A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Synopsis
Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry the troubled and bitter Rasheed, who is thirty years her senior. Nearly two decades later, in a climate of growing unrest, tragedy strikes fifteen-year-old Laila, who must leave her home and join Mariam’s unhappy household. Laila and Mariam are to find consolation in each other, their friendship to grow as deep as the bond between sisters, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. With the passing of time comes Taliban rule over Afghanistan, the streets of Kabul loud with the sound of gunfire and bombs, life a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear, the women’s endurance tested beyond their worst imaginings. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism. In the end, it is love that triumphs over death and destruction. “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is an unforgettable portrait of a wounded country and a deeply moving story of family and friendship. It is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely bond and an indestructible love

Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann
Synopsis
1992: Leo Deakin wakes up in a hospital somewhere in South America, his girlfriend Eleni is dead and Leo doesn’t know where he is or how Eleni died. He blames himself for the tragedy and is sucked into a spiral of despair. But Leo is about to discover something which will change his life forever. 1917: Moritz Daniecki is a fugitive from a Siberian POW camp. Seven thousand kilometres over the Russian Steppes separate him from his village and his sweetheart, whose memory has kept him alive through carnage and captivity. The Great War may be over, but Moritz now faces a perilous journey across a continent riven by civil war. When Moritz finally limps back into his village to claim the hand of the woman he left behind, will she still be waiting? Danny Scheinmann paints a dramatic portrait of two men sustaining their lives through the memory of love. Cinematic and brimming with raw emotions, it is the magnificent and emotive debut from a remarkable new writer.

The Rose Of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon
Synopsis
Russia, 1854: the Crimean War grinds on, and as the bitter winter draws near, the battlefield hospitals fill with dying men. In defiance of Florence Nightingale, Rosa Barr – young, headstrong and beautiful – travels to Balaklava, determined to save as many of the wounded as she can. For Mariella Lingwood, Rosa’s cousin, the war is contained within the pages of her scrapbook, in her London sewing circle, and in the letters she receives from Henry, her fiance, a celebrated surgeon who has also volunteered to work within the shadow of the guns. When Henry falls ill and is sent to recuperate in Italy, Mariella impulsively decides she must go to him. But upon their arrival at his lodgings, she and her maid make a heartbreaking discovery: Rosa has disappeared. Following the trail of her elusive and captivating cousin, Mariella’s epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian London to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea and the tragic city of Sebastopol, where she encounters Rosa’s dashing stepbrother, a reckless cavalry officer whose complex past – and future – is inextricably bound up with her own. As her quest leads her deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, Mariella’s ordered world begins to crumble and she finds she has much to learn about secrecy, faithfulness and love. But, in the thick of a war fought on more fronts than one, she also discovers a strength and passion she never knew she possessed.

A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory
Synopsis
Joseph Vaughan’s life has been dogged by tragedy. Growing up in the 1950s, he was at the centre of series of killings of young girls in his small rural community. The girls were taken, assaulted and left horribly mutilated. Barely a teenager himself, Joseph becomes determined to try to protect his community and classmates from the predations of the killer. Despite banding together with his friends as ‘ The Guardians’, he was powerless to prevent more murders – and no one was ever caught. Only after a full ten years did the nightmare end when the one of his neighbours is found hanging from a rope, with articles from the dead girls around him. Thankfully, the killings finally ceased. But the past won’t stay buried – for it seems that the real murderer still lives and is killing again. And the secret of his identity lies in Joseph’s own history…

Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale
Synopsis
The new novel from the bestselling Patrick Gale. Renowned Canadian artist Rachel Kelly — now of Penzance — has buried her past and married a gentle and loving Cornish man. Her life has been a sacrifice to both her extraordinary art and her debilitating manic depression. When troubled artist Rachel Kelly dies painting obsessively in her attic studio in Penzance, her saintly husband and adult children have more than the usual mess to clear up. She leaves behind an extraordinary and acclaimed body of work — but she also leaves a legacy of secrets and emotional damage it will take months to unravel. A wondrous, monstrous creature, she exerts a power that outlives her. To her children she is both curse and blessing, though they all in one way or another reap her whirlwind, inheriting her waywardness, her power of loving — and her demons!Only their father’s Quaker gifts of stillness and resilience give them any chance of withstanding her destructive influence and the suspicion that they came a poor second to the creation of her art.The reader becomes a detective, piecing together the clues of a life — as artist, lover, mother, wife and patient — which takes them from contemporary Penzance to 1960s Toronto to St Ives in the 1970s.

