Books of the Month | Month of the Books #20

“When in doubt, go to the library.” From “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by J.K. Rowling



Renowned as Spain’s “The Catcher in the Rye”, a passionate coming-of-age novel that follows a rebellious young woman as she uncovers her family’s secrets in chaotic, polarized post–Civil War Barcelona.

Andrea, an eighteen-year-old orphan, moves from her small town to Barcelona to attend university. Living in genteel squalor with her volatile relatives in a mys­terious house on Calle de Aribau, Andrea relies on her wealthy, beautiful bohemian friend Ena to prove that normal life exists beyond the gothic dwelling she calls home. In one year, as her innocence melts away, Andrea learns the truth about her overbearing and religious aunt Angustias, her cruelly sensual, musically gifted uncle Román and his violent brother Juan, and her lovely aunt Gloria, who supports the family with furtive gambling expeditions. She also learns the truth about Ena — and why her friendship goes hand in hand with her interest in Andrea’s family.

Peppered with dark humor, energy, and hope, Car­men Laforet’s stunning autobiographical classic is the story of a young woman who endures the harsh realities of her postwar society, emerging wiser and stronger, and with a bright future ahead of her.



Carmen Laforet was a Spanish author who wrote in the period after the Spanish Civil War. Born in Bar­celona in 1921, Laforet spent her childhood in Las Palmas until, like the heroine of her novel, she returned to her native city to attend university. Her first novel “Nada” (“Nothing”) was published in 1945. She died in Madrid in 2004.




This book paints a portrait of the enigmatic woman behind the designer Christian Dior: his beloved youn­ger sister, Catherine, who inspired his most famous perfume. Picardie’s journey takes her to Occupied Paris, where Christian honed his couture skills in a fashion house while Catherine dedicated herself to the French Resistance — until she was captu­red by the Gestapo and deported to the German concentration camp of Ravensbrück. On release, barely recognizable to her brother, Catherine retreated into anonymity, ending her life caring for the roses that make up her signature scent. Picardie’s exploration of how a nation silenced this wartime trauma leads her deep into the secrets of her own family’s history, and the result is unforgettable.

Justine Picardie said: “Miss Dior is a story about courage and conflict, freedom and fascism, and how the polished surface of fashion may conceal hidden depths. Catherine Dior’s expe­riences during the Occupation, and those of her companions who fought against the Nazi regime, also offer an alternative perspective on wartime history and heroines.”



Justine Picardie is a British novelist, fashion writer and biographer. She is a former editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar. She was also a journalist for the Sunday Times, editor of the Obser­ver magazine, and features director of Vogue. She is the author of five books, including the critically acclaimed memoir “If The Spirit Moves You” and, most recently, a biography of Coco Chanel, which was a Sunday Times bestseller.





Winner of the Booker Prize, Penelope Lively’s “Moon Tiger” is the tale of a historian confronting her own, personal history, unearthing the passions and pains that have defined her life.

Claudia Hampton, a beautiful, famous writer, lies dying in hospital. But, as the nurses tend to her with quiet condescension, she is plotting her greatest work: ‘a history of the world ... and in the process, my own’. Gradually she re-creates the rich mosaic of her life and times, conjuring up those she has known. There is Gordon, her adored brother; Jasper, the charming, untrustworthy lover and father of Lisa, her cool, conventional daughter; and Tom, her one great love, both found and lost in wartime Egypt.

Penelope Lively’s Booker Prize-winning novel weaves an exquisite mesh of memories, flashbacks and shifting voices, in a haunting story of loss and desire.



Penelope Lively was born in Cairo in 1933. She is the author of many prize-winning novels and short-story collections for both adults and children. Lively has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize; once in 1977 for her first novel, “The Road to Lichfield”, and again in 1984 for “According to Mark”. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel “Moon Tiger”. Some of her novels include “Passing On”, “City of the Mind”, “Cleopatra’s Sister” and “Heat Wave”, and many are published by Penguin.

Penelope Lively is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award. She was appointed CBE in the 2001 New Year’s Honors List, and DBE in 2012.

She lives in London.




This is a classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre. First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar loo­king for solid evidence of a “haunting;’ Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with pol­tergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers — and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.



Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco in 1916. She first received wide critical acclaim for her short story “The Lottery,” which was published in The New Yorker in 1948. She is the author of six novels, including “The Haunting of Hill House”, “We Have Always Lived in the Castle”, and “The Sundial”; two bestselling family chronicles, “Life Among the Savages” and “Raising Demons”; and hundreds of short stories, many published in five separate posthumous collections.

She died in 1965 at the age of forty-eight.