Mrs Ferguson’s fantastic fiction…

We asked all members of staff at school for their ideas about what they found to be great books for the summer holidays and Mrs Ferguson read so many, here are just five of her favourites:

Beyond black by Hilary Mantel

“An hilarious and sinister tale of dark secrets and secret forces in suburban England from the critically-acclaimed author of ‘Giving Up the Ghost’. Alison Hart is a medium by trade: dead people talk to her, and she talks back. With her flat-eyed, flint-hearted sidekick, Colette, she tours the dormitory towns of London’s orbital road, passing on messages from dead ancestors: ‘Granny says she likes your new kitchen units.’ Alison’s ability to communicate with spirits is a torment rather than a gift. Behind her plump, smiling and bland public persona is a desperate woman. She knows that the next life holds terrors that she must conceal from her clients. Her days and nights are haunted by the men she knew in her childhood, the thugs and petty criminals who preyed upon her hopeless, addled mother, Emmie. They infiltrate her house, her body and her soul; the more she tries to be rid of them, the stronger and nastier they become. This tenth novel by Hilary Mantel is a witty and deeply sinister story of dark secrets and forces, set in an England that jumps at its own shadow, a country whose banal self-absorption is shot through by fear of the engulfing dark.”  NielsenBookDataOnline

Fludd by Hilary Mantel

” ‘Fludd’ is a dark fable of lost faith, mysterious omens and awakening love set among the priests and nuns of a surreal English town deep in the northern moors. Fetherhoughton is a drab, dreary town somewhere in a magical, half-real 1950s north England, a preserve of ignorance and superstition protected against the advance of reason by its impenetrable moor-fogs. Father Angwin, the town’s cynical priest, has lost his faith, and wants nothing more than to be left alone. Sister Philomena strains against the monotony of convent life and the pettiness of her fellow nuns. The rest of the town goes about their lives in a haze, a never-ending procession of grim, grey days stretching ahead of them. Yet all of that is about to change. A strange visitor appears one stormy night, bringing with him the hint, the taste of something entirely new, something unknown. But who is Fludd? An angel come to shake the Fetherhoughtonians from their stupor, to reawaken Father Angwin’s faith, to show Philomena the nature of love? Or is he the devil himself, a shadowy wanderer of the darkest places in the human heart? Full of dry wit, compassionate characterisations and cutting insight, Fludd is a brilliant gem of a book, and one of Hilary Mantel’s most original works.”  NielsenBookDataOnline

Mrs Ferguson rates both books by Mantel as fantastic.  Her other choices come from Turkish writer, Orhan Pamuk:

My name is Red

“The Ottoman Sultan has commissioned the best artists in the land to create a book celebrating the glories of his realm: but he wants them to illuminate it in the European style. Because figurative art is deemed by many to be an affront to Islam, the project must be kept secret. Panic and scandal erupt when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears, along with a crucial page of the manuscript. The surviving artists – bitter rivals variously motivated by pride, greed, jealousy, faith and love – are all under suspicion of murder, and the only clue to the mystery lies in the half-finished illustrations themselves. “My Name is Red” reveals the clash between two views of artistic meaning and the chasm between two world civilizations. In this special edition, the author includes a chronology of Islamic and Western art history to provide valuable context for his story, and has contributed a fascinating introduction throwing light on his methods, his aims and his inspiration.”  NielsenBookDataOnline

 

Istanbul

“Turkey’s greatest living novelist guides us through the monuments and lost paradises, dilapidated Ottoman villas, back streets and waterways of Istanbul – the city of his birth and the home of his imagination. This is a supremely moving account of one man’s love affair with the city that has been his home since his birth.”  NielsenBookDataOnline Just makes me want to visit Istanbul…

 

 

 

 

Snow

As the snow begins to fall, a journalist arrives in the remote city of Kars on the Turkish border. Kars is a troubled place – there’s a suicide epidemic among its young women, Islamists are poised to win the local elections, and the head of the intelligence service is viciously effective. When the growing blizzard cuts off the outside world, the stage is set for a terrible and desperate act…Orhan Pamuk’s magnificent and bestselling new novel evokes the spiritual fragility of the non-Western world, its ambivalence about the godless West, and its fury.” NielsenBookDataOnline

 

 

Some inspired reading appears here, please leave a comment…

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Author: Berkhamsted School Library

Main aims for Berkhamsted School Library • to provide a central resource for the whole school curriculum • to encourage an ethos of enquiry and discovery • to assist pupils in becoming confident and independent learners • to develop research and information skills throughout the school • to offer resources which enrich cultural values and experiences for pupils, as well as have a role in their recreational life and promote reading for pleasure as a lifelong activity

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