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21. SAS Italian Job - Damien Lewis

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In the hard-fought winter of 1944 the Allies advanced northwards through Italy, but stalled on the fearsome mountainous defences of the Gothic Line. Two men were parachuted in, in an effort to break the deadlock. Their mission: to penetrate deep into enemy territory and lay waste to the Germans' impregnable headquarters. At the eleventh hour mission commanders radioed for David 'The Mad Piper' Kilpatrick to be flown in, resplendent in his tartan kilt. They wanted this fearless war hero to lead the assault, piping Highland Laddie as he went - so leaving an indelible British signature to deter Nazi reprisals.

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22. How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain - Ruth Goodman

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Historian and popular BBC TV presenter Ruth Goodman, author of How to Be a Tudor, offers up a history of Renaissance Britain - the offensive language, insulting gestures, insolent behaviour, brawling and scandal of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries - with practical tips on just how to horrify the Tudor neighbours. From royalty to peasantry, every age has its bad eggs, those who break all the rules and rub everyone up the wrong way. But their niggling, anti-social and irritating ways not only tell us about what upset people, but also what mattered to them, how their society functioned and what kind of world they lived in. In this brilliantly nitty-gritty exploration of real life in the Tudor and Stuart age, you will discover: - how to choose the perfect insult, whether it be draggletail, varlet, flap, saucy fellow, strumpet, ninny-hammer or stinkard - why quoting Shakespeare was very poor form - the politics behind men kissing each other on the lips - why flashing the inside of your hat could repulse someone - the best way to mock accents, preachers, soldiers and pretty much everything else besides Ruth Goodman draws upon advice books and manuals, court cases and sermons, drama and imagery to outline bad behaviour from the gauche to the galling, the subtle to the outrageous. It is a celebration of drunkards, scolds, harridans and cross dressers in a time when calling a man a fool could get someone killed, and cursing wasn't just rude, it worked! 'Ruth is the queen of living history - long may she reign!' Lucy Worsley

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23. Pandemic 1918 - Catharine Arnold

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In the dying months of World War I, Spanish flu suddenly overwhelmed the world, killing between 50 and 100 million people. German soldiers termed it Blitzkatarrh, British soldiers called it Flanders Grippe, but globally the pandemic gained the notorious title of 'Spanish Flu'. Nowhere escaped this common enemy: in Britain, 250,000 people died, in the United States it was 750,000, five times its total military fatalities in the war, while European deaths reached over two million. The numbers are staggering. And yet at the time, news of the danger was suppressed for fear of impacting war-time morale. Even today these figures are shocking to many - the war still hiding this terrifying menace in its shadow. And behind the numbers are human lives, stories of those who suffered and fought it - in the hospitals and laboratories. Catharine Arnold traces the course of the disease, its origins and progress, across the globe via these remarkable people. Some are well known to us, like British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, US President Woodrow Wilson, and writers Robert Graves and Vera Brittain, but many more are unknown. They are the doughboys from the US, gold miners in South Africa, schoolgirls in Great Britain and many others. Published 100 years after the most devastating pandemic in world history, Pandemic 1918 uses previously unpublished records, memoirs, diaries and government publications to uncover the human story of 1918.

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24. The Escape - CL Taylor

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When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't. The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband, Max, and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise. What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her. Jo knows there's only one way to keep Elise safe… run.

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25. Lullaby - Leila Slimani

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The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds. When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family's chic apartment in Paris's upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties. The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul's idyllic tableau is shattered...

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26. The Lido - Libby Page

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Everything Rosemary knows is changing. Only the local lido remains a constant reminder of the past. Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She's on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist and is determined to make something of it. When the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim - it is the heart of the community.

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27. Let Me Lie - Clare Mackintosh

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One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since. Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents' deaths. But by digging up the past, is she putting her future in danger? Sometimes it's safer to let things lie…

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28. The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena

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Your neighbour told you that she didn't want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn't stand her crying. Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You'll have the baby monitor and you'll take it in turns to go back every half hour. Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She's gone. You've never had to call the police before. But now they're in your home, and who knows what they'll find there.

