By Simply Books, May 15 2019 06:54PM
My first choice is All Among The Barley by Melissa Harrison. This is a beautifully observed story set deep in the English countryside during the inter-war years. The Great War casts a long shadow over both those who went to fight and those who stayed at home – the novel also foreshadows what is yet to come and the irreversible changes which are underway in a traditional farming community. The story is told through the eyes of Edie Mather, looking back at her younger fourteen-year-old self as she was in the Autumn of 1933. When charismatic and outspoken Constance FitzAllen arrives from London to write abut fading rural traditions, she shows an interest in Edie, showing her kindness she has never known before. But is this (unsettling) older woman quite what she seems?
This is an absorbing portrait of a lost way of life with wonderfully detailed descriptions of the land and nature woven into a gripping plot which also tackles some of the great themes of English life – class division, patriarchy, folklore and the rise on an insidious kind of fascism.
I am a huge fan of Kate Atkinson and our book books have all enjoyed her previous two novels Life After Life and A God In Ruins – both of which include storylines which explore the impact of the Second World War on those who experienced and survived it. Kate’s new book Transcription is also a period novel – on this occasion a story of wartime espionage. It’s 1940 and eighteen-year-old Juliet Armstrong is recruited to work for MI5 and tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers. With the war over Juliet presumes the events of those years are relegated to history. Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past and she feels herself once more under threat… This is a an intricate and compelling story with the thrill of espionage and the twists and turns of a mystery and all told with the wit, pave and verve which makes a new Kate Atkinson book such a treat!
And for the children…it’s thirty years since the first Percy The Park Keeper book was published and in celebration of this anniversary author/illustrator Nick Butterworth has created a delightful new Percy story: One Springy Day. Percy and his animal friends are playing hide-and-seek in the park. The fox has found a great hiding place in Percy’s workshop but when he falls into a pot of Very Strong Glue he finds himself in a very sticky situation! Is there anything his friends can do to help? This is a beautifully illustrated story told with Nick’s customary charm and humour.