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Half a Lifetime's Reading.


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I have been a reader for about 70 years.

I don’t remember learning to read, it seems as though I have always done it.  I do know that while in primary school I had to go to the juniors section to borrow reading books as I had read all the ones for the primary years.

At the age of, approximately, 10yrs a friend and I ran a lending library for the neighbouring children. I still have a couple of books with our ‘logo’ written inside the cover.

Aged about 13,  I got to use the adult section of the public library, and I remember the first books I borrowed were some of the “Jalna” series by Mazo de la Roche.

From then on I became what can only be called an avid reader, slowing down in recent years until now I hardly read at all - for health/physical reasons.


By about 1990 I was beginning to forget what I had read, never quite sure if I had read about some books, seen TV adaptations or actually read them myself, so in 1992 I started to keep some sort of record of what I have read. For the first fourteen years I made brief  notes in a little book, then from 2006 posted each year’s list here on the annual Booklist threads. The notebook ones were not given any kind of score, but did have a brief comment, sometimes on the plot, or the style, or just my feeling about them. Those in the BGO Booklist threads have been star-rated, and linked to posts I have made on the books in the various forums, not all of which have survived the vicissitudes of some forum changes.

When BGO was in danger of closing down completely, I listed all the pre-BGO books together, and am posting the lists here in the Central Library, which is home to all the books I have read since the BGO Booklists began. It is pure indulgence, and unlikely to be of any interest to anyone but me. Maybe they will be archived, maybe not, it's unlikely I will be looking for them should BGO be closed.

In total the recorded reading  years add up to half my lifespan to date, hence the thread title.


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Key to Abbreviations used in the following lists


NF = Non Fiction

B  = Biography, Autobiography, Memoir etc

MM = Misery Memoir

P  = Poetry

SS = Short Stories

Ch = Children’s

R =  Re-read

Tr = Travel

H = History

YA = Young Adult

E = Epistolry



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The Slave Girl - Buchi Emecheta

Black Baby - Clare Bingham

A Legacy - Sybille Bedford

Ellen - Ita Daley

A Day In Summer - J.L. Carr

To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey

A Solitary Grief - Bernice Rubens

Keeping Up Appearances - Rose Macaulay

A  Month In The Country - J.L. Carr

The Ice Is Singing - Jane Rogers

Beloved - Toni Morrison

The Assize of The Dying - Ellis Peters

Unexplained Laughter - Alice Thomas Ellis

The Song Lines (NF) - Bruce Chatwin

Brat Farrar - Josephine Tey

Wild Nights - Emma Tennant

Gallowglass - Barbara Vine

Wise Children - Angela Carter

King of The Castle - Susan Hill

The Body Politic - Catherine Aird

Harnessing Peacocks  Mary Wesley

Cold Showers - Clare Nonhebel

A Far Cry From Kensington - Muriel Spark

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Reply to a post by luna, which has since been 'hidden'.


I don't remember many books in our house during my childhood - other than the ones I got for Christmas every year (Blackwells Children's Classics?).

 Certainly there was no such thing as a bookcase, but there were a couple of big books I found in a cupboard - The complete plays of George Bernard Shaw, which I devoured  between about 10 and 12yrs, and a "Family Doctor", which I used to fill in certain gaps in my education during my early teens. A bit later i discovered that my father also read - books borrowed from a lending library similar to the ones that Boots used to run. I expect I got my taste for mysteries from those books, as the books I recall, were the adventures of   "Raffles" and "The Saint".

