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BBC Two - Between the Covers

This autumn BBC Two's Between the Covers returns to our screens, hosted by Sara Cox. The programme in its third season will feature a big book of 2021 alongside a newly published title, guaranteed to keep you inspired and entertained.

Between the Covers brings together some of the nation's best-known authors and celebrity guests to celebrate the books they love. Each week, her guests reveal their favourite books of all time and features some of the most anticipated publications.

Catch up on all the episodes available on BBC iPlayer.

Featured on Series 3, Episode 6 on Wednesday 15th December

Sara is joined by Radio 1 DJ Greg James, actor Imogen Stubbs, singer Fleur East and comedian Lloyd Griffith. They share their favourite books and review this week’s two book club choices: the new book pick, Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo, and the Booker backlist gem, The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry.

The Secret Scripture : A BBC2 'Between the Covers' Booker Gem 2021 - Sebastian Barry

Nearing her one-hundredth birthday, Roseanne McNulty faces an uncertain future, as the Roscommon Regional Mental hospital where she's spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure.

Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks often with her psychiatrist Dr Grene, and their relationship intensifies and complicates. Told through their respective journals, the story that emerges is at once shocking and deeply beautiful.

Refracted through the haze of memory and retelling, Roseanne's story becomes an alternative, secret history of Ireland's changing character and the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope.



Featured on Series 3, Episode 5 on Wednesday 8th December

Sara Cox is joined by Texas frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri, TV chef and judge Prue Leith, comedian Jason Forbes and Ghosts star Ben Willbond. They share their favourite books and review this week’s two book club choices: the new book pick, Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, and the Booker backlist gem, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.

Fingersmith : A BBC 2 Between the Covers Book Club Pick - Booker Prize Shortlisted - Sarah Waters

The book that inspired Park Chan-wook's astonishing film The Handmaiden.

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize

London 1862. Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves - fingersmiths - under the rough but loving care of Mrs Sucksby and her 'family'.

But from the moment she draws breath, Sue's fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away.


Featured on Series 3, Episode 4 on Wednesday 1st December

Sara is joined by four brilliant comedians, Alan Davies, Sarah Kendall, Iain Stirling and Suzi Ruffell. They share their favourite books and review this week’s two book club choices: the new book pick, Ascension by Oliver Harris, and the Booker backlist gem, The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng.

The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng

Teoh Yun Ling was seventeen years old when she first heard about Aritomo and the garden. But a war would come to Malaya, and a decade pass before she would travel to see him. A man of extraordinary skill and reputation, Aritomo was once the gardener for the Emperor of Japan, and now Yun Ling needs him.

She needs him to help her build a memorial to her beloved sister, killed at the hands of the Japanese. She wants to learn everything Aritomo can teach her, and do her sister proud, but to do so she must also begin a journey into her own past, a past inextricably linked with the secrets of her troubled country. A story of art, war, love and memory, The Garden of Evening Mists captures a dark moment in history with richness, power and incredible beauty.



Featured on Series 3, Episode 3 on Wednesday 24th November

Sara is joined by actors Ben Miller and Kacey Ainsworth, TV judge Rob Rinder and comedian Sindhu Vee. They share their favourite books and review this week’s two book club choices: the new book pick, Still Life by Sarah Winman, and the Booker backlist gem, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.

Still Life - Sarah Winman

1944, in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, as bombs fall around them, two strangers meet and share an extraordinary evening. Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier, Evelyn Skinner is a sexagenarian art historian and possible spy. She has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the wreckage and relive memories of the time she encountered EM Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid in a particular Florentine room with a view.

Evelyn's talk of truth and beauty plants a seed in Ulysses' mind that will shape the trajectory of his life - and of those who love him - for the next four decades.

Moving from the Tuscan Hills and piazzas of Florence, to the smog of London's East End, Still Life is a sweeping, joyful novel about beauty, love, family and fate.



