The fate of Ulrich von Hassell’s grandsons, and of their mother, arrested in the aftermath of the July ’44 bomb plot against Hitler. For those who read Fey’s memoir many years ago, this looks at the story from many more angles.
Set in a coastal village in Lincolnshire, this is a family memoir by a distinguished art historian which unravels the secrets and mysteries surrounding her mother’s kidnap on the beach as a 3-year-old, and subsequent adoption by her own father. Do read this: it is extraordinary, and moving.
It rathers sounds as if a final noun is missing from the subtitle – perhaps ‘economist’ or ‘essayist’ or ‘businessman’? His legacy has been felt in the political responses to the 2008 financial crisis.
History might have been kinder to Alma Schindler-Mahler-Gropius-Werfel had she been less ambitious. Yet Mahler’s attitude to her musical career steered her energy to working through her husbands and lovers.
DA was an Armenian who fled the genocide to Jerusalem, where he introduced the art of Armenian pottery and tile-making duing the British mandate. His final years were spent in Cairo and Beirut. A fascinating book of exile and renewal, by his granddaughter.
A powerful new book that brings together post-WW2 migrations and those of the 2010s into a single narrative. It addresses both the achievements such journeys often involve, and also the issues governing attitudes towards migrants.
Deeply fascinating and extremely readable. Everything from historical and mythological references to Armstrong stepping out into the Sea of Tranquility and stirring up moon dust. The pages on the formation of the moon are heart-stopping. Lunar mining anyone?
An oyster shell falls from the sky in Llandudno, where a maker of fancy teddy-bears is trying to sell his nondescript house, onto the head of a prospective buyer. Epiphanies abound in this joyful adventure.
Two fading Irish gangsters sit in the port of Algeciras, a sort of purgatory for this mouthy pair as they wait for their own Godot. A lyrical, dark and outstanding portrait of this dented pair. Unforgettable and brilliant.
A forgotten classic of mid-C19th Russian literature which contrasts the exterior and interior worlds of the young heroine, limited by privilege and liberated in her dreams.There is also a hardback edition.
Arresting first novel by the young American-Vietnamese poet, pitched as a letter from a son to his mother and at least partly autobiographical. Vuong won the both the Forward and T S Eliot prizes in 2017.
The year was 1797-98, and the trio went to the Quantocks, where C and W produced ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, ‘Kublai Khan’ and ‘Lyrical Ballads’. Dorothy’s contribution is less realised, but significant. AN’s exploration of this ecstatic year is wonderfully illuminating.
Schama calls himself “a journeyman shuffling along in the footsteps of giants” (Rabelais, Montaigne, Dickens et al) in an access of modesty. His essays on food, politics, art and life are deeply pleasurable.
A dialogue subtitled ‘With Some Remarks on the Importance of Doing Nothing’. “Journalism is unreadable, and literature is unread”. Set in a house overlooking Green Park, the two young men discussing art have just eaten ortolans, washed down with Chambertin. Mad not to.
The Grosvenor School of Modern Art (established 1925) fused elements of Cubism, Vorticism and Futurism. Sybil Andrews and Cyril Power are stand-outs, but so too some lesser names such as Ethel Spowers, William Greengrass, Eveline Syme and Claude Flight. Delicious! (Published to accompany the exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery).
According to John Everett, artists and sailors “are both vagabonds and wanderers”. A handsome book of brief biogs and sketches by explorers, whalers, naval officers and even a few women. Annie Brassey travelled with her husband and children and an onboard menagerie of monkeys, birds and a tiny anteater that coiled around her arm like a bracelet.
A lighthouse keeper’s daughter is blamed for a wreck, and is sent away to work as a maid; her adventures take her amongst mermaids and pirates. Determined and resourceful, Lampie is a delightful heroine. Ages 8 -11.
A wry novel in which a middle-age, unsuccessful lecturer (beards in cinema is his field) travels in Matsuo Basho’s footsteps towards the islands of Matsushima, with a suicidal young man for company. Dry, dead-pan, detached and funny. Short-listed for the German Book Prize (2017) and now long-listed for the Man Booker International Prize 2019.
The evolution of traditional Omani society into its contemporary form, shown through the lives of three sisters. Alharthi has constructed a complete world in this short novel, accessed through the domestic rather than the grandiose. Compelling for its human insights, not just for the exoticism of the unfamiliar. Winner of the 2019 International Man Booker, and deservedly.
Is everything horrible and only likely to get worse? Not according to the famous Swedish statistician, a global TED phenomenon and author of this engaging and entertaining book about how most of us are wrong about the state of the world. Passionate about a fact-based worldview, he advocates factfulness: “the stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts”. There is also a hardback edition of this.
If you read nothing else on our present crisis, try these incisive and often funny essays by the admirably dispassionate Irish commentator. He gives cultural context, draws parallels, and gracefully illuminates some of the lies and mysteries that have brought us to the current impasse. He also shows that Brexit expresses a particularly English discomfort within the British Union, menacing it from within.
Poets should be exiled from the Republic according to Plato, Simon Critchley radically disagrees. In a profound intellectual excavation of Greek thought he elucidates the essential role tragedy plays in what it means to be human.
Patrick Modiano, illustrated by Dominique Zehrfuss
An unassuming, gentle and mysterious reverie by the Nobel laureate and his wife, with hummingbirds and ibis under a turqoise sky, grazing on wild strawberries, where the roses grow without thorns and reality and dream melt into one another. This is a beautiful thing.