01 — The President’s Garden
The author of this stunning novel served as a tank commander with the Iraqi army during the Gulf War. He has been living in Spain since 1995 but it is his real life experiences from his time living in Iraq that are the cornerstones of his novel. The story begins on the third day of Ramadan when nine banana boxes are discovered by a villager. Each contains the severed head of nine of the men from the village. Behind the brutal deaths are the stories of a war, a revolution and the secrets buried with the bodies in the President’s gardens. A haunting read that stays with you long after you have turned the last page. If it is your pick for book club it will provoke debate and discussion like no other novel.
02 — Admissions
His first book, Do No Harm, became an international bestseller and stunned readers with his simple explanation of the life and work of a brain surgeon. After 40 years in the operating theatre practising the delicate art of neurosurgery, Henry Marsh has retired from his full-time job in the National Health Service. He now works in Nepal and Ukraine and in his new book, Admissions, he recounts his experiences of encounters with people from all walks of life, his work abroad and the intense responsibility that comes with being a brain surgeon. Technology has improved, people’s expectations are higher than ever, yet it is the man with the knife and GPS who ultimately works to reduce human suffering. Sometime he succeeds, sometimes he does not. Admissions is an honest revelation.
03 — The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence
Set in 15th-century Florence, this is a twisting, emotional tale of politics, poets and painters. A marriage between Simonetta and Marco Vespucci is agreed on and the Medici’s are pleased with the arrangement. Simonetta is the centre of a group of painters and poets and one young painter in particular, Sandro Botticelli, who loses his heart to his muse and model and he creates his masterpiece painting The Birth of Venus. Simonetta is then torn between her husband and her lover amidst the watchful eyes of the city. The author’s previous novel was the Violinist of Venice, the story of Vivaldi, and now she cleverly brings the art of Botticelli and the cultured city of Florence vividly to life. Alyssa Palombo is an author to add to your reading list.
04 — Marriages are Made in Bond Street
This is perfect for those readers who read and enjoyed Queen Bees or the Riviera Set. It is the true story of two women who joined forces in the 1930s and set up a bureau for those wanting to find a partner and get married. From a scandalous beginning to becoming one of the most popular ways to find a partner, the Heather Jenner Marriage Bureau was way ahead of it’s time. Introductions were made befitting your status and fees were paid with an additional fee for the successful marriage agreement and it was all very discreet and above board. Gold diggers of both sexes were definitely discouraged. A nifty tale of social history and very successful business rolled into one.
Words: Doris Mousdale
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