Thursday, December 15, 2005

Richard and Judy Go Forth

Richard and Judy are to British books what Oprah is to American. Described as "publishing's biggest star-makers" the duo host a weekly book club segment on their Channel 4 TV show. The show has been extremely successful in promoting reading and, naturally, selected writers see their sales soar.

The 10 titles chosen for 2006 choices has just been announced, the Guardian reports. It's a pretty eclectic list ("something for everyone") with recommendations that you would probably enjoy too:
THE HISTORY OF LOVE, by Nicole Krauss

At the age of 10, Leo Gursky fell in love with a young girl in his Polish village and wrote a book in honour of her. Now elderly and living in America, he believes that book long lost. Krauss tells what happens when Gursky's world collides with that of a young girl investigating her own mother's loneliness.

THE FARM, by Richard Benson

The first book from a former editor of The Face is the true story of the farm in Yorkshire where his family has farmed for 200 years. It is told through a combination of childhood memories and notes taken in the weeks before the farm is sold as no longer financially viable and the property developers move in.

THE CONJUROR'S BIRD, by Martin Davies

A debut novel from a BBC producer, this story of the search for a stuffed bird is a mix of detection, romance and history. Fitz, a scientist, becomes obsessed with tracking down the Mysterious Bird of Ulieta, one of the specimens discovered by the real-life 18th-century explorer Joseph Banks.

ARTHUR AND GEORGE, by Julian Barnes

Shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize, this is based on the true story of a miscarriage of justice investigated by Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. George Edalji was jailed for attacks on horses but Doyle, believing Edalji to be a victim of racism and sloppy detective work, worked to clear his name.


Set in post-war England, this is the story of Penelope Wallace who longs to be grown-up and fall in love, but finds that various things - such as her eccentric family - keep on getting in the way. This is the fourth novel from the daughter of the songwriter Tim Rice.

LABYRINTH, by Kate Mosse

Best-selling novel by the co-founder of the Orange Prize, it blends the lives of two women, separated by 800 years. It is an adventure story steeped in the legends and history of the Cathars, the religious movement branded heretical by Roman Catholics, set in the medieval French town of Carcassonne.

THE LINCOLN LAWYER, by Michael Connelly

This is a crime thriller by a former Los Angeles Times police reporter. It is the story of Mickey Haller - a low-ranking criminal defence lawyer who gets his first wealthy client in years when a Beverley Hills rich boy is accused of beating a woman. However, the case starts to fall apart.


Min, a former actress who was born in Shanghai but has lived in America since 1984, bases her novel on the true story of China's last empress. She creates the world of the Forbidden City in Imperial China through the eyes of Orchid, a poor girl who beats rival concubines to the emperor's bed.

MARCH, by Geraldine Brooks

The recreation of the life of John March, the father who is away from the family in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. In Brooks's story, March emerges as an abolitionist and idealistic chaplain on the front lines of the American Civil War. Brooks, an Australian, lives in America and is a fellow at Harvard.

MOONDUST, by Andrew Smith

Smith, an Englishman who was raised in America and watched the Moon landings on TV from San Francisco, set out to interview all the astronauts still living who walked on the Moon to find out how their lives were changed by their experience. Smith, a journalist, now lives in Norfolk with his family.

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