The New Year is begun, if not yet settled, and we have been busy completing our latest catalogue, Books for New Year 2019, sending it out and managing the subsequent orders. The list has many fascinating gems: if we were simply to stick to the letter ‘g’ alone, these include Gropius, Gorey and Gulbenkian, Ginzburg and Greenlaw. Then Last Days in Old Europe: Trieste ’79, Vienna ’85, Prague ’89, a memoir by Richard Bassett, a former Times foreign correspondent that is full of historical detail layered with irony, is doing particularly well, and we have all loved Eric Vuillard’s short but dazzling novel The Order of the Day, which won him the Prix Goncourt in his native France.

We thought that our customers and readers would be interested in the quirks of our bestsellers over the last year. These bear little resemblance to the national bestseller lists but, more surprisingly, there is very overlap with the bestsellers of other independents. Andrew Roberts’s magisterial Churchill: Walking with Destiny has done extremely well, and is neck and neck with the late John Julius Norwich’s last Christmas Cracker. Next is Amor Towles’s delicious A Gentleman in Moscow. Ben McIntyre’s The Spy and the Traitor has been outsold by Charmed Lives in Greece: Ghika, Craxton, Leigh Fermor, the catalogue to a marvellous exhibition that began in Cyprus, moved to the Benaki Museum in Athens and then came to the British Museum last summer. We have been greatly helped by the kind people at the Leventis Gallery in Nicosia who have arranged for several consignments totalling hundreds of copies…

Cressida Connolly’s brilliant and disquieting novel After the Party has been a steady – and ongoing – success, ahead of Pat Barker’s Silence of the Girls and even of Sally Rooney’s Normal People. Books by two small publishers – Slightly Foxed and Little Toller – have also flown on silvery wings: Horatio Clare’s Something of His Art: Walking to Lubeck with J S Bach and A Country Doctor’s Commonplace Book. 

Another tiny observation at the start of 2019 is that this season’s book jackets are mostly, like the old joke about newspapers, black, white and red all over…

Family LexiconAfter The PartyIn The City Of Love's Sleep