Book of the Week
This Long Pursuit by Richard Holmes
'If our world is to be saved, we must understand it both scientifically and imaginatively'. So writes biographer Richard Holmes in This Long Pursuit, a kaleidoscope of stories and meditations in which he revisits two hundred working notebooks, and celebrates his beloved art of biography, calling it the vital 'handshake across time, cultures, beliefs, disciplines and genders. Ranging widely over art, science and poetry, Holmes confesses to a lifetime's obsession with his Romantic subjects - a pursuit or pilgrimage of the heart that takes him across three centuries, through much of Europe and into the lively company of many earlier biographers. Central to this quest is a powerful and tender evocation of the lives of women, both scientific and literary - some well-known and some almost lost: Margaret Cavendish, Mary Somerville, Germaine de Stael, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Dutch intellectual, Zelide. The book also reviews the controversial reputations of some favourite Romantic figures: the love-stunned Keats, the water-logged poet Shelley, the chocolate-box painter Thomas Lawrence, the opium-soaked genius Coleridge, and the mad-visionary bard, William Blake. The diversity of Holmes's material is testimony to his empathy, his erudition and his enquiring spirit; and also sometimes to his mischief. He offers a unique insider's account of a biographer at work: travelling, teaching, researching, fantasising, forgetting, and even ballooning. From this great chronicler of the Romantics now comes a chronicle of himself and his intellectual passions. This Long Pursuit contains his most personal and seductive writing.
Book at Bedtime
Babette's Feast by Isak Dinesen
2016 Man Booker Winner
This year's Man Booker Winner, announced on October 25th, is The Sellout by Paul Beatty, the first American writer to win the Prize.
Amanda Foreman, Chair of the Judges, said “Fiction should not be comfortable,” Foreman said. “The truth is rarely pretty and this is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheerful abandon … that is why the novel works. “While you’re being nailed, you’re being tickled. It is highwire act which he pulls off with tremendous verve and energy and confidence. He never once lets up or pulls his punches. This is somebody writing at the top of their game.
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. Born in Dickens on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles, the narrator of The Sellout spent his childhood as the subject in his father's racially charged psychological studies. He is told that his father's work will lead to a memoir that will solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed in a drive-by shooting, he discovers there never was a memoir. All that's left is a bill for a drive-through funeral. What's more, Dickens has literally been wiped off the map to save California from further embarrassment. Fuelled by despair, the narrator sets out to right this wrong with the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court. In his trademark absurdist style, which has the uncanny ability to make readers want to both laugh and cry, The Sellout is an outrageous and outrageously entertaining indictment of our time.
These are the books that were most popular with our customers last week......
1 Five on Brexit Island
2. Ladybird Book of the Meeting
3. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
4. The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by P D James
5. Keeping On Keeping On by Alan Bennett
6. A Florence Diary by Diana Athill
7. Five go on a Strategy Awayday
8. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J K Rowling
9. The Midnight Gang by David Walliams
10. A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray
If you would like to read any of these books, please send us a message from our contacts page, and we will reserve a copy for you.
Nocturnal Animals by Austin Wright
Originally published as 'Tony and Susan', this novel inspired the new film Nocturnal Animals, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams. It's a dazzling, eerie, riveting thriller of fear and regret, blood and revenge. Many years after their divorce, Susan Morrow receives a strange gift from her ex-husband. A manuscript that tells the story of a terrible crime: an ambush on the highway, a secluded cabin in the woods; a thrilling chiller of death and corruption. How could such a harrowing story be told by the man she once loved? And why, after so long, has he sent her such a disturbing and personal message...?