The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary is the plain, pious, overlooked middle sister. But in The Other Bennet Sister, Janice Hadlow shines a light on Mary. She’s an introvert in a family of extroverts, a disappointment to her mother and with little in common with her sisters. As she watches her sisters marry, it seems Mary is destined to be single forever. But will Mary find there is hope for her after all? This life-affirming, uplifting story of a woman finding her place in the world is a wonderfully warm and witty homage to Jane Austen.
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The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
It took eight years but the time is nigh for the finale to The Wolf Hall Trilogy. Having successfully negotiated his way through the perils of Anne Boleyn's execution, Thomas Cromwell must now face new plots from abroad and a nation spoiling for upheaval. And the ever-menacing prospect of falling out of favour with an increasingly temperamental king.
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Tombland by C. J. Sansom
If you're wondering how to fill the Tudor-shaped hole in your life once you've (finally) finished The Mirror and the Light, you can find your fix of 16th century court intrigue and religious conflict here. The latest instalment in C. J. Sansom’s bestselling Shardlake series begins two years after the death of Henry VIII and sees tenacious lawyer Matthew Shardlake investigate a string of murders while navigating the chaos and rebellion rampant in the wake of King Edward VI's succession.
The Catholic School by Edoardo Albinati
This immersive novel creates a world of power, sex and violence, addressing issues of religion, family and masculinity. The Catholic School is based on the true story of the brutal rape and murder of two young women by three well-off young men who were former students of Rome's prestigious all-boys school, San Leone Magno, where the story is set. The case, which became known as the Circeo massacre, shocked the whole of Italy, exposing the dark underside of the country’s upper middle class.
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Homeland by Fernando Arumburu
This gripping epic novel follows the lives of best friends Miren and Bittori as they grow up and raise their families together in a small town in the north of Spain. Their lives are seemingly unaffected by the fraught politics of the region, until Bittori’s husband begins receiving threats from the terrorist organisation ETA, the same group which has recruited Miren’s son Joxe Mari.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, A Little Life is an immensely powerful and heartbreaking novel of love, friendship and the limits of human endurance. Essential reading.
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Underworld by Don DeLillo
DeLillo offers a panoramic vision of America defined by the overarching conflict of the Cold War in this masterful and awe-inspiring story of a search for meaning, survival and connection in the toughest of times.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
The second novel from Eleanor Catton and winner of the Man Booker Prize, The Luminaries is a gripping mystery set in the 1800s which was described by The Observer as 'a dazzling feat of a novel'.
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The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St Aubyn
Acclaimed for their wit and humanity, this magnificent series of novels – in which Patrick Melrose battles to survive the savageries of his childhood and lead a self-determined life – is one of the most important literary achievements of our time.
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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch is an odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power that combines unforgettably vivid characters with thrilling suspense.
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Middlemarch by George Eliot
Lauded by many critics as the finest novel in English, Middlemarch provides a complex look at English provincial life at a crucial historical moment and contains an exploration of some of the most potent myths of Victorian literature.
2666 by Roberto Bolaño
Considered a sensation on publication and hailed across the world as a masterpiece, 2666 is a terrifying and awe-inspiring classic novel that has come to define one of Latin America's greatest writers.
The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy’s award-winning, bestselling trio of novels chronicles the coming-of-age of two young men in the south west of America and stands as a fierce elegy for the American frontier. All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing and Cities of the Plain are beautiful and brutal stories filled with sorrow and humour.
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Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Touching on topics such as addiction, recovery, tennis and even Quebec separatism, Foster Wallace’s encyclopaedic bestseller is considered one of the best novels ever published.
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The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England, The Pillars of the Earth is Ken Follett's classic historical masterpiece.
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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
A masterpiece of realism and illuminated by irresistible characters, Anna Karenina is among the best-loved of all novels, penetrating to the heart of the ruling class in Tsarist Russia.
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The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
Set in 1913, surrounding the seventieth jubilee of the accession of Emperor Franz Josef in Austria, The Man Without Qualities is part satire, part visionary epic and part intellectual tour de force.
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1Q84: The Complete Trilogy by Haruki Murakami
Weighing in at a staggering 1328 pages, Murakami’s dystopian trilogy 1Q84 features a plot built around a mystical cult and two long-lost lovers who are drawn into a distorted version of reality.
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A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
At its core, a love story: the tale of Lata - and her mother's - attempts to find her a suitable husband. At the same time, it is the story of India, newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis as a sixth of the world's population faces its first chance to map its own destiny.
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In this episode of Book Break, Emma shares some of her favourite big books:
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