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Sian
Mafia State: How One Reporter Became an Enemy of the Brutal New Russia

Mafia State: How One Reporter Became an Enemy of the Brutal New Russia

Luke Harding

$32.95

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- If you're wondering what type of government & society would send three young women to jail for 'hooliganism', read this book. Sian

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In February 2011, in scenes that evoked the chilliest moments of the Cold War, journalist Luke Harding was expelled from Moscow. His offence? To have reported on aspects of contemporary Russia that the authorities would have preferred to remain hidden from view. Moscow Ghosts is a clear-eyed and unflinching chronicle of Luke's often terrifying experiences in Russia in the months leading up to his expulsion. It describes his encounters with Russia's sinister FSB security service, the leather-jacketed agents who tailed him, and his summons to Lefortovo, formerly the KGB's notorious Moscow prison. It also details the secret psychological war the FSB waged against the journalist and his family. Emails were intercepted. Break-ins at his flat were routine and calculated. Luke might well return home to find that the smoke alarm had been tampered with, or a sex manual left by his bed, or a teddy bear left in his young son's room.  But then, as Harding shows, intimidation of anyone who asks awkward questions is commonplace in today's Russia, and he goes on to explore the climate of fear that currently prevails. He talks to journalists who have been harassed and bullied.  He includes accounts of interviews with human rights workers - among them Natalia Estemirova, who was brutally murdered in 2009. He reports from Chechnya and Dagestan, in Russia's troubled Caucasus region, and from the frontline on Moscow's 2008 war with Georgia. And he looks at news stories that the Kremlin would prefer journalists not to cover, including allegations made in the WikiLeaks cables that under the rule of Vladimir Putin Russia has become a 'virtual mafia state'.  This is a frank and deeply disturbing portrait of contemporary Russia, written by someone who knows what it is like to be on the wrong side of those in power.
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.
Unreliable Memoirs: Autobiography

Unreliable Memoirs: Autobiography

Clive James

$24.99

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- …and so begins 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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'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.' In the first instalment of Clive James's memoirs, we meet the young Clive, dressed in short trousers, and wrestling with the demands of school, various relatives and the occasional snake, in the suburbs of post-war Sydney. His adventures are hilarious, his recounting of them even more so, in this -- the book that started it all ...'You can't put it down once started. Its addictive powers stun all normal, decent resistance within seconds. Not to be missed' Sunday Times 'All that really needs to be said to recommend Unreliable Memoirs is that James writes exactly as he talks, which is all his millions of fans could wish' Evening Standard
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 ).
Letter to D

Letter to D

Andre Gorz ,  Julie Rose

$10.95

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Letter to D is a beautiful love letter written by a man to his dying wife. This is one of the most intimate and tender books that I have ever read. Very unique. Sian

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'You're 82 years old. You've shrunk six centimetres, you only weigh 45 kilos yet you're still beautiful, graceful and desirable' - so begins Andre Gorz's 'open love letter' to the woman he has lived with for 58 years and who lies dying next to him.  As one of France's leading post-war philosophers, Andre Gorz wrote many influential books, but nothing he wrote will be read as widely or remembered as long as this simple, passionate, beautiful letter to his dying wife. In a bittersweet postscript a year after Letter to D was published, a note pinned to the door for the cleaning lady marked the final chapter in an extraordinary love story. Andre Gorz and his terminally ill wife, Dorine, were found lying peacefully side by side, having taken their lives together. They simply could not live without one another.  An international bestseller, Letter to D is the ultimate love story - and all the more poignant because it's true.
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

$25.95

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.
Writing Home

Writing Home

Alan Bennett

$24.99

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.
Shakespeare on Toast: Getting a Taste for the Bard

Shakespeare on Toast: Getting a Taste for the Bard

Ben Crystal

$19.99

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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