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A list of books read by the CDSS book club.

I joined a couple of years ago and have enjoyed the experience. It's been a great way to stumble upon different books that I probably would have overlooked otherwise. Quite a few have surprised me and I feel that it has helped me move away from a tendency to prejudge and reject new things before giving them a chance.

I hope to write reviews for each of the books over time (I may have to re-read a couple to jog my memory).

Shadow Year, The

On a sultry summer's day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her housemates, it offers an escape, a chance to drop out for a while. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again. Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same remote cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? And why did they leave in such a hurry, with their belongings still strewn about? Most disturbing of all, why can't she shake the feeling that someone might be watching her? The Shadow Year is a mesmerising story of tragedy, lies and betrayal.

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Secrets of the Tides

Every family has a secret: a dramatic family saga with a dark thread of suspense lurking at its heart.The Tides are a family with dark secrets. Haunted by the events of one tragic day ten years ago, they are each, in their own way, struggling to move forwards with their lives.Dora, the youngest daughter, lives in a ramshackle East End warehouse with her artist boyfriend Dan. Dora is doing a good job of skating across the surface of her life - but when she discovers she is pregnant the news leaves her shaken and staring back at the darkness of a long-held guilt. Returning to Clifftops, the rambling family house perched high on the Dorset coastline, Dora must confront her past. Clifftops hasn't changed in years and moving through its rooms and gardens, Dora can still feel the echo of that terrible summer's day when life changed forever for the Tides. As Dora begins her search for clues surrounding the events of that fateful day, she comes to realise that the path to redemption may rest with her troubled sister, Cassie. If Dora can unlock the secrets Cassie swore she would take to her grave, just maybe she will have a shot at salvation.But can long-held secrets ever really be forgiven? And even if you do manage to forgive and forget, how do you ever allow yourself to truly love again?

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Foal's Bread

Set in hardscrabble farming country around the show jumping circuit that flourished in Australia prior to the Second World War, Foal's Bread tells the story of two generations of the Nancarrow family and their fortunes as dictated by the vicissitudes of the land. When Noah Childs meets Roley Nancarrow at a country show, a union is forged which will last the length of their lives. Their love finds its greatest expression in their lucky charm, a heart-shaped foal's bread which hangs from a string in their doorway, reminding them to 'hope on, hope ever.' Their story is one of impossible beauty and sadness, a chronicle of dreams turned inside out and miracles that never last, framed against a world both tender and unspeakably hard. Written in luminous prose and with an aching affinity for the landscape the book describes, Foal's Bread is the work of a born writer at the height of her considerable powers.

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The Happiest Refugee

Anh Do nearly didn't make it to Australia. His entire family came close to losing their lives on the sea as they escaped from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat. But nothing - not murderous pirates, nor the imminent threat of death by hunger, disease or dehydration as they drifted for days - could quench their desire to make a better life in the country they had dreamed about. Life in Australia was hard, an endless succession of back-breaking work, crowded rooms, ruthless landlords and make-do everything. But there was a loving extended family, and always friends and play and something to laugh about for Anh, his brother Khoa and their sister Tram. Things got harder when their father left home when Anh was only nine - they felt his loss very deeply and their mother struggled to support the family on her own. His mother's sacrifice was an inspiration to Anh and he worked hard during his teenage years to help her make ends meet, also managing to graduate high school and then university. Another inspiration was the comedian Anh met when he was about to sign on for a 60-hour a week corporate job. Anh asked how many hours he worked. 'Four,' the answer came back, and that was it. He was going to be a comedian! The Happiest Refugee tells the incredible, uplifting and inspiring life story of one of our favourite personalities. Tragedy, humour, heartache and unswerving determination - a big life with big dreams. Anh's story will move and amuse all who read it.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Rene is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building. She maintains a carefully constructed persona as someone uncultivated but reliable, in keeping with what she feels a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Rene: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Rene lives with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever. By turns moving and hilarious, this unusual novel became the top-selling book in France in 2007.

