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MADAME BUROVA by Ruth Hogan (Two Roads £12.99, 304 pp)

MADAME BUROVA

by Ruth Hogan (Two Roads £12.99, 304 pp)

Billie’s father has died and left a letter with shock news. She is adopted and must contact a fortune-teller for more information.

The bemused Billie thus enters the wonderful Brighton world of Madame Burova. The story starts to switch between now and the 1970s, when young Imelda Burova read the tarot at a holiday park.

She fell in love with a daredevil stunt rider, but she wasn’t the only one. Were any of these people Billie’s real parents?

Hogan loves offbeat and marginalised characters and so it’s a typically kooky cast of seafront regulars: 1970s entertainers, Romany card-readers and various rescue dogs who help Billie crack the mystery of her past.

The ‘Queen of Uplit’ returns brilliantly to form with this gloriously good-natured novel.

THE BEST THINGS 

by Mel Giedroyc (Headline £12.99, 432 pp)

This funny riches-to-rags tale is the TV presenter’s first novel. Wife of a wealthy hedge-funder and mistress of an all-white mansion, Sally Parker would seem to have everything. But money hasn’t made her happy.

Her house is too big, her staff rip her off, her children are spoilt and lazy and the other rich wives are bitchy.

So while it’s a shock when the cash runs out, it’s also a relief. From being imprisoned by wealth, Sally is freed by poverty and gains a new sense of self-worth.

Stripped of status and smartphones, her husband and children are similarly obliged to reassess. In the end, family is what matters. A warm contemporary fable bursting with colourful characters and comic energy.

THE FREQUENCY OF US by Keith Stuart (Sphere £14.99, 416pp)

THE FREQUENCY OF US

by Keith Stuart (Sphere £14.99, 416pp)

Heroine Laura has dropped out of university, failed in London and moved back to Bath. As a last resort she takes a job as carer to cantankerous octogenarian Will.

He draws her into a mystery unsolved since World War II, when a bomb fell on his house — or did it?

At any rate, Will’s wife Elsa disappeared then, but everyone else thinks she never existed.

Has Will imagined it all? Can Laura piece the story together before he’s shunted into a care home?

There’s more than one universe going on, which I found hard to follow at times. But the romance is heartstopping, Laura’s detective work is riveting and there’s loads of fantastic period detail.

Gorgeous red-haired Elsa is a brave and brilliant character who deserves a whole book to herself. Over to you, Mr Stuart . . .

To buy any book reviewed here, visit mailshop.co.uk/ books or call 020 3308 9193 

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