Annal: 2013 Costa Book Award for Novel

Results of the Costa Book Award in the year 2013.

Book:All the Birds, Singing

All the Birds, Singing

Evie Wyld

From one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists, a stunningly insightful, emotionally powerful new novel about an outsider haunted by an inescapable past: a story of loneliness and survival, guilt and loss, and the power of forgiveness.

Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted it to be. But every few nights something—or someone—picks off one of the sheep and sounds a new deep pulse of terror. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumors of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is also Jake’s past—hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, held in the silences about her family and the scars that stripe her back—a past that threatens to break into the present.

With exceptional artistry and empathy, All the Birds, Singing reveals an isolated life in all its struggles and stubborn hopes, unexpected beauty, and hard-won redemption.

Book:Instructions for a Heatwave

Instructions for a Heatwave

Maggie O'Farrell

Sophisticated, intelligent, impossible to put down, Maggie O’Farrell’s beguiling novels blend richly textured psychological drama with page-turning suspense. Instructions for a Heatwave finds her at the top of her game, with a novel about a family crisis set during the legendary British heatwave of 1976.

Gretta Riordan wakes on a stultifying July morning to find that her husband of forty years has gone to get the paper and vanished, cleaning out his bank account along the way. Gretta’s three grown children converge on their parents’ home for the first time in years: Michael Francis, a history teacher whose marriage is failing; Monica, with two stepdaughters who despise her and a blighted past that has driven away the younger sister she once adored; and Aoife, the youngest, now living in Manhattan, a smart, immensely resourceful young woman who has arranged her entire life to conceal a devastating secret. …[more]

Book:Life After Life

Life After Life

Kate Atkinson

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can—will she?

Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original—this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.

Book:Unexpected Lessons in Love

Unexpected Lessons in Love

Bernardine Bishop

With the wit of Marina Lewycka, the piercing observation of Jane Gardam, and the bittersweet charm of Mary Wesley, this will appeal to all who loved Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Cecilia Banks has a great deal on her plate. But when her son Ian turns up on her doorstep with the unexpected consequence of a brief fling, she feels she has no choice but to take the baby into her life. Cephas’s arrival is the latest of many challenges Cecilia has to face. There is the matter of her cancer, for a start, an illness shared with her novelist friend Helen. Then there is Helen herself, whose observations of Cecilia’s family life reveal a somewhat ambivalent attitude to motherhood. Meanwhile Tim, Cecilia’s husband, is taking self-effacement to extremes, and Ian, unless he gets on with it, will throw away his best chance at happiness. …[more]

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