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Damage - Josephine Hart

Girl In A Swing - Richard Adams

The Wychford Murders - Paula Gosling

Gentlemen and Ladies - Susan Hill

The Gods Themselves - Isaac Asimov

No More Meadows - Monica Dickens

The Day of the Storm - Rosamund Pilcher

The Tax Inspector - Peter Carey

Wreath of Honesty - Pat Burden

The Silent world of Nicholas Quinn - Colin Dexter

Days - Eva Figes

The Birds of The Innocent Wood - Deirdre Madden

Sisters by a River - Barbara Comyns

Out on The Plain - Frankie Finn

Gorky Park- Martin Cruz Smith

The Settlers of The Marsh - Frederick Grove

Abracadaver - Peter Lovesey

The Cruelest Month - Hazel Holt

Internal Affairs - Jill Tweedie

A Word Child - Iris Murdoch

The History Man - Malcolm Bradbury

The Battle for Christabel - Margaret Forster

Noah’s Ark - Barbara Trapido

An Unsuitable Attachment - Barbara Pym

Mr Wroe’s Virgins - Jane Rogers

The Millstone - Margaret Drabble

Death is a Drum -  Beating Forever - John Wyllie

Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

A Summer Birdcage - Margaret Drabble

A History of the World in 10 &1/2 Chapters - Julian Barnes

Seasons of my Life (B) - Hannah Hauxwell & Barry Cockcroft

Brother of the More Famous Jack - Barbara Trapido

Lady’s Maid - Margaret Forster

Out Of The Shadows - Titia Sutherland

Memento Mori - Muriel Spark

Hot Water Man - Deborah Mggach

Wycliffe and The Dead Flautist - W.J. Burley

Max and Helen (B) - Simon Westenthal

The Missing Postman - Mark Wallington

Last Seen Wearing- Colin Dexter

Private Papers - Margaret Forster

The Kitchen God’s Wife - Amy Tan

The Waterfall - Margaret Drabble

Close Company (SS) ed: C Park & C Heaton

Sisters of The Road - Barbara Wilson

The Innocent Libertine - Colette (Tr. Antonia Fraser)

Georgy Girl - Margaret Forster

The Blessing - Nancy Mitford

The 27th Kingdom - Alice Thomas Ellis

Mother Can You Hear Me - Margaret Forster

Walter - David Cook

The Dance of Anger (NF) - Harriet Goldhow

The Death of The Heart - Elizabeth Bowen

The Final Passage - Caryl Phillips

The Pork Butcher - David Hughes

Family Money - Nina Bawden

Joyce- By Herself & By Her Friends (Bio) ed: Grenfell & Garnett

A Glass of Blessings - Barbara Pym

The Go-Between - L.P. Hartley

The Bell-Boy - James Hamilton-Patterson

So Much Love (B) - Beryl Reid

Lantern Lecture (SS) - Adam Mars Jones

A Five Year Sentence - Bernice Rubens

Doctor Criminale - Malcolm Bradbury

The Soul of Kindness - Elizabeth Taylor

The War Between The Tates - Alison Lurie

The Pumpkin Eater - Penelope Mortimer

Times Arrow - Martin Amis

Passenger To Frankfurt - Agatha Christie

Death and The Maiden (Drama) Ariel Dorfman

The Book of Evidence - John Banville

Daughters of The House - Michele Roberts

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Come Hell or High Water (B) - Clare Francis

A Dark Adapted Eye - Barbara Vine

The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje

My Autobiography (B) - Charles Chaplin

Where Angels Fear to Tread - E.M. Forster

The Mirror Cracked from Side to Side - Agatha Christie

Honour Thy Father - Lesley Glaister

Shake Hands Forever - Ruth Rendell

The Wimbledon Poisoner - Nigel Williams

Have the Men Had Enough - Margaret Forster

Towards Zero - Agatha Christie

The British Museum Is Falling Down - David Lodge

Johnny I Hardly Knew You - Edna O’Brien

Frost In May - Antonia White

Two Lives - William Trevor

Wild Swans (B) - Jung Chang

The Fire Dwellers - Margaret Lawrence

Live Flesh - Ruth Rendell

The Ghost Writer - Philip Roth

Mystery Mile - Marjory Allingham

The Abbess of Crewe - Muriel Spark

A Few Green Leaves - Barbara Pym

Sacred Country - Rose Tremain

No Talking After Lights - Angela Lambert

Full Tilt (Bi/Tr) - Dervla Murphy

A Five Year Sentence  - Bernice Rubens (R)

