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Sian McNabney

Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea

Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea

Teffi

$29.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Every now and then you are fortunate enough to come across an author that you know you will be re-reading long into your golden years, and to that short but cherished list I now introduce Teffi. What a discovery! It only took a few chapters of her modern voice, charm and intelligent observation to wholeheartedly win me over. A Russian writer from the early twentieth century she was so widely read that she could count both Lenin and Nicholas II as avid readers.Only recently translated for English speaking audiences, her autobiographical account of leaving revolutionary Russia and her uncertain journey as a refugee is a timely release. The journey itself is at times so distressing  that it is a testament to her character and naturally humorous disposition that can still make you laugh. This book was an absolute treasure to me, as is Teffi herself, and I am so delighted to have discovered her! Sian McNabney

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Considered Teffi s single greatest work,  Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea  is a deeply personal account of the author s last months in Russia and Ukraine, suffused with her acute awareness of the political currents churning around her, many of which have now resurfaced. In 1918, in the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Teffi, whose stories and journalism had made her a celebrity in Moscow, was invited to read from her work in Ukraine. She accepted the invitation eagerly, though she had every intention of returning home. As it happened, her trip ended four years later in Paris, where she would spend the rest of her life in exile. None of this was foreseeable when she arrived in German-occupied Kiev to discover a hotbed of artistic energy and experimentation. When Kiev fell several months later to Ukrainian nationalists, Teffi fled south to Odessa, then on to the port of Novorossiysk, from which she embarked at last for Constantinople. Danger and death threaten throughout  Memories,  even as the book displays the brilliant style, keen eye, comic gift, and deep feeling that have made Teffi one of themost beloved of twentieth-century Russian writers.
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The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue Des Martyrs

The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue Des Martyrs

Elaine Sciolino

$36.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Sciolino so perfectly captures the hustle and bustle of one of the liveliest streets in Paris. One of the best travel books I have read in recent times! Sian McNabney

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Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris Bureau Chief of the New York Times, invites us on a tour of her favorite Parisian street, offering an homage to street life and the pleasures of Parisian living.

I can never be sad on the rue des Martyrs,  Sciolino explains, as she celebrates the neighborhood's rich history and vibrant lives. While many cities suffer from the leveling effects of globalization, the rue des Martyrs maintains its distinct allure. On this street, the patron saint of France was beheaded and the Jesuits took their first vows. It was here that Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted circus acrobats, Emile Zola situated a lesbian dinner club in his novel Nana, and Francois Truffaut filmed scenes from The 400 Blows. Sciolino reveals the charms and idiosyncrasies of this street and its longtime residents - the Tunisian greengrocer, the husband-and-wife cheesemongers, the showman who's been running a transvestite cabaret for more than half a century, the owner of a 100-year-old bookstore, the woman who repairs eighteenth-century mercury barometers-bringing Paris alive in all of its unique majesty.

The Only Street in Paris will make readers hungry for Paris, for cheese and wine, and for the kind of street life that is all too quickly disappearing.
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Good People

Good People

Nir Baram ,  Jeffrey Green

$32.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Good People follows the turbulent lives of a young Russian would-be poet, and a German businessman, two people whom you alternately pity and despise! Both are struggling (and failing) to maintain an ethical morality in 1930's Berlin/Moscow, whilst trying to hold on to ambition and family. The suffocating environment that Baram so effectively invokes leaves you wondering how anyone came out of that period emotionally intact, let alone without a stained character. Sian McNabney

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It's late 1938. Thomas Heiselberg has built a career in Berlin as a market researcher for an American advertising company. In Leningrad, twenty-two-year-old Sasha Weissberg has grown up eavesdropping on the intellectual conversations in her parents' literary salon.They each have grand plans for their lives. Neither of them thinks about politics too much, but after catastrophe strikes they will have no choice. Thomas puts his research skills to work elaborating Nazi propaganda. Sasha persuades herself that working as a literary editor of confessions for Stalin's secret police is the only way to save her family. When destiny brings them together, they will have to face the consequences of the decisions they have made. Nir Baram's Good People has been showered with praise in many countries. With its acute awareness of the individual amid towering historical landscapes, it is a tour de force: sparkling, erudite, a glimpse into the abyss.
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Rendez-vous with Art

Rendez-vous with Art

Philippe De Montebello (Director, Metropolitan Museum of Art) ,  Martin Gayford

$39.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Martin Gayford, author of the fascinating portrait of Lucien Freud 'Man with Blue Scarf' has returned with the exquisite new book 'Rendezvous with Art'.

