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Radio 2 Book Club - A Bird in Winter

The next book to be featured on the Zoe Ball Radio 2 Book Club will be A Bird in Winter, the nail-bitingly tense new thriller by bestselling author Louise Doughty. The book was released on 31 August and Louise will be on the show with Zoe on Tuesday 26 September.

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A Bird in Winter

Bird is a woman on the run. One minute, she’s in a meeting in her office in Birmingham – the next, she’s walking out on her job, her home, her life. It’s a day she thought might come, and one she’s prepared for – but nothing could prepare her for what will happen next. As she flees north using multiple disguises, Bird has to work out who exactly is on her trail, and who – if anyone – she can trust. Like many people, she has fantasised about escape for a long time, but now it’s actually happening. Is her greatest fear that she will be hunted down, or that she will never be found?

Selection panel review

The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK. Our readers loved A Bird in Winter – here are some of their comments:

“A thrilling female spy novel that had me on the edge of my seat. Bird, AKA Heather, works for a UK security agency and something has gone wrong. She starts the book on the run and with an impressive ferocity and speed escapes in the wilds. You follow her as she runs from everyone with secret agent skills you never thought were possible and I often looked forward to seeing what she would do next as it seemed almost like magic. On the way you learn about her childhood, that her father was in the same industry, her distant relationship with her mother, her younger twin brothers and occasional girlfriend. This is all before you figure out what she’s running from in the first place! I’ve read a few Louise Doughty books before and she had a talent for weaving a story together that doesn’t let you go. As fast-paced as it is interesting and a puzzle you’re dying to solve it keeps you guessing all the way to the end.”

“Loved this – a great thriller set in the world of UK intelligence with, unusually for this genre, a great female protagonist. Heather is ex-army and has been recruited by the secret service, following the career of her late father. She’s been sent to a new unit in Birmingham that has been set up to uncover corrupt intelligence officers and the book starts with her on the run as a result of something that has happened in her professional life. This is a great read, fast paced and well written with a likeable central character that you’re really invested in as a reader.”

“This book is so not my usual read and if I had passed it over in the library or bookshop because it didn’t appeal to me I’d be an idiot! At first I wasn’t sure what type of book this was going to be, why was she doing a flit in the middle of a meeting…? Then we flipped back in time to learn more about Heather and to bring us up to speed with the main story. By then I was hooked and I found it really hard to put the book down. At the end I was torn between racing through the story to see how it was going to end and reading it really carefully to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. It is a modern spy thriller with a plot that keeps moving rather than bogging down in minute details. I’ll be looking at her previous novels now!”

About the author

Louise Doughty’s novels include Platform Seven, recently filmed for a major TV series; Black Water, A New York Times Notable Book of the Year,; the bestseller Apple Tree Yard, which was adapted for BBC One; and Whatever You Love, nominated for the Costa Novel Award and the Women’s Prize for Fiction. She has been nominated for many other prizes including the Sunday Times Short Story Prize and the CWA Silver Dagger, along with creating and writing the hit BBC drama Crossfire. Her work has been translated into thirty languages. She lives in London.

A word from Louise

“I’m truly delighted that A Bird in Winter has been chosen for the Radio 2 Book Club. I would never have become a novelist without my local library. I grew up in a small town in the East Midlands where the library was an essential part of the high street and I went there as often as I could – it was either that or a bus shelter, and the library had friendly staff and warm seats and above all, free books! I couldn’t believe my luck. I started with CS Lewis and Ursula Le Guin then worked my way through the classics and the old Gollancz yellow hardback science fiction titles. I browsed endlessly, sank into a chair and let hour after hour go past. Coming from a home with very few books in it, and being something of a loner and a geek at school, the library was a sanctuary.

It’s an immense thrill to think that A Bird in Winter, my tenth novel, will be making its way into libraries soon. It’s a story about a woman nicknamed ‘Bird’ who goes on the run, fleeing from a nondescript office block in Birmingham to Scotland, Norway Iceland… her reasons for fleeing are multiple – some very dodgy people are on her tail – but I’ve no doubt that her journey began in a one-storey, redbrick building in the East Midlands, where a shy, bookish girl slumped in a corner and opened a book."

Get involved

Tune in to the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show to hear the live feature on 26 September. You can also listen to the full-length interview on BBC Sounds.

Have you read A Bird in Winter? Or any other books by Louise? You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #R2BookClub and you can also follow Louise.

Planning to buy A Bird in Winter for your group? Buy books from Hive or from and support The Reading Agency and local bookshops at no extra cost to you.

Want to make sure you get the latest news? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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