The next book to be featured on the Zoe Ball Radio 2 Book Club will be Tell Me How This Ends, the captivating debut novel by Jo Leevers. The book is released on 1 May and Jo will be on the show with Zoe on Tuesday 25 April.
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We have an exclusive extract available for you to read.
Tell Me How This Ends
Haunted by the past, Henrietta throws herself into a new job transcribing other people’s life stories, vowing to stick to the facts and keep emotions at arm’s length. But when she meets the eccentric and terminally ill Annie, she finds herself inextricably drawn in. And when Annie reveals that her sister drowned in unexplained circumstances in 1974, Henrietta’s methodical mind can’t help following the story’s loose ends…
Unlike Henrietta, Annie is brimming with confidence―but even she has limits when it comes to opening up. Ever since that terrible night when her sister left a pile of clothes beside the canal and vanished, Annie has been afraid to look too closely into the murky depths of her memories. When her attempts to glide over the past come up against Henrietta’s determination to fill in the gaps, both women find themselves confronting truths they’d thought were buried forever―especially when Henrietta’s digging unearths a surprising emotional connection between them.
Could unlocking Annie’s story help Henrietta rewrite the most devastating passages in her own life? And, in return, can she offer Annie a final twist in the tale, before it’s too late?
Selection panel review
The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK. Our readers loved Tell Me How This Ends – here are some of their comments:
“I thought this was a terrific book and totally suitable for discussion at a Book Club. Henrietta has recently started a job transcribing the Life Stories of the terminally ill. Despite initially liking the structure of the interviewing procedures, she soon realises not all lives fit the formula. She becomes intrigued by the life story of one client, Annie, whose sister Kath disappeared in December 1974. Knowing that with Annie nearing the end of her life time is short, Henrietta sets about investigating Kath’s disappearance. Although death and dying feature large in the book, it is not gloomy; genuinely more a celebration of life and an unspoken edict to make the most of our time and say what needs saying while we can. That in itself would be a good, life-affirming book, but coupled with an intriguing cold-case complete with plot twists, as well as quirky characters and incidents from the ‘Grief Café’, it makes for an excellent and engaging read. Really accessible and readable but plenty to discuss as well.”
“Loved the character Henrietta, an Eleanor Rigby of bereavement stories. Such a quirky idea with the lost souls finding themselves and Henrietta being able to unravel the mystery that has haunted Annie’s life. Enjoyed the story coming together from both their perspectives and having a conclusion that solved the story and its outcome. Three great if unconventional women characters, all so convincingly written you cared about them. This is a lovely read, not too taxing but satisfying in a way that only happens if the author gets us to care about her characters”
“An ultimately hopeful book, encouraging us to face our past and be able to move forward and enjoy our lives without regrets. You’ll find yourself rooting for these characters and falling a little bit in love with them.”
About the author
Jo Leevers grew up in London and has spent most of her career working on magazines, most recently writing features about homes and interiors for leading newspapers and magazines. This means she gets to visit people around the country and ask them about all the things in their homes. Some might call this a licence to be nosey…
Tell Me How This Ends is her debut. Whether writing fiction or interviewing people for articles, she is fascinated by the life stories that we all carry with us. She has two grown-up children and lives with her husband and their wayward dog, Lottie, in Bristol.
A word from Jo
“I couldn’t be happier that Tell Me How This Ends is a Radio 2 Book Club choice for spring 2023 – and I was even more delighted when I found out that librarians have a central role in choosing the books. The thought that people will be getting together to talk about my book’s themes, whether in the corner of their local library, online or around someone’s kitchen table, is exactly what I had dreamed of. Because, for me, the power of books lies in the way they connect us.
I’ve recently moved to a new city and I’ve been blown away by how active and welcoming my new local library is, but I’ve felt at home in libraries ever since I was little. I can still remember the day I graduated from the children’s library to the adult one upstairs – and the excitement of seeing row upon row of fresh books to discover!
Ironically, Henrietta, the main character in Tell Me How This Ends, is a self-confessed ‘failed librarian’. But to me, librarians are heroes. Countless times, books have made me feel ‘seen’, lifted me up or spirited me away to another world – and librarians have been my best guides. Long live libraries and the life-changing ways they bring us together to share stories and expand our horizons."
Tune in to the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show to hear the live feature on Tuesday 25 April. You can also listen to the full-length interview on BBC Sounds.
Have you read Tell Me How This Ends? You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #R2BookClub and you can also follow Jo.
Planning to buy Tell Me How This Ends for your group? Buy books from Hive or from Bookshop.org and support The Reading Agency and local bookshops at no extra cost to you.
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