books for my hibernation

The season of mists and mellow bookishness is upon us again, and I couldn’t be happier. Yes, I love the summer sunshine, but there’s something so indulgent about cosying up in my favourite reading chair, with a book whilst the weather turns gloomy. Bring it on!

And I’m spoilt for choice (again) this year with so many wonderful books to keep me company during my hibernation. Here’s a selection of seven new / newish releases I’m particularly looking forward to reading …

A Narrow Door

Joanne Harris

#ANarrowDoor by @Joannechocolat was published on 4th August by @orionbooks. I’ll openly admit to having a bookworm-crush on this author’s novels so I snapped up my hardback copy on publication day, just to make sure I got my hands on one of @Waterstones‘s exclusive signed copies, with the beautiful trailing ivy stencilled edges.

Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…

You can’t keep a good woman down.

The Visitors

Caroline Scott

Another literary fixation of mine! I was first introduced to @CScottBooks‘s writing early this year by way of When I Come Home Again; it quite honestly swept me off my feet. #TheVisitors hits the shelves on 25th November, published by @simonschusterUK

From the highly acclaimed author of The Photographer of the Lost, a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick, comes a tale of a young war widow and one life-changing, sun-drenched visit to Cornwall in the summer of 1923…

Esme Nicholls is to spend the summer in Cornwall. Her late husband Alec, who died fighting in the war, grew up in Penzance, and she’s hoping to learn more about the man she loved and lost.

While there, she will stay with Gilbert, in his rambling seaside house, where he lives with his former brothers in arms. Esme is fascinated by this community of eccentric artists and former soldiers, and as she gets to know the men and their stories, she begins to feel this summer might be exactly what she needs.

But everything is not as idyllic as it seems – a mysterious new arrival later in the summer will turn Esme’s world upside down, and make her question everything she thought she knew about her life, and the people in it.

Full of light, laughter and larger-than-life characters, The Visitors is a novel of one woman finally finding her voice and choosing her own path forwards.

Our Woman In Moscow

Beatriz Williams

Point me in the direction of a book about Russian history and you’ll immediately see the most ridiculously happy grin! In an uncharacteristic display of patience, I’ve waited to order the paperback copy of #OurWomanInMoscow by @authorbeatriz, which is quite a feat for me, given that @HarperCollinsUK published the hardback in July!

Don’t miss the gripping new book from the international bestseller – the story of two sisters caught up in Cold War espionage

In 1948, Iris Digby vanishes from her London home with her American diplomat husband and their two children.

Four years later, Ruth Macallister receives a postcard from the estranged twin sister she hasn’t seen since 1940. Since that one catastrophic summer in Rome, as war was engulfing Europe and Iris was falling desperately in love…

Within days, Ruth is on her way to Moscow, posing as the wife of Agent Fox in a precarious plot to extract her sister from behind the Iron Curtain.

But the truth behind Iris’s marriage threatens to unravel everything, and as the sisters race to safety, a dogged Soviet KGB officer forces them to make a heartbreaking choice…

The Haunting Season

Bridget Collins & Natasha Pulley & Kiran Millwood Hargrave & Elizabeth Macneal & Laura Purcell & Andrew Michael Hurley & Jess Kidd & Imogen Hermes Gowar

Ooooh, I’ve been looking forward to the arrival of #TheHauntingSeason like a child who starts pulling together their Christmas wish list in the middle of summer. Not one, not two, but eight chilling ghost tales from eight superb authors … this is going to be such a treat of a book. And we have the wonderful team of @LittleBrownUK for bringing this beautiful book together. Published on 21st October, this is another one I pre-ordered from @Waterstones just so I could own the copy with the gorgeous stencilled edges.

Winter, with its unsettling blend of the cosy and the sinister, has long been a popular time for gathering by the bright flame of a candle, or the warm crackling of a fire, and swapping stories of ghosts and strange happenings.

Now eight bestselling, award-winning authors – master storytellers of the sinister and the macabre – bring this time-honoured tradition to vivid life in a spellbinding collection of new and original haunted tales.

From a bustling Covent Garden Christmas market to the frosty moors of Yorkshire, from a country estate with a dreadful secret, to a London mansion where a beautiful girl lies frozen in death, these are stories to make your hair stand on end, send shivers down your spine and to serve as your indispensable companion to the long nights of winter.

