The Long Song
You do not know me yet. My son Thomas, who is publishing this book, tells me, it is customary at this place in a novel to give the reader a little taste of the story that is held within these pages. As your storyteller, I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom that followed.
July is a slave girl who lives upon a sugar plantation named Amity and it is her life that is the subject of this tale. She was there when the Baptist War raged in 1831, and she was also present when slavery was declared no more. My son says I must convey how the story tells also of July’s mama Kitty, of the negroes that worked the plantation land, of Caroline Mortimer the white woman who owned the plantation and many more persons besides – far too many for me to list here.
But what befalls them all is carefully chronicled upon these pages for you to peruse. Perhaps, my son suggests, I might write that it is a thrilling journey through that time in the company of people who lived it. All this he wishes me to pen so the reader can decide if this is a book they might care to consider.
Cha, I tell my son, what fuss-fuss. Come, let them just read it for themselves.
In 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland during a Valentine’s night storm. In the early hours of the next morning, all 84 men aboard died. Helen O’Mara is one of those left behind when her husband, Cal, drowns.
Her story starts years after the Ranger disaster, but she is compelled to travel back to the ‘February’ that persists in her mind, and to that moment in 1982 when, expecting a fourth child, she received the call informing her that Cal was lost at sea. A quarter of a century on, late one winter’s night, Helen is woken by another phone call. It is her wayward son John, in another time zone, on his way home.
He has made a girl pregnant and he wants Helen to decide what he should do. As John grapples with what it might mean to be a father, Helen realises that she must shake off her decades of mourning in order to help. With grace and precision, and a shocking ability to render the precise details of her characters’ physical and emotional worlds, Lisa Moore reveals the whole story to us.
And just as, finally, we watch the oil rig go down, we see Helen emerging from her grief to greet a new life.
In a silent valley stands an isolated stone farmhouse, the Mas Lunel. Its owner is Aramon Lunel, an alcoholic so haunted by his violent past that he’s become incapable of all meaningful action, letting his hunting dogs starve and his land go to ruin. Meanwhile, his sister, Audrun, alone in her modern bungalow within sight of the Mas Lunel, dreams of exacting retribution for the unspoken betrayals that have blighted her life.
Into this closed Cevenol world comes Anthony Verey, a wealthy but disillusioned antiques dealer from London. Now in his sixties, Anthony hopes to remake his life in France, and he begins looking at properties in the region. From the moment he arrives at the Mas Lunel, a frightening and unstoppable series of consequences is set in motion.
Two worlds and two cultures collide. Ancient boundaries are crossed, taboos are broken, a violent crime is committed. And all the time the Cevennes hills remain, as cruel and seductive as ever, unforgettably captured in this powerful and unsettling novel, which reveals yet another dimension to Rose Tremain’s extraordinary imagination.
The Stars in the Bright Sky
The Sopranos are back: out of school and out in the world, gathered in Gatwick to plan a super-cheap last-minute holiday to celebrate their reunion. Kay, Kylah, Manda, Rachel and Finn are joined by Finn’s equally gorgeous friend Ava – a half-French philosophy student – and are ready to go on the rampage. Just into their twenties and as wild as ever, they’ve added acrylic nails, pedicures, mobile phones and credit cards to their arsenal, but are still the same thirsty girls: their holiday bags packed with skimpy clothes and condoms, their hormones rampant.
Will it be Benidorm or Magaluf, Paris or Las Vegas? One thing is certain: a great deal of fast-food will be eaten and gallons of Guinness will be drunk by the alpha-female Manda, and she will be matched by the others’ enthusiastic intake of Bacardi Breezers, vodkas and Red Bull. With Alan Warner’s pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, pinpoint characterisation and glorious set-pieces, this is a novel propelled by conversation through scenes of excess and debauchery, hilarity and sadness. Like the six young women at its centre, “The Stars in the Bright Sky” is vivid and brimming with life – in all its squalor, rage, tears and laughter – and presents an unforgettable story of female friendship.
In a Strange Room
A young man takes three journeys, through Greece, India and Africa. He travels lightly, simply. To those who travel with him and those whom he meets on the way – including a handsome, enigmatic stranger, a group of careless backpackers and a woman on the edge – he is the Follower, the Lover and the Guardian.
Yet, despite the man’s best intentions, each journey ends in disaster. Together, these three journeys will change his whole life. A novel of longing and thwarted desire, rage and compassion, “In a Strange Room” is the hauntingly beautiful evocation of one man’s search for love, and a place to call home.