Mornings in Jeniin

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa

This is one of the most disturbing stories I have read. I visited Israel in 1967, shortly after the Six Day War ended. I remember the Israeli taxi driver boasting about how quickly they had won that war, gleefully pointing out captured tanks and other military vehicles at the side of the roads we travelled, and feeling rather disgusted at his smugness. Surely all war was horrible, surely all war implied suffering and death? My 20-year old self was horrified, not impressed.

Susan Abulhawa tells her story with passion and pain. It is the story of a family which grew up in the peaceful village of Ein Hod, occupied by Israelis after the partition of Palestine in 1948, and then was forced to relocate to a camp in Jenin. After bombing, burning, killing, maiming, plundering and looting, soldiers came to claim the land the family had lived on since distant times.

It is nothing short of devastating to read of families torn apart, of life in a refugee camp, of loss, destruction, and oppression.  I will never forget the horror I felt reading about a mother having her baby son torn from her arms, lost to her forever to be raised by the enemy.

The story begins in a peaceful, ancient village, and ends with the massacre of so-called terrorists, an incident denied in the US press. One of the soldiers gives the narrator water to drink during the siege, but it’s ‘not enough to wash a mother’s blood from her daughter’s skin.’ Earlier, she felt a strange desire to be a fish, to live ‘inside the water’s soothing world, where screams and gunfire were not heard and death was not smelled.’

It is impossible to read this story without feeling, to quote: ‘sad for the youth betrayed by their leaders for symbols and flags and war and power.’ And sadder still, to know that the conflict rages on.

 

Naked

coverThe life of a rookie beat cop is changed forever when he meets an elderly sage on a routine call. Using wisdom, perspective, and humor, Naked is a journey destined to transform the readers understanding of God, life, and love.

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A God in Ruins

A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the twentieth century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction.

Those who loved the bestselling Life After Life will recognise Teddy as Ursula Todd’s adored younger brother – but for those who have not read it, A God in Ruins stands fully on its own. Few will dispute that it proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the most exceptional novelists of our age.

‘Better than most fiction you’ll read this year’ The Times

Author(s)
Kate Atkinson
Link to book on book store or review site

Me Before You

Poignant . . . heartfelt . . . Me Before You, at it’s heart, is about two people who properly listen to each other; it is something good (The Independent on Sunday)

Another powerful love story. A deftly plotted narrative populated with likeable engaging characters . . . a bittersweet story about love, learning and letting go. It’s a tremendous read and I loved it (Daily Mail)

When I finished this novel, I didn’t want to review it: I wanted to reread it . . . An affair to remember (The New York Times Book Review)

At last, a new Moyes novel – and it’s a triumph. Her story of love blossoming in the most unlikely of ways packs such an emotional punch, you’ll need a box of tissues (Elle)

Compelling, moving and absorbing. It’s also a real weepie (Daily Express)

Keep the tissues close as Jojo Moyes returns with Me Before You, a heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting tale about the relationship between an embittered quadriplegic man and the carer who is trying to give him a reason to live (Good Housekeeping)

A compelling novel of life and death decisions and unlikely affections. It’s magical and heartbreaking, but doesn’t shy away from difficult emotional realities. Waterproof mascara essential (Marie Claire)

A disarmingly moving love story . . . a lovely novel, both nontraditional and enthralling (Publishers Weekly)

This truly beautiful story made us laugh, smile and sob like a baby – you simply have to read it (Closer)

Heartbreaking, soul-searching and utterly compelling (Easy Living)

Destined to be the novel that friends press upon each other more than any other next year, it is a tremendous example of what commercial fiction can do when in the hands of an expert. Moyes does a majestic job of conjuring a cast of characters who are charismatic, credible and utterly compelling; Lou and Will are a couple who readers will take to their hearts as they did One Day‘s Emma and Dex (The Independent)

Poignant and beautifully written, this book will stay with you long after you’ve put it down (Star Magazine)

