The Peculier Life of a Lonely Postman – review

The Peculiar Life of the Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault  - is a French Canadian novel which has had good reviews,”original, subtle and touching, telling the tragic and often comic routine of one man’s life and fate”.

It tells the story of a young postman in Montreal named Bilodo. Shy and unassuming, Bilodo spends his free time practising calligraphy, playing video games, and sitting in his customary seat at the local café.

He does have a secret however: he’s fond of intercepting the personal mail he’s supposed to be delivering, carefully opening it, and reading the contents before the intended recipients actually get it.

Through these letter opening activities, he discovers Ségolène, a beautiful schoolteacher and poet who lives  in Guadeloupe. Poring over her letters, which usually consist of one carefully constructed haiku, he immediately falls in love with her.

A series of fatal events unfolds whereby Bilodo himself is able to carry on the correspondence …as he steps in to ensure the letters keep coming.

 

The Samuel Johnson Prize shortlist 2014

This years’s shortlist of six books for the prestigious Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction, worth £20,000 to the winner, has now been announced.

Read all about the shortlisted books

We have them all in stock

 H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald  

 Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

Empire of Necessity by Greg Grandin 

Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead

Roy Jenkins by John Campbell

Common People by Alison Light

 The Iceberg: A Memoir by Marion Coutts 

 

#10Books set in – Berlin

Alone in BerlinBerlin is a city with so much history. Here’s 10 books to borrow from the library. They include a range of stories from political oppression to tales of romance and adventure.  Ten captivating novels to evoke Berlin.

Hans Fallada – Alone in Berlin – Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the nervous Frau Rosenthal, the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm, and the unassuming working-class couple Otto and Anna Quangel

Christopher Isherwood – Goodbye to Berlin – . Evokes the gathering storm in Berlin before and just after the rise to power of the Nazis, as seen through the eyes of a series of individuals

Chloe Aridjis – Book of Clouds - Adrift in Berlin and with no desire to return home to Mexico, Tatiana tries to distance herself from the city’s past. Yet the phantoms of Berlin are more alive to her than the people she passes on her daily walks. When she takes a job transcribing notes for the reclusive historian Doktor Weiss, her life in Berlin becomes more complex

Ian McEwan – The Innocent – McEwan acknowledges his debt to the historian David Martin for the true story of the Berlin Tunnel or Operation Gold. To this truth, McEwan has wedded a fiction of tragedy and a love story of a sort

Anna Funder - All that I am: Stories from behind the Berlin Wall – stories of people who found the courage to resist the Stasi, Slumberland: a novelthe communist regime’s secret police

Len Deighton – Funeral in Berlin - Classic spy thriller

Jonathan Littell – The Kindly Ones - This Faustian story with a terrifying twist is the fictional memoir of Dr Max Aue, a former SS intelligence officer, who has reinvented himself as a family man and owner of a lace factory in post-war France

Ida Hattemer-Higgins – The history of history: a novel of Berlin - A young American woman stumbles one morning from the forest outside Berlin – hands dirty, clothes torn. She can remember nothing of the night. She returns to the life she once knew, but soon an enigmatic letter arrives from an unknown doctor claiming to be ‘concerned for her fate’

Paul Beatty – Slumberland - After creating the perfect beat, DJ Darky goes in search of Charles Stone, a little-known avant garde jazzman, to play over his sonic masterpiece. His quest takes him to a recently unified Berlin, where he stumbles through the city’s streets ruminating about race, sex and love in search of his artistic – and spiritual – other

David Thomas – Blood Relative – Atmospheric page-turner that brings the often-grim realities of socialist Berlin to life. A murder mystery-come-psychological thriller with a dark underlying mystery, it grips you tight and keeps you guessing until the very last page

National Book Awards 2014

Here’s a flavour of some of the the books shortlisted for the National Book Awards These awards, which started in 1950, celebrate the best of American literature, and aim to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America. They’re  given by writers to writers.

Winners receive $10,000, and they will be announced on 19th November. Favourites are Marilynne Robinson and Anthony Doerr

2014 NBA FICTION LONGLIST

Anthony Doerr All the Light we cannot see – Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering. At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.

