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Readers' group sets of books - authors S to Z

These books are free to borrow from Medway Libraries. Select the title and it will open up in a new window on the books' page on the Amazon website, which gives a review of the book and often the first few pages.

Author Title Copies Notes

Sage, Lorna

Bad Blood

9
(Also available in large print)

From a childhood of Gothic proportions in a vicarage on the Welsh borders, through adolescence, leaving herself teetering on the brink of the 1960s, Lorna Sage's autobiography vividly and wittily brings to life a vanished time and place and illuminates the lives of three generations of women.

Sansom, C J

Winter in Madrid

12 (Also available in large print and as a CD audio book)

Part thriller, part love story, this tale follows the fortunes of three young men, navigating the tumultous world of 1940s Spain. As the Second World war begins, one is sent to spy on another and the ramifications of a tragic love story will haunt them all.

Schwarz, Christina

Drowning Ruth

12
(Also available in large print)

Apparently buckling under the strain of caring for wounded soldiers, Amanda retreats from her nursing job at the close of the First World War to her family's farm on a lake in rural Wisconsin, hoping that life with her beloved sister Mattie and her niece, three-year-old Ruth, will restore her.

Sebold, Alice

The Lovely Bones

12
(Also available on CD audio book)

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was 14 when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighbourhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer.

Seierstad, Asne

The Bookseller of Kabul

6
(Also available in large print)

Two weeks after 11 September 2001, award-winning journalist Asne Seierstad went to Afghanistan to report on the conflict. In the following spring she returned to live with a bookseller and his family for several months.

Seiffert, Rachel

Field Study

12

This book takes us on journeys that demonstrate both the fragility and adaptability of our emotions.

Seth, Vikram

An Equal Music

11

A chance sighting on a bus; a letter which should never have been read; a pianist with a secret that touches the heart of her music. This is a book about love, about the love of a woman lost and found and lost again; it is a book about music and how the love of music can run like a passionate fugue through a life.

Seton, Anya

Katherine

12

Katherine comes to the court of Edward III at the age of 15. The naïve convent-educated orphan of a penniless knight is dazzled by the jousts and the entertainments of court.
Nevertheless, Katherine is beautiful, and she turns the head of the King’s favourite son John of Gaunt. But he is married, and she is soon to be betrothed.

Setterfield, Diane

The Thirteenth Tale

12
(Also available in large print)

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family - fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, brutal, dangerous Charlie, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart.

Shaffer, Mary Ann and Burrows, Annie

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

12
(Also available in large print and as an eBook)

It's January 1946, and writer Juliet Ashton sits at her desk vainly seeking a subject for her next book. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from one Dawsey Adams of Guernsey - by chance he's acquired a secondhand book that once belonged to Juliet - and, spurred on by their mutual love of Charles Lamb, they begin a correspondence.

Sherwood, Ben

The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud

12
(Also available in large print)

As a boy, Charlie St Cloud narrowly survived a car crash that killed Sam, his little brother. Years later, still unable to recover from his loss, Charlie has taken a job tending to the lawns and monuments in the New England cemetery where Sam is buried.

Shields, Carol

The Stone Diaries

11

This story of a woman's life is a truly sensuous novel which reflects and illuminates the unsettled decades of our century. This is the story of Daisy Goodwill, from her birth on a kitchen floor in Manitoba, Canada, to her death in a Florida nursing home nearly 90 years later.

Simpson, Joe

Touching the Void

12
(Also available on CD audio book)

This is an account of the ascent of the 21,000ft Siula Grande peak in the Peruvian Andes. Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, had achieved the summit before the first disaster struck.

Smith, Ali

The Accidental

9
(Also available in large print)

The Smart family's lacklustre holiday in Norwich is turned upside down when a beguiling stranger called Amber appears, bringing with her love, joy, pain and upheaval. The Smarts try to make sense of their bewildering emotions as Amber tramples over family boundaries and forces them to think about their world and themselves in an entirely new way.

Smith, Andrew

Moondust

12
(Also available in large print, as an eBook and as a CD audio book)

In 1999, Andrew Smith was interviewing Charlie Duke, astronaut and moon walker, for the Sunday Times. During the course of the interview, which took place at Duke's Texan home, the telephone rang and Charlie left the room to answer it. When he returned, some 20 minutes later, he seemed visibly upset.

Smith, Zadie

The Autograph Man

10
(Also available in large print)

A deeply funny, existential tour around the hollow things of modernity - celebrity, cinema, and the ugly triumph of symbol over experience.

Smith, Zadie

White Teeth

6
(Also available in large print and as an eBook)

A funny, generous, big-hearted novel. Dealing with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle. It is a life-affirming, riotous must-read of a book.

