This page is intended to give general news about books that we hope will be of interest to our customers, eg books that have won prizes, forthcoming titles, new books that look particularly good to us, and books whose publication date has been brought forward and therefore do not appear in our current online catalogue.
April Book News
Just confirmed that Dinah Jefferies' new sweeping story of love and betrayal, The Sapphire Widow, will be published as a paperback original on 5th April. Reserve your copy now! Dinah needs no introduction to our customers - as the author of The Separation, the bestselling The Tea Planter's Wife, The Silk Merchant's Daughter and Before the Rains, she is already a firm favourite.
And still they come.....
Spring is in the air?
Some of the new garden and gardening books published so far this month. More to come!
One of the most eagerly-awaited books this month is by investigative journalist Tom Bower: Rebel Prince - The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles. The jacket itself suggests a controversial book. We are attending a private talk by the author and we will be able to get him to sign copies of his book, so if you would like one, please let us know by 27th March.
Also due this month is a young teenage title from a local author, M J Dermott, who lives in Gloucester. Time Passages involves two boys on a search for the jewels that were laid on the coffin of Edward II at his funeral in Gloucester Cathedral. Their search coincides with filming in the Cathedral and soon the boys find themselves on a fantasy adventure. Sounds interesting.
Another new book we are awaiting is The Ritz and the Ditch, a memoir by Diana Holderness. Although the author's glamorous parents hunted with The Prince of Wales, the family fortunes fluctuated wildly. They preferred these extremes, saying they liked "the Ritz and the ditch". In 1947, Diana married Richard Wood, the youngest son of Lord Halifax, formerly Viceroy of India, Foreign Secretary, and wartime Ambassador to Washington. Richard was elected MP for Bridlington in 1950 and held ministerial office under three Conservative leaders. Diana provides an insider's view of the Wood family, but ultimately it is her own personality that shines through. Spry, outspoken and enterprising, these qualities make for a lively read.
Another fascinating book we're looking forward to receiving is The Quest for Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy, edited by Hugo Vickers. Pope-Hennessy was commissioned to write the official biography of Queen Mary after her death in 1953. He kept a private and confidential file recording in considerable detail the conversations he had both with Queen Mary's immediate descendants, related German, Danish and Norwegian royalty and with surviving members of the Court of King Geroge V and Queen Mary. These notes have never been published before. Hugo Vickers introduces the figures the Pope-Hennessy interviewed and adds footnotes to place certain figures and events in context. An important addition to serious royal biographies.
Our highlights of the month include:
FICTION: Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh, the best-selling author of the psychological thrillers I Let You Go and I See You.
South Atlantic Requiem by Edward Wilson, a fine exponent of the spy thriller who we consider should be better known.
Panic Room by Robert Goddard.
FICTION PAPERBACK: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce, highly rated by us - the author is best known for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS: Not the Whole Story: A Memoir - Angela Huth
Rebel Prince: The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles by Tom Bower
In Byron's Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron's Wife and Daughter Annabella Milbanke and Ada Lovelace by Miranda Seymour.
CURRENT AFFAIRS: Divided: Why We're Living in an Age of Walls by Tim Marshall, who wrote the phenomenally successful Prisoners of Geography.
HISTORY: Our Uninvited Guests: The Secret Lives of Britain's Country Houses 1939-45 by Julie Summers.
Left Bank: Art, Passion and the Rebirth of Paris 1940-1950 by Agnes Poirier.
Gimson's Prime Ministers: Brief Lives from Walpole to May by Andrew Gimson.
Pearls Before Poppies: The Story of the Red Cross Pearls by Rachel Trethewey.
MILITARY: MI5 and Me: A Coronet among the Spooks by Charlotte Bingham, whose father was the model for le Carre's George Smiley.
The Saboteur: The Adventures of the Gentleman Commando who took on the NAzis by Paul Kix. In the vein of Agent Zigzag and the Scarlet Pimpernel.
SOE Heroines: The Special Operations Executive's French Section and Free French Women Agents by Bernard O'Connor.
ART: Two artists dominate this month, Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso:
Leonardo: A Restless Genius by Antonio Forcellino
Living with Leonardo: Fifty Years of Sanity and Insanity in the Art World and Beyond by Martin Kemp
Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy edited by Achim Borchardt-Hume, which accompanies the first solo show of Picasso's work at Tate Modern.
Picasso: An Intimate Portrait by Olivier Widmaier Picasso, a biography of the artist's grandson.
PERFORMING ARTS: Year of the Mad King: The Lear Diaries by Antony Sher.
HOMES AND INTERIORS: Secret Houses of the Cotswolds by Jeremy Musson, with photographs by Hugo Rittson Thomas.
A Slice of England: The Story of Four Houses by India Hicks, in which she describes her family's homes and her own new house in the Cotswolds.
Raynham Hall: An English Country House Revealed by Michael Ridgdill.
Stowe House: Saving an Architectural Masterpiece by Nick Morris.
GARDENS AND GARDENING: The NGS Garden Visitor's Handbook 2018 (The Yellow Book).
Peonies: Beautiful Varieties for Home and Garden by Jane Eastoe.
Shades of Green: My Life as the National Trust's Head of Gardens by John Sales.
Double Flowers: The Remarkable Story of Extra-Petelled Blooms by Nicola Ferguson.
Gardens of the Alhambra by Maria del Mar Villafranca-Jimenez.
Paradise Gardens: A Journey from India and Turkey to Morocco and Spain by Monty Don and Derry Moore, which accompanies the TV series shown in January.
NATURAL WORLD: The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood by John Lewis-Stempel.
The Long Spring: Tracking the Arrival of Spring through Europe by Laurence Rose.
Orchid Summer: In Search of the Wildest Flowers of the British Isles by Jon Dunn.