Still Glides The Stream Flora Thompson

Advances - Anita Burgh

A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs - Ellis Peters

The Girls of Slender Means - Muriel Spark

The Well of Loneliness - Radclyffe Hall

The All of It - Jeanette Haien

The Pumpkin Eater - Penelope Mortimer (re-read)

Black Dogs - Ian McEwan

The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje

The Birds on The Trees - Nina Bawden

The Color Purple - Alice Walker

The Shipping News - E. Annie Proulx

Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

The Old Devils - Kingsley Amis

The Buddha of Suburbia - Hanif Kureishi

They came From SW19 - Nigel Williams

Bliss - Peter Carey

The Hound of Death (SS) - Agatha Christie

Poetry Please (P) - Patricia Jordan

Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve (B) - Dannie Abse

Brazzaville Beach - William Boyd

Friends and Lovers - Mary Bernard

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

The Silence of The Lambs - Thomas Harris

The Season of The Rainbirds - Nadeem Aslam

Deafness (B) - David Wright

Remembering  Babylon - David Malouf

The Ice Palace - Tarjei Vesaas

A Good Man In Africa - William Boyd

Gabriel’s Lament - Paul Bailey

The Enchanted April - Elizabeth von Arnim

Soul Music - Terry Pratchett

The Progress of Love - Alice Munro


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Talking It Over - Julian Barnes

The Piano - Jane Campion & Kate Pillinger

Cat’s Eye - Margaret Atwood

Stone Diaries - Carol Shields

Passing On - Penelope Lively

Fatherland - Robert Harris

Metroland - Julian Barnes

The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood

Woe To Live On - Daniel Woodrell

Moon Tiger - Penelope Lively (re-read)

Not That Sort of Girl - Mary Wesley

Private Papers - Margaret Forster (re-read)

