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MUST READS

Queen of Our Times by Robert Hardman (Pan £10.99, 720pp)

Queen of Our Times by Robert Hardman (Pan £10.99, 720pp)

Queen of Our Times

by Robert Hardman (Pan £10.99, 720pp)

Seven decades into her reign, and just two days before her death at the age of 96, Queen Elizabeth II was still working.

Looking frail, but with her customary brilliant smile, she met the departing Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and his successor, Liz Truss.

The national mourning at her passing was as heartfelt as though her subjects had lost a beloved grandmother. Yet, as Hardman writes in his biography of the late Queen: ‘After all those years of familiarity, we are still left asking the question: “What was she really like?” ’

Delving into the archives and interviewing intimates and eyewitnesses, Hardman’s detailed and affectionate portrait debunks many of the Royal myths and misrepresentations, celebrating the humour, courage and willingness to embrace change of our longest reigning British monarch.

Forever Home by Graham Norton (Coronet £8.99, 368pp)

Forever Home by Graham Norton (Coronet £8.99, 368pp)

Forever Home

by Graham Norton (Coronet £8.99, 368pp)

Stable Row is an elegant terrace of early 19th-century houses in an Irish town. Number 6 is home to Carol Crottie, a teacher who found late-blooming love there with her partner, Declan Barry.

Carol’s husband had left her to bring up their son, Craig, alone, while Declan’s wife mysteriously vanished when their children were still young.

But Stable Row is no longer Carol’s forever home. When Declan is diagnosed with dementia, his children move him into a nursing home and put the house up for sale.

Carol’s formidable mother, Moira, comes up with a cunning plan. But as she and Carol put it into action, an appalling discovery is just the first of many secrets lurking behind the facade of Stable Row.

Small town rumours and family tensions turn to tragedy and farce in Graham Norton’s latest comedy noir.

Our Missing Hearts

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng (Abacus £9.99, 352pp)

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng (Abacus £9.99, 352pp)

by Celeste Ng (Abacus £9.99, 352pp)

In the United States of the near future, fear and oppression overshadow everyday life: children can be taken away; banned books are recycled into toilet paper; and discrimination against PAOs —People of Asian Origin — is rife.

These measures have broken the family of 12-year-old Noah, known as Bird. His mother, Margaret, a Chinese-American poet, gave him the nickname. But when her poetry collection, Our Missing Hearts, was condemned as subversive, she went into hiding.

At last a letter arrives from Margaret. Inside is one sheet of paper covered in doodles of cats. Armed with this clue and the help of a kindly librarian, Bird and his friend Sadie set out on a quest to find his mother.

This is a poignant celebration of family, friendship and the wonderful power of storytelling.



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