In a series of remarkable books - Travels in a Thin Country, Terra Incognita, Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry Garrard, Too Close to the Sun and The Magnetic North - Sara Wheeler has shown that she is not only one of the finest travel writers of her generation but a very fine biographer too. Published to coincide with her fiftieth birthday, Access All Areas gathers together a selection of her shorter pieces, both journalism and introductions to other books.
As one would expect, the frozen poles of the earth feature often, whether she is spending the night in Captain Scott's hut or reliving the adventures of Shackleton and Nansen. But its hot places feature too - Malawi, Kerala, Cuba and Bangladesh. She writes brilliantly of her heroes - Mary Kingsley, Fanny Trollope, Norman Lewis, Jan Morris and Sybille Bedford - and about the pains and pleasures of writing biography. Worried that having her children would end her roaming, she took her children with her, to the Arctic, and on a brilliantly depicted cruise on the QE2. She learns to bellydance, to strip, and to walk on the wing of a biplane at 3000 feet.
This is an immensely varied and satisfying collection.
'Someone had told Dex that the Queen lived in Victoria. So did he, but she had a palace and he had one room in a street off Warwick Way. Still he liked the idea that she was his neighbour.'
Dex works as a gardener for Dr Jefferson at his home on Hexam Place in Pimlico: an exclusive street of white-painted stucco Georgian houses inhabited by the rich, and serviced by the not so rich. The hired help, a motley assortment of au pairs, drivers and cleaners, decide to form the St Zita Society (Zita was the patron saint of domestic servants) as an excuse to meet at the local pub and air their grievances.
When Dex is invited to attend one of these meetings, the others find that he is a strange man, seemingly ill at ease with human beings. These first impressions are compounded when they discover he has recently been released from a hospital for the criminally insane, where he was incarcerated for attempting to kill his own mother. Dex's most meaningful relationship seems to be with his mobile phone service provider, Peach, and he interprets the text notifications and messages he receives from the company as a reassuring sign that there is some kind of god who will protect him. And give him instructions about ridding the world of evil spirits . . .
Accidental death and pathological madness cohabit above and below stairs in Hexam Place.
It's a fact: we all lie. And we lie a lot - two to three times in a ten-minute conversation is the average, as Robert S Feldman, one of the world's leading authorities on deception, shows in this groundbreaking book.
From the 'white lies' of social niceties ('It's so nice to see you') to lies told with intent ('I promise to give you 20% of the total funds transferred to your vital bank account'), deception and dishonesty play a huge - and crucial - role in our society at every level, from the school yard ('I didn't do it!') to the halls of government ('Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes'). Feldman draws on numerous examples from real life as well as research into deception to reveal why.
You'll discover the truth about lying - why we all do it, what it costs us, how children learn to lie, who it benefits, why we're so often ready to accept the lies we're told, and how it can both succeed in helping us and fail with catastrophic results. You'll also learn to recognise the lies you yourself tell, and in doing so how you can embrace a more honest approach to life.
It's an intriguing look at a major force in our lives - the everyday deception in which we all participate. Because anyone who says they always tell the truth is a liar.
From Blenheim and Waterloo to 'Up Yours, Delors' and 'Hop Off You Frogs', the cross-Channel relationship has been one of rivalry, misapprehension and suspicion. But it has also been a relationship of envy, admiration and affection.
In the nearly two centuries since the final defeat of Napoleon, France and Britain have spent much of that time as allies - an alliance that has been almost as uneasy, as competitive and as ambivalent as the generations of warfare. Their rivalry both on peace and war, for good and ill, has shaped the modern world, from North America to India in the eighteenth century, in Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and it is still shaping Europe today.
This magisterial book, by turns provocative and delightful, always fascinating, tells the rich and complex story of the relationship over three centuries, from the beginning of the great struggle for mastery during the reign of Louis XIV to the second Iraq War and the latest enlargement of the EU. It tells of wars and battles, ententes and alliances, but also of food, fashion, sport, literature, sex and music. Its cast ranges from William and Mary to Tony Blair, from Voltaire to Eric Cantona; its sources from ambassadorial dispatches to police reports, from works of philosophy to tabloid newspapers, from guidebooks to cartoons and films.
It's a book which brings both British humour and Gallic panache to the story of these two countries, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, in victory and in defeat, in dominance and in decline.
As heard on 'Book at Bedtime', BBC Radio 4
The gaudy years of the Restoration are long gone. Robert Merivel, physician and courtier to Charles II, loved for his gift to turn sorrow into laughter, now faces the agitations and anxieties of middle age. Questions crowd his mind: has he been a good father? Is he a fair master? Is he the King's friend or the King's slave?