Accompanied by the former Metropolitan Museum of Art director Philippe de Montebello, the duo travel the world exploring museums, churches and galleries with the simple goal of 'looking at art'. The excitement, passion and knowledge with which de Montebello discusses certain artworks is nothing short of breathtaking and is proof of his distinguished reputation as the Mel's most loyal director.

A charming read for art lovers! Sian McNabney

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This book is about how we experience art, how we look at it, how we think about it. It is structured in the form of a series of conversations in some of the best-known museums in the world, but also outside the museums, where we often look upon art in a completely different way.

The two protagonists are Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for 31 years to 2008, and the art critic Martin Gayford. In the process, both men convey, with subtlety and brilliance, the delights and significance of their subject matter.
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Socrates: A Man for Our Times

Socrates: A Man for Our Times

Paul Johnson

$26.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Paul Johnson brings this remarkable man to life with his extraordinary ability to humanise.What could simply be a discussion of a pivotal figure in history becomes a portrait of a man who we could easily meet on the street today. A man whose voice Johnson so adequately recalls for us.

This is a wonderful book and a perfect starting point for anyone interested in this timeless thinker. Sian McNabney

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This brilliant biography of Socrates by historian Paul Johnson situates the father of philosophy in the fifth century BC Athens that he loved, delving into the geopolitics of the time, his service as a soldier, his wide range of acquaintances and the civic unrest that led to Socrates' trial and death.

This is a fresh and fascinating portrait of the thinker who believed questioning and education were the keys to a virtuous life, proving that Socrates' beliefs and philosophy are as relevant today as in ancient Athens.
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The Philosopher's Dog

The Philosopher's Dog

Raimond Gaita

$25.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- It is rare to find a book that approaches the subject of animals with both intelligence and tenderness in equal measure. Here is such a book and what a beautiful book it is! Sian McNabney

How do animals think and feel? Is it mistaken to attribute to them the concepts of love, devotion, grief; even dignity? How can we understand our conception of such things, and what do our relations with animals say about our own humanity?

In this much-loved book, Raimond Gaita investigates such questions through stories of animals he has known and loved, and through the reflections of others. The Philospher’s Dog is moving, sometimes funny and always thought provoking.

Shortlisted, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards
Shortlisted, Age Book of the Year
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Letters to Poseidon

Letters to Poseidon

Cees Nooteboom ,  Laura Watkinson

$19.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- I was instantly charmed by this book! From the moment that Mr Nooteboom decides to write letters to the mighty sea god, whilst toasting the first day of spring with champagne, I was smitten. The alternating childlike fascination and poignancy with which he writes of carrying subject makes for truly beautiful reading. Sian McNabney

'I had been looking for someone to write to for a long time, but how does a man write letters to a god?' From his Mediterranean garden on the island of Menorca, Cees Nooteboom writes to the trident-wielding deity, Poseidon, 'initiating a dialogue not only with the past,' as Alberto Manguel observes in his Preface, 'but with an entire world that seemed lost for ever.' Offering a seductive interweaving of keen observation and the fruits of a vast knowledge, Nooteboom explores questions of human existence through the minutiae of the living world around him, and marvels at the secrets of the deep. He recalls figures in history, places he has travelled to, objets trouves, works of art and literature, and takes a fresh look at the ancient myths. At once playful and poignant, beautiful and bizarre, Nooteboom's Letters to Poseidon are couched in the glittering prose of one of Europe's outstanding stylists.
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Unreliable Memoirs: Picador Classic

Unreliable Memoirs: Picador Classic

Clive James ,  P. J. O'Rourke

$19.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- One of the funniest series of books I have ever come across! I have embarrassed myself many times on public transport laughing along with the truly talented Clive James. Sian

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With an introduction by P. J. O'Rourke

"I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment that did not affect me."

So begins the first instalment of Clive James's memoirs in which we follow the young Clive on his journey from boyhood to the cusp of manhood, when his days of wearing short trousers are finally behind him. Battling with school, girls, various relatives and an overwhelming desire to be a superhero, Clive's adventures growing up in the suburbs of post-war Sydney are hair-raising, uproarious and almost too good to be true...