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
Synopsis
They spend their days – and too many of their nights – at work. Away from friends and family, they share a stretch of stained carpet with a group of strangers they call colleagues. There’s Chris Yop, clinging to his ergonomic chair; Lynn Mason, the boss, whose breast cancer everyone pretends not to talk about; Carl Garbedian, secretly taking someone else’s medication; Marcia Dwyer, whose hair is stuck in the eighties; and Benny, who’s just – well, just Benny. Amidst the boredom, redundancies, water cooler moments, meetings, flirtations and pure rage, life is happening, to their great surprise, all around them. “Then We Came to the End” is about sitting all morning next to someone you cross the road to avoid at lunch. It’s the story of your life and mine.

The Visible World by Mark Slouka
This is a story about memory and concealed histories, and about the way that the most fiercely-held secrets of the past eventually force their way to the surface. It begins with a boy, the child of Czech immigrants to the US, who is brought up hearing the ancient myths, and the folktales of his parents’ homeland. As he grows older, he becomes aware that the one story he hasn’t been told is what his parents did during the war. It is only as an adult, when he makes a journey back to Czechoslovakia, that he discovers their part in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the notorious ‘butcher of Prague’.

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
Synopsis
‘You cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames.’ Bougainville. 1991. A small village on a lush tropical island in the South Pacific. Eighty-six days have passed since Matilda’s last day of school as, quietly, war is encroaching from the other end of the island. When the villagers’ safe, predictable lives come to a halt, Bougainville’s children are surprised to find the island’s only white man, a recluse, re-opening the school. Pop Eye, aka Mr Watts, explains he will introduce the children to Mr Dickens. Matilda and the others think a foreigner is coming to the island and prepare a list of much needed items. They are shocked to discover their acquaintance with Mr Dickens will be through Mr Watts’ inspiring reading of Great Expectations. But on an island at war, the power of fiction has dangerous consequences. Imagination and beliefs are challenged by guns.Mister Pip is an unforgettable tale of survival by story; a dazzling piece of writing that lives long in the mind after the last page is finished.

Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart by Tim Butcher
Synopsis
When “Daily Telegraph” correspondent Tim Butcher was sent to cover Africa in 2000 he quickly became obsessed with the idea of recreating H. M. Stanley’s famous expedition – but travelling alone. Despite warnings that his plan was ‘suicidal’, Butcher set out for the Congo’s eastern border with just a rucksack and a few thousand dollars hidden in his boots. Making his way in an assortment of vessels including a motorbike and a dugout canoe, helped along by a cast of characters from UN aid workers to a campaigning pygmy, he followed in the footsteps of the great Victorian adventurers. Butcher’s journey was a remarkable feat, but the story of the Congo, told expertly and vividly in this book, is more remarkable still.

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies
Synopsis
In 1944, a German Jewish refugee is sent to Wales to interview Rudolf Hess; in Snowdonia, a seventeen-year-old girl, the daughter of a fiercely nationalistic shepherd, dreams of the bright lights of an English city; and in a nearby POW camp, a German soldier struggles to reconcile his surrender with his sense of honour. As their lives intersect, all three will come to question where they belong and where their loyalties lie. Peter Ho Davies’ thought-provoking and profoundly moving first novel traces a perilous wartime romance as it explores the bonds of love and duty that hold us to family, country, and ultimately our fellow man. Vividly rooted in history and landscape, “The Welsh Girl” reminds us anew of the pervasive presence of the past, and the startling intimacy of the foreign.