American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Tinder Press) and Matt Haig's The Midnight Library (Canongate) are among the selections for Richard & Judy's Spring Book Club.
Kicking off Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan's spring collection is American Dirt, by New York author Cummins, which caused controversy on its US release over its portrayal of Mexico and migrants. Set in a Mexican city in the grip of a drugs cartel, friends become enemies overnight, and bookshop owner Lydia has no choice but to flee with young son Luca at her side. Madeley described the story as “a riproaring, fast-delivery, seat-of-the-pants piece of searing, thrilling, evocative writing”.
Playing Nice (Quercus), the new psychological thriller from J P Delaney, is the next recommended title. Introduced by Finnigan as a “glimpse into a ‘what if?’ land of nightmare”, this novel draws readers into psychological warfare between two very different fathers, as Pete Riley’s word is turned upside down by the devastating news that his son, Theo, was switched at birth.
The Holdout by New York Times bestselling novelist Graham Moore (Orion) also makes the cut. The gripping legal thriller begins 10 years after the end of a sensational murder trial in Los Angeles. Public and media opinion is outraged, and the jurors are named and shamed in the press. Madeley said: “As well as being a great story. The Holdout poses strong moral questions about the legal system: the way the odds of justice are heavily stacked against black defendants; the flaws of the jury system; and how a verdict, whether guilty or not guilty, is not necessarily a reflection of the truth.”
Returning to the Book Club for a second time is Haig with The Midnight Library which raises the ultimate question: with infinite choices, what is the best way to live? Transported to a library at the stroke of midnight on her last day on earth, Nora is about to find out. Finnigan described it as “a spellbinding tale”.
The Sight of You from debut author Holly Miller (Hodder) also makes the club. Two very different souls, Joel and Callie, both need a reason to start living for today and from the moment they meet it feels like the start of something life-changing. Finnigan said: “You’ll want to read it all over again. It’s mesmerising”.
Concluding the Spring Book Club collection is The Recovery of Rose Gold (Michael Joseph), a disturbing story of a twisted mother/daughter relationship by Stephanie Wrobel. As Rose Gold recovers from a childhood dominated by doctors and hospitals, can she truly reconcile with mother Patty who is finally free after serving time for her crimes? Finnigan describes the tale as “dazzlingly dark”, adding that it is “a genuinely fresh and original take on the domestic psychological thriller genre”.
In addition to this season’s club, the TV duo's Search for a Bestseller winning title, Happy Families by debut author Julie Ma (Welbeck), launches alongside their latest collection. The Chinese takeaway owner from west Wales won the competition with her novel about three generations of a Chinese immigrant family in rural Wales. In Ma’s words, it is about “people you never get to read about, set in a place you don’t often read about”. Madeley described Ma as “a rare find”, adding “it’s a wonderful story and she’s such a talented writer”.
W H Smith customers can enjoy exclusive special editions of the recommended titles from the Richard and Judy Book Club featuring bonus content, including book club discussion points, author Q&As and more recommended reads.
The pair will be returning with their podcast for a new season to celebrate the Spring Book Club titles and authors. The weekly episodes see the hosts joined by the authors and a host of celebrity guests, including Giovanna Fletcher, Louise Pentland and Clare Balding. The latest episodes in the new podcast series will be available weekly from 4th March.