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My All Time Top Five

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These five books will forever have a special place in my heart. While they don't share a common genre or style, they each reveal something profound about what it means to be human, how we are all connected, why our lives have meaning. 

Cloud Atlas

By the author of THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET, David Mitchell's bestselling and Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, one of Richard & Judy's 100 Books of the Decade, CLOUD ATLAS has now been adapted for film. The major motion picture, directed by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant. The novel features six characters in interlocking stories, each interrupting the one before it: a reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified dinery server on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation. The narrators of CLOUD ATLAS hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changes in ways great and small. Mitchell's other novels are GHOSTWRITTEN, BLACK SWAN GREEN and NUMBER9DREAM, all published by Sceptre. www.sceptrebooks.com Facebook: Sceptre Books Twitter: SceptreBooks

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Prodigal Summer

From an isolated mountain cabin, Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, is caught off-guard by a young hunter who changes utterly her self-assured, solitary life. Lusa Maluf Landowski finds herself unexpectedly marooned on her husband's farm where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land. Garnett Walker and Nannie Rawley, a pair of elderly, feuding neighbours, tend their respective farms and wrangle about God, pesticides, and the possibilities of a future neither of them expected. Over the course of one humid summer in the Appalachian mountains these characters discover their connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they share their place in the world.

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A Fine Balance

With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future. As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.

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Oryx and Crake

Pigs might not fly but they are strangely altered. So, for that matter, are wolves and racoons. A man, once named Jimmy, lives in a tree, wrapped in old bedsheets, now calls himself Snowman. The voice of Oryx, the woman he loved, teasingly haunts him. And the green-eyed Children of Crake are, for some reason, his responsibility. 'In Jimmy, Atwood has created a great character: a tragic-comic artist of the future, part buffoon, part Orpheus. An adman who's a sad man; a jealous lover who's in perpetual mourning; a fantasist who can only remember the past' - Independent 'Gripping and remarkably imagined' - London Review of Books

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Middlemarch

Part of Penguin's beautiful hardback Clothbound Classics series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design. George Eliot's most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community. Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfillment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamund and pioneering medical methods threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstrode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past. As their stories interweave, George Eliot creates a richly nuanced and moving drama, hailed by Virginia Woolf as 'one of the few English novels written for adult people'.

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