Told with James's unassailable sense of humour and self-effacing charm, Unreliable Memoirs is a hilarious and touching introduction to the story of a national treasure. A million-copy bestseller, this classic memoir is a celebration of life in all its unpredictable glory.
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Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo

Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo

Hayden Herrera

$29.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Herrera's vivid and thoroughly well researched bio brings to life this fantastic artist. A truly courageous woman! Sian

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This beautifully-illustrated and engrossing biography of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo reveals a woman of extreme magnetism and originality and an artist whose sensual vibrancy came straight from her own experiences. Born and brought up near Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution, she suffered a devastating accident aged eighteen, which left her crippled and unable to bear children. Her marriage to the muralist Diego Riviera was tempestuous, and she had many love affairs with men as diverse as Isamu Noguchi and Leon Trotsky. Absorbed in Mexican folklore and culture and a lover of dramatic spectacle, Kahlo's tumultuous life is that of an extraordinary twentieth-century woman.
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Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys ,  Andrea Ashworth ,  Angela Smith

$19.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This is a fascinating take on the "mad-woman-in-the-attic" character from the much-loved Bronte classic, Jane Eyre. Rhys uses memory, culture and loss to portray a very different and tragic Mr Rochester. Sian

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Her grand attempt to tell what she felt was the story of  Jane Eyre's  'madwoman in the attic', Bertha Rochester, Jean Rhys'  Wide Sargasso Sea  is edited with an introduction and notes by Angela Smith in  Penguin Classics . Born into the oppressive, colonialist society of 1930s Jamaica, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality. After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is inexorably driven towards madness, and her husband into the arms of another novel's heroine. This classic study of betrayal, a seminal work of postcolonial literature, is Jean Rhys' brief, beautiful masterpiece. Jean Rhys (1894-1979) was born in Dominica. Coming to England aged 16, she drifted into various jobs before moving to Paris, where she began writing and was 'discovered' by Ford Madox Ford. Her novels, often portraying women as underdogs out to exploit their sexualities, were ahead of their time and only modestly successful.  From 1939 (when  Good Morning, Midnight  was written) onwards she lived reclusively, and was largely forgotten when she made a sensational comeback with her account of Jane Eyre's Bertha Rochester,  Wide Sargasso Sea , in 1966. If you enjoyed  Wide Sargasso Sea , you might like Charlotte Bronte's  Jane Eyre , also available in  Penguin Classics .  She took one of the works of genius of the nineteenth century and turned it inside-out to create one of the works of genius of the twentieth century . (Michele Roberts,  The Times ).
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Man With a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud

Man With a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud

Martin Gayford

$27.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This beautifully illustrated biography provides not only an intimate portrait of one of England's finest painters, Lucien Freud, but an overview of the portraiture genre itself. Sian

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Lucian Freud, perhaps the worlds leading portrait painter, spent seven months painting a portrait of the art critic Martin Gayford. Gayford describes the process chronologically, from the day he arrived for the first sitting through to his meeting with the couple who bought the finished painting. As Freud creates a portrait of Gayford, so the art critic produces his own portrait of the notoriously private artist, recounting their wide-ranging conversations and giving a rare insight into Freuds working practice. The book is illustrated throughout with photographs by David Dawson of Freud at work, with paintings by Freud from the 1940s to the present, and images by other artists discussed by Freud with Gayford. The result vividly conveys what it is like to be on the inside of the process of creating a painting by a great artist.
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Writing Home

Writing Home

Alan Bennett

$24.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This hilarious book is proof that Alan Bennett has worked with almost everyone in British theatre! A truly enjoyable read. Sian

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This book brings together Alan Bennett's diaries for 1980-1995, with reminiscences and reviews, the diary he kept during the production of his very first play, Forty Years On, which starred John Gielgud, together with hilarious accounts of his many television plays, notably An Englishman Abroad and A Private Function. At the heart of the book is The Lady in the Van, the true account of Miss Mary Shepherd, a homeless tramp who took up residence in Bennett's garden and stayed for fifteen years. From his now-legendary address at Russell Harty's memorial service to recollections of growing up in Leeds, Writing Home gives us a unique and unforgettable portrait of one of England's leading playwrights.
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Shakespeare on Toast: Getting a Taste for the Bard

Shakespeare on Toast: Getting a Taste for the Bard

Ben Crystal

$27.95  $24.60
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Whether you're a Shakespeare fan or not, you won't help but be carried away by Ben Crystal's obvious enthusiasm. Sian

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Who's afraid of William Shakespeare? Just about everyone. He wrote too much and what he did write is inaccessible and elitist. Right? Wrong.  Shakespeare on Toast  knocks the stuffing from the staid old myth of Shakespeare, revealing the man and his plays for what they really are: modern, thrilling and uplifting drama. Actor and author Ben Crystal brings the bright words and colourful characters of the world's greatest hack writer brilliantly to life, handing over the key to Shakespeare's plays, unlocking the so called difficult bits and, astonishingly, finding Shakespeare's own voice amid the poetry. Told in five fascinating Acts,  Shakespeare on Toast  sweeps the cobwebs from the Bard - from his language, his life, his time - revealing both the man and his work to be relevant, accessible and full of beans.
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