Reading Group Multiples List

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Reading Group Multiples List

(Updated November 2005)
Isabel Allende - Daughter of Fortune
Isabel Allende's best novel since The House of the Spirits. Set in Anglophile Chile and goldrush California during the middle years of the nineteenth century, this magnificent romance tells the story of English foundling Eliza Sommers who grows up in the bustling entrepot of Valparaiso. Eliza is a spirited, sparky and ambitious romantic who becomes embroiled in a forbidden love affair with the charismatic but capricious Joaquin Andieta. When he disappears suddenly for California, and the promise of riches that rumours of gold strikes have brought him, she can but follow after him... (8 copies)
Martin Amis – The Information Richard Tull, a failed novelist, contemplates with jealousy the success of his rival and friend Gwyn Barry. He looks in vain for a means of damaging Gwyn's reputation, and finally finds someone who will do this for him in exchange for cash. (10 copies)
Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin

"It's loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward," writes Margaret Atwood, towards the end of her impressive and complex new novel, The Blind Assassin. It's a melancholic account of why writers write--and readers read--and one that frames the different lives told through this book.

With the intelligence, subtlety and remarkable characterisation associated with Atwood's writing (from her first novel, The Edible Woman through to the best-selling Alias Grace), the two stories in the book play with one another--sustaining an uncertainty about who has done what to who and why to the very end of this compelling book. (12 copies)
Beryl Bainbridge - Master Georgie
A novel about one family's experiences in the Crimean War. When the Battle of Inkerman was over, five survivors were assembled in front of a camera. A sixth figure - Master Georgie - added symmetry to the group. In the distance a young woman circled round and round like a bird above a robbed nest. (15 copies)
Iain Banks – The Bridge

A man lies in a coma after a near fatal accident. His body broken, his memory vanished, he finds himself in the surreal world of the bridge - a world where dreams and fantasy, past and future fuse. Who is this man? Where is he? Is he more dead than alive? Or has he never been so alive before? (10 copies)

Iain Banks – The Wasp Factory

Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank's mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric's escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother's inevitable return - an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly. (10 copies)

Joan Barfoot – Getting Over Edgar

Gwen's husband, Edgar, walks out on their marriage in pursuit of excitement. The requisite red convertible, however, leads not to eternal youth but to a premature death by the 8.20 eastbound train. The story then follows Gwen and her uncharacteristic behaviour in the wake of Edgar's death. (9 copies)

Alessandro Baricco - Silk
When an epidemic threatens to destroy the silk trade in France, Herve Joncour leaves his small town and travels to Japan to obtain eggs for a fresh breeding of silk worms. There he falls in love with another man's concubine, and during subsequent visits their secret and silent affair develops. (13 copies)
Pat Barker - Another World

Nick's grandfather Geordie lies dying. As Nick watches, Geordie relives the horrors surrounding his brother's death. Meanwhile the children, who have been organized into decorating the living room, peel away the wallpaper to reveal an obscene portrait of an Edwardian family. (12 copies)

Suzanne Berne – A crime in the Neighbourhood
When the murdered body of a local boy is found in the woods, suspicions transform young Marsha's once-secure neighbourhood. Marsha begins to watch her neighbours and when Mr Green, the shy bachelor from next-door, takes an interest in her mother, Marsha is drawn into a cruel chain of events. (15 copies)
Melvin Bragg – The Soldier’s Return

The end of World War Two has to be one of Britain's most dewy-eyed, rose-tinted memories. Yearned for years in advance--Dame Vera Lynn built an entire career on such yearning--it spelled the end of the anguishing waiting, the terrible deprivations overseas and Johnny asleep in his own little bed again. It takes a good novel to make new all the hackneyed emotion of the moment, and a great one to reveal, without sensationalising, the doubts behind the smiles. In that case, this may be a great novel.

(15 copies)
Poppy Z Brite – Exquisite Corpse
A convicted serial killer leaves his prison cell a dead man and rises again to build a new life. His journey takes him to New Orleans' French Quarter- to the decadent bars and frivolous boys that haunt the luscious dark corners of a town brought up on Voodoo and the dark arts. Anticipating a willing victim he finds an equal, something he never expected even in his wildest dreams... Two men thrown together share a dangerous desire and a love that brings fear along with lust, and leaves a trail of blood from London to the USA. (12 copies)

Bill Broady – Swimmer

‘A lyrical and haunting evocation of the one-track life of a champion sportswoman and the spititual cost of her obsessive quest for competitive success.’ Independent

(10 copies)

William Brodrick – The Sixth Lamentation

What should you do if the world has turned against you? When Father Anselm is asked this question by an old man at Larkwood Priory, his response, to claim sanctuary, is to have greater resonance than he could ever have imagined. For that evening the old man returns, demanding the protection of the church. His name is Eduard Schwermann and he is wanted by the police as a suspected war criminal. With her life running out, Agnes Aubret feels it is time to unburden to her granddaughter Lucy the secrets she has been carrying for so long. Fifty years earlier, Agnes had been living in Occupied Paris, a member of a small group risking their lives to smuggle Jewish children to safety - until they were exposed by a young SS Officer: Eduard Schwermann. As Anselm attempts to uncover Schwermann's past, and as Lucy's search into her grandmother's history continues, their investigations dovetail to reveal a remarkable story. (10 copies)

Anne Bronte – Agnes Grey

"Agnes Grey" (1847) draws largely upon the author's unhappy experiences as a governess. It is the story of a rector's daughter who takes service as a governess and is ill-treated and lonely. She experiences kindness from no one but the curate, Mr Weston, whom she finally marries. (10 copies)

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