is no longer abandoned, but new and occupied. Nothing prepares her for coming face to face with her mother, in 1977. As she explores this startling shift in reality, Luna must decide what she is prepared to do to save her mother’s life, even at the cost of her own. Read More »

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Her already hellish existence as a slave is made worse by the fact that her mother escaped years ago, leaving Cora, just a child, alone in the world. As a result, she is an outcast among her fellow slaves. Faced with her bitter future, she jumps at the chance of escape, in the form of Caesar, a slave newly arrived from Virginia.
Caesar tells her of his contacts with the Underground Railroad, which nobody believes operates so far south. One dark night they escape the plantation and make their way to the nearest station. The Underground Railroad is a physical railway, built underground and drawn along by a steam engine. Secret stations and station masters help to hide and transport slaves to freedom. But Cora is pursued by a terrifying slave-hunter, determined to catch her after he failed to do so with her mother. Read More »

Miss Benson’s Beetle, by Rachel Joyce

Margery Benson is a middle-aged spinster, with no living family, working a dead-end job teaching ungrateful children about domestic science in the aftermath of WWII. In a blinding moment of clarity, she quits her job and decides to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. She will journey to New Caledonia, on the other side of the world, in search of a rare golden beetle that may or may not exist.
But she cannot hope to do all of this alone. She will need an assistant for her expedition! Enid Pretty is probably the last person Margery would want accompanying her, but she is her only option. In her vibrant pink travelling suit, Enid could not be more different from dowdy and dumpy Miss Benson, and the two women do not exactly hit it off. But when faced with circumstances neither of them could have imagined, both women discover untapped strengths within themselves and a very unlikely friendship. Read More »

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig

Nora Seed is miserable. She just lost her job, she is estranged from her brother, her mother passed away recently, she gave up on her dreams, she ended her engagement just days before her wedding. And her cat just got killed by a car. Life doesn’t seem worth living, so she decides to end it.
But instead of dying, Nora ends up in the Midnight Library. In this library between life and death, the shelves go on forever and they are all filled with books. Each book represents a different life she might have lived, had she made different choices. With the help of the librarian, she must now try to find what makes a life worth living, and discover what that life might look like. Read More »

Small Island, by Andrea Levy

Gilbert Joseph joined the RAF during WWII, along with thousands of other Jamaicans, to fight for the “Mother Country”. Returning to England after the war, Gilbert finds a changed world and one in which his service to his mother country is not recognised or appreciated. In desperation, he turns to one of his only friends in England, Queenie Bligh. Queenie’s neighbours do not approve of her taking in Jamaican lodgers, but what else can she do? Her husband has not returned from the war, even though it has been over for three years now. She is alone in a big house and needs the money. She also has a secret, one which makes her more inclined towards being kind to coloured people than most of her neighbours.
The war may be over, but at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Read More »