SCIENCE: New Scientist: The Origin of (Almost) Everything.
PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION: Waiting for the Last Bus: Reflections on Life and Death by Richard Holloway.
Being Human: Bodies, Minds, Persons by Rowan Williams.
FOOD AND DRINK: Well Seasoned: Exploring, Cooking and Eating with the Seasons by Russell Brown and Jonathan Haley.
River Cottage Handbook No 16: Cheese and Dairy by Steven Lamb.
Venice: Four Seasons of Home Cooking by Russell Norman.
EQUINE: Remarkable Racecourses by Tom Peacock.
The Girl on the Dancing Horse by Charlotte Dujardin.
The Jumping Game: How National Hunt Trainers Work and What Makes them Tick by Henrietta Knight.
Happy New Year - and Happy New Year's reading!
You've heard the hype, now read the books! The first three titles in the new Ladybird Expert series are available: Climate Change by HRH The Prince of Wales, Tony Juniper and Emily Shuckburgh, Evolution by Steve Jones and Quantum Mechanics by Jim Al-Khalili. £7.99 each.
Our vote for the most attractive jacket of the year so far goes to The January Man: A Year of Walking Britain by Christopher Somerville, a beautifully written account of the British countryside. It is the story of a year of walks inspired by a song and following routes that continually bring the author's late father to mind. What do you think of the jacket?
If you want to grow the perfect vegetables, we may well have the perfect book for you! Charles Dowding's Vegetable Garden Diary is now in stock, priced £14.95. It is both a journal with a perpetual diary and a manual of gardening to inform and inspired, and it is packed with illustrations. The author is a pioneer of organic and no-dig growing, and of growing/picking/marketing salad leaves. How could you possibly go wrong?
We only heard about the following two books just before Christmas and we now have stock of them. Terms and Conditions: Life in Girls' Boarding-Schools 1939-1979 by Ysenda Maxtone Graham is "the funniest book you'll read all year" according to Nicola Shulman. And she's not alone in that verdict, it had rave reviews in Country Life and elsewhere and we sold out before Christmas such was the demand. Read about harsh matrons, freezing dormitories and appalling food, although at some schools you could take your pony with you and occasionally these eccentric establishments imbued in their pupils a lifetime love of the arts and a thirst for self-education. We now have more copies.
Also well reviewed in Country Life was Wind in my Hair: A Kaleidoscope of Memories by Josephine Loewenstein. According to Hugo Vickers, "Josephine Loewenstein has lived most of her life in the whirlwind wake of husband Rupert, amidst high society, the Rolling Stones, royalty and the fast lane of the 20th century. But here is a surprisingly dispassionate and acute observer of this passing show, by no means mesmerised or dazzled by it. There is a lot to read between the lines." This is a beautifully produced book.
We are great fans of Little Toller, an independent publisher of nature writing. Their most recent offerings are particularly appealing, two new titles and two reissues. Snow by Marcus Sedgwick is a lovely meditation on the subject, exploring the art, literature and science of snow alongside the author's own experiences and memories. It has been chosen as Book of the Week on Radion 4 starting on Boxing Day. A delightful gift or stocking filler for Christmas. Arboreal is a more substantial enterprise edited by Adrian Cooper, being a collection of new woodland writing from across the British Isles which gathers a variety of voices - noveleists, teachers, ecologists, poets, artists, architects and foresters - to explore why woods still matter and mean so much. The reissues are The Tree by John Fowles, with a foreword by William Fiennes, a classic blend of autobiography, literary criticism, philosophy and nature writing from the acclaimed novelist; and Country Matters by Clare Leighton, with an introduction by Kate Adie, which documents the idiosyncracies and nuances of rural culture in the 1930s, from picking primroses and felling trees to the local pub and the harvest festival. It is a valuable and beautiful record of a way of life that has now vanished. The book is illustrated with the author's own charming wood engravings.
We now have stock of two new books advertised in this month's Cotswold Times. One is The Richardsons at Chastleton by Martin J Elson. It charts the life and times of the Richardson family during the early 20th century when they regarded Chastleton as their home. The price is £9.99. The other is a mystery crime novel set in a remote English manor house, Countess Lucy and the Curse of Coberley Hall by Guy Sheppard from Cheltenham. This is £8.99.
The work of artist Josephone Trotter is celebrated in a new book of the same name. She has had twenty-two solo exhibitions in London galleries, exhibiting many times at New Grafton Gallery and Connaught Brown, showing with Jenny Blyth Fine Art at The Gallery in Cork Street, Ebury Galleries and Gallery 8. She is an artist in the tradition of modern Post-Impressionist painting. £35.00.
One of our favourite Christmas books is Tidings: A Christmas Journey by Ruth Padel, a series of Christmas poems. In the tradition of Charles Dickens and Dylan Thomas, it takes one on a journey into the heart of Christmas, describing celebrations down the ages and across the globe. This is Christmas in all its magic, reminding us that it is a time not only of good tidings, but of loneliness and longing, compassions and connection. There are a few (too few?) beautiful illustrations, but above all it is a poem to be read out loud £9.99.
Remember Can It Be True? a couple of years ago, an absolutely charming Nativity book from Susan Hill's publishing company? This year she has produced an equally lovely book, The Dream Quilt by Adele Geras, with illustrations by Valerie Greeley. It is not as specifically Christmassy as Can It Be True?, but it is still a delightful gift book or stocking filler.
