We are proud that East Anglia is buzzing with distinguished authors. 

Here are a few suggestions of their books to enjoy.

Cover of The Stranding by kate Sawyer

Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her life is set against a background hum of dark news reports from which she turns away. When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth leaves it to pursue her dream working with whales in New Zealand. But the news cycle she has been ignoring is now the new reality. With no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before. Beautifully written, Kate Sawyer's debut novel The Stranding is both haunting and hopeful.

Cover for Blood Rain by André Mangeot

Released on the eve of the 2020 lockdown, André Mangeot's Blood Rain is a highly topical and moving meditation on what we’re doing to the planet and ourselves. Lyrical and allusive, ranging from the personal to the global, the poems explore environmental degradation, climate change, populism, radicalization and other challenges to our future – each through the prism of individual lives and perspectives.
“Turns a weathered and acute eye on Man and The Sublime. A thought-provoking book for turbulent times” – Matthew Caley. “Contains some of the most beautiful yet unsettling lyric poems I’ve read” – Helen Mort.

Cover of Matt Graw's Under the Stars: A Journey into Light

Artificial light is everywhere. It is damaging to humans and to wildlife, disrupting our natural rhythms, and it obliterates the subtler lights that have guided us for millennia. When nature writer Matt Gaw steps outside without a torch, he experiences the world completely afresh. He gets terrified on Dartmoor; disoriented in the forests of Scotland; takes his family stargazing on the Dark Sky Community of the Isle of Coll, gets dazzled by the lights of London at night and explores his home town of Bury St Edmunds. Under the Stars is an inspirational and immersive call to reconnect with the natural world, showing how we only need to step outside to find that, in darkness, the world lights up.

Elena Arevald Melville, Umbrella

Umbrella by Elena Arevald Melville
Winner of the Queen’s Knicker Award
Clara has gone to the park but there’s no-one to play with. She finds an umbrella on the ground and does a good deed by putting it on a bench. The umbrella says "Thank you" and invites Clara to make a wish. So unfolds a magical chain of events where kindness and forgiveness go hand-in-hand.
Every child will love the idea of finding a magical umbrella in the park. This is a delightful book about generosity which draws the reader in by inviting them to choose what sort of wish they would make.

 

Melissa Harrison, By Rowan abd Yew

Melissa Harrrison, Costa Award winner’s second children’s book By Rowan and Yew is inspired by the 1940s classics The Little Grey Man and The Borrowers.  As autumn arrives Moss, Sorrell, Burnet and Dormer want to find out why their people are fading from the Wild World. Their journey of discovery is filled with danger and delight, gold leaves, shiny conkers, bright berries and the storms and frosts of winter. Timely and magical, this tale by an acclaimed nature writer will open the young readers’ eyes to the wonders of the natural world.

Recommended by Barbara Segall

Marjoke Henrichs, NO! said Rabbit

NO! said Rabbit, by Marjoke Henrichs, is a hilarious bedtime story about an everyday battle of wills between a mother and child where everyone ends up a winner!
Rabbit is happy doing his own thing and he doesn’t want to listen to his mum telling him to get up, get dressed, have breakfast, play outside, come inside and least of all … have a bath!  NO, NO, NO! he says, but at last they hit on something they both love doing together.
This is perfectly pitched and re-assuring for parents whose child is being contrary.

 

Ruth Scurr's Napoleon: A Lif in Gardens and Shadows

Napoleon as emperor is a familiar figure, but as gardener?  Less so. This innovative biography Napoleon - a Life in Gardens and Shadows shows how gardens ran like a thread through Napoleon's life from childhood olive groves and Josephine's creation in Paris to the final one on St. Helena. This is a fascinating and vivid portrait of a giant historic figure made human, seen through the eyes of those who knew him in his gardens, summed up by the image of the man in an old straw hat leaning on his spade. Ruth Scurr is a distinguished historian and a superb storyteller – she knows her gardens, too. The book will appeal to both historians and gardeners alike.
Recommended by Widget Finn

Elizabeth Haynes's You Me and the Sea

I shivered with the cold and warmed up with the passion. Take a trip to the Isle of Must and spend time with people who are trying to find something that will stop the pain of loneliness. Rachel is escaping the disasters of her former life when an unexpected job offer takes her to a remote Scottish island. Here she meets Fraser Sutherland a taciturn loner and Lefty, his unofficial assistant. Rachel is homesick and out of her depth, but as spring turns to summer the wild beauty of the island begins to captivate her. Whether they be temporary or permanent inhabitants – they will all stay with you long after you’ve closed this great book.

