Simon & Schuster and Pan Macmillan have scored two titles each on the next Richard and Judy Book Club with W H Smith, with the latest tranche marking the 200th novel they have recommended to readers.
From S&S's camp are the "life-affirming, heart-wrenching and joyful" You, Me, Everything by Catherine Isaac, pseudonym for author Jane Costello, and Rachel Hore's novel, Last Letter Home, in which the book's protagonist is consumed by a bundle of old letters found while holidaying in an Italian villa. As a blossoming a pre-war love story unfolds, it transpires what happened long ago in the shadow of Vesuvius still has the power to cause terrible pain.
From Pan Macmillan's stables are David Baldacci's fifth book in the Will Robie series, End Game and "addictive" psychological thriller The Wife Between Us (Pan Macmillan) by US writers Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen about "the woman before", "the woman after" and "the wife in between".
Faber has one title in the line-up, murderous nanny thriller Lullaby by Leila Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor, which won France's Prix Goncourt and received praise from President Macron. Rounding off the selection is Joanna Cannon's second novel, Three Things About Elsie, published by HarperCollins' imprint Borough Press, about memory, friendship and old age, which follows her debut The Trouble With Goats and Sheep (The Borough Press), a book club pick in spring 2017.
This season's book club has fewer debuts than usual, relying on better-known authors' latest titles.
Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan’s Book Club recommendations are influential, with the titles they pick regularly entering the book charts. The club started life on Channel 4 in 2004, produced by Cactus TV, before moving to online channel Watch. The tie-in with W H Smith began in 2010 and today the pair are marketing the 200th novel they have recommended with the chain retailer. Currently the Book Club contract is set to turn with W H Smith until 2019.
Earlier this month the former television presenters faced criticism from Cactus TV co-founder Amanda Ross for using “the integrity of the Book Club and went into a paid-for campaign for W H Smith”.
At the time Ross said in an interview with the Radio Times: “It was a paid-for campaign. I think Richard and Judy found it hard to understand that lots of authors on the show were becoming millionaires, while we couldn’t make any money out of it because you can’t be paid for your recommendations. It’s slightly disappointing that afterwards they used the integrity of the Book Club and went into a paid-for campaign in W H Smith. People don’t realise that to be part of that sort of campaign publishers have to pay £25,000.”
At the time neither Finnigan or Madeley commented, however when the latest titles were released on Tuesday (24th July), Finnigan said: “Richard and I are proud to have shortlisted so many captivating and diverse novels since we started the Book Club with W H Smith. I can’t believe we have hit the 200 marker – what a milestone! I hope that readers enjoy this new selection of titles as much as we have.”
The Book Club launches with another series of podcasts, introducing all the recommended titles and providing insight into the working minds of the authors and their writing processes. W H Smith is selling special editions of the book club picks that contain added bonus content, including book club discussion points and author Q&As.