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Recently, we’ve spent more time than ever reading. Books have brought us uplifting stories to make us feel good, thrilling tales to make reality slide away for awhile and taught us about lives other than our own.

And when you read a great book? You want to talk about it, of course. So that’s what we’re doing here - join our book club and discover some brilliant new reads.

Join the book chat in our Facebook group

Meet Our April Books:

WATCH HER FALL

by ERIN KELLY

Our first book is Watch Her Fall, Erin Kelly's eighth novel is a brilliant psychological thriller - a wonderfully tense, sharp and immersive plunge into the power and determination of ballerinas to succeed - at any cost. All set to the backdrop of the iconic ballet, Swan Lake.

Behind the book with Erin Kelly

Why were you so drawn to Swan Lake?

A few reasons. I wanted to write about a ballet that was only a ballet. Many of the famous ballets, like Sleeping Beauty or Romeo & Juliet are already well-known fairy stories or plays. Swan Lake – like The Nutcracker is only ever told through dance and that makes it mysterious and magical. And the show itself reflects the themes of my book: two women, both after the same crown, identity, love and betrayal. Finally, the look of the show is iconic: two doppelganger dancers, one dressed in white, the other in black, the moonlit lake and the opulent but loveless palace.

“The settings are glamorous and sinister at the same time.”

I learnt a lot about the craft of ballet while reading. How did you go about researching the world of ballet?

I always begin my research the same way; in a bookshop. I read dancers’ memoirs and histories of ballet, I absolutely loved a book called Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead, about the New York ballet world in the 1970s. I watched films and went to performances at the Royal Opera House, Sadlers’ Wells and various regional theatres.

I also worked with two dancers as consultants, asking them questions as they arose, and they read my manuscript and gave me feedback. I was going to meet them for coffee, watch them in rehearsal: but then the pandemic struck, and I had to cancel everything.

“It gave me an insight into the fragility as well as the steeliness of the ballerina’s mindset that I might not have seen otherwise.”

At first, I was in absolute despair because I always like to visit the places and meet the people I’m writing about, but actually a lot of ballet companies already had amazing footage online, and all of a sudden the dancers I’d been following on Twitter and Instagram started talking to the camera about how upsetting it was to see the theatres shut, and how frightening it was not to know when they would dance again. A few days later, they were all dancing again, even if that meant twirling on a square of lino in a studio flat. It gave me an insight into the fragility as well as the steeliness of the ballerina’s mindset that I might not have seen otherwise.

Watch her Fall references the pandemic – was this a narrative device or did you want to record what’s happening now?

I finished the book in the summer of 2020 and most of it was written during the first lockdown, so of course COVID-19 and the devastation it was wreaking was on my mind all the time. The book only really hints at the pandemic at the very end. I didn’t want to write anymore detail than I did, partly because it felt too raw for me to get enough distance to write about it objectively but mainly because the situation seemed to change on an almost hourly basis and I didn’t feel I was on solid ground.

How did you find writing over the last year, versus writing in non-pandemic times?

It was like the difference between night and day, with pandemic writing being the night. A long, dark night! My usual routine is that I write when my children are at school, so you can imagine how that was derailed. I managed to complete the book with a lot of early mornings – I slept with my window open so that the sun would wake me up – my husband taking unpaid leave from work, and a very laissez-faire attitude to schoolwork. It was horrible!

You teach creative writing: what advice do you have for budding new writers out there?

Read. I’m always astonished by the people who want to write a book but don’t read for pleasure, or don’t read the kind of book they want to write. And then re-read. Think of the book as a car: you are a mechanic, taking apart the engine to see how it works. Scribble in the margin, notice what works and what doesn’t. And when you start to write, don’t expect perfection. Most first drafts are awful, but the point of them is that they give you something to work with.

“I’m always astonished by the people who want to write a book but don’t read for pleasure, or don’t read the kind of book they want to write.”

What books do you recommend to all thriller fans?

Recently I loved How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister. I think Sharp Objects is Gillian Flynn’s masterpiece. And for a classic of the genre, you can’t go wrong with A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine.

Lastly, what fictional character would you like to go for a coffee with?

Everyone’s favourite charming, book-loving psychopath, Joe Goldberg from Caroline Kepnes’ YOU trilogy. Or maybe I’d just like to go for a drink with Penn Badgley who plays him in the Netflix adaptation? I think Penn is less likely to murder me, so let’s settle for the actor rather than the character.

Thank you so much for talking to us, Erin! Get your copy of Watch Her Fall here.

We'll be discussing the book over in our Facebook group, so make sure you join us there!

The Reading List

Here's our selection of page-turning thrillers you won't be able to stop reading.

The Party

The Brighton
Mermaid

The Castaways

Greenwich Park

The Party

By Elizabeth Day

“That’s the problem with charm. It means you get away with stuff. It means you never have to develop a real character because no one remembers to.”

Why we love The Party:

Elizabeth Day’s dark, psychological thriller, The Party is a tale about obsession, misplaced loyalty and the utmost betrayal. Written in a dual narrative, the story is told by Martin Gilmour and his wife, Lucy, who gives us an outsider’s perspective on Martin’s deeply unhealthy attachment to his best friend of 28 years, Ben.

