escabeche | book group
escabeche is a tapas restaurant serving the freshest food from Spain and her neighbours throughout the day.
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escabeche book group

Any Human Heart by William Boyd
Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary, but Logan Mountstuart’s – lived from the beginning to the end of the twentieth century – contains more than its fair share of both. As a writer who finds inspiration with Hemingway in Paris and Virginia Woolf in London, as a spy recruited by Ian Fleming and betrayed in the war and as an art-dealer in ’60s New York, Logan mixes with the movers and shakers of his times. But as a son, friend, lover and husband, he makes the same mistakes we all do in our search for happiness. Here, then, is the story of a life lived to the full – and a journey deep into a very human heart.

Fatherland by Robert Harris
Fatherland is set in an alternative world where Hitler has won the Second World War. It is April 1964 and one week before Hitler’s 75th birthday. Xavier March, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei, is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin’s most prestigious suburb. As March discovers the identity of the body, he uncovers signs of a conspiracy that could go to the very top of the German Reich. And, with the Gestapo just one step behind, March, together with an American journalist, is caught up in a race to discover and reveal the truth – a truth that has already killed, a truth that could topple governments, a truth that will change history.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
The plot revolves around Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don designs The Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers. Rosie Jarman is all these things. She also is strangely beguiling, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project, as a DNA expert Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

This Boy by Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson’s childhood was not so much difficult as unusual, particularly for a man who was destined to become Home Secretary. Not in respect of the poverty, which was shared with many of those living in the slums of post-war Britain, but in its transition from two-parent family to single mother and then to no parents at all… This is essentially the story of two incredible women: Alan’s mother, Lily, who battled against poor health, poverty, domestic violence and loneliness to try to ensure a better life for her children; and his sister, Linda, who had to assume an enormous amount of responsibility at a very young age and who fought to keep the family together and out of care when she herself was still only a child.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways. Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall? Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, Jessie Burton’s magnificent debut novel The Miniaturist is a story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
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 retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect,  as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
At 57, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed, reading historical novels, listening to a bit of light jazz. Then Katie, his tempestuous daughter, announces that she is getting remarried, to Ray. Her family is not please. Katiu can’t decide if she loves Ray, or loves the way he cares for her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by the way the wedding planning gets in the way of her affair. The pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony. Unnoticed, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Holden Caulfield is a seventeen- year-old dropout who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. Navigating his way through the challenges of growing up, Holden dissects the ‘phony’ aspects of society, and the ‘phonies’ themselves: the headmaster whose affability depends on the wealth of the parents, his roommate who scores with girls using sickly-sweet affection.Written with the clarity of a boy leaving childhood behind, The Catcher in the Rye explores the world with disarming frankness and a warm, affecting charisma which has made this novel a universally loved classic of twentieth-century literature.

Room by Emma Donoghue
A number-one bestseller, Room was published in 2010 to ecstatic reviews around the world and quickly became a word-of-mouth sensation. It has won or been shortlisted for more than a dozen awards (including shortlistings for both the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize) and has sold more than a million copies. Room is the story of Ma and Jack. They live in a single, locked room. Five-year-old Jack loves watching TV, but he knows that nothing he sees on the screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits there’s a world outside.

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle
This is the heart-rending story of a woman struggling to reclaim her dignity after a violent, abusive marriage and a worsening drink problem. Paula Spencer recalls her contented childhood, the audacity she learned as a teenager, the exhilaration of her romance with Charlo, and the marriage to him that left her powerless. Capturing both her vulnerability and her strength, Doyle gives Paula a voice that is real and unforgettable.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us – people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they’re being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.

Stonemouth by Iain Banks
Stewart Gilmour returns to Stonemouth, a seaport town north of Aberdeen, for a funeral. It is five years since he ran away to London after a sexual indiscretion at a wedding. Stonemouth is controlled by two rival gangs, the Murstons and the MacAvetts, and Gilmour was engaged to a member of the former clan before he had to leave.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey
Melanie is a little girl who goes to school, has friends, loves books. She is incredibly intelligent, and, we discover, lives underground in an army base with 20 or so other children her age. She is muzzled occasionally, and chained to her desk; and all the classes are tests, to see what information the children retain and understand. But she is a normal child, right up until the moment she smells human flesh too closely – and turns into a feral monster.

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
The Farm asks the reader to make a choice: who would you believe in a crisis, your mother or your father? “If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son…” Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden, the country of his mother’s birth. But with a single phone call, everything changes. “Your mother…she’s not well, his father tells him. She’s been imagining things – terrible, terrible things. In fact, she has been committed to a mental hospital.” Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: “Everything that man has told you is a lie. I’m not mad… I need the police… Meet me at Heathrow.” Daniel is immediately caught between his parents – whom to believe, whom to trust? He becomes his mother’s unwilling judge and jury. Presented with a horrific crime, a conspiracy that implicates his own father, Daniel must examine the evidence and decide for himself: who is telling the truth? And he has secrets of his own that for too long he has kept hidden…

The Shining by Stephen King
Danny is only five years old, but in the words of old Mr Hallorann he is a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father becomes caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, Danny’s visions grow out of control. As winter closes in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seems to develop a life of its own. It is meant to be empty. So who is the lady in Room 217 and who are the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why do the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive? Somewhere, somehow, there is an evil force in the hotel – and that, too, is beginning to shine…

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else’s life.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingswood
The Poisonwood Bible tells the story of an American family in the Congo during a time of tremendous political and social upheaval. The story is told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them all they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it – from garden seeds to Scripture – is calamitously transformed on African soil. This tale of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction, over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa, is set against one of history’s most dramatic political parables.