Spark, Muriel

Aiding and Abetting

11
(Also available in large print)

Based on the real-life character of Lord Lucan, who in 1974 killed his children's nanny by mistake instead of killing his wife. Though he vanished and has never been found, many have suspected that he has been housed and hidden over the years by a series of aristocratic friends.

Spurling, Hilary

The Unknown Matisse

12

This is a biography of the surrealist painter.

Stein, Gertrude

The Autiobography of Alice B Toklas

12

For Gertrude Stein and her companion Alice, life in Paris was based upon the rue de Fleurus and the Saturday evenings. This is Gertrude's own autobiography and a roll-call of all the extraordinary painters and writers she met.

Steinbeck, John

East of Eden

12
(Also available in large print)

Set in the rich farmland of the Salinas Valley, California, this powerful, often brutal novel, follows the intertwined destinies of two families - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations hopelessly re-enact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

Stephenson, Pamela

Billy

10
(Also available in large print)

From welding to folk singing to comedy to writing to acting, Billy Connolly has proved his versatility and sheer determination. His wife Pamela's biography gives the reader an insider's view of this talented musician, singer, TV presenter, comedian and actor.

Stevenson, Talitha

Exposure

12

Alistair Langford, a high-powered lawyer, has at long last achieved 'almost all' his immense ambitions. But in the course of just one evening, he recklessly destroys it all. The scandal threatens his marriage and his family and even his own identity.

Swift, Graham

Making an Elephant

12

As a novelist Graham Swift delights in the possibilities of the human voice, imagining his way into the minds and hearts of an extraordinary range of characters. In Making an Elephant the voice is his own. As generous in its scope as it is acute in its observations, this highly personal book is a singular and open-spirited account of a writer’s life.

Swift, Graham

The Light of Day

12

Sarah is in prison. Every fortnight she is visited by George, the private eye she employed to observe the final stage of her husband's affair. The visits lead George back into Sarah's past and into events he can picture only too well, while bringing him ever closer to a time he can't quite imagine - when she will once again step out into the clear light of day.

Tartt, Donna

The Little Friend

12

Twelve-year-old Harriet is doing her best to grow up, which is not easy as her mother is permanently on medication, her father has silently moved to another city, and her serene sister rarely notices anything. All of them are still suffering from the shocking and mysterious death of her brother Robin 12 years earlier.

Tartt, Donna

The Secret History

8

A misfit at an exclusive New England college, Richard finds kindred spirits in the five eccentric students of his ancient Greek class. But his new friends have a horrific secret.

Taylor, Andrew

The American Boy

12
(Also available in large print)

The American Boy is a major new literary historical crime novel in the tradition of An Instance of the Fingerpost and Possession. England 1819: Thomas Shield, a new master at a school just outside London, is tutor to a young American boy and the boy's sensitive best friend, Charles Frant. Drawn to Frant's beautiful, unhappy mother, Thomas becomes caught up in her family's twisted intrigues.

Thomas, Leslie

Dover Beach

12
(Also available in large print)

In the summer 1940, Dunkirk has been evacuated. Dover is inundated with young soldiers, who wearily wander its streets, wondering what the future holds in store for them. Toby Hendry, a fighter pilot, is awaiting orders when he meets Giselle, a young Frenchwoman who has fled occupied France. Can their love affair withstand the forces of war?

Toews, Miriam

A Complicated Kindness

12
(Also available in large print)

This is the story of a Mennonite community in Manitoba, Canada.

Torday, Paul

Salmon Fishing in Yemen

10
(Also available in large print)

This comedy satire is about Dr Alfred Jones, who finds himself reluctantly mixed up in a project to bring salmon to the Highlands of the Yemen.

