Alice O’Keeffe, Books Editor at The Bookseller, said: “Our shortlists this year took the judges from Georgian London to the Second World War to contemporary New York. There are books from exciting fresh voices at the very start of their career, contrasted with books from with well-established brand authors at the top of their game. These are the books that sum up 2018 but which, we think, will be read for years to come.”
The Book of Science and Antiquities
"It would be a crime to give away anything more, but the end of this beautiful novel made me cry. Jones writes with intelligence and a lively wit, but there’s more — a warmth that forces you to care about these people as if you had met them...."
— The Times
3 out of 5
And though at times the book seems like an Evelyn Waugh pastiche crossed with a Radio 4 comedy drama, complete with hilarious misunderstandings and some dodgy dialogue, Emmy is truly charming. When her upper lip finally wobbles, the reader’s will, too.
Several things look inevitable: that Emmy will be won over by a chap; that her sympathetic letter-writing will be Found Out, and that somebody important will get Horribly Biffed by Hitler.... In the end, the novel’s spirit is madly winning, and its foregrounding of wartime women seems spiffingly modern.
In her witty, deceptively simple debut, AJ Pearce conjures up a world of courage and perseverance that seems sadly alien to modern life in the West. Set during the London Blitz of the second World War, Dear Mrs Bird explores the never-say-die spirit of a nation dealing with death and destruction on a mass scale... The novel is excellently paced, with a superb escalation in the final section as Emmeline’s benevolence comes back to bite her. Having been thoroughly lulled into her world, we realise with a bang how much trouble she’s in. As the bombs continue to fall on a city still five years away from the end of the war, we fully understand that Emmeline is not the only one.