Annal: 2004 Whitbread Book Award for First Novel

Results of the Whitbread Book Award in the year 2004.

Book:Eve Green

Eve Green: A Novel

Susan Fletcher

“Ten days before Christmas I lost her. What do I remember? Every little thing…. For twenty-one years I’ve picked away at my memory of it, lifting up moments, testing myself. Believing I might have finally healed to a neat white scar.”

Pregnant with her first child, Eve Green recalls her mother’s death when she was eight years old and her struggle to make sense of her parents’ mysterious romantic past. Eve is sent to live with her grandparents in rural Wales, where she finds comfort in friendships with Daniel, a quiet farmhand, and Billy, a disabled, reclusive friend of her mother’s. When a ravishing local girl disappears, one of Eve’s friends comes under suspicion. Eve will do everything she can to protect him, but at the risk of complicity in a matter she barely understands. This is a timeless and beautifully told story about family secrets and unresolved liaisons.

Book:Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel

Susanna Clarke

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.

All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite…[more]

Book:The Land as Viewed from the Sea

The Land as Viewed from the Sea

Richard Collins

Two friends work together on a smallholding: one allows the other to read the novel he is writing, The Land as Viewed from the Sea. As fiction begins to intrude upon reality, the friends’ relationship is redefined, threatening to change their lives forever.

With great delicacy and intelligence, Richard Collins has written a love story which is at once innovative, timeless and deeply affecting.

Book:The Maze (Panos Karnezis)

The Maze

Panos Karnezis

In the summer of 1922, after a series of decisive defeats at the hands of the Turks, the Greek army is in retreat from Asia Minor. Thousands of soldiers sweep toward the Mediterranean coast, leaving behind their dead, their dreams of empire…and one lost brigade, wandering in the Anatolian desert under a seemingly inexpiable curse. As their leader slips further and further into morphine-dulled despair, with no hope of escape for his troops, morale crumbles among the officers. Communist leaflets appear mysteriously every morning in the camp. A rash of thefts goes unsolved. And each man’s thoughts turn, more and more often, to a single unspeakable act committed by the brigade in a moment of desperation.

At first the men’s luck seems to change when they stumble on a town-a Greek settlement untouched by the war, where the mayor and the schoolteacher are in fierce competition for the favors of the local courtesan, and a young, failed newspaper correspondent…[more]

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