Archive for July, 2012

Irish author and friend of the Book People, Maeve Binchy dies aged 72

Bestselling author and long-standing friend of the Book People, Maeve Binchy has sadly died aged 72. Following a short illness, she is said to have died peacefully in hospital with her husband, the writer Gordon Snell.

A keen traveller, it was Binchy’s ‘long rambling letters home from’ from far-flung places that eventually lead to her career as a writer. After attending University College Dublin, Maeve worked as a teacher at various schools in Dublin before she began her day job as a journalist for the Irish Times.

She had written short stories in her spare time, but it was her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, that brought her fame in 1982. Her exceptionally successful debut novel tells the story of shy and genteel Elizabeth White who is evacuated from Blitz-battered London and sent to stay with the boisterous O’Connors in Kilgarret, Ireland. Writing with warmth, wit and great compassion, Binchy tells a magnificent story of the lives and loves of two women, bound together in a friendship that nothing could tear asunder – not even the man who threatened to come between them forever.

Maeve Binchy’s novels are marked by her depiction of small town Irish life and present a realistic portrayal of the lives of young Irish women growing up in the relatively restrictive society of Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s. Although best known for her novels, she wrote a play, Deeply Regretted By, and continued to write short story collections such as This Year It Will Be Different and The Return Journey. Her last novel, Minding Frankie, was published in 2010 – the same year she received a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Book Awards.

As the news of her death broke last night and early today, broadcasters, fellow novelists, friends and fans have flooded the international media with tributes. This morning on Radio 4 Jilly Cooper said Binchy was ‘a natural storyteller … She was so kind and funny and captivating, and was a brilliant writer’.

Thriller writer Harlan Coben tweeted: ‘I’m so sad to hear about the death of the wonderful, funny, talented, generous, endearing Maeve Binchy.’

Other tributes included Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin: ‘Maeve Binchy was a gregarious, larger than life, ebullient recorder of human foibles and wonderment,’ and Cathy Kelly: ‘The world is truly a darker place without the golden light of lovely Maeve Binchy. We’ll all miss her genius.’

In 2000, Binchy was ranked third in the World Book Day poll of favourite authors – ahead of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Stephen King. Described in the Irish Times as ‘one of the best-loved Irish writers of her generation’, she will be much missed across the globe.

Books to keep kids busy this summer!

With the summer now in full swing, we thought we’d take a look at some of the brilliant activity books for children that are available from the Book People right now. Full of exciting things to do that will help starve off boredom, there’s bound to be something that will appeal to a child you know.

A very stylish looking book from the experts at Usborne, The Holiday Activity Book is packed with puzzles, ideas for things to make and do, facts and hilarious jokes. Also from Usborne, Write Your Own Story Book is the perfect inspiration for any child who loves making up their own stories. Full of hints and tips, the book offers practical suggestions for creating different points of view and conjuring up believable characters, settings and fascinating storylines. For those who love to colour in, The Nature Colouring Pack contains three colouring books dedicated to birds, flowers and butterflies. With double-page spreads and information and full-colour artwork on one side, children can either copy the colours as they fill in the black-and-white duplicate, or create their own dazzling displays of colour. A great way of learning while also having fun!

Drawing, Doodling and Colouring for Boys and Drawing, Doodling and Colouring for Girls are full of exciting and imaginative ideas. Both books are sure to encourage lots of drawing and doodle-tastic activities! For those rainy days, what could be better for kids than the chance to build their own rocket or robot? Now thanks to Make It! Rocket and Make It! Robot, they have the chance to do just that. Interactive stories full of fascinating facts, they’ll quickly become favourites!

Holiday Activity Book

My week at the Book People

Rhiannon has spent the past week doing work experience at the Book People. Here’s what she has to say about the experience:

My name is Rhiannon, and I’ve spent the past week doing work experience at the Book People. I’ve just finished my GCSEs and am about to go to college to study English Language, English Literature, French, Psychology and Media Studies. After I finish in college, I’d like to go to university and become a magazine journalist. I decided to do my work experience here after being featured in the Red House Young Writers’ Yearbook a couple of years ago and visiting the Book People HQ. I knew straight away I’d love to come here again! Between the country house office, sprawling grounds and menagerie of exotic birds around the back, who wouldn’t?!

