Books: Recommended

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The Independent Culture
A Place of Fallen Leaves by Tim Pears, Hamish Hamilton, pounds 14.99. Unusually strong debut novel set in a sleepy Devon village. Review by Kate Bassett, 27 March.

Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills, Simon & Schuster, pounds 17.99. A perceptive and impressive examination of the implications of one of the most famous speeches in American history. Review by Godfrey Hodgson, 20 March.

The Palace of Dreams by Ismail Kadare, Tr. Barbara Bray, Harvill, pounds 7.99. Acute allegory of totalitarian life by an Albanian novelist, set in a ministry devoted to the classification of dreams. Winner of the Independent foreign fiction award for January / February. Review by Robert Winder, 25 February.

The Oracle at Stoneleigh Court by Peter Taylor, Chatto, pounds 14.99. Haunting stories imbued with the lost grandeur of the American South. Review by D J Taylor, 13 March.

Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories by Jenny Uglow, Faber, pounds 20. Charlotte Bronte's biographer gets a fine treatment of her own in this readable and rigorous life. Review by Sue Gaisford, 6 February.

The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt, Hodder & Stoughton, pounds 8.99. Elegantly written first novel about a young woman's traumatic life in New York. Review by Justine Picardie, 13 February.

Sentimental Journeys by Joan Didion, HarperCollins, pounds 15. Clever and singular musings on the heart and mind of America, from the Sixties to the present day. Review by Natasha Walter, 30 January.

Swing hammer swing] by Jeff Torrington, Secker & Warburg, pounds 8.99. Deep and affecting novel about life on the streets of Glasgow, by a 57-year-old newcomer, and winner of this year's Whitbread Book of the Year Prize. Interview by Marianne Brace, 30 January.

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