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29. Kompromat - Stanley Johnson

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2016. The world is on the brink of crisis. In Britain, the British Prime Minister is fighting a referendum he thought couldn’t be lost. In the USA, brash showman, Ronald Craig is fighting a Presidential Election nobody thought he could win. In the USSR, Igor Popov, the Russian President, is using both events as part of his plan to destabilise the West. Three men who could change the course of the world forever. In his brilliant new thriller, Stanley Johnson, former MEP, has written an alternative account of the seismic events that took place on both sides of the Atlantic.

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30. Day of the Dead - Nicci French

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On a north London high street, a runaway vehicle crashes to a halt. The man in the driving seat was murdered a week earlier. On Hampstead Heath, a bonfire blazes: in the flames lies the next victim. As autumn leaves fall, a serial killer runs amok in the capital, playing games with the police. The death toll is rising fast, and the investigation is floundering. But this is no ordinary killer, and every new victim is intended as a message to just one woman. Because psychologist Frieda Klein is in hiding. And someone is coming to find her . . .

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31. The Only Story - Julian Barnes

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Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question. First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn’t know anything about that at nineteen. At nineteen, he’s proud of the fact his relationship flies in the face of social convention. As he grows older, the demands placed on Paul by love become far greater than he could possibly have foreseen. Tender and wise, The Only Story is a deeply moving novel by one of fiction’s greatest mappers of the human heart.

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32. The Death Beat - Fiona Veitch Smith

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Poppy Denby is furious with Rollo, who has gambled away his position at the Daily Globe and is being banished to New York. That is, until she discovers he plans to take her with him to work at the New York Times! Poppy can’t wait to report on the Manhattan arts scene, but her hopes are crushed when she is allocated The Death Beat – writing obituaries. But Poppy has a nose for a story, and when a body is found in a luxury penthouse apartment she starts to investigate. She unravels a sordid trail and an unexpected ghost from her past. Poppy is determined to help the victims, but can she find the evidence to bring the perpetrators to justice without putting her own life in danger…

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33. The Evacuee Christmas - Katie King

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A heart-warming story of friendship and family during the first Christmas of World War Two. Autumn 1939 and London prepares to evacuate its young. In No 5 Jubilee Street, Bermondsey, ten-year-old Connie is determined to show her parents that she's a brave girl and can look after her twin brother, Jessie. She won't cry, not while anyone's watching. In the crisp Yorkshire Dales, Connie and Jessie are billeted to a rambling vicarage. Kindly but chaotic, Reverend Braithwaite is determined to keep his London charges on the straight and narrow, but the twins soon find adventures of their own. As autumn turns to winter, Connie's dearest wish is that war will end and they will be home for Christmas. But this Christmas Eve there will be an unexpected arrival.

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34. Death in Paris - Emilia Bernhard

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When French financier Edgar Bowen drowns in a bowl of soup, his former girlfriend, American Rachel Levis, is alarmed by the unnatural death. Who dies eating a nice vichyssoise? After the police rule the death accidental, Rachel knows it’s up to her and her best friend Magda to investigate. As the two Americans immerse themselves in Edgar’s upper-class world, the list of suspects grows. But when the suspects start dropping like flies, Rachel and Magda realize the murderer is tying up loose ends. It’ll be up to two amateur sleuths to solve their first case before the murderer decides they’re next...

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35. Someone to Love - Mary Balogh

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'Today's superstar heir to the marvellous legacy of Georgette Heyer' Susan Elizabeth Phillips The New York Times bestselling author of Only a Kiss launches a new series with the death of an earl and the revelation of a scandalous secret . . . Humphrey Wescott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family - including the daughter no one knew he had . . . Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl's guardian is interested in Anna . . . Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long. This is the sparkling first novel in the Regency romance Westcott series by New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh - perfect for fans of Grace Burrowes and Stephanie Laurens

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36. Cry to Dream Again - Jane Hawking

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From the number-one bestselling author of Travelling to Infinity: The True Story behind The Theory of Everything. Book 2 in the Immortal Souls series. In 1930s Greater London, Shirley is a talented ballerina who dreams of becoming a principal dancer at the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company. Yet one summer, on the way back from staying with her grandparents in France, she meets a handsome young man, Alan, for a fleeting moment and her life changes for ever. Finding him becomes an obsession for Shirley and now she longs to fulfil her dreams in the ballet simply so that he might see her name in lights and know where to find her. With the outbreak of the Second World War, and those she loves in danger, Shirley's priority becomes to help in the war effort, but with Alan appearing once more in her life, and the war threatening to part them for a second time, she knows that she cannot cope if she were to lose him again.

