We have just had the pleasure of a visit by the great Spanish novelist Javier Marias, King of Redonda, who has a very long association with Sandoe’s. A stack of ‘Thus Bad Begins’ has been signed, for which we are extremely grateful.

On being emailed just now that his inscribed copy awaits him, a customer wrote back as follows: ” That’s wonderful. Thank you. I have been lying in the shade by the sea in Malaysia reading it all day (I bought an extra copy) and am completely engrossed. Marvellous! I’m trying to restrain myself from reading it too fast so I can savour the pleasure for longer…”

The remark that Marias is “the best novelist in the world” has been heard many times at John Sandoe’s in the last twenty years – indeed, one of our colleagues is inclined to sing his name to the tune of ‘Ave Maria’. Each new novel by him has been keenly anticipated here, and his new novel triumphantly meets our hopes – and expectations. Like the last one, ‘The Infatuations’, ‘Thus Bad Begins’ is stand-alone, but the themes echo the labyrinthine examinations of national and private guilt, deception and complicity that weave through his trilogy, ‘Your Face Tomorrow’. A sexual tangle and a private tragedy form the surface narrative, behind which stir ghosts from Spain’s civil war – and, by extension, all human machinations everywhere, in any epoch. As ever, the deeply serious content is treated with delicious wit and intelligence.