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1. Love is Blind - William Boyd

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Love is Blind is William Boyd's sweeping, heart-stopping new novel -- set at the end of the 19th century, it follows the fortunes of Brodie Moncur, a young Scottish musician, about to embark on the story of his life. When Brodie is offered a job in Paris, he seizes the chance to flee Edinburgh and his tyrannical clergyman father, and begin a wildly different new chapter in his life. In Paris, a fateful encounter with a famous pianist irrevocably changes his future - and sparks an obsessive love affair with a beautiful Russian soprano, Lika Blum. Moving from Paris to St Petersburg to Edinburgh and back again, Brodie's love for Lika and its dangerous consequences pursue him around Europe and beyond, during an era of overwhelming change as the 19th century becomes the 20th. Love is Blind is a tale of dizzying passion and brutal revenge; of artistic endeavour and the illusions it creates; of all the possibilities that life can offer, and how cruelly they can be snatched away. At once an intimate portrait of one man's life and an expansive exploration of the beginning of the twentieth century, Love is Blind is a masterly new novel from one of Britain's best loved storytellers.

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2. The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club - Katie May

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Dive into The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club - the uplifting novel about friendship, community spirit and how ordinary people protect what they love. When Deb (ageing bikini, sunglasses) and Maisie (black wetsuit, swimming shoes, goggles) keep meeting on Reeves Beach, they strike up an unlikely friendship based on their love of swimming and their recent divorces. Soon, they are joined by other high tide swimmers, each with a crisis of their own to weather. Ann, a bossy organiser, is caring for her elderly mother at home; Julie has somehow (although she's not quite sure how) managed to produce three children under school age; and Chloe, a bright, brittle girl of fifteen, finds calmness in the water, and Quiet, anxious Bill is soon welcomed into the heart of the club. When the swimmers discover plans for their beach to be paved over for a leisure complex, together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the beach is more than just a place to swim - it is the heart of the community.

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3. The Orphan Girl - Lindsey Hutchinson

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A gritty tale of triumph over hardship, and justice for the downtrodden. Violet Clancy can take no more of her violent stepfather's attentions, so when he meets a tragic end she feels justice has been done. Looking around the bleak and pitiless Black Country town of Wednesbury, she realises that there are many other wrongs that she could help to put right. Joining a coterie of women who call themselves The Wednesbury Wives, Violet and her friends soon set about winning justice for the abused and trying to make life a little easier for those for whom grinding poverty is every day. But even in the hardest lives, some light must shine, and before long the wives find laughter and romance in their close-knit town. But will their friendships survive when some of their good deeds are brought into doubt, and some of their methods are called into question? And is justice always worth it, no matter what the price?

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4. A Home at Honeysuckle Farm - Christine Barlow

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A family secret One shocking argument and ten-year-old Alice Parker’s world was turned upside down. Her peaceful life at Honeysuckle Farm in the quiet rural village of Brook Bridge swapped for the bustling metropolis of New York City. Alice’s life was changed forever… A second chance Now, thirteen years later, Alice’s American dream is over. With her life in tatters, there is only one place Alice wants to be… home at Honeysuckle Farm. So, when Alice learns her beloved Grandie is ill, she knows this is her last chance to heal the family rift. A forever home? But secrets still swirl in Brook Bridge, and Alice is no closer to discovering the truth. And for some reason her new friendship with local heartthrob Sam Reid seems to be making the locals tense. Sick of the lies Alice knows it’s time to lay the past to rest once and for all. But could the truth ruin her hopes of ever calling Honeysuckle Farm home again

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5. Someone to Hold - Mary Balogh

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A reversal of fortune befalls a young woman in the second Westcott novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Only a Kiss and Someone to Love. Humphrey Wescott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune and a scandalous secret that will forever alter the lives of his family - sending one daughter on a journey of self-discovery. With her parents' marriage declared bigamous, Camille Westcott is now illegitimate and without a title. Looking to eschew the trappings of her old life, she leaves London to teach at the Bath orphanage where her newly discovered half-sister lived. But even as she settles in, she must sit for a portrait commissioned by her grandmother and endure an artist who riles her every nerve. An art teacher at the orphanage that was once his home, Joel Cunningham has been hired to paint the portrait of the haughty new teacher. But as Camille poses for Joel, their mutual contempt soon turns to desire. And it is only the bond between them that will allow them to weather the rough storm that lies ahead... This is the sparkling second 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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6. A Different Kind of Evil - Andrew Wilson

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Agatha Christie--the Queen of Crime--travels to the breathtaking Canary Islands to investigate the mysterious death of a British agent in this riveting sequel to the "twisty thriller" (Publishers Weekly) A Talent for Murder. Two months after the events of A Talent for Murder, during which Agatha Christie "disappeared," the famed mystery writer's remarkable talent for detection has captured the attention of British Special Agent Davison. Now, at his behest, she is traveling to the beautiful Canary Islands to investigate the strange and gruesome death of Douglas Greene, an agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service. As she embarks on a glamorous cruise ship to her destination, she suddenly hears a scream. Rushing over to the stern of the liner, she witnesses a woman fling herself over the side of the ship to her death. After this shocking experience, she makes it to the Grand Hotel in a lush valley on the islands. There, she meets a diverse and fascinating cast of characters, including two men who are suspected to be involved in the murder of Douglas Greene: an occultist similar to Aleister Crowley; and the secretary to a prominent scholar, who may also be a Communist spy. But Agatha soon realizes that nothing is what it seems here and she is surprised to learn that the apparent suicide of the young woman on the ocean liner is related to the murder of Douglas Greene. Now she has to unmask a different kind of evil in this sinister and thrilling mystery.

