Reviews

The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse

Although on compassionate leave from her job as a police detective, Elin Warner has no desire to travel. But, when an invitation to her estranged brother’s engagement party arrives, she cannot refuse. So she finds herself in an ultra-modern and very isolated hotel in the Swiss Alps. The new hotel might be the height of luxury, but Elin senses a strange feeling about the place. Maybe it is only the hotel’s history as a sanatorium?
However, they wake up the next morning to find her brother Isaac’s fiancée is missing. With the hotel cut off from the outside world by a major snowstorm, Elin is tasked by the Swiss police to investigate the disappearance. As time passes and they are no nearer to finding her, the remaining hotel guests begin to panic. But nobody has realised that another woman is also missing. Read More »

The Ice, by Laline Paull

A frozen corpse emerges from a glacier under the startled eye of a cruise ship full of tourists. The body is quickly identified as Tom Harding, who was lost in an accident over three years ago. Tom’s friend Sean survived the accident but has lived with the uncertainties and guilt ever since. But what other secrets lie hidden in this cold and unpredictable place? Read More »

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 »