Claire Amarti - The Silent Daughter
There are a lot of secrets in this thriller, not least those held by the main protagonist, Sadie. For some reason she has returned to her home town to teach at the private school she attended as a scholarship girl. But somehow it's not been a success, and she's being let go at the end of her probationary time. Then Devon, a talented pupil from a wealthy local family goes missing. Parents begin to withdraw their daughters, and Sadie is asked to return to her post as no teachers want to apply while there's a girl missing. But is Sadie returning to danger? She's had threatening letters, and there are her own secrets that could bring more problems. An intriguing read.
Christina Courtenay - Echoes of the Runes
An intriguing 'time-slip' romantic novel, set in modern day Sweden and in Viking times. Mia's gold serpent ring has been passed down through the generations of her family. A visit to the Historical Museum of Stockholm brings her face-to-face with its twin - and also to Haakon, an archaeologist with an interest in Viking sites. Soon the pair find themselves in charge of a dig investigating anomalies at the house Mia has just inherited from her Swedish grandmother. Mia is torn between her English fiance, Charles, and the increasingly deep connection she's feeling with Haakon. Both are experiencing waking dreams about a Viking called Haukr and his Welsh hostage Ceridwen. The plot is deftly woven between the two timelines, with plenty of authentic background and colour from this author who explores her own Swedish heritage. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Andrea Levy - Small Island
What to say about this multi-award-winning novel, that hasn't been said before? Finely drawn characters, evocative description, and a story that generates a lot of soul-searching. Hermione travels from Jamaica to join her new husband, Gilbert, who fought for Britain in World War II and took the opportunity to make a new life in England. He travelled on the Windrush months earlier, and she expects to find him established in London and doing well. What she discovers shocks her to the core. With flashbacks, and the story told from many viewpoints, we see the old attitudes to people of different colour that are shocking and shameful to a modern reader. Definitely a novel to make the reader think, showing up historic racist attitudes. Well worth all its accolades.