Book Club under threat from move to television hell

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The Independent Culture

As the 10 titles chosen to make up the Richard and Judy Book Club 2009 shortlist are unveiled, organisers are playing down suggestions that the scarcity of people who followed Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan from their Channel 4 tea-time slot to the digital UKTV channel Watch will damage the Book Club image.

Their audience has slumped to as little as 12,000 viewers, despite the show attracting guests such as the actors Helen Mirren and Samuel L Jackson.

"People will be attracted to the Book Club whether they watch or not," said a Channel 4 spokeswoman. "As far as Richard and Judy are concerned, it will have no effect."

So far, the book industry is keeping faith, said Graeme Neill of The Bookseller. "The trade talk is that Richard and Judy remain a strong driver for sales, and that it is not necessarily due to the show but the experience of people going in to the bookshop and seeing the Book Club sticker on the book itself," he said.

Richard and Judy's 2009 selection

*The Brutal Art

Jesse Kellerman

The story of a New York gallery owner who uncovers a collection of disturbing works by a missing artist.

*The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

Kate Summerscale

The former literary editor of The Daily Telegraph has already won the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction with this dazzling retelling of one of Victorian Britain's most chilling child murders.

*The Gargoyle

Andrew Davidson

A disfigured car crash victim is taken through a haunting tour of 14th-century Germany via Dante's Inferno by a mysterious hospital visitor.

*When Will There Be Good News?

Kate Atkinson

The third of the Jackson Brodie novels sees Atkinson continue in the crime thriller vein with copious acts of random violence and a style of break-neck narrative.

*The 19th Wife

David Ebershoff

The Ivy League creative writing teacher David Ebershoff produces narrative pyrotechnics in his third novel entwining a murder story set against the background of multiple marriages in modern Utah.

*The Bolter

Frances Osborne

The life of Edwardian high-society girl Idina Sackville as recalled by a great-granddaughter and wife of the shadow Chancellor.


Joseph O'Neill

Chronicles the determined though ultimately tragic efforts of Chuck Ramkissoon to turn New York on to cricket.

*The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite

Beatrice Colin

The tale of Lilly Aphrodite, a star of Germany's silent film industry, which shocked Hollywood and delighted the rest of the world with its candid sexuality and cinematic brilliance.


Elizabeth H Winthrop

A family struggles with a gifted child who does not speak. Winthrop gets inside the world of an extraordinary young girl as she deals with her father's determination to force her into voice.

*The Cellist of Sarajevo

Steven Galloway

A retelling of the legend of Vedran Smailovic, who defied snipers and inspired Pavarotti by playing for 22 days during the siege of the Bosnian city.