A Postillion Struck by Lightening (Bio) - Dirk Bogarde

Snakes and Ladders (B) - Dirk Bogarde

Second to The Right and Straight On Till Morning (YA) - Lance Salway

Down All The Days - Christy Brown

The Blue Afternoon - William Boyd

The Children of Men - P.D. James

Dancing In The Dark - Joan Barefoot

A Thousand Acres - Jane Smiley

Glittering Images - Susan Howatch

A Matter of Honour - Jeffrey Archer

Sphere - Michael Crichton

Mustn’t Grumble (essays?) - ed: Lois Keith

A House By The Shore - Alison Johnson

Flour Babies (Ch) - Anne Fine

City of The Mind - Penelope Lively

Best Seller (NF) - Claud Cockburn

Caring For Maria (B) - Bernard Heywood

A Taste For Death - P.D. James

Breathing Lessons - Anne Tyler

An Artist of The Floating World - Kazoo Ishiguro

The Past Is Myself (B) - Christabel Bielenberg

The Piano - Jane Campion

Jericho - Dirk Bogarde

The Clan of The Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel

My Antonia - Willa Cather

Murder on The Menu (SS) - ed: Peter Haining

The Birds of The Innocent Wood - Deidre Madden

Saint Maybe - Anne Tyler

The Kitchen God’s Wife - Amy Tan

We That Were Young - Irene Rathbone

Running Away - Titia Sutherland

The Woman In White - Wilkie Collins

Theory of War - Joan Brady

The Diaries of Jane Somers - Doris Lessing

Other Women - Margaret Bacon

A Fringe of Leaves - Patrick White

Woman’s Hour Book of Short Stories

A Change of Climate - Hilary Mantel

Love Unknown - A.N. Wilson

500 Mile Walkies - Mark Wallington

The Ex-Wives - Deborah Moddach

Consider The Lilies - Iain Crichton Smith

Who Will Run The Frog Hospital? - Lorrie Moore

Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow - Peter Høeg

Devil By The Sea - Nina Bawden

Circles of Deceit - Nina Bawden

I Heard The Owl Call My Name - Margaret Craven

White Butterfly - Walter Mosley

A Girl of The Limberlost (C)- Gene Stratton Porter

Matilda’s England (SS) - William Trevor

The Great Fire of London - Peter Ackroyd

Second Best - David Cook

The Comforts of Madness - Paul Sayer

Some Die Eloquent - Catherine Aird

An Ordinary Man (B) - Dirk Bogarde


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  • 2 weeks later...


An Awfully Big Adventure - Beryl Bainbridge

Towards Asmara - Thomas Keneally

Possessing the Secret of Joy - Alice Walker

A Guilty Thing Surprised - Ruth Rendell

Ancestral Vices – Tom Sharpe

A Midsummer Killing - Trevor Barnes

The Picture of Dorian Grey - Oscar Wilde

The Lost Honour of Katherine Blum - Heinrich Böll

Women Beyond The Wire (B) - Lavinia Warner & John Sandilands

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

Aunt Margaret’s Lover - Mavis Cheek

An IceCream War - William Boyd

As Good as Gold - Colin Dexter

Espedair Street - Iain Banks

Knowledge of Angels - Jill Paton Walsh

Sold For Two Farthings (B) - Clare Kipps

Good Daughters - Mary Hocking

Empty Cradles (B) - Margaret Humphrys

The Yellow Wallpaper & Other Stories (SS) Charlotte Perkins Gilman

From The Four Corners(Essays) - Jan Morris

Portrait of a Marriage (B) - Nigel Nicolson

The True History of The Elephant Man (Bio) - M Howell & P Ford

The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis

Sacred Country - Rose Tremain (re-read)

Snow Falling On Cedars - David Guterson

Life After Life (B)- Tony Parker

How To make An American Quilt - Whitney Otto

A Pride of Tigers - Sybil Marshall

The Sumer Before The Dark - Doris Lessing

The Rebel Angels - Robertson Davies

Watchdog - Faith Sullivan

King Solomon’s Carpet - Barbara Vine

Kiss Kiss (SS) - Roald Dahl

The Age Of Innocence - Edith Wharton

Mothers’ Boys - Margaret Forster

An Evil Cradling (B) - Brian Keenan

Wild Swans (B) - Jung Chang (Re-read)

The Sculptress - Minette Walters

Fostering - The Inside View (B) - Diana Davenport

Odd Girl Out - Elizabeth Jane Howard

Sophia - Stanley J. Weyman

Notes From A Small Island (Tr) - Bill Bryson

Mother Can You Hear Me - Margaret Forster ((R)

Debatable Land - Candia McWilliam

Hidden Lives( B)  - Margaret Forster

The Secret Self v1 (SS) - ed: Hermione Lee

Enigma - Robert Harris

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  • 2 weeks later...


Behind The Scenes At The Museum - Kate Atkinso

The Remains of The Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

Ulverton  Adam Thorpe

Catcher In The Rye - J.D. Salinger

Plagued By The Nightingale - Kay Boyle

The Girl at The Lion D’Or - Sebastian Faulks

A Foreign Wife - Gillian Bouras

The Battle For Christabel  - Margaret Forster (re-read)

Felicia’s Journey - William Trevor

The Plague Dogs - Richard Adams

The Bishop of San Fernando - David McLean

Messiah - Gore Vidal

Remembering Babylon - David Malouf (re-read)

A Bike Ride (B/Tr) - Anne Mustoe

House of Splendid Isolation - Edna O’Brian

Moo - Jane Smiley

Remembering Babylon - David Malouf (R)

