Annie McDee, alone after the disintegration of her long-term relationship and trapped in a dead-end job, is searching for a present for her unsuitable lover in a neglected secondhand shop. Within the jumble of junk and tack, a grimy painting catches her eye. Leaving the store with the picture after spending her meagre savings, she prepares an elaborate dinner for two - only to be stood up, the gift gathering dust on her mantelpiece.
"A good read but a terrible female narrator"
Successful lady novelist Laura Morland and her boisterous young son, Tony, set off to spend Christmas at her country home in the sleepy surrounds of High Rising. But Laura's wealthy friend and neighbor, George Knox, has taken on a scheming secretary whose designs on marriage to her employer threaten the delicate social fabric of the village.
"Beginning of a journey"
When young and beautiful governess Kate Malvern finds herself unemployed, she is taken in by Minerva Broome, the aunt she has never met, and whisked away to the majestic country home of Staplewood. However, things are not as they seem: strange things start to happen in the manor and Staplewood soon turns from an inviting stately house to a cold and gloomy mansion with a dreadful secret!
"Classic Heyer, narrator falls short"
Celebrate Christmas with one of the world's best-loved storytellers. In this collection there is mystery and magic, laughter and mischief, the joy of shared times and plenty of delicious food - many of the ingredients that have been delighting Enid Blyton's fans for more than 70 years.
For Lucy Riddick, Venice has always been the dream destination, the ideal place to lose herself. And now she needs to do just that. The secret she's been keeping has finally caught up with her and Lucy needs to disappear - fast. But what if, when she sets foot in Venice, Lucy finds the one thing she has been running from?
"Fun and Absorbing"
A wonderful selection of stories to read and share. From sandcastles at the beach to enchanted ice-creams, step into the summer with these delightful characters. Adventure, fun and magic can all be found on holiday with Enid Blyton, who has been delighting readers for more than 70 years.
Lizzy Baxter is thrilled when her family moves to Cornwall-she's always loved the beach. Lizzy doesn't realise, but she has a special connection with the sea-and the mystical mermaids and silver dolphins who swim there. But there's much more to the beautiful blue-green world than magic. The veil sea queen is plotting to steal something precious-something that belongs to Lizzy. The Mermaid Curse is a perfect blend of fantasy and reality.
Anna Elliot is stuck in the past. No one can compare to Rick Wentworth, the man she was persuaded to give up. Meanwhile, Rick's moved on - and up. He's got a successful career and a carefully controlled love life where his heart doesn't get a look in. When they meet again, can she persuade him that their lost love is worth a second chance?
A thrilling novel from the bes-tselling children's author. When a Hag, an orphan boy and a troll called Ulf get sent to rescue a princess from an ogre, they expect it to be a fairly standard magical mission. But the ogre is depressed and the princess doesn't want to be rescued. The Norns who rule their fates decide to take things in hand - will the Ogre meet a bloody end, or will he get a happy ending?
Lavinia Brandon is quite the loveliest widow in Barsetshire, blessed with beauty and grace as well as two handsome grown-up children, Delia and Francis. So thinks their cousin, Hilary Grant, when he comes to stay and - like many before him - promptly falls for his fragrant hostess.
Trapped in a London flat, Beth remembers a transgressive love affair in 1960s Paris. The most famous writer in Russia takes his last breath in a stationmaster’s cottage, miles from Moscow. A father, finally free of his daughter’s demands, embarks on a long swim from his Canadian lakeside retreat. And in the grandest house of all, Danni the Polish housekeeper catches the eye of an enigmatic visitor.Rose Tremain awakens the senses in this diverse collection of short stories.
"Mixed Bag (but the good stories are really good)"
Scotland has been torn apart by civil war, and the young and passionate Catholic Mary Queen of Scots is in the hands of her enemies. Under duress, Mary abdicates in favour of her son, James VI, and flees to England for safety, boldly seeking refuge with her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. But Elizabeth has never trusted the ambitious Catholic queen and has Mary imprisoned.
"And Her Soul Yearned to be Free"
Jocelyne lives in a small town in France where she runs a fabric shop, has been married to the same man for 21 years, and has raised two children. She is beginning to wonder what happened to all those dreams she had when she was 17. Could her life have been different? Then she wins the lottery - and suddenly finds the world at her fingertips. But she chooses not to tell anyone, not even her husband - not just yet. Without cashing the check, she begins to make a list of all the things she could do with the money. But does Jocelyne really want her life to change?
"What would it take to change your life?"
When Bea Bishop slips while walking down the aisle on her wedding day, she is momentarily knocked unconscious. And in a flash, her world splits and two separate parallel lives take her on two very different journeys. In one, Bea flees back down the aisle and out of the church. In the other, she glides blissfully towards Adam, her intended. Which story will lead to her happy-ever-after?
1421: Henry V and his young bride, Catherine de Valois, are blessed with the birth of a son - but their happiness is short-lived. Catherine is widowed and when her father, the French king, also dies, her son inherits the crowns of France and England. Just 10 months old, Henry VI will need his mother's watchful care to protect him from political intrigue, but Catherine is a foreigner at the English Court. Lonely and vulnerable, she is held in suspicion by those with their own claims to the throne.
It's August in the Barsetshire village of Worsted, and Richard Tebben, just down from Oxford, is contemplating the gloomy prospect of a long summer in the parental home. But the numerous and impossibly glamorous Dean family - exquisite Rachel, her capable husband and six of their nine brilliant children - have come for the holidays, and their hostess, Mrs. Palmer, plans to rope everyone into performing in her disastrous annual play.
1435, England. Eleanor Cobham has married into the highest ranks of the aristocracy; she is now the Duchess of Gloucester. She and her husband, the Duke Humphrey, set up a court of their own to rival the royal court in London, surrounding themselves with fascinating and influential people. But Eleanor craves the one thing she lacks: a son and heir - and through him a possible route to the throne of England. Desperate, Eleanor turns to the one person she believes can help her.
Follow the Swallow. When Apollo the swallow flies to Africa, Chack the blackbird wants to send him a message. But Africa is far away. Can a jumpy dolphin, a grumpy camel, a greedy crocodile or a playful monkey help to deliver the message? The Wrong Kind of Bark. Finlay's a real dreamer, and he's always getting things wrong. So when he brings his puppy into class, it looks as if Finlay's heading for big trouble!
Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up airy sponges and scrumptious scones while her customers enjoy the lovely blossoms and gorgeous blooms. Looking after the cake shop, the garden, and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy, but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn't do all this, who will? Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she's ever made.
The Gardens of Delight brochure promises the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful gardens in Italy. For Lucy, the chance to go to Italy offers more than just gardens. Helen and her wealthy husband have just moved into the Old Rectory. With her husband spending so much time away from home, Helen throws herself into caring for the garden. But Helen needs help. Conrad isn't the least bit interested in gardening.
"Gardens English and Italian"