Funny, believable and heartbreaking, this is sure to be the weepy of 2012 (Woman’s Own)

A compelling portrait of an unlikely couple (The Independent)

Me Before You is a page-turner that sucks the reader into caring about the fate of the heroine . . . By turns funny and moving but never predictable. The plot contains a number of surprises and raises thoughtful questions (USA Today)

A perceptive and moving tale (The Independent)

Funny, surprising and heartbreaking, populated with characters who are affecting and amusing . . . This is a thought-provoking, thoroughly entertaining novel that captures the complexity of love (People)

Beautifully written (The Sun)

An unlikely love story . . . To be devoured like candy, between tears (O, The Oprah Magazine)

Read it and weep: Heartbreak collides with humour in Jojo Moyes’s Me Before You (Good Housekeeping USA)

Jojo Moyes has done it again with this funny, touching tale that is impossible to put down. Make sure you have a box of tissues to hand! (Candis)

When I finished this novel, I didn’t want to review it: I wanted to reread it. Which might seem perverse if you know that for most of the last hundred pages I was dissolved in tears. Jojo Moyes, the writer who produced this emotional typhoon, knows very well that Me Before You . . . is a ‘real weepy’. Moyes’s story provokes tears that are redemptive, the opposite of gratuitous. Some situations, she forces the reader to recognise, really are worth crying over . . . An affair to remember (Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review)

Jojo Moyes’s poignantly romantic tales have readers streaming their way through boxes of Kleenex . . . Me Before You is compelling reading…a profound, fundamental, thought-provoking conundrum lies at the heart of the story, a huge moral dilemma, explored with great fictional finesse. Devotees of Jojo Moyes and newcomers alike will settle into this entertaining book with gusto (Sunday Express)

Romantic, thought-provoking tear-jerker than you won’t be able to put down (Woman & Home)

The Last Letter from Your Lover manages to be a both gorgeously romantic and partner-ignoringly compulsive read (Independent on Sunday)

Utterly absorbing and blissfully romantic (Daily Telegraph)

A small-life-big-dreams weepie that’ll have you snivelling ecstatically into your cocoa (Daily Mail)

Author(s)
Jojo Moyes

Echo from Mount Royal

Montreal, 1951. Rebecca Wiseman, 18-years-old, briefly meets a handsome young man, but has little hope of seeing him again. When Sol Gottesman tracks her down and asks her on a date, her joy mingles with disbelief when she learns he is the son of a wealthy Westmount businessman.

When Sol takes her in a chauffeured Rolls-Royce to the most expensive restaurant in the city, Rebecca enters a world of upper-class wealth and privilege unknown in her working-class family. She believes her romantic dreams have come true.

She soon learns that despite Sol’s outward charm, he lacks self-confidence. When he reveals the simmering conflicts in his family, Rebecca wants to protect Sol, but helping him stand up to the pressure from his family, puts her squarely in the midst of it all.

Class, religion, family conflict and sexual secrets test their love, leading to a revelation that could change her life forever.

Author(s)
Dave Riese
Link to book on book store or review site

Insanity of Love

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Author(s)
N Daniel
Link to book on book store or review site

The Secret Life of Bees

Review

‘Kidd’s first novel is well placed, gentle and deeply moving’ The Times (The Times)

‘A personal favourite, one of those infectiously written books you can’t get out of your mind…a lovely tale’ Bookseller (Bookseller)

‘A tale that’s beautifully and movingly written’ Buzz (Buzz)

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Book Description

The multi-million-copy-bestselling first novel from the author of THE INVENTION OF WINGS. THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES was a New York Times bestseller for over two years, was made into an award-winning film and was long-listed for the Orange Prize.

About the Author

Sue Monk Kidd is the author of three novels, all of which have been international bestsellers: The Secret Life Of Bees, The Mermaid Chair and The Invention Of Wings. The Secret Life Of Bees spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list, was long-listed for the Orange Prize, and was turned into an award-winning film. The Mermaid Chair and The Invention of Wings were both No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. Sue is also the author of several acclaimed non-fiction books including Travelling with Pomegranates, which she co-wrote with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor.