Regeneration  -  Pat Barker

The Private Parts of Women - Lesley Glaister

The Stone Angel - Margaret Lawrence

Anita and Me - Meera Syal

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis de Bernièrs

Title Diary - Russell Hoban

Behind The Scenes at The Museum  - Kate Atkinson (Re-read)

A Spell of Winter - Helen Dunmore

South of The Lights - Angela Huth

Toad Triumphant - William Horwood

Angela’s Ashes (B) - Frank McCourt

The Children of Dynmouth - William Trevor

Tongues of Fire - Tim Parks

An Experiment in Love - Hilary Mantel

The Child In Time - Ian McEwan

Love Medicine - Louise Godrich

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The Testimony of Taliesin Jones - Rhidian Brook

The Keys To The Street - Ruth Rendell

Like Water Fir Chocolate - Laura Esquivel

Bodily Harm - Margaret Atwood

Guppies For Tea - Marika Cobbold

Farewell Victoria - T.H. White -

Every Man for Himself - Beryl Bainbridge

The Dillen (B) - Angela Hewins

Last Orders - Graham Swift

The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Mary Swann - Carol Shields

The Horse Whisperer - Nicholas Evans

Accordion Crimes - E. Annie Proulx

Goodbye Mr Chips - James Hilton

Larry’s Party - Carol Shields

Grace Notes - Bernard MacLaverty

The Choir - Joanna Trollope

Midnight in The Garden of God and Evil - John Berendt

Household Saints -Francine Prose

Before and After - Rosellen Brown

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis de Bernièrs (Re-read)

Cold Mountain - Charles Frazier

Deep River - Shusaku Endo

Longitude (NF) -  Dava Sobel

Arabian Sands (Tr)- Wilfred Thesiger

Asa’s Book - Barbara Vine

A Different Kind of Christmas - Alex Haley

Listen To The Nightingale - Rumer Godden

Aglow - Esther Freud

Cider With Rosie (B) - Laurie Lee

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (Bio) - Laurie Lee

Kingfishers Catch Fire - Rumer Godden

Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood

ClassicFM 100 favourite Poems (P)

Kitchen Venom - Philip Hensher

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  • 2 weeks later...


Talking To The Dead - Helen Dunmore

Fugitive Pieces - Anne Michaels

TheTen Grandmothers (Hist)  -  Alice Marriott

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

Diana’s Story (B) - Deric Longed

The Reader - Bernhard Schlink

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

Spoon face Sternberg & Other Plays (Drama) - Lee Hall

The Bronski House - Philip Marsden

The General in His Labyrinth - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Casting Off - Libby Purves

The Hotel New Hampshire - John Irving

The Hundred secret Senses - Amy Tan

The Hours of The Night - Sue Gee

Pears on A Willow Tree - Leslie Pietrzyk

Nord Riley’s Spain (Tr) - Nord Riley

Under The Tuscan Sun (Bio) - Frances Mayes

Wobegone Boy - Garrison Keillor

Kowloon Tong - Paul Theroux

Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

The Veiled One - Ruth Rendell

Lantern Lecture (SS) - Adam Mars Jones (R)

Obasan - Joy Kagawa

Beloved - Toni Morrison

Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy (R)

The Dark Room - Minette Walters

The Restraint of Beasts - Magnus Mills

A Patchwork Planet - Anne Tyler

Mr McGregor - Alan Titchmarsh

Survival of The Fittest - Jonathan Kellerman

Jack’s Life (Bio)- Patrick McGilligan

On Being Jewish (NF) - Julia Neuberger

The Travelling Hornplayer - Barbara Trapido

The Berlin Diaries (B/H) 0f Maria Vassiltchikov

The Dress Circle - Laurie Graham

Mary Barton- Elizabeth Gaskell

The Final Passage - Caryl Philips (R)

Angela’s Ashes - Frank McCourt (R)

A Crime In The Neighbourhood - Suzanne Berne

The Giant O’Brien - Hilary Mantel

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  • 3 weeks later...


