There couldn’t be a better time to start your own personal library than now as Penguin release a brand new collection of 100 English written novels. Designed by award winner, Coralie Bickford-Smith, the covers keep the simplicity of the traditional Penguin feel with a modern twist. Added to the iconic Penguin Orange Spine is a unique colour to help brighten up your shelves along with a relevant motif jacket design.
Start your collection with the first twenty titles featured in the carousel below and enjoy the great stories behind these beautiful covers.
This is the story of estranged siblings Angela and Richard who attempt to bond during a rainy week in Wales. The self catering cottage is booked, the board games packed and waterproofs donned as the two bring their families together in order to make up for the years lost over bitter feuds. Of course the fireworks are going to be set off as soon as they’ve managed to get the key in the door but there are deeper secrets waiting in the wings.
The Red House is lovely portrayal of the British Holiday, cooking on mass, coping with a mixture of personalities, attempting to find any activity suited to all ages and usually in the rain. Haddon creates a realism to this holiday that spans the course of the book making it so easy to connect with.
As a reader you are left with a series of questions and concerns for the family once the week’s holiday is over. Will brother and sister meet again, will Angela recover properly from the miscarriage she suffered so many years ago, will her husband end the affair which is causing him to somewhat neglect his three children? So many questions which are delectably left to the readers imagination
An enjoyable read, a rollercoaster of emotions and a great one to leave behind on the communal bookshelf on your holiday this year.
Unsurprisingly, this year, will spark a revival of interest in one of the most fascinating tragedies which after 100 years, still holds so much interest. The Titanic has always been shrouded in romance and intrigue despite the horrific loss of life suffered in such cruel circumstances; and as memorial services, TV dramas, documentaries and a re-release of Kate and Leo’s epic romance (in all its 3d ‘glory’), the book world also nods its head in remembrance.
Shadows of the Titanic by Andrew Wilson is a book which turns its attention to the Titanic survivors. Unlike other publications, this doesn’t stop after their escape but explores how they continued to survive life after the disaster.
Although the concept of survivor’s guilt did not exist in theory, it was clearly felt by many on board that night. As the few made their escape while listening to the thousand, or so, souls fighting for their lives, the reality of being a survivor of the Titanic was dawning as something equally difficult to comprehend. Andrew Wilson highlights this in many of the stories he tells. One in particular is extremely heart breaking. Titanic stewardess, Annie Robinson, who had been so fortunate to survive that ill-fated night, took her life by jumping from the deck of a ship returning her to Boston two years later. Wilson describes how the conditions that night sparked memories of her escape and the overwhelming feeling became too much. It is difficult to see such vulnerability in the confident looking lady, dressed in black, pictured on her arrival in Southampton. However, her story like many others is the ‘shadow’ which haunted so many of the Titanic’s passenger’s lives.
There are of course an equal amount of success stories, like the two French boys, snatched by their father who had planned a new life in America away from his wife. On the night of the sinking, he wrapped his boys in warm clothes and placed them on a lifeboat and never saw them again. On their arrival in New York a frantic search the mother led to their reunion not long after. Wilson goes on to explain what happened to the boys in later life and the reunion of a little boy who played with them days after their arrival in New York.
There are so many stories to discover in this book that it won’t take you long to read through all. With a clear passion to tell the full story of the Titanic survivors, Andrew Wilson has paid a fitting tribute to them in this fascinating account.
The plot: Something of a coming of age story with a twist. Julia is a Californian teenager who goes through all the normal teenage issues of bullying, boys, bickering parents, and friendships gained and lost Yet all this is shadowed by disaster – the world is slowing down. As time shifts, and the days and nights get longer, society slowly fragments and communities divide, in this timeless thriller.
The good bits: The best bit of this book had to be the build up of tension of what was going to happen next. Julia narrates throughout the book and drops clues here and there of what was still to come. Little hints like the last grape she tasted and unaware of the illness that was causing her mother so much pain. As the birds are unable to fly and the mass beaching of whales spoils their beaches there is a sense that this nightmare played out in darkness will never end.
Great talking point: Julia’s dreams and hopes for the future aren’t explored as day to day survival takes priority. Realistically, life goes on as normal, however, at some point Julia must have thought about university, a career and whether she would have a family of her own. This will obviously be a great talking point for book groups.
Worth a mention: This is Karen Thompson Walker’s debut and has been chosen as part of Waterstone’s 11, a collection of debut’s worth adding to your ‘to read’ list.
When should you read it: The perfect holiday read, but take a few more as you’ll get through this one in a day if not hours.
The plot: Clarissa, a young girl with a life of privilege in her family home Deyning Park, falls in love with Tom, the housekeeper’s son, visiting from University. Although both accept the impossibility of their situation, it is the last summer before World War One arrives to shake their world. Through suffering, pain, grief and survival their lives will intermingle but will the world ever accept their love?
The good bits: By the last page you will have discovered the secrets, the lies, the missed opportunities, and the over whelming sense of waste but also the desire to not lose another minute of their shattered lives. As you can imagine – a real page turner. The bad bits: At times you wanted to shake both Tom and Clarissa when witnessing, in dismay, some of the actions they take. At times history repeats itself and you want this to grab the opportunity. However, that is perhaps more of the impossibility of their situation against a 21st century view rather than a criticism of the book.