A fascinating story is told by Kathy Fraser in her new book For the Love of a Highland Home: The Fraser brothers' Indian Quest. It traces the early 19th century struggle of five Fraser brothers to save their father's inpoverished estate in the Scottish Highlands. Their experiences in Guyana and India take place during turbulent times - the Napoleonic Wars, the anti-slavery movement, the decline of the Mughal Empire, the Anglo-Nepal war and changing patterns of life in the post-Culloden Highlands. Against this dramatic background, the book documents the lives of the family at home as well as the adventures of the brothers, drawing extensively on diaries and the copious letters between the boys and their parents in Scotland. Only one brother comes home, making the preservation of the hundreds of letters, which travelled halfway round the world and back again, even more remarkable. The book has a foreword by William Dalrymple. Priced at £22.50, this book is now in stock.
If you fancy a 300-mile romp through farm, field and English history with two Canadians as your guides, try Walking to Camelot: A Pilgrimage through the Heart of Rural England by John A Cherington. And yes, ite covers the Cotswolds. Royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Support. £11.99.
Two Owls at Eton was written by Jonathan Franklin while stil at school.Originally published in 1960, a month before he left Eton, it was serialised in the LondonEvening Standard, and in 2010 Country Life listed it as one of its five best nature books. It has now been updated by the author to tell the end of this extraordinary story. £9.99.
If you're looking for a really classy gift for a 5-8 year old who loves animal stories, then look no further than Greatest Animal Stories chosen by Michael Morpurgo. They come from all over the world and they are beautifully illustrated in colour. £14.99.
My intention is to keep this page up-to-date with details of less mainstream books which we consider to be of special interest and merit. I will try not to let you down! In addition to Clearing the Airways by local veterinary surgeon Jeffrey Brain mentioned on the Home page, there are:
The Gun Smoke Still Lingers.....memories through India, Jordan and beyond..... is a wonderful memoir from Ann O'Neill, her life moving from its early beginnings in a pre-independent Indian subcontinent to her travels in and long experience of the Middle East.
The Art of Simon Palmer is a magnificent retrospective of one of Britain's leading watercolour artists, who exhibits regularly in London and is represented in many private collections in the UK and abroad. His subject is his chosen home of North Yorkshire and he draws a spiritual connection from the land in a specific place.
Give Me Your Painting Hand: W S Graham & Cornwall by David Whittaker is the life story of Sydney Graham, one of the most distinctive voices of 20th century literature. It was his luck to be a part of the dynamic post-war St Ives community of visual artists. This is a beautifully produced publication from the man who edited Most Glorious & Peerless Venice: Observations of Thomas Coryate (1608).
New in today, a picture storybook about a magpie, Mischievous Max and the Wizard's Ring by Jo Lindsay, illustrated by Tor Hildyard, both from near Evesham. Also, a lovely new book about The Cotswolds: Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by Nick Turner, Sian Ellis and Nick Darien-Jones. Stunning and imaginative photos show the landscapes, villages, architecture, customs and culture. Coals to Newcastle? Not really, it's much more than a guide book or all the best bits! £14.99.
Excitement of excitements, our main Advent calendar has arrived, produced by Art Angels. A lovely wintry country scene, bound to sell fast as Advent calendars do. We have other Advent calendars on order, but this one will probably sell the best. Don't say you haven't been warned!
Stella Gibbons is much more than just Cold Comfort Farm. Pure Juliet was published for the first time at the beginning of this year, and now we have The Yellow Houses, her final novel, written in the 1970s but only discovered years after her death and also published for the first time.
Congratulations to Sarah Hilary who has won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2015 for the gripping psychological thriller Someone Else's Skin. Sarah took part in our "Queens of Crime" panel last year, so we're particularly thrilled for her.
NEW BOOK FROM HARPER LEE
There is great excitement over a new book by Harper Lee, author of the phenomenal To Kill a Mockingbird. Go Set a Watchman is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. It is due to be published on 14th July 2015. Place your orders now!
There are only two reissues this Spring from this ever-collectable publisher: London War Notes by Mollie Panter-Downes (Persephone has previously published Good Evening, Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes and Minnie's Room: The Peacetime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes) and a black comedy Vain Shadow by Jane Hervey. They will be published on 23rd April.
AUTUMN 2014: NEW LOCAL BOOKS
Many of you will remember The Other Mitford: Pamela's Story which was published a couple of years ago. The author, Di Alexander, has now written a charming and amusing description of life on a Cotswold farm, The Harcombe Year. It is available for £14.99. Continuing with the country theme, we also have copies of Four Legs and a Tale by equine vet Alan Walker, whose family has served the rural community on the South Warwickshire/North Oxfordshire borders for nine successive generations, first as farriers and then as vets. This is another colourful and entertaining story. The price is £12.50.
NEW TITLES FROM PERSEPHONE BOOKS
Easter 2014 will see the publication of three titles from Persephone Books. Wilfred and Eileen by Jonathan Smith was first published in 1976 and made into a four-part television series in 1980. It is set in the years 1913-15 and describes the real-life Wilfred Willett and his fiancee Eileen meeting at a Cambridge May Ball, and their marrying in secret (beacuse of parental disapproval). But it is Wilfred's survival after being wounded in battle that is at the heart of the book. In a new Afterword for this edition, the author explains how he came to write the novel, as well as the particular responsibilities of fictionalising the lives of real people. This was his first novel and he has gone on to write five more, one of which, Summer in February, was recently made into a film with a screenplay by the author. It stars his former pupil, Dan Stevens.
The second title is Into the Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg. This a powerful memoir of one woman's brutal arrest, interrogation and transportation to the Gulag in the Soviet Union during the great purges of the 1930s. The third title is an old favourite, The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E M Delafield.
The pictures show two of the endpapers, which together with the bookmarks are almost as famous as the iconic grey jackets of the books!
