Fiction: The Good Liars by Anita Frank

Now 6 years later the events of that summer have resurfaced to haunt the inhabitants of Darkacre Hall. Dilapidated and worn down, it is the home of the once respected Stilwell family, now a shadow of their former selves; shattered by the war years, all with something to hide.

Youngest son, Leonard, returned from the war with his body broken, a life not worth living in his opinion. Whereas his brother, Maurice is broken in mind and spirit, a complete disappointment to Ida, his wife, full of self-pity and resentment for her choices and yearning for a life she feels she truly deserves. And then there’s Victor, blustering, self congratulatory and condescending. An unpleasant group really, no wonder they can’t find staff to help with the upkeep of the Hall.

A anonymous letter to the police leads to the reopening of the investigation into the boy’s disappearance, and disrupts the uneasy peace at Darkacre. Haunted by the dead, the arrival of a visitor is the final catalyst for old resentments, tensions and secrets to emerge.

An undercurrent of discomfort and unpleasantness looms throughout this tale of privilege and entitlement shattered by war; a family destroyed by the horror of the trenches, their scars not always visible, their choices not always honourable, haunted by guilt. But bad people deserve to be caught, don’t they?

Atmospheric, gripping and with hints of the supernatural, The Good Liars absolutely pulled the rug out from under me and cleverly caught me out. Brilliantly unexpected, this is a deliciously twisty and satisfying read.

Ruth, Bookshop Manager

Non Fiction: The Farmer’s Wife by Helen Rebanks

This beautifully-illustrated memoir, which takes place across one day at the farm, offers a chance to think about where our food comes from and who puts it on the table. Helen’s recipes, lists and gentle wisdom helps us to get through our days, whatever they throw at us.

A brave, honest and emotional memoir, that celebrates the often undervalued role of women as ‘home-makers’ and lynch-pins of family life. Helen reflects on the highs and lows of rearing a family – and doesn’t shy away from exploring the very personal, physical and psychological toll that pregnancy, birth and nurturing have on women.

All this is set against the backdrop and seasonality of farming life. The day-to-day minutiae of planning and preparing food mindfully, in a way that supports food security, reveals Helen’s knowledge and passion for the land she and her husband farm and the animals they breed.

Helen’s recollections of her family history and daily domesticity are intimate by nature but transcend the personal and capture universal themes that many people will connect with and recognise.

It’s a book brimming with warmth and delicious treats.

Read it as an act of self-care, devour the recipes it contains and take time to consider how our food choices impact people, places, the future of farming and farming life.

Carrie, Bookshop Owner

  • Ruth