Townsend, Sue The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year 12 (Also available as an eBook and on CD audio book)
The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year' is a funny and touching novel about what happens when someone refuses to be the person everyone expects them to be.
Tracy, P J Want to Play? 12
(Also available in large print and as an eBook)
The slaying of an old couple in small town America looks like one-off act of brutal retribution. But at the same time, in Minneapolis, teams of detectives scramble to stop a sickeningly inventive serial killer striking again in a city paralysed by fear.
Trapido, Barbara Frankie and Stankie 12 Dinah and her sister Lisa are growing up in 1950s South Africa, where racial laws are tightening. They are two little girls from a dissenting liberal family. Big sister Lisa is strong and sensible, while Dinah is weedy and arty.
Tressell, Robert The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists 10 This is a timeless story of socialism, political awakenings and class struggle, told with a volatile mix of heartfelt rage and sly humour.
Tyler, Anne Back When we Were Grownups 12
(Also available in large print)
Rebecca Davitch a 53-year-old grandmother known as Beck to her family, is ostensibly outgoing and happy. Now, 30 years after her marriage and a disastrous family picnic, Rebecca wonders who she really is.
Tyler, Anne The Amateur Marriage 12 Michael and Pauline seemed like the perfect couple - young, good-looking, made for each other. The moment she walked into his mother's grocery store in Baltimore, he was smitten, and in the heat of the Second World War, they marry in haste.
Urquhart, Jane The Stone Carvers 12 In the mid-19th century, young Father Pater Archangel Gstir is sent to Shoneval, a tiny, bleak settlement in the wilds of Ontario by mad King Ludwig of Bavaria. Gstir becomes obsessed with the building of an immense stone church for his motley flock, all of whom he draws into his ambitious plans.
Vallgren, Carl Johan The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-reading Monster Hercules Barefoot 12 Carl-Johan Vallgren was born in 1964 in Sweden. This novel, begins in 1813, when a doctor comes to the aid of two prostitutes in childbirth. Two children are born: a healthy girly, Henriette; and a deformed deaf mute who can read minds, Hercules. This is their story.
Vickers, Salley The Other Side of You 12
(Also available in large print)
As a young child Dr. David McBride witnessed the death of his six-year-old brother and it is this traumatic event which has shaped his own personality and choice of profession.
Von Arnim, Elizabeth The Enchanted April 12 High above the bay on the Italian Riviera stands San Salvatore, a mediaeval castle. Beckoned to this haven are Mrs. Wilkins, Mrs Arbuthnot, Mrs Fisher and Lady Caroline Dester, each quietly craving a respite. Lulled by the Mediterranean spirit, they gradually shed their skins and discover a harmony each of them has longed for but never known.

Walls, Jeannette

The Glass Castle

12

This is a startling memoir of a successful journalist's journey from the deserted and dusty mining towns of the American Southwest, to an antique filled apartment on Park Avenue.

Waters, Sarah

Fingersmith

7

Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, is born among petty thieves - fingersmiths - in London's Borough. From the moment she draws breath, her fate is linked to another orphan, growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away

Waters, Sarah

Tipping the Velvet

12
(Also available in large print)

Nan is captivated by the music hall phenomenon that is Kitty Butler, a male impersonator extraordinaire treading the boards in Canterbury. Through a friend at the box office, Nan manages to visit all her shows and finally meet her heroine.

Waugh, Evelyn

Brideshead Revisited

4

This novel looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder's infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly-disappearing world of privilege they inhabit.

Wesley, Mary

Harnessing Peacocks

12

Hebe listens in the darkness of the hall to a family conference. The stern hypocrisy of her grandfather is winning the day. He has summoned her three horsey sisters' successful husbands and they are discussing Hebe's unexpected pregnancy. The decision, unanimous, is that it be terminated. Hebe, dissenting, flees into the night. Twelve summers later she is living happily alone with her son in a seaside town in Cornwall. He is receiving an expensive education. Hebe has organised her life oddly but well. She has two chief talents in life - cooking and making love - and these she has exercised with dignity, in privacy and for profit. It is when separate strands of the web of Hebe's life become entangled that the even tenor of her days is threatened, and her life is changed. Harnessing Peacocks is suffused with freshness, warmth and wit.

Widdecombe, Ann

An Act of Treachery

11

Catherine Dessin, a young French girl living in Paris during the occupation, falls for an older, married German officer. The novel examines the tensions this causes within her family of patriots and resistance workers.

Wilde, Oscar

De Profundis and Other Writings

11

This is a collection of essays and poems by the man who told a US customs official that he had nothing to declare except his genius.

Winterson, Jeanette

Why be Happy when you Could be Normal?

12

This book is the story of a life's work to find happiness. It is the story of how the painful past Jeanette Winterson thought she had written over and repainted returned to haunt her later life, and sent her on a journey into madness and out again, in sea.

Woodruff, William

The Road to Nab End

12
(Also available in large print)

This is the biography of William Woodruff, who had the sort of childhood satirised in the famous Monty Python Yorkshireman sketch. The son of a weaver, he was born on a pallet of straw at the back of the mill and two days later his mother was back at work. Life was extremely tough for the family in 1920s Blackburn -- a treat was sheep's head or cow heel soup.

Woolf, Virginia

Mrs Dalloway

12

On a June morning in 1923, Clarissa Dalloway is preparing for a party and remembering her past. Elsewhere in London, Septimus Smith is suffering from shell-shock and on the brink of madness. Their days interweave and their lives converge as the party reaches its glittering climax.

Yap, Chang Ling

Sweet Offerings

10

Set in the late 1930s and 1960s, this is the tale of Mei Yin, a young Chinese girl from an impoverished family. Her destiny is shaped when she is sent to Kuala Lumpur to become the ward and companion of the tyrannical and bitter Su Hei who is looking for a suitable wife for her son Ming Kong... and ultimately a grandson and heir to the family dynasty.

Zola, Emile

Germinal

12

Etienne Lantier is an outsider who enters the community and eventually leads his fellow-miners in a strike protesting against pay-cuts - a strike which becomes a losing battle against starvation, repression, and sabotage.