Rachel Meller was never close to her aunt Lisbeth, a cool, unemotional woman with a drawling Viennese-Californian accent, a cigarette in her hand. But when Lisbeth died, she left Rachel an intricately carved Chinese box with a sunflower clasp. Inside the box were photographs, letters and documents that led Rachel to uncover a story she had never known: that of a passionate Jewish teenager growing up in elegant Vienna, who was caught up by war, and forced to flee to Shanghai.
Far from home, in a strange city, Lisbeth and her parents build a new life - a life of small joys and great hardship, surrounded by many others who, like them, have fled Hitler and the Nazis. 1930s Shanghai is a metropolis where the old rules do not apply - a city of fabulous wealth and crushing poverty, where disease is rife, and gangsters rub shoulders with rich emigrés; where summer brings unspeakable heat, and winter is bitterly cold; and where European refugees build community and, maybe, a young woman can find love.
Set against a backdrop of the war in the Far East, The Box with the Sunflower Clasp is a sweeping family memoir that tells the hidden history of the Jews of Shanghai. Rachel Meller writes with elegance and insight as she examines what it means to survive, and what the legacy of displacement and war might mean for the generation that comes afterwards.
Sarah K. Jackson's debut, Not Alone, has received a fantastic write-up from the Chicago Review of Books:
“Not Alone can easily find a place in the growing body of environmental disaster literature… Katie is pained by her choices, and the shortcomings of the world she is raising her child in, and we can feel that emotion in the novel. In the end, hope is the driving force that pushes Katie towards her goals. We’re going to need that kind of hopeful grit if we’re to survive our own environmental catastrophe.”
As dawn breaks on a chilly morning in November 1940, a car is found ablaze in an abandoned builder's yard a stone's throw from the Regent's Canal in Camden Town, north London. In the burnt-out vehicle police find the charred remains of a body. The victim is Les Latham, a commercial traveller for the Barings confectionery company. He liked to be known as Lucky Les, but it seems his luck has finally run out.
DI John Jago discovers among Latham's belongings a mysterious photograph and some suspicious-looking petrol ration books that set Jago off on a murky trail of deceit, corruption and murder.
The final book published last week was The Housekeeper's Daughter by E. V. Seymour, an unputdownable thriller with a breathtaking twist.
My mother turns up after thirty years . . . and she wants my help.
Kim Slade is at work when there’s a knock at her office door. Someone is waiting for her in reception. A woman claiming to be her mother. The mother who abandoned her thirty years ago.
Monica Slade has been working as a live-in housekeeper for a judge and his wife, she says. But now Judge Hawkes is dead.
Kim immediately sets out to prove her mother’s innocence. But soon she is forced to think the unthinkable.
Is my mother a murderer?
The Housekeeper's Daughter was previously published as An Imperfect Past.
Finally, client Lucinda Hawksley teamed up with 'The Mitford Murders' series author, Jessica Fellowes, for a captivating interview on Hawksley's 'Goldster Inside Story' podcast.
Catch up here.