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Diane Setterfield Recommends

Recommendations from the author of 'Once Upon a River'


Diane Setterfield

Diane Setterfield is an avid reader and the New York Times bestselling author of three novels. Her latest, Once Upon a River is the neo-Victorian, folktale-infused mystery of a drowned girl come to life, and the repercussions in the community who discover her.

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Order your copy of Once Upon a River here.


The Interpreter of Maladies

Jhumpa Lahiri, paperback


'I’m such a novel addict that I sometimes find short stories hard to get my head round, but these stories about transit and displacement were immersive from the first sentence. I usually find myself doing a kind of double reading, where the reader in me is carried along while my inner writer looks over her shoulder, being picky. That was impossible here: Jhumpa Lahiri ‘s dazzling tales returned me to the state of pure readerhood and I was spellbound. '


The Phoenix of Florence

Philip Kazan, paperback


'I’d already loved The Painter of Souls, so came to this historical murder mystery set in sixteenth century Italy with high hopes. Philip Kazan writes so beautifully that you want to lick his sentences off the page, but there is also a cracking great story here – and a surprising twist that comes relatively early in the book and is then worked through in a way that is both delicate and profoundly satisfying. I didn’t want it to end.'

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Will and Testament

Vigdis Hjorth, paperback


'I love Norway and have never been let down by Norwegian novelists. This account of a family schism is so compelling I found myself thinking about it all the time between reading sessions, until I had to give in and just finish it in one long read. Four siblings have tended to split, two and two, and when their parents write a new will the situation explodes. The psychological observation is flawless and the fine grain understanding of family life is brilliantly convincing. It’s an enormously moving read and months later it is still on my mind. '

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A Gentleman in Moscow

Amor Towles, paperback


'This one – the life of a Russian Count confined to house arrest in the Hotel Metropole by the Bolsheviks - has been admired so loudly and so widely that I was tempted to give it a miss. (Are other readers a bit suspicious of books that are TOO popular or is it just me?) I’m so glad I didn’t, because it’s wise, funny and altogether wonderful. This is how I gushed about it, teenage-style, in my reading diary: ‘No quibbles for this one – an uninhibited HURRAY! (I am in love with the Count).’


Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe, paperback


'We loved this at book group – one of those rare reads we all enjoyed, yet had so much to say about it that we were still talking nineteen to the dozen at the door as we left. A feat of storytelling, that embeds the reader, gently and gradually, in a community that we come to love as our own, even though it is so different. And we become so much a part of that world, that when the outside erupts into it, we are as shocked as the characters. The ending is a tour de force.'

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The Book of Stranger New Things

Michel Faber, paperback


'I honestly don’t know why this one didn’t win all the prizes in 2014. It is a hugely ambitious piece of work, yet it reads so easily. There is a lot in it to keep the brain at work – linguistically, philosophically, politically, environmentally – yet what you feel primarily as you read is a great tug at the heart. And what next? you find yourself saying, as you read one more chapter, and then another, and then just one more. I’m not going to tell you what it’s about because – frankly – it might seem outlandish and put you off. Some people call it science fiction, but whether you’re a sci-fi fan or not (and I’m not) forget genre: this is simply one of the best books of the last decade. '