In search of answers, Merivel sets off for the French court. But Versailles - all glitter in front and squalor behind - leaves Merivel in despair, until a chance encounter with Madame de Flamanville, a seductive Swiss botanist, allows him to dream of an honourable future.
But will that future ever be his? Back home at Bidnold Manor, his loyalty and medical skill are tested to their limits, while the captive bear he has brought back from France begins to cause unlooked-for havoc in his heart and on his estate.
With a cascade of lace at his neck and a laugh that can burst out of him in the midst of torment, Merivel is a uniquely brilliant creation, soulful, funny, outrageous and achingly sad. He is Everyman. His unmistakable, self-mocking voice speaks directly to us down the centuries.
Two Brothers (eBook)
Two babies are born.
Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood.
As Germany marches into its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested to the very limits of endurance. And the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice....Which one of them will survive?
Ben Elton's most personal novel to date,Two Brothers transports the reader to the time of history's darkest hour.
It's not easy being a dictator these days. Since the end of the Cold War, dictatorships worldwide have been on the decline and those that survive have changed dramatically. Not so long ago, blunt weapons were used to keep citizens under control, but in a globalised world connected to new media more subtle methods for preserving power have replaced yesterday's forms of intimidation.
The Dictator's Learning Curve gives a fascinating insight into the way dictators are adapting to the demands of the modern world, and their insidious efforts to disguise their regimes as democracies. Mubarak, Ben Ali and Gaddafi may be gone, but the Arab Spring is only the latest front in a worldwide battle between freedom and oppression. In this page-turning and authoritative book, William J. Dobson illuminates the connections and differences between authoritarian regimes in places as far apart as Russia, China, Venezuela, Egypt and Malaysia. Drawing on first-hand testimony from those close to these governments and those who challenge them - from incarcerated dissidents, student revolutionaries, to Serbian and American 'trainers in nonviolent revolution' -Dobson shows that we are witnessing an incredible moment in the war between dictators and democracy.
This friendly, accessible and stylish cookbook from a master chef will prove indispensable for all who love unfussy yet utterly delicious food. Simplicity is the keynote in this handsome recipe book, imbued with the flavours of the Italian countryside. For too long the ingredient in the store cupboard brought out for last minute dinner emergencies, pasta - inexpensive, ever versatile and often underestimated - lends itself to hundreds of fresh and different creations, especially when handled by the truly talented Theo Randall. He believes that the best pastas are the simplest: a plate of tagliatelle with butter and Parmesan can be just as magnificent as a ravioli stuffed with sweet potato and fennel.
In Pasta Theo Randall brings us a mouthwatering collection of 110 recipes, all within the reach of the keen cook. Using a mix of fresh and dried pasta and the freshest ingredients according to the season, Theo presents a wide variety of dishes, many achievable in minutes. From Taglierini with Peas, Prosciutto and Parmesan to Linguine with Pesto, Potato and Green Beans, to Pansotti with Sheep's Ricotta and Walnut Pesto, and Cappaletti with Slow Cooked Veal and Pancetta there is a dish to please everyone. Pasta is destined to become a kitchen classic.
Love eating cake? Well, this weekend, get into the kitchen and bake a cake yourself. Baking is fun when you know how to do it, and you don't need lots of equipment or expensive ingredients.
Learn to Bake explains baking terms (how do you beat, fold or cream?) and special ingredients (what is strong bread flour?). Then it tells you everything you need to know to bake for every occasion and every person in your life.
Bake the recipes in this book with your friends and family - get everyone involved, make a mess, have some fun and bake something to be proud of.
Learning to Dance (eBook)
Judith is suddenly all alone in the world. Her husband, Jack, has left her - why, she doesn't really know. Her two sons are in Australia, and both her mother and her best friend Naomi have recently died.
Embarking on a journey to Exmoor to meet the famous artist Robert Haussman, with an oddly assorted group of fellow-enthusiasts, Judith finds herself a prey to all sorts of irrational fears. Chief amongst them is the increasing conviction that Jack is dead. Why did he leave her? Where has he gone? And why does Robert Haussman exert such a strange influence on her?
Set in the Somerset countryside which Susan Sallis knows so well, this heartwarming novel shows how life, love and art cannot always meet happily together.
Knife-edge decisions, adrenaline rushes, extreme weather, bitter rivalries, heart-stopping races - they are all in a day's work for 'sailing's superman' Ben Ainslie. Ben has won successive golds in the last three Olympics, making him a British hero and our greatest Olympic sailor ever. In 2012 he plans for a fourth.
