Here’s the second half of our series of Library staff top picks from our leisure-oriented reading collection located in the Forum Library Lounge.
Chosen by Hilary Norris, Information Assistant
This is a story of revenge and obsession set in Victorian England. It is written in the style of Victorian novelists such as Wilkie Collins but with a more modern sense of moral ambiguity. I enjoyed the detailed recreation of Victorian London and I was gripped by the plot from the opening line.
Find it in the Forum Library Lounge at classmark 823.92 COX
Chosen by Roxanne Crabb, Forum Library Supervisor
Jaffy Brown begins life in the sewers of Victorian London with only poverty to look forward to – until a chance encounter with a tiger propels him into the world of Mr Jamrach, a collector of exotic animals. In Jamrach’s employ, animal-loving Jaffy struggles to reconcile his fairytale-like joy at being able to walk amongst bears, camels, tigers and toucans with the harsher realities of his new job: many of these creatures are extremely dangerous and the conditions of their captivity are cramped and squalid.
When reports of dragon sightings in the East Indies tempt Jaffy to sign on to a whaling ship in the hope of capturing one of these mysterious beasts, the novel morphs from a lively, almost Dickensian, portrait of lower class London life into a work of nautical horror that recalls both Moby Dick and particularly Poe’s Arthur Gordon Pym. The tone is often grisly but this fast paced survival adventure kept me gripped throughout. Birch unfolds a harrowing but unforgettable story with a diverse cast of characters. Jamrach is apparently based on a real historical figure but I felt the real menagerie here was the ship-bound one: Jaffy’s crewmates are an assortment of misfits who are as memorable, as unpredictable and ultimately as dangerous as any exotic beast.
Find it in the Forum Library Lounge at classmark: 823.92 BIR
Chosen by Jo Brewer, Shelving Assistant
Father Anselm is a monk, who was previously a barrister, and this is the first in a series of thrillers that feature him. The book starts with an old man claiming sanctuary at the Priory where Father Anselm lives. The old man is a suspected war criminal and wanted by the police. The story then moves back and forth in time between occupied France in the Second World War and the present day. This is an intricate book, weaving together the stories of several people and it keeps the suspense going right until the twist at the end. Both a gripping and a thought-provoking read.
Find it in the Forum Library Lounge at classmark 828.91 /BROD
If you missed the first half of this series then you can read another three mini reviews as well as a brief introduction to the Lounge collection here.
What do you think? Did any of these titles tickle your fancy? If you’ve borrowed any of the books from the Library Lounge collection and would like to share a recommendation of your own then we’d love to hear from you. Let us know your favourite Library Lounge titles by commenting here or on the Library Twitter: @ExeterUniLib