SUPPORTING LOCAL AUTHORS
We always try our best to support local authors, sometimes with a signing and/or talk in the shop or alternatively by promoting their books on our website and on Twitter and Facebook. Here are some of the latest to have come our way:
Bill Grant has written penned a very humorous novel The Chronicle of Charles Weatherby which moves from the City to India and then back to England. Having lost his job at a respectable merchant bank, Charles Weatherby finds himself in India on an errand for a friend of his wife's family where, amongst mounting frustration, he begins to believe that someone is trying to kill him. Eventually, he retuns to England where it isn't long beofre his old employer is in the news - for all the wrong reasons. Charles feels somehow responsible but, as ever, he fails to read the situation properly. Instead of returning to his old life in the City, Charles end up buying a bookshop. He then discovers some startling information about his wife's family. Ironically, it is the fact that his parents-in-law are not quite all they seem that leads indirectly to his transformation from failed yuppie into contented bookshop proprietor. The author lives in the Cotswolds with his wife, daughter and a short-haired German pointer.
From fiction to memoir: Jenny Selby-Green has written about her life as a newspaper reporter for the provincial press in To Bed on Thursdays. Jenny worked on several provincial weeklie and magazines as a reporter, columnist and editor. She now lives in Chipping Norton where her involvement with West Oxfordshire Writers, the theatre writing group, and the Chipping Norton Literary Festival influenced her decision, after she was widowed, to come out of retirement and start again. Jenny's memoir, which is set in Aylesbury and district, ells of a simpler, slower-paced age when news-gathering was still an honourable trade and newspapers were impartial observers of life. Even so, in the course of her work, she was bullied by Robert Maxwell, snubbed by Sophia Loren - and stalked by a delusional actor named Nigel!
The next book, a novel, has not even been published yet - watch out for it in July. It is Not Only the Good Boys by Jo Eames and is set in Yorkshire in March 1943 when the war hung in the balance. Mike Dixon, a brilliant but battle-scarred young lieutenant, seriously doubts whether the Allies can win. His new posting is to the middle of nowhere and his new boss is an impossible maverick, brought out of retirement to develop crucial new secret weapons for D-Day. But Major-General Hobart has too little time, too few resources and mortal enemies at the War Office who want to see him retired for good. Haunted by his own failure on the disastrous Dieppe raid, Mike is desperate for a chance to redeem homself. But proving himself in battle will put more than his life at risk. The author uncovered the amzing true story of Hobo's Funnies whilst researching the history of her Oxfordshire house. Major-General Hobart's name appeared on the titles deeds relating to a new bathroom window, and under the bathroom lino were Egyptian newspapers dated 1939. Why? Jo had to find out and this is the story. We have thoroughly enjoyed reading an advance copy, so look out for it in July.
But before then, at the end of March, there will be a new novel from Toby Purser, who lives near Chipping Campden. He has previously enjoyed success with The Devil's Inheritance, a saga of the Norman Conquest spanning over four decades and including a cast of a dozen leading characters. Now he has turned his attention to a favourite period this year, the lead-up to the First World War, in an exciting and pacy novel The Zaharoff Conspiracy. When a bundle of documents and news clippings is thrust into the hands of Septimus Oates by a mysterious stranger as he lies dying in a quiet Oxford street, the unsuspecting historian is jettisoned headlong into a web of deceit, betrayal, revenge and hidden secrets. The story moves from England to familiar cities in central Europe as Oates and his friend Quayle uncover an assassination plot which could bring the states of Europe to the brink of war.
Finally, there's our good friend Pat Watson from Shipston-on-Stour (see below). She has just had published a delightful collection of her poems, Landscape with Figures. This is very accessible poetry written with a deceptively light touch and imbued with a lifetime's experience as wife, mother, teacher, journalist and poet. But she also looks with a wry, observant eye on human foibles and pretensions, particularly those of Middle England, and shows a deep affection for the West Midlands countryside and its wildlife. Pat has also had republished her fictionalised memoir of her childhood in peace and war in Coventry: Yesterday's Child. Beginning in the 1930s and continuing through the Blitz, it describes a working-class childhood, told through the eyes of the main character.
A PERSONAL VIEW OF THE BORZOI BOOKSHOP
One of our customers, Mrs Pat Watson in Shipston-on Stour, recently wrote a lovely letter to The Author magazine about us:
"What I like about my local bookshop, in Stow-on-the-Wold (where it has been for 35 years). First, the name: the Borzoi Bookshop. It speaks, doesn't it, of elegant, slender dogs and elegant Russian countesses. Services? New books will be available, if not immediately then by tomorrow at the very latest, while secondhand books will be sought and found. And for us and other locals, Anthea will bring our purchases that same evening - a favour we return by putting up posters about Borzoi readings, book signings etc. Three independent bookshops have closed locally in the last few months."
ADVENT CALENDARS, GREETINGS CARDS, WRAPPING PAPER AND CALENDARS AND DIARIES FOR 2014
We have a super new selection of greetings cards and wrapping paper, possibly the nicest we have ever had. We also have some lovely Advent calendars as well as calendars and diaries for 2014.
NEW PERSEPHONE TITLES FOR AUTUMN 2013
There will be two new titles from Persephone Books in mid-October, The Squire by Enid Bagnold and The Two Mrs Abbotts (the third Miss Buncle story) by D E Stevenson (£12.00 each). They are not producing a diary this year. Their new Biannually will be available in late October.
SIGNED AND DISCOUNTED BOOKS
We have a limited number of signed copies of "Catastrophe" by Max Hastings and "Recipe for Life" by Mary Berry. We are offering Nigel Slater's new cookbook "Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food" for £20.00, a £6.00 discount off the RRP. We also hope to have signed copies of this in the next few days.