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
San Francisco, 1876: a stifling heat wave and smallpox epidemic have engulfed the City.Deep in the streets of Chinatown live three former stars of the Parisian circus: Blanche, now an exotic dancer at the House of Mirrors, her lover Arthur and his companion Ernest.When an eccentric outsider joins their little circle, secrets unravel, changing everything – and leaving one of them dead. Frog Music, inspired by true events, is an evocative novel of intrigue and murder: elegant, erotic and witty.

Beauty by Raphael Selbourne
Beauty is a twenty-year-old Bangladeshi, back in England having shocked her family by fleeing an abusive arranged marriage. Now she is forced onto the jobseekers’ treadmill. Her fractious encounters with officialdom, fellow claimants, strangers and passers-by in the city streets, exacerbated by the restrictions (and comfort) of her language and culture, place her at the mercy of such unlikely helpers as Mark, a friendly, dog-owning ex-offender, and Peter, the middle-class underachiever on the rebound from a bitter relationship. Such ‘white’ influences conflict with the pressure to toe the family religious line, enforced by her older brother, but enable Beauty to understand better how free will and parental care affect her personal destiny in fragmented inner-city England today.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Who are you? What have we done to each other? These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Konowo is the greatest warrior alive. His fame has spread like a bushfire in West Africa and he is one of the most powerful men of his clan. But he also has a fiery temper. Determined not to be like his father, he refuses to show weakness to anyone – even if the only way he can master his feelings is with his fists. When outsiders threaten the traditions of his clan, Okonowo takes violent action. Will the great man’s dangerous pride eventually destroy him?

The Light Between Oceans by ML Steadman
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom returns to Australia and takes a job as lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. To this isolated island, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. After two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat washes up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own. When Tom and Isabel return to the mainland, their choice has devastated one of them.

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
Lately, Maud’s been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she’s made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war. A fast-paced mystery with a wonderful leading character: Maud will make you laugh and cry, but she certainly won’t be forgotten.

The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons
The gripping first novel in an explosive new crime series by Tony Parsons, bestselling author of Man and Boy. If you like crime-novels by Ian Rankin and Peter James, you will love this. Twenty years ago seven rich, privileged students became friends at their exclusive private school, Potter’s Field. Now they have started dying in the most violent way imaginable. Detective Max Wolfe has recently arrived in the Homicide division of London’s West End Central, 27 Savile Row. Soon he is following the bloody trail from the backstreets and bright lights of the city, to the darkest corners of the internet and all the way to the corridors of power. As the bodies pile up, Max finds the killer’s reach getting closer to everything – and everyone – he loves. Soon he is fighting not only for justice, but for his own life…

The 100 Y.O. Man Who Jumped Out of A Window by Jonas Jonasson
It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not…Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas–Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doherty
Yvonne Carmichael is a geneticist, a scientist renowned in her field but one day, she makes the most irrational of decisions. While she is giving evidence to a Select Committee at the Houses of Parliament, she meets a man and has sex with him in the secluded Chapel in the Crypt. It’s the beginning of a reckless liaison, but there is more to her lover than is at first apparent – as Yvonne discovers when the affair spins out of control and leads inexorably to violence. Grown-up, genuinely suspenseful, wonderfully well-constructed, intelligent and provocative.

Perfect by Rachel Joyce
In 1972, two seconds were added to time. It was in order to balance clock time with the movement of the earth. Byron Hemming knew this because James Lowe had told him and James was the cleverest boy at school. But how could time change? The steady movement of hands around a clock was as certain as their golden futures. Then Byron’s mother, late for the school run, makes a devastating mistake. Byron’s perfect world is shattered. Were those two extra seconds to blame? Can what follows ever be set right?

The Snow by Adam Roberts
The new Adam Roberts novel is a story of global apocalypse, old hatreds and new beginnings. And this is how the world will end… ‘The snow started falling on the sixth of September, soft noiseless flakes filling the sky like a swarm of white moths, or like static interference on your TV screen – whichever metaphor, nature or technology, you find the more evocative. Snow everywhere, all through the air, with that distinctive sense of hurrying that a vigorous snowfall brings with it. Everything in a rush, busy-busy snowflakes. And, simultaneously, paradoxically, everything is hushed, calm, as quiet as cancer, as white as death. And at the beginning people were happy.’ But the snow doesn’t stop. It falls and falls and falls. Until it lies three miles thick across the whole of the earth. Six billion people have died. Perhaps 150,000 survive. But those 150,000 need help, they need support, they need organising, governing. And so the lies begin. Lies about how the snow started. Lies about who is to blame. Lies about who is left. Lies about what really lies beneath.

The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer

She is the missing girl. But she doesn’t know she’s lost. Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children’s festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift… While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is – and who she might become.

The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
In Soviet Moscow, God is dead, but the devil – to say nothing of his retinue of demons, from a loudmouthed, gun-toting tomcat, to the fanged fallen angel Koroviev – is very much alive. As death and destruction spread through the city like wildfire, condemning Moscow’s cultural elite to prison cells and body bags, only a madman, the Master, and Margarita, his beautiful, courageous lover, can hope to end the chaos. Written in secret during the darkest days of Stalin’s reign and circulated in samizdat form for decades, when The Master and the Margarita was finally published it became an overnight literary phenomenon, signalling artistic freedom for Russians everywhere.

The Dark Winter by David Marks
Hull, East Yorkshire. Two weeks before Christmas, an elderly man – the only survivor of a fishing trawler tragedy 40 years before – is found murdered at sea. In a church, a young girl – the last surviving member of a family slaughtered during the conflict in Sierra Leone – is hacked to death with a machete. A junkie, who fled the burning house where he had set his family alight, is found incinerated on a rundown council estate. Someone is killing sole survivors in the manner they had escaped death. And it falls to Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy of Humberside CID to find out whom.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
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.