Exit West : A BBC 2 Between the Covers Book Club Pick - Booker Prize Gems - Mohsin Hamid

All over the world, doors are appearing. They lead to other cities, other countries, other lives. And in a city gripped by war, Nadia and Saeed are newly in love.

Hardly more than strangers, desperate to survive, they open a door and step through. But the doors only go one way. Once you leave, there is no going back.

Coming soon as a major Netflix film - produced by Michelle and Barack Obama and starring Riz Ahmed.



Featured on Series 3, Episode 2 on Wednesday 17th November

Sara is joined by Cold Feet star John Thomson, comedians Fern Brady and Lou Sanders and Saturday Kitchen’s wine guru Olly Smith.

They share their favourite books and review this week’s two book club choices: the new book pick, The Coward by Jarred McGinnis, and Booker backlist gem The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald.

The Coward - Jarred McGinnis

Question: What's worse than being in a wheelchair? Answer: Being a f**k-up in a wheelchair. After a car accident Jarred discovers he'll never walk again. Confined to a 'giant roller-skate', he finds himself with neither money nor job.

Worse still, he's forced to live back home with the father he hasn't spoken to in ten years. Add in a shoplifting habit, an addiction to painkillers and the fact that total strangers now treat him like he's an idiot, it's a recipe for self-destruction. How can he stop himself careering out of control? As he tries to piece his life together again, he looks back over his past - the tragedy that blasted his family apart, why he ran away, the damage he's caused himself and others - and starts to wonder whether, maybe, things don't always have to stay broken after all.

The Coward is about hurt and forgiveness. It's about how the world treats disabled people. And it's about how we write and rewrite the stories we tell ourselves about our lives - and try to find a happy ending.



The Bookshop - Penelope Fitzgerald

In a small East Anglian town, Florence Green decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop. Hardborough becomes a battleground.

Florence has tried to change the way things have always been done, and as a result, she has to take on not only the people who have made themselves important, but natural and even supernatural forces too. Her fate will strike a chord with anyone who knows that life has treated them with less than justice.



Featured on Series 3, Episode 1 on Wednesday 10th November

Sara Cox returns for a third series of the show that celebrates the joy of books and reading.

Sara is joined by Silent Witness star Emilia Fox, comedians Dane Baptiste and Andy Parsons and Harry Potter actor Evanna Lynch. They share their favourite books and review this week’s two book club picks.

Sorrow and Bliss : Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2022 - Meg Mason

Everyone tells Martha Friel she is clever and beautiful, a brilliant writer who has been loved every day of her adult life by one man, her husband Patrick. A gift, her mother once said, not everybody gets.

So why is everything broken? Why is Martha - on the edge of 40 - friendless, practically jobless and so often sad? And why did Patrick decide to leave? Maybe she is just too sensitive, someone who finds it harder to be alive than most people. Or maybe - as she has long believed - there is something wrong with her. Something that broke when a little bomb went off in her brain, at 17, and left her changed in a way that no doctor or therapist has ever been able to explain.

Forced to return to her childhood home to live with her dysfunctional, bohemian parents (but without the help of her devoted, foul-mouthed sister Ingrid), Martha has one last chance to find out whether a life is ever too broken to fix - or whether, maybe, by starting over, she will get to write a better ending for herself.



Good Behaviour : A BBC 2 Between the Covers Book Club Pick - Booker Prize Gems - Molly Keane

I do know how to behave - believe me, because I know.

I have always known . . .

Behind the gates of Temple Alice, the aristocratic Anglo-Irish St Charles family sinks into a state of decaying grace. To Aroon St Charles, large and unlovely daughter of the house, the fierce forces of sex, money, jealousy and love seem locked out by the ritual patterns of good behaviour. But crumbling codes of conduct cannot hope to save the members of the St Charles family from their own unruly and inadmissible desires.

This elegant and allusive novel established Molly Keane as the natural successor to Jean Rhys.



Upcoming books featured in Series 3  |  View All

Discover the books featured in Series 2  |  View All

Discover the books featured in Series 1  |  View All