THE BEST OF MATT 2013 COMPETITION
The "Best of Matt 2013" will be published on 10th October. We will have a limited number of Matt postcards with a new cartoon. Think of a funny caption for the cartoon and the one that makes Matt laugh the most will win! I suppose that the prize will be the cartoon with the winner's caption written by Matt himself. Another Borzoi exclusive!
SIGNED COPIES OF "ALL CHANGE" BY ELIZABETH JANE HOWARD
On 7th November, Macmillan will publish the fifth and final volume in Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazalet Chronicles. We invited the author to take part in an event to mark the occasion, but understandably, having regard to her age and health and the distance she would have to travel, she declined, albeit with great regret. However, she has offered to sign bookplates with a personal message or dedication if required. So, if you would like signed copies of the book, please let us know as soon as possible so that, nearer the date of publication, we can forward all the requests to her. This is a great opportunity to have a signed copy of one of this autumn's major titles and we are incredibly grateful to EJH for supporting us in this way. Incidentally, the previous four titles in the series are being rejacketed to coincide with the publication of "All Change", so if your paperbacks are beginning to look a little tattered or you have never read the Cazalet novels, now is you chance to rectify that.
AUGUST 2013 NEWS
The Children of Castletown House by Sarah Conolly-Carew, with Diana Conolly-Carew and brothers Patrick and Gerald £21.99
We missed this when it was published last year by History Press Ireland, but fortunately an eagle-eyed customer has alerted us to it - thank you! Castletown House in County Kildare was Ireland's largest private residence, a spectacular Palladian mansion which was once an alternative seat of political power to Dublin, and whose design was the basis for the White House in Washington. The four Conolly-Carew children, Sarah, Patrick, Diana and Gerald, were the last generation to grow up within its walls, and their story is a window into Ireland's real Downton Abbey, a world of servants and lavish balls, of cars run on charcoal, visiting Princesses, IRA intimidation and Olympic glory.
JULY 2013 NEWS
Apologies for not having updated this page for so long! We had the Chipping Campden Literature Festival at the end of April/beginning of May, followed by lots of signings and other events throughout May and June, so there just has not been the time.
The main book news of the last few days has been the unmasking of a certain J K Rowling as the author of a debut crime novel, The Cuckoo's Calling, under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, which was originally published in April. It is interesting to read the "author biography" on our wholesaler's website: "Robert Galbraith is married with two sons. After several years with the Royal Military Police, he was attached to the SIB (Special Investigation Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for protagonist Cormoran Striked grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who have returned to the civilian world. Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym." The book had really enthusiastic reviews on publication, and now critics are kicking themselves that they did not spot the Rowling trademarks at the time. As soon as the news broke, the publisher sold its few remaining copies, but more are expected this week, so if you would like to read what all the fuss is about, reserve a copy without delay! It will be a £16.99 hardback.
Violet Powell completed fifteen chapters of this final volume of autobiography which, like her husband Anthony Powell's memoirs, ran to four volumes (the first three are out of print). A Stone on the Shade confirms her as an accomplished writer and humorist in her own right. Born into the Anglo-Irish aristocracy and in some ways an out-and-out elitist, she chronicles the Powell/Pakenham families, her forays into London's higher Bohemia, various junketings in Somerset and County Westmeath, and the amenities, both cultural and social, of Swan's Hellenic Cruises. Violet Powell seemed to "know everyone". Osbert Lancaster inspired her to take up her long-neglected box of paints and thereafter she never travelled without a sketchbook-diary, filling its pages with talented illustration and amusing commentary. There is a Foreword from Antonia Fraser. This book, which comes from the same stable as Wild Writing Granny (see below), costs £24.00 in hardback.
Another new book from a non-mainstream publisher is The Atom Spy and MI5: The Story of Alan Nunn May by John H Smith. The author says: "In 1993 shortly after we moved into our house in Barnt Green, Worcestershire, I was working in the front garden when a lady stopped to talk to me. Towards the end of our conversation she asked me if I was aware of a spy scandal connected with the house. She mentioned the word Nunn May, and said the family had lived about 200 hundred yards away. I followed this up by tracing the name and the incident in the local press. The title deeds of our house showed that a member of the Nunn May family had once been a trustee of our property. He was also married to the daughter of the owner at that time. In 2003 an obituary of Alan Nunn May appeared in the national press which set out his life. At this point I took up a more detailed interest and this was to be supplemented in 2007 with the release of MI5 secret files and Cabinet papers concerning the case. I realised that these documents told a fascinating story and were worthy of publication. Later I was to learn that the lady who had first told me about the Nunn May events had worked at Bletchley Park during World War II!" This is a paperback at £12.00.
If you love short stories, you might like to try a new collection entitled Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman. We haven't had a chance to sample it yet because it flies out almost before it has hit the shelf, but it has received rave reviews. The publisher describes the author as America's hitherto best-kept literary secret. If you read it before we do, let us know what you think - we'll even quote you on this page! The paperback costs £8.99.
AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY OF MARGARET THATCHER
Volume One, Not For Turning, will be published on Tuesday 23rd April, shortly after Lady Thatcher's funeral, price £30.00. The author Charles Moore is now completing the second and concluding volume, Herself Alone. We are now taking orders for Volume One.
NEW PERSEPHONE TITLE
We are very excited about the next title from Persephone Books, number 101 on their list, which is due on 11th March. It is The Exiles Return by Elisabeth de Waal, whose grandson, Edmund de Waal of The Hare with Amber Eyes fame, discovered the unpublished manuscript and has written a foreword. It is autobiographical in nature and tells of the return of four exiles to Vienna in the 1950s. There was a fascinating article by Edmund about his grandmother in The Times on Saturday 23rd February. Persephone supply their books at £12.00 to independent bookshops and £14.00 to large companies - another good reason to buy The Exiles Return from us! If only all publishers were prepared to offer similar incentives to independents!