The week got off to a great start when I was asked to help write author profiles for the Young Writers’ Yearbook 2012 published by Red House. This job entailed carrying out research and writing a short biography of the authors judging each category. I then worked on the online side of Red House, cross checking the details of books from the catalogue and then on the website.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I continued my work with the Web Team. I got to find out lots about the details of books sold online, and learned about uploading images of products and editing their information. I also got to sit in on two meetings about the most recent catalogue released by Red House. I found it interesting to see the ‘behind the scenes’ side of the company, and how it really works here!

Then on Thursday, I got to do some writing of my own for Puffin Post. I wrote a short article on Alice in Wonderland in the style of one of the puffin personalities and a couple of articles on learning styles which were really interesting to research! It was fun having to find a particular voice to write in and sticking with it throughout. On my last day I worked on a piece about Charlotte’s Web for the Pufflings edition of Puffin Post and created some puzzles to go in the magazines, which is always a really fun and creative thing to do! In between all this I’ve also found time to write this blog post!

I’ve had a really great time this week; I’ve learned so much about the business side of the company as well as getting the chance to do a lot of my own writing. Obviously it’s very different to being in school – there’s no school uniform, no bells and definitely no school dinners! I hope my experience working here will stand me in good stead when it comes to me finding a job; employers always look for someone who has previous experience of working, and the IT and writing skills I have developed here will be really useful to me when I’m working as a journalist and will give me a head start. It’s also helped me confirm my career ideas – I’ve had the opportunity to do a wide range of things here, and I know that this is what I really enjoy doing and it’s the type of job I’d like to have.

Thank to everyone at the Book People for letting me come here and giving me such a great work experience!

The Man Booker 2012 Longlist has been announced

The 12-book longlist for the prestigious Man Booker Prize has been announced. Chosen by a panel of judges chaired by Sir Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, the books were selected from a total of 145 titles. Amongst the books listed are Hilary Mantel’s sequel to Wolf Hall and books written by the likes of Nicola Barker and Andre Brink as well as four debut novels.

The books longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 are:

Nicola Barker, The Yips
Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident
André Brink, Philida
Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists
Michael Frayn, Skios
Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Deborah Levy, Swimming Home
Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies
Alison Moore, The Lighthouse
Will Self, Umbrella
Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis
Sam Thompson, Communion Town

The six-book shortlist will be announced on 11 September, and the winner will be announced at a dinner at London’s Guildhall on 16 October. Each of the six shortlisted writers is awarded £2,500 and is presented with a specially commissioned hand-bound edition of his or her book. The winner receives a further £50,000. Beginning in 1969, the prestigious award is now in its 44th year. You can find out more information at or @ManBookerPrize.

Holiday reads

We’ve got some great holiday reads available at the Book People right now, and all are just perfect for anyone who wants to sit back, relax and get lost in another world, either on the beach or just sitting at home. With books from famous and new authors, there is sure to be something to suit your taste in fiction.

Shadow of Night, written by Deborah Harkness, is the sequel to A Discovery of Witches and again follows the forbidden love and adventures of Diana and Matthew. After the coexistence is threatened, the pair travel back in time to London in 1590, but maybe they’re not as safe as they think they are… For something a bit lighter, why not try the Molly Keane set? Five tales full of wry observations, elegant writing and decidedly black humour.

Tania French’s Broken Harbour is an atmospheric and poignant novel that has been heralded by the likes of Harlan Coben. Tense but also exciting, this is a psychological thriller that finds detectives dealing with a case where evidence appears to point in two different directions. Santa Montefiore’s The Summer House is also a fascinating summer read. After her husband passes away, Antoinette’s world falls apart. Even more so when she discovers he may not have been the man she thought he was. Frances Osborne’s Park Lane is set in Edwardian London and tells the story of two women who dream of breaking free from tradition and obligation.

We have a real bargain for any fans of Adele Parks. You can get a three-book set from her back catalogue for just £4.99. Intelligent fiction that is perfect for the modern woman, these books are all very different but are all very warm and moving. Michael Palin’s The Truth is a warm and witty slice of fiction telling the story of Keith Mabbut – an ordinary man on an extraordinary adventure that takes him to India.

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