In Close to the Wind Ben reveals the truth behind his awesome achievement. A charming spokesperson off the water, he reveals just how ruthless he is on it. He admits to fierce rivalries, above all with Brazilian Robert Scheidt, who robbed a nineteen-year-old Ben of gold in his first Olympics.
Ben's twenty-year sailing career, which began on a dinghy in a remote Cornish bay, has a scope unmatched by other sports. In Olympic races he is alone, in his tiny boat, channelling aggression and plotting tactics.
From his proudest moment representing Team GB, to one tough decision that almost risked destroying his career, this is a unique insight into the man who cannot be second best. It shows what really takes place in the white heat of competition and lifts the lid on this toughest of sports.
Five children meet on their first day of school, one bright September morning. Drawn by that magical spark of connection that happens to the young, Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean - each bursting with their own personality, all with strikingly different looks and diverse talents - soon become an inseparable group, known to everyone else as the Big Five.
As they grow up, their seemingly perfect lives are altered by families falling apart, unfortunate mistakes, and losses and victories great and small. Throughout their adolescence, the five are able to turn back to their trusted group to regain their footing and steady their course. But as they emerge from school, their futures seem neither safe nor clear. As their lives separate, the challenges and risks they face become greater, the losses sharper, and it becomes much harder to know the right path to choose.
But despite life's ups and downs, together they are able to face up to challenges with the help of the important bonds forged all those years ago. And the five realise just how lucky they are to treasure valuable friendships that last a lifetime.
Jo Whiley is someone millions of us recognise but very few of us know. Jo's a mother, sister, DJ, wife and music-industry insider who throughout her career - and in an age of fleeting celebrity - has earned the respect of her peers and fans by simply being herself and for her constant enthusiasm, be it for established rock 'n roll royalty or emerging talent. For Jo Whiley, it's all about the music.
My World in Motion offers a unique opportunity to get to know the real Jo Whiley. From her musical epiphany (being carried over the crowd at a Clash concert) to when she became friends with John Peel at Glastonbury (over some very short shorts - his not hers) and interviewed Bono (surviving a power-cut on vodka). My World in Motion is an honest, funny, self-deprecating account of Jo's professional coming of age, and what it means to be a private person in a very public world.
Michael Schmidt's anthology includes the work of more than a hundred poets from every part of the English-speaking world. What links their diverse voices is a common language: each poem, in its own way, adds to the resources of the medium and makes it new.
The poems in this book are allowed to slip free of their moorings in the biography and history of the last century to create new spaces and times. They have been chosen because they are exceptional, profound and unique in what they do to language, regardless of their subject matter or the orientation of the poet. It is a powerful reminder that in the twentieth century poems did what they have never done before, and it provides us with a unique insight into the forces that will shape the poetry of the twenty-first century.
Christopher Wren (1632-1723) was the greatest architect Britain has ever known. But he was more than that. A founder of the Royal Society, he mapped the moon and the stars, investigated the problem of longitude and the rings of Saturn, and carried out groundbreaking experiments into the circulation of the blood. His observations on comets, meteorology and muscular action made vital contributions to the developing ideas of Newton, Halley and Boyle.
His Invention So Fertile presents the first complete picture of this towering genius: the Surveyor-General of the King's Works, running the nation's biggest architectural office and wrestling with corruption and interference; the pioneering anatomist; the mathematician, devising new navigational instruments and lecturing on planetary motion.
It also shows us the man behind the legend. Wren was married and widowed twice, he fathered a mentally handicapped child, quarrelled with his colleagues and fell foul of his employers. He scrambled over building sites and went to the theatre and drank in coffee-houses. The book explores what it was like to be at Oxford during the Commonwealth, as a generation struggled to make sense of a society in chaos; it recreates the tensions which tore apart the court of James II; it brings to life the petty jealousies that formed an integral part of both the building world and scientific milieu of the Royal Society.
Above all, His Invention So Fertile makes clear to the general reader and the art historian just why Wren remains a cultural icon - both a creation and a creator of the world he lived in.
The X-Wing/Wraith Squadron books are one of the most popular series in the
history of Star Wars novels. Now, the intrepid spy/pilots of Wraith Squadron
are back in an all-new Star Wars adventure set in the time just after the
events of the New York Times bestselling Fate of the Jedi series!
Wraith Squadron was Wedge Antilles's boldest creation: a covert-action unit of
X-Wing fighters, its pilots drawn from the dregs of other units, castoffs and rejects
given one last chance. Now, years after their thrilling adventures during and after
the Rebellion that destroyed the Empire, they're back to deal with a brand-new