Costa Book Awards 2015

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The category shortlists were announced on 17 November and the individual category winners will be announced on 4 January: they each win £5,000. The overall winner (who will receive £30,000) will be announced on 26 January 2016.

Overall Winner

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

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Fans of Frances Hardinge will be familiar with the eerie, unreal atmosphere of her books. Mysteries lurk in the shadows, perplexing and sometimes menacing her characters, and the strange and the banal jostle each other for space on the page. A world both familiar and outlandish is offered to us, where once again a fallible but endearing heroine battles forces which threaten to overwhelm her at every turn. Full review...

Novel Award

Winner

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

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Teddy Todd never really expected to survive the war. As a bomber pilot it wasn't something which you could rely on and he certainly knew the statistics. But - against all the odds, he came through it, albeit with some time spent as a prisoner of war. On balance he had a good war, but time will see him married to Nancy, father to Viola and grandfather to Sunny and Bertie - and left with the feeling that it's more difficult to have a good peace than a good war. Full review...

Other Books on the Shortlist

The Green Road by Anne Enright

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The Green Road is the story of a family. If the author was anyone other than Anne Enright it would be stereotypically Irish, with all the boxes ticked: the boy who goes off to be a priest, the daughter who likes the bottle far too much, the son who does good works and the woman who stays back where she was born and marries a local man, the dead husband who was perhaps just a little bit beneath the wife who plays the grande dame and is perfect at being needy, whilst all the while maintaining that she needs nothing. But, of course, it is Anne Enright. Full review...

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

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In the early years of the 20th Century, Harry Cane is a man bound by duty and the constraints of society. Exiled to Canada, he finds himself amongst the barren landscapes and harsh winters, and encounters a happiness that is only threatened by the rapidly approaching war, and the machinations of an evil man. In his first real foray into historical fiction, Gale uses the Canadian plains as the backdrop to a stunning new novel. The characters leap off the page and dive well into the mind, making this not only on a par with his contemporary novels, but easily one of his finest. Full review...

At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison

First Novel Award

Winner

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

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It's always a privilege when you're given an advance reading copy of something – and a real 'block' when you read the small print that says 'not for resale or quotation'. Fair comment on the resale bit, but when you get something as brilliant as The Loney being required not to quote is just plain unfair. Full review...

Other Books on the Shortlist

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

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Every Tuesday he goes into town. This particular Tuesday he sees an advert for a rescue dog that's been badly treated by its previous owner. Somewhere the ad strikes a resonance and he adopts the dog, calling it Oneeye (yes, one word, just like that). Gradually over shared meals a friendship grows and develops over the seasons as the spill of spring turns to summer's simmer, through the falter of autumn and on to withering winter. Full review...

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

Things We Have In Common by Tasha Kavanagh

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Yasmin is fifteen and seriously overweight - her capacity for consuming food will amaze and sicken. She's bullied at school and even her own mother finds her just a little bit weird: let's not go into what her stepfather thinks about her. Her father died a while ago, but Yasmin has never really come to terms with his death and still has the feeling that everything would be OK if only Terry was still around. There's a girl in Yasmin's class called Alice and Yasmin is so in awe of her that she stalks her. One day, in the school playground, she spots a man watching Alice as carefully as she does and becomes obsessed by the idea that the man is going to abduct Alice. Full review...

Biography Award

Winner

The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science by Andrea Wulf

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Alexander von Humboldt was born in Berlin in 1769, the younger brother of Wilhelm von Humboldt who would become a Prussian minister but who is perhaps better remembered as a philosopher and linguist. The family was well-to-do and both brothers benefitted from an excellent education, although they lacked affection from their emotionally-distant widowed mother, but it was a legacy from her which would fund Alexander's first explorations. His first travels would be in Europe where he met and was influenced by people such as Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society, who had travelled with Thomas Cook. But it was his travels in Latin America which would lay the foundations for his life's work. Full review...

Other Books on the Shortlist

The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

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Think of iconic novels, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland will be near the top of your list. From the rabbit hole to the Mad Hatter's tea party and the Queen's cricket ground, Lewis Carroll's imagination has established itself firmly in Western cultural heritage: with a parade of characters ranging from the weird to the wonderful and a constant play with logic and language, Carroll's masterpiece has earned its place among classics. Full review...

The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding

John Aubrey: My Own Life by Ruth Scurr

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John Aubrey, the seventeenth-century antiquary, writer and archaeologist, occupies a peculiar, even unique place in English literature. When he died, the work for which he is most famous, 'Brief Lives', was a disorganised collection of manuscripts which remained unpublished for over a century. Only in the last hundred years or so has be become more widely recognised as an interesting character and perceptive commentator on society, scholarship and on his contemporaries during the post-restoration era. Full review...

Poetry Award

Winner

40 Sonnets by Don Paterson

Other Books on the Shortlist

Physical by Andrew McMillan

The Observances by Kate Miller

Talking Dead by Neil Rollinson


Children's Book Award

Winner

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

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Fans of Frances Hardinge will be familiar with the eerie, unreal atmosphere of her books. Mysteries lurk in the shadows, perplexing and sometimes menacing her characters, and the strange and the banal jostle each other for space on the page. A world both familiar and outlandish is offered to us, where once again a fallible but endearing heroine battles forces which threaten to overwhelm her at every turn. Full review...

Other Books on the Shortlist

Sophie Someone by Hayley Long

An Island of Our Own by Sally Nicholls

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Meet Holly. She lives, with her older brother and, er, shall we say demanding younger brother, in a flat above a London chippy. That's right – no parents around, as all three are orphans. Older brother Jonathan sacrificed uni to be their legal guardian, so is ostensibly their carer as well as sibling, which means that welfare and what he earns being a grease monkey in a corner café is all they live on. Times, therefore, are hard. But twelve year old Holly does have a straw to clutch on to – their eccentric aunt may have bequeathed them her antique jewellery collection. But what is going to make that a search for one exact straw in a haystack is that nobody knows where it may be… Full review...

Jessica's Ghost by Andrew Norriss

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