Pay The Devil - Jack Higgins

The Journal of Mrs Pepys - Sara George

Jesus and the Adman - Rhidian Brook

The Spouts of Wrath - Robert Rankin

Letter To Daniel (Essays) - Fergal Keane

Driving My Father (Bi) - Susan Wicks

Of Whom The World Was Not Worthy (B/H) - Marie Chapian

Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

Charlotte Grey - Sebastian Faulks

The Bull Calves - Naomi Aitchison

The Way I Found Her - Rose Tremain

Ask Me Tomorrow - `Stan Barstow

Four Letters of Love - Niall Williams

Quarantine - Jim Crace

Close Range (SS) - Annie Proulx

Looking for the Possible Dance - A.L. Kennedy

The Clock Winder - Anne Tyler

The Poisonwoog Bible - Barbara Kingsolver

Falling Leaves (B) - Adeline Yen Mah

Defying Gravity (P) - Rose McGough

The Other Side of The Dale - (B) - Gervase Phinn

Chocolat - Joanne Harris

The Backwoods of Canada (B) - Catherine Parr Traill

The Little Town Where Time Stood Still (SS) - Bohumil Hrabal

An Experiment in Love - Hilary Mantel (R)

We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be killed With Our Families (B/H) - Philip Gourevitch

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

Holes (YA) - Louis Sachar

The Soldiers Return - Melvin Bragg

Goodbye Bafana (Bio) - James Gregory

Falling - Elizabeth Jane Howard

The Tin Can Tree - Anne Tyler

On The Crofters Trail (Hist/Trav/Bio) - David Craig

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  • 2 months later...


Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee - Meera Syall

Spanish Lessons (Bio) - Derek Lambert

Borderland (Hist) - Anna Reid

A Positively Final Appearance (Bio) - Alec Guinness

Bing Dead - Jim Crace

As It Is In Heaven - Niall Williams

White Teeth - Zadie Smith

Bodily Harm - Margaret Atwood

Haroun and The Sea of Stories (Ch) - Salman Rushdie

The Women’s Room (Re-read) - Marilyn French

The Conversations at Curlow Creek - David Malouf

The Orchard on Fire - Shena Macka

Blackberry Wine - Joanne Harris

The Last Resort - Alison Lurie

Once in a House on Fire (Bio)- Andrea Ashwell

In The Heart of The Garden - Helene Wiggin

The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov

Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys

Gift From The Sea (Essays) - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Brideshead Revisited (Re-read) - Evelyn Waugh

To The Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf

Honeymoon in Purdah (Trav) - Alison Wearing

The Pilot’s Wife - Anita Shreve

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  • 2 weeks later...


English Passengers - Matthew Knowle

Girl at The Lion D’Or (Re-read)  - Sebastian Faulks

Miss Garnett’s Angel - Sally Vickers

The Lost Heart of Asia (Trav) - Colin Thubron

Bound Feet & Western Dress (Bio) - Pang -Mei Natasha Chang

God Knows - Joseph Heller

Aunt Margaret’s Lover (Re-read) - Mavis Cheek

The Heart-Shaped Bullet (Bio) - Kathryn Flett

Prime Suspect - Lynda La plante

Eddie’s Bastard - William Kowalski

Clear Light of Day - Anita Desai

These is My Words (Bio) - Nancy Turner

Atonement - Ian McEwan

Changes of Address - Lee Langley

Anil’s Ghost - Michael Ondaatje

Reading Groups (NF)- Jenny Hartley

Dear Friend and Gardener (E)  - Beth Chatto & Christopher Lloyd

Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison

Bad Blood (B) - Lorna Sage

’Tis - Frank McCourt

Rebecca’s Tale - Sally Beaumont

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark

Girl With A Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier

Interpreter of Maladies (SS) - Jhumpa Lahiri

Death In Summer - William Trevor

Friend if My Youth(SS) - Alice Munro

The Blackwater lightship - Colm Toibin

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