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The Boy Who Fell To Earth

Meet Merlin. He's Lucy's bright, beautiful son - who just happens to be autistic. Since Merlin's father left them in the lurch, Lucy has made Merlin the centre of her world. Struggling with the joys and tribulations of raising her adorable yet challenging child (if only Merlin came with operating instructions), Lucy doesn't have room for any other man in her life. By the time Merlin turns ten, Lucy is seriously worried that the Pope might start ringing her up for tips on celibacy, so resolves to dip a toe back into the world of dating. Thanks to Merlin's candour and quirkiness, things don't go quite to plan... Then, just when Lucy's resigned to singledom once more, Archie - the most imperfectly perfect man for her and her son - lands on her doorstep. But then, so does Merlin's father, begging for a second chance. Does Lucy need a real father for Merlin - or a real partner for herself?

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Bay of Fires

Deep in a national park on the east coast of Tasmania, the Bay of Fires is an idyllic holiday community. There are no more than a dozen shacks beside the lagoon - and secrets are hard to keep; the intimacy of other people's lives is their nourishment. The fact that Sarah Avery has returned, having left her boyfriend and her job, is cause for gossip in itself. Then, the bikini-clad body of a young girl is found washed up on the beach; a year after another teenage girl went missing. Journalist Hall Flynn is sent to the coast to investigate, and all too quickly the close-knit community turns in on itself. As he uncovers long-buried secrets, the delicate balance of their fragile lives is threatened...

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The Catcher in the Rye

Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories ? particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme ? With Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is fully of children. The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

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The Song of Achilles

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

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Bring Up the Bodies

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2012 With this historic win for BRING UP THE BODIES, Hilary Mantel becomes the first British author and the first woman to be awarded two Man Booker Prizes, as well as being the first to win with two consecutive novels. Continuing what began in the Man Booker Prize-winning WOLF HALL, we return to the court of Henry VIII, to witness the irresistible rise of Thomas Cromwell as he contrives the destruction of Anne Boleyn. By 1535 Cromwell is Chief Minister to Henry, his fortunes having risen with those of Anne Boleyn. But the split from the Catholic Church has left England dangerously isolated, and Anne has failed to give the king an heir. Cromwell watches as Henry falls for plain Jane Seymour. Negotiating the politics of the court, Cromwell must find a solution that will satisfy Henry, safeguard the nation and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge unscathed from the bloody theatre of Anne's final days. An astounding literary accomplishment, BRING UP THE BODIES is the story of this most terrifying moment of history, by one of our greatest living novelists.

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The Sense of an Ending

Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2011 Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is in middle age. He's had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove. The Sense of an Ending is the story of one man coming to terms with the mutable past. Laced with trademark precision, dexterity and insight, it is the work of one of the world's most distinguished writers.

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Bittersweet

From the author of THE THORN BIRDS, one of the biggest - selling books of all time, comes this epic saga of love, betrayal, ambition and redemption in 1920s Australia. Do bonds between sisters ever break? Edda, Grace, Tufts and Kitty didn't think so. The four Latimer sisters, famous throughout New South Wales for their beauty, wit and ambition, have always been close; always happy. But then they left home to train as nurses, swapping the feather beds of their father's townhouse for the spartan bunks of hospital accommodation. And now, as the Depression casts its shadow across Australia, they are bound by their own secret desires as the world changes around them. Will they find the independence they crave? Or is life - like love - always bittersweet? 'As clever, compelling and as down - to - earth as its four heroines' Australian Women's Weekly