Phone For The Fish Knives

Daisy Waugh

Back in April, a book called ‘In The Crypt with a Candlestick‘ caught my eye, both for its striking art deco cover design and that title. I’m very glad I was so easily won over as it turned out to be a cracking-good read. So when I learned that @dldwaugh had more in mind for the fabulously dysfunctional Tode family, I snapped up my copy. #PhoneForTheFishKnives was published in July by @LittleBrownUK

Daisy Waugh’s featherlight satires are as refreshing and uplifting as a glass of chilled vintage champagne. . . Imagine Agatha Christie on laughing gas‘ The Times

The Todes are back, and they’re taking on Hollywood . . .

When Hollywood wants to do a remake of the film that made Tode Hall famous, India and Egbert are delighted. They envisage a summer of free money and star-studded dinner parties ahead . . . 

But the Hall is soon overrun by wardrobe trucks and catering tents, and lusty, insecure actors squabbling about nudity clauses. When the movie’s producers threaten to sue over the exact colour of Tode Hall’s rolling lawns, India and Egbert realise that having a film crew on their doorstep isn’t such a breeze after all. With so many egos in one place things were bound to end badly, but no one would have predicted quite so literal a backstabbing . . .

The Dictator’s Wife

Freya Berry

It would have been difficult to miss the prolific early praise for @FreyaBBooks‘s remarkable debut novel, #TheDictatorsWife. So when I was contacted by the lovely PR team from @headlinepg asking if I would like to read an advance proof copy I couldn’t say yes fast enough. This book is scheduled to be published on 17th February 2022, although you can place your pre-order at your favourite bookseller today.

‘I am not my husband. I am innocent. Do you believe me?’

The beautiful, enigmatic wife of a feared dictator stands trial for her late husband’s crimes against the people. The world will finally know the truth. But whose?

I learned early in life how to survive. A skill that became vital in my position.

I was given no power, yet I was expected to hold my own with the most powerful man in the country.

My people were my children. I stood between him and them.

I am not the person they say I am.
I am not my husband.
I am innocent.

Do you believe me?

Visceral and thought provoking, haunting and heartbreaking, The Dictator’s Wife will hold you in its grip until its powerful conclusion and keep you turning the pages long into the night…

The Language of Food

Annabel Abbs

Well, I mean, come on … who wouldn’t go a little weak at the knees for this cover, and the title. A book with food at its heart? Somebody hold me back. I love my food, and I worked in the restaurant industry for over fifteen years, side-by-side with chefs creating menus, and then being responsible for the marketing that does justice to their delicious dishes. This book speaks right to my heart … and my appetite. Published on 3rd February 2022, I was extremely lucky to get my greedy paws on an advance proof copy from the wonderful publicity team from @simonschusterUK

Eliza Acton, despite having never before boiled an egg, became one of the world’s most successful cookery writers, revolutionizing cooking and cookbooks around the world. Her story is fascinating, uplifting and truly inspiring.

Told in alternate voices by the award-winning author of The Joyce Girl, and with recipes that leap to life from the page, The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs is the most thought-provoking and page-turning historical novel you’ll read this year, exploring the enduring struggle for female freedom, the power of female friendship, the creativity and quiet joy of cooking and the poetry of food, all while bringing Eliza Action out of the archives and back into the public eye.

England 1835. Eliza Acton is a poet who dreams of seeing her words in print. But when she takes her new manuscript to a publisher, she’s told that ‘poetry is not the business of a lady’. Instead, they want her to write a cookery book. That’s what readers really want from women. England is awash with exciting new ingredients, from spices to exotic fruits. But no one knows how to use them

Eliza leaves the offices appalled. But when her father is forced to flee the country for bankruptcy, she has no choice but to consider the proposal. Never having cooked before, she is determined to learn and to discover, if she can, the poetry in recipe writing. To assist her, she hires seventeen-year-old Ann Kirby, the impoverished daughter of a war-crippled father and a mother with dementia. 

Over the course of ten years, Eliza and Ann developed an unusual friendship – one that crossed social classes and divides – and, together, they broke the mould of traditional cookbooks and changed the course of cookery writing forever.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my book selection for a cosy winter hibernation … perhaps I’ve even given you some ideas to add to your Christmas wish list?

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