No Fixed Abode
Join Charlie Carroll as he begins life as a 21st Century tramp. Beginning by walking Cornwall’s coastal path, sleeping in the dunes, Carroll travels through Bristol, eventually walking all the way to London, sleeping on the Strand, in Parliament Square and finally outside St Paul’s with the Occupy protesters. On his way he meets a host of homeless characters and encounters some funny and terrifying situations. I loved the honesty of this book – Carroll never pretends to be anything more than a journalist sleeping rough in order to write a book – yet his experiences give a very insightful idea of what it is like to pass into the homeless underworld that exists across Britain.
Where’d You Go Bernadette
You may have heard some of this on the radio - if you haven't read it yet, it is wonderful! Maria Semple's book is a hilarious wacky ride of a story that manages to be very touching and convincing at the same time. It is an 'epistolary novel' though these days this means it is told through emails, notes, school reports and a ship's logbook as well as a few letters. Don't be put off by this format - through their writings the characters expose themselves - their preoccupations, prejudices and anxieties - in one of the funniest and most original books I have read in a long time... We hope you enjoy it! Out in paperback at the bookshop now!
The Cutting Season
I have just finished reading ‘The Cutting Season’ by Attica Locke. It is a wonderfully atmospheric book set in the middle of 500 acres of Louisiana cane fields in an old plantation – ‘Belle Vie’ - that is now used as a wedding venue. The weight of the plantation’s history, the heat, and the loneliness of the 11-acre site set amongst endless fields of head height cane make an eerie and heart-thumping setting for a murder mystery, but this book is much more than a murder mystery. Attica Locke explores the irony of the plantation’s past and present history with great subtlety, showing the attitudes and connections of the current owners and employees of the plantation and how the effects of slavery resonate through Louisiana and its people nearly 150 years after the abolition.
An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful
This was an engaging and beautiful read. The book tracks the life of a novelist, Edward Strathairn, through the twentieth century, from London to Japan to New York. The structure is a bit like William Boyd’s Any Human Heart but the story has a delicate grace of its own. Simons’ precise style movingly evokes the Japanese hotel where the main character wrote the work that made him famous: The Waterwheel. As an old man, Strathairn revisits the hotel and the delicate landscape that he loves. As he reflects, we see the extent of his life – the passions and coincidences that shaped it. At the same time, the novel explores a Japanese perspective on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, through the eyes of a British sympathiser. J David Simons’ authority and gentle touch allows him to present public events alongside the personal in a very affecting way.
The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett – paperback available from 17 July.
Out in paperback on 17th July – this is a great fun murder mystery with a refreshingly mild-mannered, but charming main character, who draws you into the world of antiquarian bookselling, uncovering Shakespearian First Folios as well as master forgeries. Behind the precise and dusty world of bookbinding and collecting, passions run dangerously high as the possibility of a rare find promises to make a lonely dealer famous...
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