Words of Courage and Friendship
Your Waterstones Books of the Month for April
As is tradition, our Overall winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Girl of Ink & Stars, ascends to our choice of Children’s Book of the Month for April. Thursday night’s celebration of the very finest talent in children’s literature truly brought home the strength of writing for young people today, a renaissance that properly began with the likes of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights over twenty years ago.
Children's Book of the Month
“Our booksellers have assuredly chosen a writer who delivers the whole package,” commented our Children’s Buyer Florentyna Martin on Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s victory. “A beautifully written and hugely imaginative story with a strong and loveable protagonist and a page-turning plot.”
When Isabella’s best friend Lupe vanishes into the vast forbidden forest of the island of Joya, as a cartographer’s daughter Isabella knows she is the only chance of bringing back Lupe alive. Joining the search party venturing into the island’s interior - a land brimming with monsters and legend - she must draw on every ounce of courage and knowledge she has to overcome the impossible.
Written with a remarkable empathy for character and story, The Girl of Ink & Stars marks the launch of an extraordinary new talent. As a Barbican Young Poet and a keen stage performer from her Footlights experience at Oxford University, Kiran Millwood Hargrave fuses lyricism and drama to create a truly arresting and lasting adventure.
Fiction Book of the Month
The arrival of Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life back in 2013 heralded a singular literary voice, unafraid to present a meditative but soaring tale of consequence and solitude. Darker rhythms haunt The Tobacconist, Seethaler’s picaresque tale of Franz Huchel, a young Austrian who finds himself in the employ of a Viennese tobacconist during the preamble to the horrors of World War II.
It is a story of choices, of youthful ideals and worries gradually becoming eclipsed by the onrush of world event. As the grip of the Nazi regime beyond the tobacconist’s doors becomes ever more acute, the more Huchel seeks solace in the cultured civility of his workplace – not least in the influential patronage of a certain cigar-loving Professor Freud.
'Set at a time of lengthening shadows, this is a novel about the sparks that illuminate the dark: of wisdom, compassion, defiance and courage. It is wry, piercing and also, fittingly, radiant.' – The Daily Mail
Non-Fiction Book of the Month
East West Street’s win of last year’s prestigious Baillie Gifford Prize threw much-justified light on a pivotal moment in history. In what Daniel Finkelstein in The Times described as ‘a work of great brilliance… everything that happens is inevitable and yet comes as a surprise… in places I gasped, in places I wept,’ East West Street is both a history of atrocity and a relentless, brilliantly-pitched search for the truth.
Masterfully knitting together the intimacy of a family tragedy with the global stage of the Nuremberg trials, Sands’ own grandfather forms the author’s bridge to the origins of international human rights law. Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin are the two brilliant Polish-Jewish lawyers at the centre of the tale, figures whose definition of war crime will ultimately sentence the Nazi lawyer who tore apart not just Sands’ family, but the lives of untold thousands of others.
'A monumental achievement: profoundly personal, told with love, anger and great precision.' - John le Carré
Thriller of the Month
A private aircraft, soaring out into the foggy evening sky of Martha’s Vineyard, provides the transport of doom for a clutch of passengers who will all, bar just two, soon perish after the plane falls from the sky.
Thus begins Noah Hawley’s superlative, drum-tight whodunit Before the Fall, our choice for April’s Thriller of the Month: as we will discover, almost everyone aboard was the target of someone else’s grudge, grudges deep enough to perhaps inspire murder. With a rumour mill driven by a rabidly-opportunistic news anchor, misfit survivor Scott Burroughs emerges as a key suspect: however, in the expert hands of Fargo show-runner Hawley, the truth will prove rather more elusive. Superb, rounded characterisation and a first-class plot effortlessly fold together to produce a truly satisfying read.
“This is a brilliantly sharp and intelligent thriller… with a depth of characterisation not unlike The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Hawley has written four previous novels. If they’re anything like this, I’ll be reading them all.” – The Evening Standard
Congratulations once again then to Kiran for her well-deserved win and as always, we look forward to bringing you more of our recommended reading in May.