Worth a mention: Some of the most heartbreaking stories around any war are those of the survivors who come home to even more suffering. This is something Kinghorn tragically highlights. One of the most memorable scenes are of Clarissa and friend Rose whose conversation always turns to a roll call of those they loved and lost.
When to read: A book that will take you through all the emotions so have your allocated chocolates and wine at the ready.
These days it isn’t difficult to go far before you can find a recommended read, from award winners, book club promotions, online reviews to sites like goodreads which let you scour other’s reading shelves. Yet all this can sometimes become a bit overwhelming.
I was inspired at the beginning of this year by a Lady who is challenging to an astonishing, 1001 novels to read before you die. A reading list which would faze most book enthusiasts.
Leaving the 1001 book list to the professionals I decided to do a search for a more reserved 100 reads and there doesn’t seem to be too many of them. The Guardian and Telegraph both have similar lists which although provide variety are quite high brow ranging from the first novel ever published to the Bible. Not exactly the list I’d been enthused to work through. Interestingly, when the BBC put together a list based on the nation’s favourite reads many of them were children’s books in addition to the classic and cult favourites. Compiled nearly 10 years ago, I wonder how different this list would look today. Just think of the fantastic books that we have been reading over the past decade.
As this is a site dedicated to British writing, I propose a new list pulled from some of my own personal choices, award winners, world book night choices and book club favourites. Not to mention your suggestions which have been flooding in on twitter. If you have a firm British favourite you want to see on this list then please leave your top picks below or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter .
You wouldn’t believe me; even if you stood with a match to my book shelves threatening to set the lot alight if I denounced my claim, but the truth is I’ve never read Harry Potter. I know, I can’t quite believe it too; yet I’m setting out to remedy this literary travesty with this beautiful box set I was given as a present.
Always one to shun the hype I turned away from Harry Potter’s initial outing and instead continued my reading list of classics. I also would have much preferred to follow the adventures of the slap dash wizards in Pratchett’s discworld than one who was just learning the ropes at Hogwarts.
However,as the recession continues to bite and the news is nothing but grim, reading habits the glimmer of Harry’s world provides us with the ideal escape, a good dose of sparkle and the good old favourite ‘age old tale’ of good overcoming evil. Well if that sounds something you are looking for (and are equally astonished you haven’t got round to it) then I suggest you join Harry and I in some Hogwarts adventures.
This beautiful box was well worth the wait for the publication of all seven titles. Each novel has their own distinguishing spine colour and artwork, making it a welcome addition to your personal library. Click on the picture to get your box of Magic
The plot: Having read Pride and Prejudice umpteen times I was finally ready to succumb to a sequel set six years after Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy have married. Written by highly acclaimed author P.D. James and promising to be a darker tale of death, murder suspicion and intrigue, it sounded just the ticket for a winter afternoon.
The good bits: Very atmospheric…lets move on
The bad bits: Although the plot is promising there are so many flaws it begins to become a painful read. Admittedly, I had to force myself to read the last 5 pages made up of Darcy and Elizabeth discussing their relationship ups and downs in P&Ps. There can be no real purpose of going over old ground, in detail, which ardent fans do not need to know, and those who don’t, can read the first book themselves.
The book focuses mostly on the male characters; Mr Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam and of course the infamous Mr Wickham. If you are hoping for more adventures from the Bennet girls then don’t expect much. Even Elizabeth, our headstrong, witty and most
favourite heroine hardly has two words to put together. How can P.D. James possible write of our beloved girl ‘ Elizabeth had been sitting quietly wondering whether she could speak without making matters worse’ and a mere five pages later is quoted as not even knowing what to say. No, I couldn’t believe it either.
If it hadn’t been for the complete lack of Bennet passion, wit and friendly feuds then this sequel would have stood a fighting chance as a new classic favourite.
Worth a mention: P.D. James writes in her notes, ‘ I owe an apology to the shade of Jane Austen for involving her beloved Elizabeth in the trauma of a murder investigation….had (Austen) wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have written this story herself, and done it better.’ Well P.D. James, I couldn’t have put it better myself.
When you should read it: If you still want to give it a go, its suited to Autumn/wintry days. If you do happen to find Miss Austen’s classic, then read that, if not, find something else.
A beautiful hardcover book published in celebration of one of the greatest events the UK has seen in recent years; the Royal Wedding.
The book covers everything about the Royal couple from their childhood, to their first meeting at university to the big day itself. You will find every details explained from the music used during the service, the food menu from the reception and the language of flowers used on the cake.
Yet Kate and Will’s big day isn’t the only Royal Wedding featured in the book; from Queen Victoria there are details of all Royal wedding’s including close up images of everything from the dress to the bouquet.
In depth analysis of cakes and family trees aside; what makes this book the perfect keepsake, gift or excuse to dream about life as a princess; is the beautiful images used. Throughout the book you’ll find plenty of pictures from past wedding dresses to a close up of the the wedding jewellery.
There is something luxurious in this book’s feel and quality making it a perfect present for any Royal enthusiast or die hard romantic.