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7. An Orphan's Courage - Cathy Sharp

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St Saviours children’s home in London’s East End has provided a safe refuge for local children for decades and Sister Beatrice and her team are as busy as ever. New staff member Jinny is glad to escape the lewd advances of her drunken and slovenly mother’s rotten boyfriends, but can she prove she isn’t a chip off the old block? As ever, the staff are tested when orphaned brother and sister Andy and Beth are brought to the home – they are clearly terrified of something, and Andy refuses to be sent home, but can Sister Beatrice get to the bottom of their story before they are returned to their stepfather? It’s all in a day’s work for the home – but things are about to change forever – will they be ready to face the future?

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8. Sisters of Gold - Anne Murray

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Sisters Margaret and Annie lost their mother years ago, they long for her every day. Their frightfully protective father keeps the girls close but he can’t protect them forever . . . When a scandal rocks the family, the girls are forced to leave their home. The girls flee to Birmingham’s jewellery quarter to stay with the one person they can rely on – their uncle, goldsmith Ebenezer Watts and his warm-hearted wife, Hatt. Annie takes up work at a nearby factory, where she learns to forge cutlery, and Margaret is employed as a chain maker. By day Margaret works in cramped confines, alongside a local silversmith, and soon the links between the pair begin to bond . . . Annie’s work in the factory exposes her to great horrors but it also opens her heart to great possibility. But what are the Sisters of Gold hiding? They’ve escaped their past once – can it remain hidden?

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9. The Perfectly Imperfect Woman - Milly Johnson

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Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change. Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks. But soon Marnie finds that Wychwell has claimed her as its own and she is duty bound not to leave. Even if what she has to do makes her as unpopular as a force 12 gale in a confetti factory! But everyone has imperfections, as Marnie comes to realise, and that is not such a bad thing – after all, your flaws are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you.

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10. Letters to My Daughters - Emma Hannigan

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To sisters Bea, Jeannie and Rose, the death of their beloved childhood nanny is a devastating loss. As the girls grew up, Nanny May had become so much more to them all: confidant, advocate, comforter, friend. In whom will they confide their hopes, fears and failures now she has gone? Especially now each sister needs a mother's wisdom more than ever... Martha cannot understand why her daughters are so upset about losing their childhood nanny. Yes, Martha was always in demand as a busy midwife, but that doesn't mean she loved her own children any less. But why don't the girls realise that? And has she left it too late to let them know...?

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11. An Unexplained Death - Mikita Brottman

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When the body of a missing man is discovered in the Belvedere, an apparent suicide, resident Mikita Brottman becomes obsessed with the mysterious circumstances of his death. The Belvedere used to be a hotel dating back to Baltimore's Golden Age but is now converted into flats, and as Brottman investigates the perplexing case of the dead man, she soon becomes caught up in the strange and violent secrets of the Belvedere's past. Her compulsions drive her to an investigation lasting over a decade. Utterly absorbing and unnerving, An Unexplained Death will lead you down the dark and winding corridors of the Belvedere and into the deadly impulses and obsessions of the human heart.

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12. The Epic Voyages of Maud Berridge - Sally Berridge

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Maud Berridge (1845-1907) was the wife of a Master Mariner, and she travelled with him on at least five occasions (1869, 1880, 1882, 1883, 1886), sailing to Melbourne with emigrants and cargo. The first occasion was 1869 just after they were married, when Henry was Captain of the Walmer Castle, and they returned via New Zealand instead of travelling east and around Cape Horn. However, most of Henry and Maud's voyages were undertaken in the three-masted clipper Superb, sailing from Gravesend at the start of summer and leaving Melbourne for home at the end of the year (the southern summer, best for heading east with the trade winds and rounding Cape Horn). Record times taken from London to Melbourne under Captain Henry were 79 days (1878), 76 days (1881) and a final time of 74 days (1886). In 1880, Maud and Henry took their two sons (aged six and eight) with them. In 1883, they sailed on from Melbourne to Newcastle in New South Wales to take on a load of coal, then on through the Windward Isles to San Francisco (51 days). Here they stayed for two months exploring SF and surrounds, unloaded the coal and took on a load of wheat (in large bags) at Port Costa. They then sailed down the west coast of the Americas, around Cape Horn and on to Queenstown in County Cork (134 days). The whole voyage took 14 months. There are also some photographs of Henry, Maud and the crew taken in San Francisco, and a photo from the State Library of Victoria showing the Superb at dock in Melbourne. Maud wrote diaries of these voyages of which one in particular, that of the 1883 voyage, comprise some 50 000 words. The book will tell Maud's story through her own words and through a number of relevant contemporary documents and will paint a picture of the life of a captain's wife in the Victorian era as well as aspects of society in Britain, the US and Australia at the time. Her enthusiasm for new experiences shines through her writing.

