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  ‘My idea is to create a collection of fairy tales and folklore that works upon the model they initiated in the Household Tales. I want to go further than them, however. … What I will produce will be pure, the original language of the peasants, the true magic. That is why it’s vital that … Continue readings

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  Katharine Johnson’s The Secret is set in Santa Zita, Italy. Both a historical novel and thriller, it moves rather seamlessly between the past, the Second World War, and present, when the village is undergoing regeneration. As part of the latter, journalist Carlo returns to his birthplace to open a restaurant with wife Cass. His … Continue readings

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  In the early pages of James Flint’s Midland, Alex Wold receives news of two deaths, that of the bottlenose whale, whom he’d waded into the Thames, earlier that day, to help save, and then, moments later, that of Tony Nolan, his former step-father. As James and his estranged brother come together with other members … Continue readings

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  We were huge fans of Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Language of Secrets; thus, it’s a pleasure that Among the Ruins, the third novel featuring Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, measures up. It’s beautifully written, has tight characterisation and plot, a great evocation of place and, more to the point, it’s relevant. The book opens … Continue readings

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    I’ve lived a life, several lives. I was the daughter of a violent father, the wife of a violent husband; oppressed by weak men who only knew how to express themselves with their fists. Now, at thirty-two years old, I’m living something close to the life I hoped for. I’ve got a successful … Continue readings

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  There was once an inn that sat peacefully on the bank of the Thames at Radcot, a long day’s walk from the source. There were a great many inns along the upper reaches of the Thames at the time of this story … but beyond the usual ale and cider, each one had some … Continue readings

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  West Camel, first of all what a great name … Now that’s out of my system, Attend, Camel’s debut novel, is yet another fine example of clever publishing by Karen Sullivan’s Orenda Books. Set in Deptford, south London, the book opens with a meeting between Anne, who’s recently returned to the area, and Deborah, … Continue readings

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    “The fat guy laid his suitcase down and popped the locks, then lifted out two green cylinders from the foam packing. He laid them carefully on the ground and slotted them together before twisting off the end to reveal a red cap. The other man had his suitcase open; he lifted a black … Continue readings

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  Madras has been his home for twenty years, since 1905 … He was comfortable here. … India had certainly changed since his arrival but, despite rising calls for political independence, Gandhi’s mass civil disobedience campaigns, British India’s obdurate response and his own allegiances being challenged by a growing sympathy for India’s cause, the place … Continue readings

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  Lily Buckley’s lived through every bride’s ultimate nightmare, as Colleen Coleman’s For Once in My Life opens – being jilted at the alter by a man who not only tells her he doesn’t love her, but professes undying love for someone else. And yet she’s apparently lived to tell the tale. Or not. Three … Continue readings

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  When Patricia Feinberg Stoner and husband, Patrick, fell in love with a small brown-and-white spaniel, while holidaying at their home in France, little did they envisage the impact it would have on their lives. They spent the next few years living in Morbignan la Crèbe, a small village in Languedoc, encountering all kinds of … Continue readings

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  ‘For everyone, everywhere, who believes in freedom and equality for all’: the dedication to The Word for Freedom, a short story anthology celebrating one hundred years of women’s suffrage, speaks for itself. At the very heart of the collection, edited by Amanda Saint and Rose McGinty, is the fact that ‘we still need words … Continue readings

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