Everyone knows the heroic story of Theseus in the labyrinth, and how Ariadne helped him to defeat the terrifying Minotaur. Yet with this act of bravery, a betrayal of her tyrannous royal father, Ariadne's story is only beginning. The epic tales of ancient poets rarely pause to consider her sacrifice, or what it meant to leave behind her Cretan home and family. Lost in a new kind of labyrinth, Ariadne must quickly learn what it means to be a woman, and a mortal, in a world ruled over by men and gods.
In a modest Stratford house, in the late sixteenth century, a boy is searching for help. His twin sister, Judith, has fallen ill, and he has no idea what to do. His mother will come, carrying kind words, herbal remedies, and fear in her heart. The plague should not be here - the playhouses in London may close, but here in Stratford, far away, they are supposed to be safe. Heedlessly, the sickness has arrived from another world, crept into their home, and waits with insatiable power to shatter a family beyond recognition.
It is one of the most famous conflicts of all time, a war that defined three generations and shook the ancient world. The fates and circumstances that would trigger such unprecedented bloodshed were whispered on the wind decades before the first of Agamemnon's ships set sail. In this epic tale, Stephen Fry delves into the lives of gods and mortals, men and women, warriors and priests, as they are thrown into the cataclysm of the Trojan War.
Rating: 4.5 stars Genre: Literary, Historical Fiction Summary: When Ada fails to conceive a child with her new husband, she becomes increasingly desperate. Barren women in her village are often hanged as witches. Fearing that she is cursed, neighbours start refusing to let her attend their births, meaning she can no longer put her expertise as a midwife to use. Frustrated and afraid, Ada runs away to find refuge with a band of outlaws and their charismatic leader known only as the Kid. In this makeshift and marginalised family, women like Ada are finding power beyond the status of their wombs - and taking revenge on the society that has rejected them.
In 1980, Elise follows her lover Connie from London to LA, where Connie’s novel is being adapted into a major film. Their stormy love affair will leave its mark on the city. Three decades later, Rose is on the trail of the mother who left when she was a baby. The only clue she has is a book by elusive novelist Constance Holden, who may hold the key to why her mother left everything behind.
Rating: 4 stars Genre: Literary fiction, magical realism Summary: When David sets out in his fishing boat from the island of Black Conch, on a morning that seems the same as any other, the last thing he expects is to come face-to-face with a mermaid. He always thought such creatures existed only in rumour and legend, but here one stares at his boat in the vulnerable reality of flesh and blood, and he must step in to protect her when American tourists arrive for a hunting trip like no other. David nurtures trust and then love between himself and the mermaid, desperate to carve out a life for them among the richness and darkness of his island home. Yet it remains to be seen whether this fusion of woman and myth can ever be his to hold onto.
Maurice Hall appears to be the prototype of the English gentleman - educated at a prestigious school, he will inevitably go on to study at Cambridge then take his place alongside London's wealthy financiers. Yet when he falls in love with a fellow male student at Cambridge, Maurice feels the ground of convention pulled from beneath his feet. He is forced to make an agonising decision: betray his true self in exchange for a place in polite society, or risk turning his back on this safe and familiar world to live authentically.
Rating: 4.5 stars Genre: Literary fiction Summary: Raised by her mother and three aunts in a bustling Istanbul home, Asya is tired of negotiating their multiplying expectations and dreams of fleeing to lead her own, unfettered life. Across the continents, in America, Armanoush is also struggling to deal with the demands of her large and dissonant family. When the two young women cross paths, they will force their families towards a reckoning with the past that has been almost a century in waiting.
Rating: 3 stars Genre: Literary, Semi-autobiographical Summary: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a semi-autobiographical bildungsroman novel that draws upon the author's own childhood and life experiences. In a small Northern town in the 1950s and 60s, Jeanette is being raised by her formidable mother as a good Christian girl who dreams of becoming a missionary. However, after falling in love with one of her female converts, Jeanette embarks on a series of lesbian love affairs that will force her to confront the darker sides of her community. Determined not to choose between her love of women and her calling as a preacher, she must fight to retain her identity, sexuality, and faith intact.
Rating: 4 stars Category: Literary fiction Summary: In 1980, Elise follows her lover Connie from London to LA, where Connie's novel is being adapted into a major film. Their stormy love affair will leave its mark on the city. Three decades later, Rose is on the trail of the mother who left when she was a baby. The only clue she has is a book by elusive novelist Constance Holden, who may hold the key to why her mother left everything behind.