ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- A bomb went off at the New Cross Rd Woolworths in London in 1944, with the loss of 168 lives including fifteen children. Spufford takes this as the starting point of his fine new novel, imagining five lives that might have unfolded had the bomb not landed… There's Jo, who can sing; and her sister Val, a much more earthy girl. Ben with his anxieties; Vern the bully always on the look out to take advantage of others; and Alec who learns a trade. We follow their trajectories over the next sixty years - their loves and their losses, the lessons they learn, the families they make and the friends that they keep. A skilful and sweeping overview of the mid-to-late 20th century, as well as a touching narrative of the ordinary lives of extraordinary characters. Lindy
Francis Spufford is the author of five highly-praised works of non-fiction, most frequently described by reviewers as either 'bizarre' or 'brilliant', and usually as both. His debut novel Golden Hill won the Costa First Novel Award, the RSL Ondaatje Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize, and was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, the Rathbones Folio Prize, the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award and the British Book Awards Debut Novel of the Year. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He teaches writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and lives near Cambridge.