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The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is a story about love, life and lobster every Tuesday..."Marvellous." (John Boyne). "Original, clever and perfectly written." (Jill Mansell). "Adorable." (Marian Keyes). "An upbeat, quirky, impertinent gem of a read." (Chris Cleave). 'I'm not good at understanding what other people want.' 'Tell me something I don't know ...' Love isn't an exact science - but no one told Don Tillman. A thirty-nine-year-old geneticist, Don's never had a second date. So he devises the Wife Project, a scientific test to find the perfect partner. Enter Rosie - 'the world's most incompatible woman' - throwing Don's safe, ordered life into chaos. But what is this unsettling, alien emotion he's feeling? "Don Tillman is one of the most endearing, charming and fascinating literary characters I have met in a long time." (The Times). "Hilarious, unlikely and heartbreaking." (Easy Living). "Touching and laugh-out-loud funny - think The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time meets Silver Linings Playbook." (Stylist). "Funny, endearing, and pure, wonderful escapism." (Independent). "A sweet, funny rom-com...You'll be willing Don and Rosie on every step of the way." (Marie Claire). "Original, charming and very funny." (Woman & Home). "A comic triumph: clever, humane and tears-in-your-eyes funny. But best of all, The Rosie Project is a madly romantic love story." (Liz Jensen, author of The Rapture). "I couldn't put this book down. It's one of the most quirky and endearing romances I've ever read. I laughed the whole way through. And now I want to meet Don' Sophie Kinsella With the charm of Mark Haddon's. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the romance of David Nicholls. One Day, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is both funny and endearing - and is set to become the paperback of 2014. Graeme Simsion is a full-time writer. Previously an IT consultant and educator, he wrote his first book in 1994 (the standard reference on data modelling, now entering its fourth edition), and is married to Anne, a professor of psychiatry who writes erotic fiction. They have two children.

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Published for the first time in flipback - the new, portable, stylish format that's taken Europe by storm. Genteel society ladies who compare notes on their husbands' suicides. A hilariously foul-mouthed black drag queen. A voodoo priestess who works her roots in the graveyard at midnight. A morose inventor who owns a bottle of poison powerful enough to kill everyone in town. A prominent antiques dealer who hangs a Nazi flag from his window to disrupt the shooting of a movie. And a redneck gigolo whose conquests describe him as a 'walking streak of sex'. These are some of the real residents of Savannah, Georgia, a city whose eccentric mores are unerringly observed - and whose dirty linen is gleefully aired - in this utterly irresistible book. At once a true-crime murder story and a hugely entertaining and deliciously perverse travelogue, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is as bracing and intoxicating as half-a-dozen mint juleps.

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The Girl on the Train

The #1 New York Times Bestseller, USA Today Book of the Year, now a major motion picture starring Emily Blunt. The debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives. “Nothing is more addicting than The Girl on the Train.”—Vanity Fair “The Girl on the Train has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since Gone Girl. . . . [It] is liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership.”—The New York Times “Marries movie noir with novelistic trickery. . . hang on tight. You'll be surprised by what horrors lurk around the bend.”—USA Today “Like its train, the story blasts through the stagnation of these lives in suburban London and the reader cannot help but turn pages.”—The Boston Globe “Gone Girl fans will devour this psychological thriller.”—People EVERY DAY THE SAME Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. UNTIL TODAY And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

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Bonkers

Jennifer Saunders' comic creations have brought joy to millions. From Comic Strip to Comic Relief, from Bolly-swilling Edina in Ab Fab to her takes on Madonna or Mamma Mia, her characters are household names.But it's Jennifer herself who has a place in all our hearts. This is her funny, moving and frankly bonkers memoir, filled with laughter, friends and occasional heartache - but never misery.BONKERS is full of riotous adventures: accidentally enrolling on a teacher training course with a young Dawn French, bluffing her way to each BBC series, shooting Lulu, trading wild faxes with Joanna Lumley, touring India with Ruby Wax and Goldie Hawn.There's cancer, too, when she becomes 'Brave Jen'. But her biggest battle is with the bane of her life: the Laws of Procrastination. As she admits, 'There has never been a Plan. Everything has been fairly random, happened by accident or just fallen into place. I'm off now, to do some sweeping...'Prepare to chuckle, whoop, and go BONKERS.

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