Recommended by Nicola Hilder

Barbara Seagall's Secret Gardens of East Anglia

Secret Gardens of East Anglia
The big skies and extraordinary light of East Anglia offer natural conditions in which to create gardens. Horticulturist and garden writer Barbara Segall has spent valuable time with each of the 22 garden owners to understand their specific styles and talents and the challenges they have encountered. The results are highlighted in Marcus Harpur’s stunning photography which evokes the beauty and diversity of each garden. This is a glorious book to inspire and to treasure.

Recommended by Susan Burton

 

David Laws, The Fuhrer's Orphans

Based on true events The Fuhrer’s Orphans is a moving novel set during the Second World War.
In wartime Munich, 27 children hide from the Gestapo scared and hungry. Their parents have been sent to concentration camps.
Teacher Claudia Kellner discovers the group, risking her own safety by giving them shelter.
Commando Peter Chesham is a spy working for the British. But his top secret mission is threatened when he discovers the hiding place of the orphans. If he continues with his mission it will have fatal consequences for everyone around him, but if he doesn’t, the Nazis could win the war. What he decides could determine the fate of history….

 

Simon Edge, The End of the World Is Flat

Simon Edge’s fifth novel follows the fortunes of an eccentric Californian billionaire attempting to foist flat-earth beliefs on an unsuspecting planet via an unscrupulous London charity.  He persuades gullible online zealots that old-style "globularism" is hateful, and teachers and airline pilots face ruin if they reject the new "True Earth" orthodoxy.  Can a band of heretics expose the plot before insanity takes over?  Francis Wheen calls The End of the World is Flat "a bracingly sharp satire on the sleep of reason and the tyranny of twaddle", while The Times hailed it as "nifty, often snort-inducingly funny satire".

Craig Brown, One Two Three Four

The Beatles are back – not that they’ve ever gone away, but a new three-part documentary goes behind the scenes of their 1970 disc "Let it Be". Craig Brown’s One Two Three Four is a kaleidoscopic mixture of history, diaries, autobiography, fan letters, essays, parallel lives, party lists, charts, interviews, announcements and stories. Not so much a biography, more a group portrait in vignettes of their heyday which won the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction. For Beatle fans and those yet unconverted this is a fascinating and entertaining read.

Recommended by Neil Ashton.

Cover of Nicola Upson's Sorry For The Dead

In the summer of 1915, the violent death of a young girl brings grief and notoriety to Charleston Farmhouse on the Sussex Downs.
Years later, Josephine Tey returns to the same house - now much changed - and remembers the two women with whom she once lodged as a young teacher during the Great War. As past and present collide, with murders decades apart, Josephine is forced to face the possibility that the scandal which threatened to destroy those women's lives hid a much darker secret.
Sorry for the Dead is the eighth book in the "Josephine Tey" series, at once a compelling murder mystery and a moving exploration of love and grief.

Cover of Edward Wilson's Portrait Of The Spy As A Young Man

1941: William Catesby, a waif from the Lowestoft docks who speaks French owing to a Belgian barmaid mother, abandons a degree course at Cambridge to join the army. He is recruited into SOE and parachuted into Occupied France, where the line between Resistance hero and traitor is a grey one. It is the prelude to his career as an MI6 spy.
2014: now in his nineties, Catesby recounts his life to his granddaughter and reveals himself as a complex and conflicted man torn by betrayals, war and lost love – but still full of hope. The book is a prequel to the seven novels of the Catesby series.

Cover of Patrick Barkham's Wild Child: Coming Home To Nature

We know that being outside makes us happy and keeps us well. And yet today’s children spend less time outdoors than prisoners. How can we fix this? In Wild Child, Patrick Barkham draws on his own experiences as a parent and as a forest school volunteer to explore the relationship between children and nature. No matter who we are, or where we live, we can still find joy and wonder in the neighbourhood nature that surrounds us.

cover of The Huntingfield Paintress by Pamela Holmes

The Huntingfield Paintress by Pamela Holmes. After eight years travelling in 1840s Europe with her vicar husband, Mildred Holland finds life in a tiny Suffolk village stifling. A chance encounter fires Mildred's imagination and she starts decorating the chancel of the village church with angels and saints in vivid colours, despite the suspicion of the locals and her husband's exasperation. The book is inspired by the true story of the real Mildred Holland who decorated the ceiling of the church of Huntingfield in Suffolk which can still be seen today in all its glory.