DEAR LUPIN - THE SEQUELS!
Dear Lupin: Letters to a Wayward Son by Roger Mortimer (father) and Charlie Mortimer (son) was one of the runaway successes of 2012. The paperback will be published on 28th March, price £7.99. Hot on its heels will come father's letters to one of his daughters, Louise, entitled Dear Lumpy: Letters to a Disobedient Daughter. This will be available from 18th April, price £12.99. The final instalment of what could loosely be described as a trilogy is due in October and will feature father's letters to his other daughter, Jane.
A new novel from Dan "Da Vinci Code" Brown has just been announced. Due for publication on 14th May and titled Inferno, it will again feature Robert Langdon and revolves around Dante's Inferno. In the author's own words, expect "a landscape of codes, symbols and more than a few secret passageways". Sounds like familiar ground!
A SELECTION OF INTERESTING NEW TITLES FOR EARLY 2013
Tarantula's Web: John Hayward, T S Eliot and their Circle - John Smart £19.95
John Hayward was a critic, an editor and an anthologist. During the 1920s and 30s, he gathered round him a group of friends which included T S Eliot, Graham Greene, Edith Sitwell, W H Auden, Christopher Isherwood, Stephen Spender and Kathleen Raine. For many years, he was Eliot's closest friend, helping him recover after the breakdown of his first marriage. Tarantula's Web makes use of unpublished letters by Hayward and Eliot and the archive that Hayward embargoed until 2000 to recreate the world of literary London before, during and after the Second World War and the life of the almost forgotten "Man of Letters" who was one of its central figures.
Wild Writing Granny: A Memoir - Mary Sheepshanks £15.00
An engaging memoir from the poet and novelist, opening with childhood recollections of Eton, where her father was a housemaster, and moving on to the war, with term-time at Eton, holidays in North Wales and dancing classes and pantomime at Windsor Castle. After the war, the scene moves to Sunningdale, the prep school in Berkshire, where - now married to Charlie Sheepshanks, 20 years her senior - she is assigned the role of headmaster's wife at the age of 21. When Charlie retires from Sunningdale, further challenges await her, including rescuing the Sheepshanks' family home near Otley in Yorkshire from its state of neglect.
British Murals and Decorative Painting 1920-1960: Rediscoveries and New Interpretations £40.00
A fascinating and superbly produced book with specially commissioned photographs that record some of the least-known but most remarkable murals in Great Britain, the majority of which have never been reproduced in colour before. There are two sections: part one seeks to define mural and decorative painting within its historic context, whilst part two consists of 15 essays, written by experts in the field, which provide in-depth case studies of selected works and consider the careers of specific artists as muralists. There is an exhibition at the Fine Art Society in New Bond Street, but only until 9th March.
Rumer Godden reissues
February would appear to be Rumer Godden month, with a number of reissues scheduled from two major publishers. On 7th February, expect Black Narcissus, Kingfishers Catch Fire, Breakfast with the Nikolides, In this House of Brede and A Fugue in Time from Virago, and on 28th February, there will be Coromandel Sea Change, The Greengage Summer and The Peacock Spring from Macmillan.
SOME NEW AND UNUSUAL TITLES FOR CHRISTMAS 2012
The Voice from the Garden: Pamela Hambro and the Tale of Two Families Before and After the Great War - Jane Dismore £20.00
The daughter of a doomed union between trade and title, Pamela Hambro was born into the Cobbold brewing family of Suffolk and married into the famous merchant banking dynasty, the Hambros.
The Elegant Garden: Architecture and Landscape of the World's Finest Gardens - Johann Kraftner ££37.50
By far and away the best photographic record of garden design and landscape architecture this year, and possibly the best since Dream Gardens and Dream Gardens of England a few years ago.
Hermione: After To War with Whitaker: The Continuing Diaries of Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly 1945-2001 £15.00
As compiled by her daughter, Lady Caroline Simmonds, from the late Lady Ranfurly's scribblings, letters, stories and rhymes, and providing a clear picture of a lost age and a remarkably determined woman.
So Who's Your Mother - Tarquin Olivier £19.95
The memoirs of Laurence Olivier's son by his first marriage to the actress Jill Esmond. There are the expected appearances from assorted luvvies, but the main thrust of the book is the author's search for fulfilment through involvement with and in Third World countries, including Africa and South-East Asia.
John Betjeman: Lovely Bits of Old England: Selected Writings from The Telegraph - ed Gavin Fuller £14.99
John Betjeman began writing for The Telegraph in 1951 and continued to do so for a quarter of a century. During that time, Britain underwent profound social and cultural changes, from architecture and literature to music and fashion. Amongst much of the population, however, such rapid change met with disquiet: a nagging sense that the New had replaced much that was wonderful in the Old. By turns eccentric, wistful and polemical, Betjeman's writing for The Telegraph gave voice to this unease.
An Insomniac's Guide to the Small Hours - Ysenda Maxtone Graham and Kath Walker £9.99
It's 11pm. All you've wanted to do all day is sleep. And now, finally, here you are. In bed. Drifting off. Such a relief. For what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly thankful. But then your mind wanders. Into territory where it should not go. From death to broken lightbulbs. From redundancy to unwritten thank-you letters. The minutes tick by. Oh no, it's going to be one of those nights. Those nights which seem to go on forever, when all the cares of the world weigh down on your shoulders.
If you have trouble sleeping, this book is for you. It's hilarious - and so true!