Marilynne Robinson - Lila - Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Gilead’ and Orange Prize-winning ‘Home’, ‘Lila’ is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence

Phil Klay – Redeployment – This novel is about the human cost of war by former marine captain and Iraq veteran, Phil Klay. Redeployment takes readers to the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos

Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven Moving backwards and forwards in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists 20 years after, ‘Station Eleven’ charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: famous actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan – warned about the flu just in time; Arthur’s first wife Miranda; Arthur’s oldest friend Clark; Kirsten, a young actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed ‘prophet’

Non fiction

Evan Osnos – Age of ambition: chasing fortune, truth, and faith in the new China – As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic and cultural upheaval. In this text, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country – the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control

John Lahr – Tennessee Williams: mad pilgrimage of the flesh

 

‘Lost and Found’ by Brooke Davis

Lost and found We must be into Australian novelists this week! 

Lost and Found by 34-year-old debut Australian writer Brooke Davis is a literary sensation. It generated a lot of buzz at this year’s London Book Fair and sparked a bidding war overseas. A week before its launch in Australia, it was sold to 25 countries and will be translated into 20 languages.  What’s it about?

From Good Reads:

Millie Bird (aka Captain Funeral), seven-years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her red, curly hair. Her struggling mother leaves Millie in a local department store and never returns.

Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house – or spoken to another human being – since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silences by yelling at passers by, watching loud static on the TV and maintaining a strict daily schedule.

Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl is moved into a nursing home but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes.

A series of events binds the three together on a road trip that takes them from the south coast of WA to Kalgoorlie and along the Nullarbor to the edge of the continent. Millie wants to find her mum. Karl wants to find out how to be a man. And Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was.

They will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself experience sadness just might be the key to life

Husbands and secrets

 

The husband's secret

Five books about husbands and secrets. Not all new but definitely worth a read, from Gone Girl to The Husband’s Secret, you will enjoy the twists and turns. Ideal to take your mind off work/love/life/state of the weather.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty is a staggeringly brilliant novel. It is literally unputdownable – Sophie Hannah

A  letter that’s not meant to be read . . .Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband’s hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death. Curious, she opens it – and time stops. John-Paul’s letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.

Cecilia – betrayed, angry and distraught – wants to do the right thing, but right for who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband’s secret, she will hurt those she loves most . . .

Sarah Rayner –  One Moment, One Morning – The Brighton to London line. The 07:44 train. Carriages packed with commuters. A woman applies her make-up. Another occupies her time observing the people around her. A husband and wife share an affectionate gesture. Further along, a woman flicks through a glossy magazine.

Gone girlThen, abruptly, everything changes: a man has a heart attack, and can’t be resuscitated; the train is stopped, an ambulance called. For at least three passengers on the 07:44 on that particular morning, life will never be the same again.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Nick Dunne’s wife Amy suddenly disappears on the morning of their 5th anniversary. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him. He swears it isn’t true.

Diane Chamberlain – The midwife’s confession The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind Noelle’s suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle – her calling as a midwife, her passion for Vanishing actscauses, her love for her family – described a woman who embraced life. But they didn’t know everything
Book. English. General.

Jodi Picoult Vanishing acts Della Hopkins has led a charmed life. Raised in rural New Hampshire by her widowed father Andrew, she now has a young daughter, a handsome fiancé, and her own search and rescue bloodhound. But as she plans her wedding, she is plagued by flashbacks of a life she can’t recall

Ed Sheeran: a visual journey

Ed Sheeran: a visual journeyEd Sheeran: a visual journey Fans will enjoy this unpretentious autobigraphy.  With words by Ed  and illustrations by his childhood friend, artist Phillip Butah (who produces artwork for Sheeran’s albums and singles), and accompanying photos, Ed Sheeran: A Visual Journey is an exclusive, fully authorised, first-person account of how he became an internationally renowned singer-songwriter.

In the book, he explores his early musical experiences and influences as well as his time recording and touring, right up to the release of his second album, ‘x‘. The book reveals what drives and inspires him to evolve as an artist, while coping with stratospheric success, and is an honest account of what it takes to make it in the music business.

With Phillip Butah’s distinctive portraits throughout, it includes Ed’s recollections of working tirelessly on the London gig circuit and self-releasing EPs, working hard on finding his sound, signing to Asylum Records and recording his huge hit album, ‘+‘, performing at the Grammys, touring with Taylor Swift and sell-out headline gigs at Madison Square Garden. It takes us up to ‘today’, including recording his new album.