Author(s)
Sue Monk Kidd
Link to book on book store or review site

Cutting for Stone

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Expect to be swept along by the drama of this roller-coaster of a novel. Over five hundred pages of beauty, horror, poignancy, tragedy and charm.

Verghese takes us from India to Ethiopia and the USA, revealing intricate details of surgery, rebellion, war, passion, faith and love. It is not often that a book can lift your spirit to new heights, and this one is right up there with the likes of Shantaram and similar great novels.

An unforgettable read

Author(s)
Abraham Verghese

A Patriot’s Act

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Death, law, and in that order at Guantanamo Bay

When a naturalized American citizen turns up missing in Iraq, Brent Marks fights the Goliath U.S. government with its own Constitution. Santa Barbara accountant Ahmed Khury responds to the plea of his brother, Sabeen, a suspected money launderer in Iraq. Before Ahmed realizes what has happened to him, he is in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, being subjected to torture to extract information that he doesn’t have. The drama outside the courtroom explodes, and when murder, corruption and cover-up enters the picture, nobody, including Brent, is safe.

Author(s)
Kenneth Eade
Link to book on book store or review site

Professor Habershaw’s Fairy Tales For Grown-Ups

 

The world-famous Habershaw Traveling Sideshow Company makes its way to various small towns. No one really sees it coming but somehow the show makes its way to your hometown one evening in June. Having lost your job, you find the HELP WANTED sign to be both convenient and enticing. You already love oddities and sideshows, so becoming an assistant to the infamous Professor Harold J. Habershaw would be a dream come true. He’s a rather eccentric gentleman, and it seems there’s no reason for you to second-guess your decision. That is, until you discover his latest sideshow attraction appropriately called, “PROFESSOR HABERSHAW’S FAIRY TALES FOR GROWN-UPS.”
Each tale has been carefully collected by Professor Habershaw himself for many years. Some stories are good while others would shock the most timid person.

Be warned, my friends. Anyone who enters this particular attraction never exits, and there’s a reason. Professor Habershaw’s always on the lookout for new muses for his ever-growing collection of bizarre fairy tales.

And if you’re not careful, you could become his next greatest story yet to be told.

The Little Black Book

It was described as a literary EP on the author’s website. The Little Black Book is a pocket book of four short stories, each dealing with self identity through a magical/supernatural filter. It is a gritty, short read, with powerful imagery.

Author(s)
R.K. Gold

Beltamar’s War

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Utterly obedient to Six Divine Laws, the Seizen are an ancient culture whose history covers almost four millennia.

On their second entry into Malmaxa all Seizen undergo the final rite of passage to adulthood, in which they are bound to a Chukrah in the Eternal Match. The Chukrah bond is fateful, permanent, personal, and so sacred it is deemed to be an inviolate personal secret. Indeed, beyond the clearly visible color of every Chukrah, a societal tenet prohibits disclosing the unique nature of one’s Chukrah.

Unbeknownst to the Seizen, they are on the verge of extinction. An Eternal Conflict with a mysterious, ancient enemy has seen their numbers dwindle from millions to less than fifty thousand at the time in which Beltamar’s War is set.

The Scribes, a rare subset of the Artisan class, are the only Seizen aware of these dire circumstances. However, their role as lore-keepers is Chukrah-granted. This understanding ensures they obey the tenet of secrecy, thus the Seizen have remained oblivious to their impending demise.

Until an un-matched child named Liaju has a series of prophetic dreams.

Until now…

Author(s)
C.G.Ayling
Link to book on book store or review site

The Rosie Effect

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With The Rosie Project, “Graeme Simsion achieved the impossible and created an entirely new kind of romantic hero,” Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You said. Now Don Tillman returns in the hilarious and charming sequel to the international sensation. Get ready to fall in love all over again.

Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.

Picking up where The Rosie Project left off, The Rosie Effect is a fun, hilarious, and poignant read. “Don Tillman helps us believe in possibility, makes us proud to be human beings, and the bonus is this: he keeps us laughing like hell” (Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook).

Author(s)
Graeme Simsion
Link to book on book store or review site

The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End by Ian Parkinson

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I can think of several words to describe this novel: disturbing, is one. Hypnotic, is another. Neither do this novel justice though. Parkinson has been likened to Houellbecq, and I can see why. You need a strong stomach to follow the protagonist, Raymond, and his descent into dependency and mental illness – and worse. But this is a novel that is compulsively written. After reading it, I woke up having dreamt about the ending. Any novel – any writer – that can do that is rare.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1784630268?ref_=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0

Sleeping on Jupiter

Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy

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LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOK PRIZE 2015

A stark and unflinching novel by a spellbinding storyteller, about religion, love and violence in the modern world.

A train stops at a railway station. A young woman jumps off. She has wild hair, sloppy clothes, a distracted air. She looks Indian, yet she is somehow not. The sudden violence of what happens next leaves the other passengers gasping.

The train terminates at Jarmuli, a temple town by the sea. Here, among pilgrims, priests and ashrams, three old women disembark only to encounter the girl once again. What is someone like her doing in this remote corner, which attracts only worshippers?

Over the next five days, the old women live out their long-planned dream of a holiday together; their temple guide finds ecstasy in forbidden love; and the girl is joined by a photographer battling his own demons.

The full force of the evil and violence beneath the serene surface of the town becomes evident when their lives overlap and collide. Unexpected connections are revealed between devotion and violence, friendship and fear, as Jarmuli is revealed as a place with a long, dark past that transforms all who encounter it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00T4GU1QO/ref=pe_2282161_77808551_pe_epc__1p_6_ti

Lila

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

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Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church-the only available shelter from the rain-and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister and widower, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the days of suffering that preceded her newfound security.

Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood of itinerant work. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand-to-mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a lucky knife to protect them. But despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life is laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to harmonize the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle worldview of her husband which paradoxically judges those she loves.

Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead and Orange Prize-winning Home, Lila is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00IA2E74U/ref=pe_2282161_77808551_pe_epc__1p_5_ti

The Fishermen

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

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In this dazzling debut novel, four young brothers in a small Nigerian town encounter a madman, whose prophecy of violence threatens the core of their family

Told from the point of view of nine-year-old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fishermen is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990s Nigeria. When their father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the forbidden nearby river they encounter a madman, who predicts that one of the brothers will kill another. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact – both tragic and redemptive – will transcend the lives and imaginations of both its characters and its readers. Chigozie Obioma emerges as one of the best new voices of modern African literature, echoing its older generation’s masterful storytelling with a contemporary fearlessness and purpose.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00QPHQS6M/ref=pe_2282161_77808551_pe_epc__1p_3_ti

The Green Road

The Green Road by Anne Enright

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A darkly glinting novel set on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, The Green Road is a story of fracture and family, selfishness and compassion – a book about the gaps in the human heart and how we learn to fill them.

The children of Rosaleen Madigan leave the west of Ireland for lives they never could have imagined in Dublin, New York and various third-world towns. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she’s decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for a last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold.

Anne Enright is addicted to the truth of things. Sentence by sentence, there are few writers alive who can invest the language with such torque and gleam, such wit and longing – who can write dialogue that speaks itself aloud, who can show us the million splinters of her characters’ lives then pull them back up together again, into a perfect glass.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00VGHEKWA/ref=pe_2282161_77808551_pe_epc__1p_0_ti

The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is a story about love, life and lobster every Tuesday…

The Rosie Project was originally written as a screenplay, and won the Australian Writers Guild/Inception Award for Best Romantic Comedy Script in 2010. As a novel, it won the 2012 Victorian Premier’s award for an unpublished fiction manuscript. It is rightly widely acclaimed as a witty, amusing and sensitive story of life and love.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rosie-Project-Don-Tillman-ebook/dp/B00B2FLDRQ

Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

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Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – returns home from New York City to visit her ageing father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past – a journey that can be guided only by one’s own conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humour and effortless precision – a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to a classic.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Go-Set-Watchman-Harper-Lee/dp/1785150286

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
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It’s hard to articulate just how much–and why–The Goldfinch held such power for me as a reader. Always a sucker for a good boy-and-his-mom story, I probably was taken in at first by the cruelly beautiful passages in which 13-year-old Theo Decker tells of the accident that killed his beloved mother and set his fate. But even when the scene shifts–first Theo goes to live with his schoolmate’s picture-perfect (except it isn’t) family on Park Avenue, then to Las Vegas with his father and his trashy wife, then back to a New York antiques shop–I remained mesmerized. Along with Boris, Theo’s Ukrainian high school sidekick, and Hobie, one of the most wonderfully eccentric characters in modern literature, Theo–strange, grieving, effete, alcoholic and often not close to honorable Theo–had taken root in my heart. Still, The Goldfinch is more than a 700-plus page turner about a tragic loss: it’s also a globe-spanning mystery about a painting that has gone missing, an examination of friendship, and a rumination on the nature of art and appearances. Most of all, it is a sometimes operatic, often unnerving and always moving chronicle of a certain kind of life. “Things would have turned out better if she had lived,” Theo said of his mother, fourteen years after she died. An understatement if ever there was one, but one that makes the selfish reader cry out: Oh, but then we wouldn’t have had this brilliant book! –Sara Nelson

http://www.amazon.com/The-Goldfinch-Donna-Tartt/dp/0316055433/ref=zg_bs_books_1

THE WOODEN CHAIR

THE WOODEN CHAIR by Rayne E. Golay

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Award winning novel. Leini is a little girl growing up with mother mercilessly abusing her, neglecting her. Later in life, herself to become a mother, Leini struggles through the trauma of abuse, determined never to behave with her children like her own mother. She grows victorious of her past when she comes close to forgiving her mother.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Wooden-Chair-ebook/dp/B00CTQ31EK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379169868&sr=8-1&keywords=The+wooden+Chair

A Tale for the Time Being

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

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Intriguing, inspiring and touching, referencing the ideas of eminent physicists and Zen masters, this tale begins after the devastating 2011 tsunami when Ruth, a Canadian novelist, finds on the beach the washed up diary of Nao, a depressed and bewildered Japanese girl. A truly human, warm and tender story which weaves its way through two distinct cultures and time zones.

http://www.amazon.com/Tale-Time-Being-Ruth-Ozeki/dp/0670026638

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The Coach House

The Coach House by Florence Osmund

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In “The Coach House,” Marie Marchetti flees Chicago for Kansas in 1945 after realizing her husband is dealing with dangerous underworld men, only to discover itʾs the identity of her real father and his ethnicity that unexpectedly change her life more than her husband ever could.

http://amzn.to/MkLdb0

11.22.63

11.22.63 by Stephen King

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Jake Epping is a English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who earns a second living teaching an adult education programme. One day, he receives an essays from a student telling a harrowing first person story about the night, 50 years earlier, when Harry Dunning’s father came home with a sledgehammer and killed his mother, his sister and his brother. Later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, reveals an extraordinary secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958 and then enlists Jack on an insane and insanely possible mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. Inspired by his desire to help Harry Dunning, Jake leaves a world of iPods and mobiles for a new world of Elvis and JFK, big American cars, root beers and Linda Hopping. But it is also a haunting world of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill who quickly becomes the love of Jake’s life – a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005LCYR7Y/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
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It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. Already a huge bestseller across Europe, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a fun and feel-good book for all ages.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hundred-Year-Old-Climbed-Window-Disappeared-ebook/dp/B008D30K7E/ref=zg_bs_62_2