Solace by Belinda Mckeon. A stunning debut novel, combining raw power, the pain of memory and the cost of trying to hold back the past’s intrusion into the present. Brilliantly written: at times her style recalls John McGahern at his best.


22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson. A heartbreaking debut about a wartime secret. Engaging characters and a well-constructed story – this is an accomplished first novel that I thoroughly enjoyed.


Far to Go by Alison Pick. A gem of a novel that lays bare all the contradictions of the human condition, set against the backdrop of the Nazi invasionCzechoslovakia in 1938. With the kinder transport as plot vehicle and symbolic heart of the book, it is a compelling story.


The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman. A wonderful debut novel which questions the reader: do we know when we are happy? There are lovely innocent descriptions of early courtship in which you can feel love’s tender warmth.


Sheila O’ Reilly