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13. The Essex Serpent - Sarah Perry

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London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne's controlling husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness. Along with her son Francis - a curious, obsessive boy - she leaves town for Essex, in the hope that fresh air and open space will provide refuge. On arrival, rumours reach them that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for superstition, is enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a yet-undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter's vicar, who is also deeply suspicious of the rumours, but thinks they are a distraction from true faith. As he tries to calm his parishioners, Will and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves at once drawn together and torn apart, affecting each other in ways that surprise them both. The Essex Serpent is a celebration of love, and the many different shapes it can take.

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14. Johannesburg - Fiona Melrose

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It is a searing hot day in Johannesburg. Gin has returned to the city of her birth to throw a party for her mother's eightieth birthday. She is determined, with lists and meals and flower arrangements, to show that she has become a fully capable woman. She knows, deep down, her mother will only ever see a lost cause. Meanwhile outside, crowds of citizens and the world's media have gathered to hear the expected announcement: Nelson Mandela has died. Set across the course of a single momentous day and narrated by a chorus of voices, Fiona Melrose's second novel is a hymn to an extraordinary city and its people, an ambitious homage to Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway, and a devastating personal and political manifesto on mothers and daughters, justice and love.

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15. The Sealwoman’s Gift - Sally Magnusson

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In 1627 Barbary pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted some 400 of its people, including 250 from a tiny island off the mainland. Among the captives sold into slavery in Algiers were the island pastor, his wife and their three children. Although the raid itself is well documented, little is known about what happened to the women and children afterwards. It was a time when women everywhere were largely silent.

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16. Three Weddings and a Scandal - Wendy Holden

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Laura Lake longs to be a journalist. Instead she's an unpaid intern at a glossy magazine – sleeping in the fashion cupboard and living on canapés. But she's just got her first big break: infiltrate three society weddings and write a juicy exposé. Security will be tighter than a bodycon dress, but how hard can it be? Cue disappearing brides, demanding socialites – and a jealous office enemy who will do anything to bring her down...

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17. Pulse - Michael Harvey

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Boston, 1976. In a small apartment above Kenmore Square, sixteen-year-old Daniel Fitzsimmons is listening to his landlord describe a seemingly insane theory about invisible pulses of light and energy that can be harnessed by the human mind. He longs to laugh with his brother Harry about it, but Harry doesn't know he's there--he would never approve of Daniel living on his own. None of that matters, though, because the next night Harry, a Harvard football star, is murdered in an alley. Detectives "Bark" Jones and Tommy Dillon are assigned to the case. The veteran partners thought they'd seen it all, but they are stunned when Daniel wanders into the crime scene. Even stranger, Daniel claims to have known the details of his brother's murder before it ever happened. The subsequent investigation leads the detectives deep into the Fitzsimmons brothers' past. They find heartbreaking loss, sordid characters, and metaphysical conspiracies. Even on the rough streets of 1970s Boston, Jones and Dillon have never had a case like this.

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18. On the Bright Side - Hendrik Groen

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Chaos will ensue as 85-year-old Hendrik Groen is determined to grow old with dignity: to rise up against the care home director. NO more bingo. NO more over-boiled vegetables. NO more health and safety. 85-year-old Hendrik Groen is fed up to his false teeth with coffee mornings and bingo. He dreams of escaping the confines of his care home and practising hairpin turns on his mobility scooter. Inspired by his fellow members of the recently formed Old-But-Not-Dead Club, he vows to put down his custard cream and commit to a spot of octogenarian anarchy. But the care home's Director will not stand for drunken bar crawls, illicit fireworks and geriatric romance on her watch. The Old-But-Not-Dead Club must stick together if they're not to go gently into that good night. Things turn more serious, however, when rumours surface that the home is set for demolition. It's up to Hendrik and the gang to stop it - or drop dead trying . . He may be the wrong side of 85, but Hendrik Groen has no intention of slowing up - or going down without a fight.

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19. The Cast - Danielle Steel

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Kait Whittier has built her magazine column into a hugely respected read. But after two marriages, she prefers to avoid the complications and uncertainties of a new love. Then, after a chance meeting with television producer Zack Winter, everything changes. Inspired by the true story of her own grandmother, Kait creates the storyline for a TV series. Within weeks, Kait is plunged into a colourful, star-studded world which will bring her vision to life. As secrets are shared and revelations come to light, friendships deepen. But in the midst of this charmed year, Kait is forced to confront the greatest challenge a mother could ever know.

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20. Forever and a Day - Anthony Horowitz

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A spy is dead. A legend is born. This is how it all began. The explosive prequel to Casino Royale, from bestselling author Anthony Horowitz. M laid down his pipe and stared at it tetchily. 'We have no choice. We’re just going to bring forward this other chap you’ve been preparing. But you didn’t tell me his name.' 'It’s Bond, sir,' the Chief of Staff replied. 'James Bond.'

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