What we loved most about this book was its unpredictability. Every time we thought we had figured out what was going to happen next, Elizabeth threw in a plot twist that kept us guessing, right up until the last page. And isn’t that what we all want from a great thriller? We think so.

The Brighton Mermaid

By Dorothy Koomson

“Was she a mermaid somewhere? Was that why I hadn’t heard from her?”

Why we love The Brighton Mermaid:

This is a fantastic emotional thriller, both in how you care about the characters and through its pacy structure. A young woman is found dead on Brighton beach by Nell and Jude when they are teenagers. Unidentified, she becomes known as ‘the Brighton mermaid’ and the story looks at how this affects both Nell and Jude. Then when Jude goes missing, things really ramp up…

This felt like such a poignant book to be reading at the moment. Dorothy Koomson talks about the police's abuse of power - both towards black people and women, bringing thought-provoking issues into this read.

The Castaways

By Lucy Clarke

Why we love The Castaways:

So many people have a fear of flying or, rather, being on a plane that crashes, and that is what The Castaways brilliantly taps into. Sisters Lori and Erin book a luxury holiday to Fiji, however, the night before they are due to fly, they have an argument that results in Erin not getting on the plane.

That flight then goes missing and through a mix of Lori’s chapters we discover what happened when the plane crashed. Through Erin’s chapters, we are right there with her in her grief, guilt and mission to find out what happened to her sister.

Both parts of the story are so gripping. A visceral thriller that also celebrates the powerful bond of sisters. It’s so well paced and with just the right amount of didn’t-see-that-coming moments. A perfect slice of escapism – just maybe don’t read it on a plane.

Greenwich Park

By Katherine Faulkner

“I wonder how long she has been standing there, looking into our front room at us.”

Why we love Greenwich Park:

Helen, her husband Daniel, her brother Rory and his wife, Serena, all live a seemingly idyllic life in Greenwich, London. However, an encounter with a woman at an antenatal class turns Helen’s world upside down and brings secrets from the past crashing into their lives now, with page-turning consequences.

An excellent, riveting read. We enjoyed it right until the very last tantalising sentence.

Dangerous Women

By Hope Adams

“That’s what we, too, are like, us women. We’re a patchwork.”

Why we love Dangerous Women:

A gentle burner of a whodunnit that pulls you into the heart of its story, while celebrating redemption, rehabilitation and the good in people. All set to the backdrop of a truly fascinating slice of history. In 1841, female convicts were sent from London to Tasmania. Convicted of petty crimes, banishment was their punishment. On this ship, the Rajah, the women created an amazing quilt that still hangs in the National Gallery of Australia today. Throw in a little murder mystery and you have an excellent story on your hands.

An excellent, riveting read. We enjoyed it right until the very last tantalising sentence.

Asking for a Friend

By Andi Osho

“They'd been best friends for over a decade and were so entangled in each other's worlds, it was hard to know where one began and the other ended.”

Why we love Asking for a Friend:

Forty-something Jemima is trying to get her life back on track whilst simultaneously trying to avoid her needy ex. Twenty-something Meagan is looking for a relationship, while thirty-something Simi has almost given up hope of finding one.

These best friends decide it's time to play the dating game by their own rules. They're going to ask people out in real life, but for each other…and it doesn’t quite go to plan.

A wonderfully warm and funny story that celebrates female friendships and having the courage to be your true self.

The Transcendent Kingdom

By Yaa Gyasi

“I am looking for new names for old feelings. My soul is still my soul, even if I rarely call it that.”

Why We Love Transcendent Kingdom:

Gifty is a neuroscientist and Transcendent Kingdom is her coming-of-age story, albeit in her late 20s. Her complex nature is captured so well; her relationships with her mother, with being a black woman in such a white, male industry and Gifty’s rumination on how science and religion coexist and how (if) they can answer questions for each other.

But the heart of this book is Gifty. A strong woman who is doing everything she can to navigate life and thrive in the best way she can. A truly thought-provoking, wonderfully written story that packs an emotional punch.

The Soul of a Woman

By Isabel Allende

“I never accepted the limited feminine role imposed upon me by my family, society, culture and religion.”

Why we love The Soul of a Woman:

From legendary Chilean author, Isabel Allende, this is a wonderfully lyrical part memoir, part feminist musing. This is a really honest, thought provoking read that truly champions women’s equality and packs so many ideas and things that need to be discussed into less than 200 pages. It is a delight to read, while giving so much food for thought about women’s equality.

Circe

By Madeline Miller

“It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment's carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.”

Why we love Circe:

Circe is a complex, strong, independent woman. She also happens to be an ancient Greek Goddess who can cast spells. The Gods hadn’t seen witchcraft before and scared by any new power, they exiled Circe. As she is immortal, that is a long exile. What Madeline Miller does so well is humanise iconic characters so that you become invested. Circe is a fast-paced, wonderfully captivating story of a truly enchanting Goddess making her place in the world.

We hope you find some great new reads this month, we’d love to know your thoughts.

Join the book chat in our Facebook group