Bookworm - Autumn Reading 2017

Whether it’s a favourite paperback or a new release on Kindle, we all love a good read. Five readers review books they’ve enjoyed recently

Book Club

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

by Chris Cleave (£7.99, Sceptre)

This heartbreaking novel, based loosely on the lives of the author’s grandparents, follows three young people from the outbreak of war in 1939 to the summer of 1942. The author captures terrifying events such as the Blitz and the Siege of Malta with aplomb, while also tackling the themes of racism and class. What makes this story so special is the way the courageous characters come to life. I found myself willing them to succeed in the direst of circumstances.

A Murphy, Dorset

This Must Be the Place

 by Maggie O’Farrell (£7.99, Tinder Press)

Claudette is a famous film star hiding away from the world in rural Ireland, where she meets Daniel, an engaging American who has made a complete mess of two previous relationships. The story that unfolds is complex, compelling and told by multiple narrators to give it extra depth. At its heart is the examination of a long-term marriage and the dynamics of family relationships. What makes a good marriage? When the pressure mounts, is love enough to keep it together? By the end of this thought-provoking novel, I felt as if I’d known Claudette and Daniel for a long time and wanted their marriage to work as much as they did.

F Shadwick, Cheshire

Prisoners of Geography

by Tim Marshall (£9.99, Elliott & Thompson)

If you’ve ever wondered why Putin is so obsessed with Ukraine or why China is rapidly expanding its global influence, this book offers a simple explanation: it's all about the lie of the land. It’s a fascinating read, examining world issues in a way I’d never considered before. Former diplomatic editor Tim Marshall breaks the globe into 10 regions and explains why their history has been shaped by their geography. 

J Williams, Cambridgeshire

The Couple Next Door

by Shari Lapena (£7.99, Corgi) 

Marco and Anne pop next door for a dinner party, leaving their baby asleep in her cot. When they go to check on her, she’s gone. So who took her – and why? Are the parents to blame? They certainly receive little sympathy for leaving their daughter alone. Were the neighbours involved? They don’t seem to care that a baby has vanished. Perhaps it was a sinister kidnapping plot designed for financial gain, or is a child-killer on the loose? This clever, fast-paced novel kept me guessing right until the final page.

K Dalingy, Cardiff

The Guest Cat

by Takashi Hiraide (£7.99, Picador)

This enchanting little book was given to me by a new friend when she realised I was a cat-lover. It was a bestseller a few years ago, though I hadn’t come across it myself. The story is simple: a cat wanders into the house of a young couple whose marriage is stale. The cat’s presence subtly begins to transform their lives. This story of love and loss is quite profound. It was like reading a long and beautiful poem. 

W Donovan, Surrey

Two to look out for 

Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492-1900 
by Simon Schama 

This second instalment of award-winning historian Simon Schama’s epic tale of the Jewish people is full of rich, colourful stories that span centuries and continents and include massacres, miracles, discrimination and tolerance. Schama’s passionate telling of events begins with the Jews’ expulsion from Spain in 1492 and evolves into a story with broad appeal, featuring not only rabbis and philosophers but also many captivating characters, such as boxers, poets and composers.

Just published, £25, The Bodley Head

Heather, The Totality 

by Matthew Weiner

If you loved Mad Men, this chilling debut novella by the series creator will definitely be of interest. It tells the story of a privileged Manhattan family and their beautiful daughter, whose perfect world starts to crumble when a dangerous young man – a psychopath – comes into their midst. It's a short, shocking tale about obsession and parental love. 

Published 7 November, £14.99, Canongate Books