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A MAN OF HONOUR Barbara Taylor Bradford (HarperCollins £7.99, 448 pp)

A MAN OF HONOUR

by Barbara Taylor Bradford (HarperCollins £7.99, 448 pp)

Fans of A Woman Of Substance — and who isn’t? — will thrill at the prospect of a prequel to the 1979 opus charting the rags-to-riches rise of the indomitable Emma Harte.

This is the story of charismatic Irishman ‘Blackie’ O’Neill, one of the two main men in Emma’s life. He too overcome hardship to become wealthy and successful. Blackie, a little orphan from County Kerry, is still a childless man at the beginning of the 20th century. His big break was a move to Leeds, where he worked for his uncle.

The bustling northern city abounds in opportunities and Blackie soon discovers his talents as a builder as well as his power over women but, as the title suggests, he’s one of nature’s gentlemen.

Actual gentlemen are the subject of a somewhat meandering aristocratic subplot, but there’s plenty of period Yorkshire flavour and all is forgiven once Emma appears and the story really takes off.

A HAUNTING AT HOLKHAM by Anne Glenconner (Hodder £16.79, 352 pp)

A HAUNTING AT HOLKHAM Anne Glenconner (Hodder £16.79, 352 pp)

A HAUNTING AT HOLKHAM

by Anne Glenconner (Hodder £16.79, 352 pp)

Lady Glenconner, the Lady In Waiting autobiography author, has turned her hand towards fiction. Her latest novel explores more personal territory.

The author was born at Holkham Hall as the daughter of the 5th Earl. She plays herself as the main character in this engaging, well-plotted story. A ghost, missing diamonds, and a sadistic governess all combine to cause trouble.

The action flits between Holkham in wartime, with the child Anne in the grip of the cruel Miss Crane, and 1950 with 18-year-old Anne’s coming-out ball at the Hall.

The chapters with the helpless child, and the horrible governesses are both sad and disturbing. But the mystery’s denouement at the dance makes a glamorous and dramatic conclusion.

THE STRANGER IN THE LIFEBOAT by Mitch Albom (Sphere £14.99, 288 pp)

THE STRANGER IN THE LIFEBOAT by Mitch Albom (Sphere £14.99, 288 pp)

THE STRANGER IN THE LIFEBOAT

by Mitch Albom (Sphere £14.99, 288 pp)

In this mysterious mash-up Jaws, Titanic, and The Ancient Mariner collide, where a huge luxury yacht filled with celebrities has sunk. Ten survivors have climbed onto a liferaft surrounded by sharks, and they are now 11 when a mysterious stranger is pulled from deep sea.

He declares that he is the Lord and miracles occur but nine of the ten people who are affected by them perish anyway. Benji, who is the narrator of the story, keeps a journal of events at sea.

This is in addition with the police investigations at land once the empty vessel is found. But how reliable is Benji as a witness to what has occurred?

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