New from Persephone
In time for Christmas, there are two new Persephone titles and a Persephone Diary for 2013. Patience by John Coates was first published in the US in 1954 and has the subtitle "The Story of a Proper Girl Improperly in Love". The Persephone Book of Short Stories is a collection of 30 stories by different female writers, first published between 1909 and 1986. The stories include 10 written by authors already published by Persephone, such as Diana Athill and Frances Towers; 10 stories that have appeared in the Persephone Biannually magazine, by authors including Edith Wharton, Phyllis Bentley and Penelope Mortimer; and 10 that are new to Persephone, including shorts by Dorothy Parker and Penelope Fitzgerald. These two titles retail for £12.00 each. The Persephone One Hundred: Diary for 2013 is a stunner, containing as it does all 100 endpapers from the novels. A week to a page is perhaps not over-generous if you lead a busy social life, but there are plenty of pages at the back for notes. The price is £15.00.
HOLIDAY READS: A FEW SUGGESTIONS FOR THE SUMMER OF 2012
Painter of Silence – Georgina Harding £7.99
The House by the Sea – Santa Montefiore £7.99
That Summer in Ischia – Penny Feeny £7.99
At Last – Edward St Aubyn £7.99
The Book of Summers – Emylia Hall £7.99
The Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides £8.99
A Perfectly Good Man – Patrick Gale £7.99
The House I Loved – Tatiana de Rosnay £7.99
The House on Paradise Street – Sofka Zinovieff £7.99
Other People’s Money – Justin Cartwright £7.99
The Thread – Victoria Hislop £7.99
The History Room – Eliza Graham £7.99
The Perfume Garden – Kate Lord Brown £14.99
The Scent of Lemon Leaves – Clara Sanchez £12.99
The J M Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society – Barbara J Zitwer £7.99
The Stranger’s Child – Alan Hollinghurst £8.99
The Ex-Wives – Sandra Howard £7.99
The Lady of the Rivers – Philippa Gregory £7.99
The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller £7.99
Crime and Thrillers
Rip Tide – Stella Rimington £6.99
The Fear Index – Robert Harris £7.99
Portrait of a Spy – Daniel Silva £7.99
Death Come to Pemberley – P D James £7.99
Midnight in Peking – Paul French £12.99
Dinner with Churchill – Cita Stelzer £8.99
MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2012
The longlist has been announced:
Nicola Barker: The Yips
Ned Beauman: The Teleportation Accident
* Andre Brink: Philida
* Tan Twan Eng: The Garden of Evening Mists
* Michael Frayn: Skios
* Rachel Joyce: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
* Deborah Levy: Swimming Home
* Hilary Mantel: Bring up the Bodies
Alison Moore: The Lighthouse
* Will Self: Umbrella
Jeet Thayll: Narcopolis
*Sam Thompson: Communion Town
We have those asterisked in stock, but we can obtain any of the others. The shortlist will be announced on Tuesday 11th September.
DIARIES AND CALENDARS FOR 2013
Yes, it’s that time of year already! We have all the usual suspects – RHS, National Railway Museum, the Totterings, Wainwright, Bodleian, British Library, V&A, Imperial War Museum, English Heritage, Wildlife Photographer of the Year,etc, in both large and pocket formats – but this year we have cast our net wider:
Faber and Faber Poetry Diary 2013 £12.99
Persephone Diary 2013 £tbc Due September/October. This will contain all 100 endpapers.
Redstone Diary 2013: Language £15.95 A visual and linguistic spectacular.
Edward Bawden Diary £10.00 A perpetual diary originally produced in 1953.
Romantic French Diary 2013 £15.31
Cath Kidston 2013 Diary £10.00
We will also have a varied selection of wall calendars, including more Extraordinary Chickens.
News at 11th May 2012
TWO NEW PERSEPHONE TITLES
For all you Persephone fans, many of whom squeezed into the shop for our launch tea party a few weeks ago, we now have in stock the latest titles from the publisher. No 97 is Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins, a brilliant but disquieting 1934 novel about the 1877 murder of Harriet Staunton. No 98 is A Writer's Diary by Virginia Woolf, and contains extracts from the diaries covering the years 1918-41, selected by Leonard Woolf in 1953 in order to show his late wife in the act of writing.
We are still awaiting stock of no 77, Daddy's Gone A-Hunting by Penelope Mortimer, a 1958 novel about the "captive wives" of the pre-women's liberation era, bored and lonely in suburbia. It is reprinting and will not be available for another couple of months.
To whet your appetite further, Persephone are producing what should be an absolutely lovely 2013 Diary containing all 100 endpapers from the books. It is not due until the autumn, but if you would like to reserve one now, don't hesitate to contact us.
News as at 27th April 2012
Julian Barnes, one of Britain's most distinguished novelists, is also an acclaimed essayist. A Life with Books is an essay which has been especially commissioned for Independent Booksellers Week and it will be supplied exclusively to independent bookshops. In it, Barnes writes about his early awareness of books and about his obsessive book-collecting and time spent in second-hand bookshops around the country. He ends by praising the physical book and expressing the confident hope that it will survive. The booklet will have 32 pages, will cost £1.99 and will be available from 28th June. Limited numbers are being printed, so if you would like a copy, please contact us as soon as possibel. Proceeds from the sale of the booklets will go to the charity Freedom from Charity.
We hear that a film is being made of the very popular book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows. It stars Kate Winslet and is directed by Kenneth Branagh.
Updated 3rd February 2012
We are often asked what fiction books we can recommend and then whether we have read them ourselves. We are "upping" our game by obtaining more pre-publication copies and expanding our team of readers, and here are the first fruits of our labours!
Leon and Louise by Alex Capus is a gentle, well-crafted read, full of Gallic charm. It follows a young Frenchman through two world wars as he obsesses over his first love. It is available now, price £14.99.
Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson is an absolutely gripping, unputdownable thriller. Every time Christine goes to sleep, she loses her memory. She can't even trust her husband to fill in all the gaps. No wonder it has been chosen for the TV Book Club 2012. Available now, price £7.99
The Holy Thief by William Ryan is another well-written, gripping thriller which received fully justified glowing reviews when it was first published in hardback May 2010. It is set in Russia at the beginning of Stalin's Great Terror and introduces Captain Alexei Dmitriyevich Korolev, who is called upon to investigate the death of an American citizen and ends up questioning who the real criminals are. The paperback is available now at £7.99, but if you can wait until the beginning of March, it will come in a pack with the sequel Bloody Meadow for the special Borzoi price of £7.99, yes £7.99! And you won't be able be able to buy this pack online or in supermakets or large booksellers. So don't delay, reserve your pack now!
Yet another thriller comes courtesy of William Boyd, whose every new book is eagerly awaited and whose most recent successes have included Restless and Ordinary Thunderstorms. His latest, Waiting for Sunrise, is due on 16th February in a hardback at £18.99 and is set in Vienna in 1913. An English actor's passionate love affair with an Austrian artist is complicated by the onset of war and his involvement in the murky and dangerous world of wartime intelligence.
A debut novel which we rate very highly is The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall. When Beth Lowe receives news that her estranged mother has died, she is sent a scrapbook of photographs made by her mother, a poignant record of the seven childhood summers she spent in rural Hungary. As Beth goes through the book, she allows herself to relive the glorious summers of her past and the terrible revelation that put an end to them. Anthea was very impressed with this, finding the descriptive writing haunting and evocative with a semi-autobiographical feel. It builds up steadily and powerfully to a climax which does not disappoint. This would be a good choice for a book club. The paperback, price £7.99, comes out on 24th May, but if you can't wait, the hardback for £14.99 will be published on 1st March. And yes, those dates are correct - some publishers are issuing the paperback only a few months after the hardback.
Updated 10th and 12th December 2011:
To start with, details of the sequel to the hugely popular "Wolf Hall" have been revealed by the author Hilary Mantel. "Bring Up the Bodies", which will tell the story of the downfall of Anne Boleyn, will be the first sequel of two; it is due for publication in May 2012. The third title in the trilogy, "The Mirror and The Light", will continue Thomas Cromwell's story until his execution in 1540. The author has described writing about the destruction of Anne Boleyn, which took place over a period of three weeks, as "a moral ordeal". She also told the Guardian: "I can only guess that the effect on the reader will be the same; the events are so brutal that you don't want to take a breath and turn the page, you want to close the book."
Whilst browsing through an extremely erudite and intellectual journal (actually, it was Hello magazine!), we discovered that Lady Pamela Hicks, the younger daughter of the late Lord and Lady Mountbatten of Burma and the widow of the designer and gardener David Hicks, has written her memoirs, which will be published in time for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations next June. No more details at present.
Still with matters royal, Sarah Bradford's new biography of The Queen, "Queen Elizabeth II: Her Life in Our Times", is now in stock, publication having been brought forward from January to catch the Christmas market. Another biography of Her Majesty has also been in the news recently. "Elizabeth The Queen", which is variously subtitled "The Life of a Modern Monarch", "The Woman Behind the Throne" and "An Intimate Portrait of Her Life", will be published on 2nd February as a £6.99 paperback. The author is Sally Bedell Smith, who has previously written about the Kennedys and the Clintons and, wait for it, "Diana: The Life of a Troubled Princess". I am not sure if that is a recommendation for her new book!
2012 looks like being a good year for "horsey" biographies. Mark Todd, the champion three-day eventer, has his autobiography coming out on 19th April. Later in the year, we are promised Clare Balding's autobiography entitled "My Animals and Other Family", and a biography of Henry Cecil by Brough Scott. Finally, our favourite racing commentator and loyal supporter of the Borzoi, Alastair Down, will be putting pen to paper in September with "The Down Side", a collection of his very best writings spanning 25 years.
It is often difficult to tell what a book is going to be like until you have actually seen it. Those that promise the most and receive the most pre-publication hype frequently turn out to be damp squibs. Then there are those that we miss or overlook (oh no, not another Scandinavian thriller, or do we really need yet another diet book promising the earth?) which actually turn out to be rather good. A new cookery book which our chef in residence, Miss Anthea Lycett, rates very highly is " Aga Weekend Cookbook". The recipes are different, the cooks' tips are useful, and all in all it works. Another book, which to our shame we missed completely, is "Outsider: Always, Almost, Never Quite" by the art critic Brian Sewell. His memoirs range from the Great Depression of the 1930s to the sudden prosperity and social changes of the 1960s, through National Service and his time as an art student at the Courtauld Institute under Anthony Blunt, and of course his life in art and the art market. It has been so popular, having garnered rave reviews, that it is temporarily out of stock at the publishers and will not be reprinting until the New Year. Please let us know if we can reserve a copy for you.
Another new book which we would have missed had it not been for a glowing review in The Daily Telegraph is "A Glimpse of Empire" by Jessica Douglas-Home. It is the story of Lilah Wingfield, a young Anglo-Irish beauty, and her visit to Dehli for the Royal Durbar of 1911 for a fortnight of ceremony, extravagance and military spectacle, followed by extensive travels through India. If I remember correctly from the review, the author found Lilah's diary in a second-hand bookshop in Norwich, and her serendipity is our gain. The book is copiously illustrated with Lilah's own photographs, and the story itself is fascinating. The book has been so popular that we have sold all our initial allocation of copies, but we are expecting more within the next few days, so reserve your copy without delay!
One of our bestsellers this year is currently the subject of a TV series. "Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City" is airing on BBC4, the first episode having appeared on Thursday 8th December and the remaining two episodes being scheduled for 15th and 22nd December. The presenter is also the author of the book, Simon Sebag Montefiore.