Cover of Two Minutes to Midnight by Roger Hermiston

Cavendish author Roger Hermiston’s Two Minutes to Midnight is a masterful survey of a pivotal year. January 1953 and the Cold War has entered its most deadly phase. An Iron Curtain has descended across Europe, the Soviet Union and Britain have both tested their own atom bombs and the United States has detonated its first thermonuclear device. The Doomsday Clock is set at two minutes to midnight, with the chances of a man-made global apocalypse becoming increasingly likely.
“Popular history at its best” – Andrew Marr.

cover of Bombshell, by Douglas Thompson

Drawing on unseen police files, Marilyn Monroe's private diary and first-hand testimony, Lavenham author Douglas Thompson's Bombshell proves that Robert Kennedy was directly responsible for her death. It details Marilyn Monroe's tumultuous involvement with him and his brother President John Kennedy. The new evidence is provided by Mike Tothmiller who, as an agent of the Organised Crime Intelligence Division (OCID) of the Los Angeles Police Department, had access to hundreds of secret files on what happened at Marilyn Monroe's Californian home on August 5 1962.

In a luxury lodge on Botswana’s sunny plains four friends, once known as the Wild Girls, reunite for a birthday celebration. Arriving at the lodge a feeling of unease settles over them. There’s no sign of the promised party. There is no phone signal. They’re alone, in the wild.  Phoebe Morgan’s latest book is an atmospheric thriller of secrets, lies and betrayals. Phoebe ran a "how to get published" workshop at our 2019 Festival.

Howard and Kitty have moved to Lodeshill from London; now their marriage is wordlessly falling apart. Jamie has lived in the village all his life and dreams of leaving it, while Jack, a vagrant farm-worker arrives in the village, bringing change. All four of them are struggling to find a life in the modern countryside.
At Hawthorn Time, shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2015 is a heartbreaking exploration of love, land and loss.

In 1649, Jan Brunt, a Dutchman, arrives in England to work on draining the Great Level, an expanse of marsh in the fen country. Here he meets Eliza, whose love overturns his ordered vision and whose act of resistance forces him to see the world differently. Jan flees to the New World, where the spirit of avarice is raging. One spring morning a boy delivers a note that prompts him to remember the fens, and confront all that was lost there.

 

In At the Field's Edge: Adrian Bell And The English Countryside, Richard Hawking brings Adrian Bell’s prescient, beautifully written, and still timely observations about the ecology, economy and culture of the British countryside to a new generation of readers. Largely neglected, Bell’s voice is one we should listen to, coming from one of our greatest writers about farming and rural life. If we pause at the field’s edge with him for a moment, we get a lesson in aesthetic appreciation and about what is disappearing from the countryside.

Before handbags there were tie-on pockets where women carried pencils, thimbles or a lover's picture. Barbara Burman and Ariane Fennetaux have researched the story of this essential accessory of 18th and 19th century life in museums and private collections, letters, accounts of court cases and newspaper advertisements. Pockets were worn by duchesses and country gentry, prostitutes and washerwomen, and immortalised in a children's nursery rhyme.

cover of Haverscroft by S.A. Harris

Kate Keeling moves to Haverscroft House in an attempt to salvage her marriage but Haverscroft’s dark secrets will drive her to question her sanity and her husband, and fatally engulf her family unless she can stop the past repeating itself. In this modern gothic tale, S.A. Harris plays on the expectations of the role of women, the manipulation of their mental health and the risks they will take for their children. It will grip you from the start, and keep you guessing till the end!

 

Clare Mulley Book Cover

In this biography of Eglantine Jebb, Clare Mulley, who has been a frequent speaker at our festival, tells the story of a woman who, though not particularly fond of children herself, nevertheless dedicated her life to establishing Save the Children. Eglantyne Jebb was a brilliant, charismatic, and passionate woman, who moved between drawing-rooms and war zones and was not afraid to defy the law.

 

Anyone for Edmund Book Cover

Under tennis courts in the ruins of a great abbey archaeologists find the remains of St. Edmund, once venerated as England’s patron saint. Politicians, archaeologists and a reclusive monk all get involved, with St. Edmund himself looking on. Simon Edge mixes ancient and modern, poking fun at Westminster culture and religious cults in a beguiling comedy.

The Secrets of the Lake Cover

From Liz Trenow, best-selling author of The Last Telegram and The Silk Weaver, comes The Secrets of the Lake (May 2021) inspired by her Suffolk roots and the mysterious local legend of the Wormingford. The novel features a young woman in the 1950s, exploring how traumas of war reverberate through succeeding generations and how a community is rocked by the disappearance of a young Down’s Syndrome boy.