The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

Oh, will fictional parents never learn? Leaving your children behind in the charge of a new governess while you journey abroad almost never ends well. In the case of Willoughby (‘isn’t he the richest man in five counties?’ someone asks, not so innocently) it could cost him his life and his estate. You’d have thought a bit…

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

An arresting first two pages: a real-life dictator – who history tells us was not assassinated – is assassinated by a British woman at point-blank range in Germany in 1930. There is a jump-cut to 1910 and a baby is stillborn. Then another jump-cut and the same baby is born safely. She grows into a little girl,…

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

 Franklin Roosevelt did not win the 1940 presidential election and lead the US decisively into the Second World War following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 : instead, aviator and anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh triumphed, keeping the US out of the conflict while writing public billets-doux to Hitler. This is the premise of The Plot Against America, an utterly believable…