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37. One Cornish Summer - Liz Fenwick

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Against the beauty of Cornwall, a story of two women struggling with their past: one cannot remember hers, the other cannot forget... When Hebe receives a life-changing diagnosis at only 53, she struggles to make sense of what it will mean for her, her job and the man she loves. With memories slipping away by the day, she flees to the one place she has always felt safe and peaceful - Cornwall, and the house her family spent so many summers in. Lucy is having her own crisis, and seizes the chance to follow her aunt to Cornwall. Curious about what has driven Hebe there after so many years, she also has to battle with the secret she has kept since her family's last summer there more than ten years ago. Both women will learn that memories live in our hearts and that sharing secrets can set you free... But can they find their way back to the things that are truly important to them?

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38. The Sapphire Widow - Dinah Jeffries

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Ceylon, 1935. Louisa Reeve, the daughter of a successful British gem trader, and her husband Elliot, a charming, thrill-seeking businessman, seem like the couple who have it all. Except what they long for more than anything: a child. While Louisa struggles with miscarriages, Elliot is increasingly absent, spending much of his time at a nearby cinnamon plantation, overlooking the Indian ocean. After his sudden death, Louisa is left alone to solve the mystery he left behind. Revisiting the plantation at Cinnamon Hills, she finds herself unexpectedly drawn towards the owner Leo, a rugged outdoors man with a chequered past. The plantation casts a spell, but all is not as it seems. And when Elliot's shocking betrayal is revealed, Louisa has only Leo to turn to..

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39. Bad Guys - Linwood Barclay

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Much to his family's relief, stay-at-home writer Zack Walker finally gets a job outside of the house. Surely, becoming a journalist will keep his overactive imagination in check. Zack's protective instincts must work over-time to keep his kids safe from dangers - real and imagined. While writing his feature article, Zack stumbles into the centre of a web of murder and deceit. What seems like a tragic accidental hit-and-run may actually be a far darker crime. And Zack will find himself in the dark about who the good guys are, what the bad guys want, and what he's started to uncover…

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40. The Madonna of the Mountains - Elise Valmorbida

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An epic, inspiring novel about one woman's survival in the hardscrabble Italian countryside and her determination to protect her family throughout the Second World War--by any means possible Maria Vittoria is twenty-five when her father brings home the man who will become her husband. It is 1923 in the austere Italian mountain village where her family has lived for generations, and the man she sees is tall and handsome and has survived the First World War without any noticeable scars. Taking just the linens she has sewn that make up her dowry and a statue of the Madonna that sits by her bedside, Maria leaves the only life she has ever known to begin a family. But her future will not be what she imagines. The Madonna of the Mountains follows Maria over the next three decades, as she moves to the town where she and her husband become shopkeepers, through the birth of their five children, through the hardships and cruelties of the National Fascist Party Rule and the Second World War. Struggling with the cost of survival at a time when food is scarce and allegiances are questioned, Maria trusts no one and fears everyone--her Fascist cousin, the madwoman from her childhood, her watchful neighbors, the Nazis and the Partisans who show up hungry at her door. As Maria's children grow up and her marriage endures its own hardships, she must hold her family together with resilience, love, and faith, until she makes a fateful decision that will change the course of all their lives. A sweeping saga about womanhood, loyalty, war, religion, family, food, motherhood, and marriage, The Madonna of the Mountains is a poignant look at the span of one woman's life as the rules change and her world becomes unrecognizable. In depicting the great cost of war and the ineluctable power of time on a life, Elise Valmorbida has created an unforgettable portrait of a woman navigating both the unforeseen and the inevitable.

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