Elaine’s favourite books of 2018. Cheekily there’s one here that’s not published until 2019.

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AJ Pearce, Dear Mrs Bird (Picador)
A funny and uplifting novel set during the Second World War blitz with an engaging heroine, Emmeline, who works as a secretary for a ladies magazine and volunteers for the fire service in her spare time.

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Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow (Windmill Books)
Set in Moscow just after the revolution, Count Rostov is tried by the Bolshevik court as an aristocrat and sentenced to life – in a hotel garret. His story unfolds as he faces his change in fortunes with one resolve: to master his life before his life masters him. Wonderful whimsical writing which you can really visualise on the screen – we did hear that Kenneth Branagh is producing a TV adaptation!
nb. A worthy winner of the IBW Book Award in the summer.

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Kate Mosse, The Burning Chambers (Mantle)
An intriguing historical page-turner set in South West France at the time of the Huguenot/Christian conflict. I have a huge soft spot for stories set in France and, although I don’t think it is quite as good as her Languedoc trilogy, it is still well worth a read. One of those books which draws you in, making you forget where you are! Promised to be the first in a new series.

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Anne Youngson, Meet Me at the Museum (Doubleday)
A book written in the form of letters exchanged between a disillusioned farmer’s wife and a Danish museum official both, shall we say, past the first flush of youth. This is a very gently paced story and the narrative is vey much character driven. I found it to be a moving tribute to friendship and love and to the courage needed to re-think your life and start again.

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Diane Setterfield, Once Upon A River (Doubleday) (pub. Jan 2019)
A wonderful, gothic read about the power of storytelling, myths and legends. The story with, at its heart, a cast of richly drawn characters unfolds on the River Thames and the plot has as many twists and turns as the river itself. A book to be savoured.