Sunday, 1 February 2015

St Ives Bookshop January Recommendations: with thanks

Oops where did January go? I would like to say in a flurry of snow, but the nearest we have got to snow at the campsite, is very fine hailstones which bank up at the sides of hedges and almost pass for snow, but not quite. However, the early nights, the dark afternoons, the cold north wind and the lashing rain and stormy seas have encouraged me to snuggle in by the stove or aga - when not out enjoying the sunny days - and do some research on the books recommended throughout January by my favourite bookshop in St Ives.

In no particular order, here they are:

THE LEWIS MAN by Peter May
An unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog; the only clue to its identity being a DNA sibling match to a local farmer. But this islander, Tormod Macdonald - now an elderly man suffering from dementia - has always claimed to be an only child. When Tormod's family approach Fin Macleod for help, Fin feels duty-bound to solve the mystery.

LOVE NINA BY Nina Stibbe.
In the 1980s Nina Stibbe wrote letters home to her sister in Leicester describing her trials and triumphs as a nanny to a London family. There's a cat nobody likes, a visiting dog called Ted Hughes (Ted for short) and suppertime visits from a local playwright. Not to mention the two boys, their favourite football teams, and rude words, a very broad-minded mother and assorted nice chairs.
From the mystery of the unpaid milk bill and the avoidance of nuclear war to mealtime discussions on pie filler, the greats of English literature, swearing in German and sexually transmitted diseases, Love, Nina is a wonderful celebration of bad food, good company and the relative merits of Thomas Hardy and Enid Blyton.
South-West Germany, 1926. The disappearance of a baby girl calls for Constable Theodore Hildebrandt and his son Klaus to visit the remote village of Hindelheim, a place where nothing ever happens. But the news of the missing baby has brought darkness to the community. It is as if someone or something wicked is playing a game. As the wind blows and the mist thickens, tensions rise amongst the villagers as everyone falls under suspicion. And when the rumours begin and secrets start to unravel, the quiet village of Hindelheim is set to change for ever.

Kat Kavanagh is not in love. She has lots of friends, an ordinary job, and she never ever thinks about her past. This is Kat's story. None of it is true. Milo McIntyre loves his mam, the peanut-butter-and-banana muffins at the Funky Banana cafe, and the lifesaving class he does after school. He never thinks about his future, until the day it changes forever. This is Milo's story. All of it is true. And then there is the other story. The one with a twist of fate which somehow brings together a boy from Brighton and a woman in Dublin, and uncovers the truth once and for all. This is the story that's just about to begin . . .
Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey's stunning debut novel, introduces a mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon's Christopher. Meet Maud ...
'Elizabeth is missing', reads the note in Maud's pocket in her own handwriting.
Lately, Maud's been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she's made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war.

It's 1946 and Juliet Ashton can't think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey - by chance, he's acquired a book that once belonged to her - and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it's not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.
A TAP ON THE WINDOW by Linwood Barclay
When Cal Weaver stops at a red light on a rainy night while driving home, he ignores the bedraggled-looking teenage girl trying to hitch a ride - even when she starts tapping on his window. But when he realises she's one of his son's classmates, he knows he can't really leave her, alone, on the street.
But nothing prepares him for the consequences of trying to help her out. The next morning he's gone from Good Samaritan to Murder Suspect, and with one girl dead and another missing, he's suddenly at the centre of a deadly puzzle that reaches right to the heart of the town - from its bullying police force to its strangely furtive mayor - and finally to one family's shocking secret.
Pearl doesn't know how she's ended up in the river – the same messy, cacophonous river in the same rain-soaked valley she'd been stuck in for years. Or why, for that matter, she'd been stupid enough to fall down those rickety stairs.

Ada, Pearl's daughter, doesn't know how she's ended up back in the house she left thirteen years ago – with no heating apart from a fire she can't light, no way of getting around apart from an old car she's scared to drive, and no company apart from echoing footsteps on the damp floorboards. With her daughter Pepper, she starts to sort through Pearl's things, clearing the house so she can leave and not look back.

Pepper has grown used to following her restless mother from place to place, but this house, with its faded photographs, its boxes of cameras and its stuffed jackdaw, is something new. Fascinated by the scattering of people she meets, by the river that unfurls through the valley, and by the strange old woman who sits on the bank with her feet in the cold, coppery water, Pepper doesn't know why anyone would ever want to leave.

As the first frosts of autumn herald the coming of a long winter and Pepper and Ada find themselves irresistibly entangled with the life of the valley, each will discover the ways that places can take root inside us and bind us together.
THE SNOW CHILD by Eowyn Ivey 
Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?
Written with the clarity and vividness of the Russian fairy tale from which it takes its inspiration, THE SNOW CHILD is a bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope.

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