The short list of books for January book club are as follows
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A stunning literary thriller in the tradition of Umberto Eco. The discovery of a forgotten book leads to a hunt for an elusive author who may or may not still be alive...
Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the 'cemetery of lost books', a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out 'La Sombra del Viento' by Julian Carax.
But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from La Sombra del Viento, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax's work in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind. A page-turning exploration of obsession in literature and love, and the places that obsession can lead.
'There is no Light without Darknesse
and no Substance without Shaddowe'
So proclaims Nicholas Dyer, assistant to Sir Christopher Wren and the man with a commission to build seven London churches to stand as beacons of the enlightenment. But Dyer plans to conceal a dark secret at the heart of each church - to create a forbidding architecture that will survive for eternity. Two hundred and fifty years later, London detective Nicholas Hawksmoor is investigating a series of gruesome murders on the sites of certain eighteenth-century churches - crimes that make no sense to the modern mind . . .
'Chillingly brilliant . . . sinister and stunningly well executed' Independent on Sunday
Peter Ackroyd was born in London in 1949. A novelist, biographer and historian, he has been the literary editor of The Spectator and chief book reviewer for the The Times, as well as writing several highly acclaimed books including a biography of Dickens and London: The Biography. He lives in London
Any Human Heart William Boyd
Logan Gonzago Mountstuart, writer, was born in 1906, and died of a heart attack on October 5, 1991, aged 85. Any Human Heart is his disjointed autobiography, a massive tome chronicling "my personal rollercoaster"--or rather, "not so much a rollercoaster", but a yo-yo, "a jerking spinning toy in the hands of a maladroit child". From his early childhood in Montevideo, son of an English corned beef executive and his Uraguayan secretary, through his years at a Norfolk public school and Oxford, Mountstuart traces his haphazard development as a writer. Early and easy success is succeeded by a long half-century of mediocrity, disappointments and setbacks, both personal and professional, leading him to multiple failed marriages, internment, alcoholism and abject poverty.
Mountstuart's sorry tale is also the story of a British way of life in inexorable decline, as his journey takes in the Bloomsbury set, the General Strike, the Spanish Civil War, 1930s Americans in Paris, wartime espionage, New York avant garde art, even the Baader-Meinhof gang--all with a stellar supporting cast. The most sustained and best moment comes mid-book, as Mountstuart gets caught up in one of Britain's murkier wartime secrets, in the company of the here truly despicable Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Elsewhere author William Boyd occasionally misplaces his tongue too obviously in his cheek--the Wall Street Crash is trailed with truly crashing inelegance--but overall Any Human Heart is a witty, inventive and ultimately moving novel. Boyd succeeds in conjuring not only a compelling 20th century but also, in the hapless Logan Mountstuart, an anti-hero who achieves something approaching passive greatness. --Alan Stewart