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The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

By Deborah Rodriguez

Published By Random House RRP $32.95

A heart-warming novel about a little cafe in Kabul, and the five extraordinary women who meet there …In a little coffee shop in one of the most dangerous places on earth, five very different women come together.

Sunny, the proud proprietor, who needs an ingenious plan – and fast – to keep her café and customers safe…

Yazmina, a young pregnant woman stolen from her remote village and now abandoned on Kabul’s violent streets …

Candace, a wealthy American who has finally left her husband for her Afghan lover, the enigmatic Wakil …

Isabel, a determined journalist with a secret that might keep her from the biggest story of her life…

and Halajan, the sixty-year-old den mother, whose long-hidden love affair breaks all the rules.

As these five discover there’s more to one another than meets the eye, they form a unique bond that will for ever change their lives and the lives of many others.

‘A superb debut novel…A craftsman and a storyteller, Rodriguez captures place and people wholeheartedly, unveiling the faces of Afghanistan’s women through a wealth of memorable characters who light up the page’ Publishers Weekly

‘Rodriguez paints a vivid picture of Afghan culture…as if Maeve Binchy had written The Kite Runner.’ Kirkus Reviews

The Sandalwood Tree

By Elle Newmark

Published By Doubleday RRP $32.95

A sweeping novel that brings to life two love stories, ninety years apart, set against the rich backdrop of war-torn India.

In 1947, American historian and veteran of WWII, Martin Mitchell, wins a Fulbright Fellowship to document the end of British rule in India. His wife, Evie, convinces him to take her and their young son along, hoping a shared adventure will mend their marriage, which has been strained by war.

But other places, other wars. Martin and Evie find themselves stranded in a colonial bungalow in the Himalayas due to violence surrounding the partition of India between Hindus and Muslims. In that house, hidden behind a brick wall, Evie discovers a packet of old letters, which tell a strange and compelling story of love and war involving two young Englishwomen who lived in the same house in 1857.

Drawn to their story, Evie embarks on a mission to piece together her Victorian mystery. Her search leads her through the bazaars and temples of India as well as the dying society of the British Raj. Along the way, Martin’s dark secret is exposed, unleashing a new wedge between Evie and him. As India struggles toward Independence, Evie struggles to save her marriage, pursuing her Victorian ghosts for answers.

Bursting with lavish detail and vivid imagery of Calcutta and beyond, The Sandalwood Tree is a powerful story about betrayal, forgiveness, fate, and love.

Dreamrunner

By Clare Jay

Published By Piatkus RRP $22.99

When Olivia’s husband Carlos begins having violent nightmares in which he leaps, fighting, from his bed and rampages through the house, her family’s idyllic life in Lisbon is shattered. Things escalate when Carlos unwittingly injures Olivia and Leo, their seven-year-old son, and they can no longer hide the purple bruises staining their skin. But what is causing the warm-hearted, gentle Carlos to have such explosive nightmares?

While Leo retreats further into an imaginary world, it’s a question that sends Olivia – desperate to protect her son and rescue her floundering family – into the depths of her husband’s childhood, where she uncovers a secret so shocking it has held Carlos in its powerful grip for almost thirty years.

Do No Harm

by Carol Topolski

Published by Penguin RRP $32.95

Everyone knows about Virginia: about her stellar reputation as a gynaecologist; about her commitment to her women patients. But does anyone know about the knives?

Everyone knows about Faisal too: about his gentle charm and his delight in his family; about his brilliance in the operating theatre. But does anyone know he’s a traitor?

And Gilda – everyone knows about Gilda: knows that she never poops a party; that she struts about town with her cackling posse; that she’s a loyal friend. But does anyone know about the rubber?

But there’s someone who really does know Virginia, who knows all about her because they’ve been this close from birth. Someone who knows what she does when they’re alone together. What they do with the rosewood box. With the belts. Who knows that good doctors can go bad.

Just as she did in Monster Love, her brilliant debut about a horrible crime in a harmless setting, Carol Topolski goes behind the busy routine of a hospital to build a dark, compelling portrait of a good, upright life going horribly wrong…

Prima Donna

By Karen Swan

Published by Pan Mamillan RRP $32.99

Breaking the rules was what she liked best. That was her sport. Renegade, rebel, bad girl. Getting away with it.

Pia Soto is the sexy and glamorous prima ballerina, the Brazilian bombshell who’s shaking up the ballet world with her outrageous behaviour. She’s wild and precocious, and she’s a survivor. She’s determined that no man will ever control her destiny. But ruthless financier Will Silk has Pia in his sights, and has other ideas…

Sophie O’Farrell is Pia’s hapless, gawky assistant, the girl-next-door to Pia’s Prima Donna, always either falling in love with the wrong man or just falling over. Sophie sets her own dreams aside to pick up the debris in Pia’s wake, but she’s no angel. When a devastating accident threatens to cut short Pia’s illustrious career, Sophie has to step out of the shadows and face up to the demons in her own life.

Read any good books lately? Tell us your favourite fiction for February.