‘Shows the human side of those fleeing their home countries and seeking asylum … starkly written and compelling, and will appeal to anyone seeking a more realistic, first-hand picture of the asylum seeker issue. It takes you into an underworld of desperate, stateless and unwanted people and shows a reality that so many of us turn away from.’
Books & Publishing
Dawood Amiri is an ethnic Hazara who, in 2010, made the fateful decision to seek asylum in Australia. He arrived in Indonesia in 2010, and after various adventures and misadventures, was captured along with over 150 other refugees when he was about to board a boat headed for Christmas Island. After a long stint in detention, he escaped and began working for people-smugglers to raise money for his own passage and to help his fellow asylum-seekers. In six months, he organised more than 400 passengers for four different boats, but he never made it to Australia.
Amiri was eventually arrested as a people-smuggler himself — after having helped gather passengers for a boat that was recklessly overloaded by his bosses and sank en route to Christmas Island, with the loss of 96 lives.
Among the dead were two of Amiri’s best friends; that day, he ‘swore at God’. He was sentenced to six years’ jail in Jakarta’s Cipinang prison, while the kingpins, at the time, remained free. His story, despite appearances, is that of a man who considers himself humane and decent, who landed among thieves. It also provides surprising insights into the desperation of asylum-seekers and the economics of the highly organised people-smuggling industry, as well as the corruption that has enabled it.
On September 20, 1940, one of the most famous European art dealers disembarked in New York, one of hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing Vichy France. Leaving behind his beloved Paris gallery, Paul Rosenberg had managed to save his family, but his paintings - modern masterpieces by Cezanne, Monet, Sisley and others - were not so fortunate. As he fled, dozens of works were seized by Nazi forces and the art dealer's own legacy eradicated. More than a half century later, Anne Sinclair uncovered a box filled with letters. Curious in spite of myself, she writes, I plunged into these archives, in search of the story of my family. To find out who my mother's father really was...a man hailed as a pioneer in the world of modern art, who then became a pariah in his own country during the Second World War. I was overcome with a desire to fit together the pieces of this French story of art and war. Drawing on her grandfather's intimate correspondences with Picasso, Matisse, Braque and others, Sinclair takes us on a personal journey through the life of a legendary member of the Parisian art scene. Rosenberg's story is emblematic of millions of Jews, rich and poor, whose lives were indelibly altered in WWII. Sinclair's journey to reclaim her family history paints a picture of modern art on both sides of the Atlantic between the 1920s and 1950s, and reframes twentieth century art history.
This is the story of Sasha Abramsky's grandparents, Chimen and Miriam Abramsky, and of their unique home at 5 Hillway, around the corner from Hampstead Heath. In their semi-detached house, so deceptively ordinary from the outside, the Abramskys created a remarkable House of Books. It became the repository for Chimen's collection of thousands upon thousands of books, manuscripts and other printed, handwritten and painted documents, representing his journey through the great political, philosophical, religious and ethical debates that have shaped the western world. Chimen Abramsky was barely a teenager when his father, a famous rabbi, was arrested by Stalin's secret police and sentenced to five years hard labour in Siberia, and fifteen when his family was exiled to London. Lacking a university degree, he nevertheless became a polymath, always obsessed with collecting ideas, with capturing the meanderings of the human soul through the world of great thoughts and thinkers. Rejecting his father's Orthodoxy, he became a Communist, made his living as a book-dealer and amassed a huge, and astonishingly rare, library of socialist literature and memorabilia. Disillusioned with Communism and belatedly recognising the barbarity at the core of Stalin's project, he transformed himself once more, this time into a liberal and a humanist. To his socialist library was added a vast trove of Jewish history volumes. Chimen ended his career as Professor of Hebrew and Jewish studies at UCL, London and rare manuscripts expert for Sotheby's. With his wife Miriam, Chimen made their house a focal point for left-wing intellectual Jewish life: hundreds of the world's leading thinkers, from Isaiah Berlin to Eric Hobsbawm, dined at their table. The House of Twenty Thousand Books brings alive this latter-day salon by telling the story of Chimen Abramsky's love affair with ideas and with the world of books and of Miriam's obsession with being a hostess and with entertaining. Room by room, book by book, idea by idea, the world of these politically engaged intellectuals, autodidacts and dreamers is lovingly resurrected. In this extraordinary elegy to a lost world, Sasha Abramsky's passionate narrative brings to life once more not just the Hillway salon, but the ideas, the conflicts, the personalities and the human yearnings that animated it.
More than forty years after Deep Throat arrived on the cultural scene and inspired a sexual revolution, questions about the ethics of pornography and its impact on society are still being asked. Kristin Battista-Frazee was only four years old in 1974 when her father, Anthony Battista, was indicted by the federal government for distributing the now famous porn film Deep Throat. The stress drove Kristin's mother, Frances Battista, to worry endlessly if her husband would be put in jail. She became so depressed that she attempted suicide. Kristin survived this family trauma to live a surprisingly normal life. But instead of leaving the past behind her, she developed a burning curiosity to understand her family's history. Why did the federal government so vehemently prosecute this case? And why did her father get involved in distributing this notorious porn film in the first place? The Pornographer's Daughter is an insider's glimpse into the events that made Deep Throat and pornography so popular, as well as what it was like to come of age against the backdrop of the pornography business.
Philip Larkin was that rare thing among poets: a household name in his own lifetime. Lines such as 'Never such innocence again' and 'Sexual intercourse began / In nineteen sixty-three' made him one of the most popular poets of the last century. Larkin's reputation as a man, however, has been more controversial. A solitary librarian known for his pessimism, he disliked exposure and had no patience with the literary circus. And when, in 1992, the publication of his Selected Letters laid bare his compartmentalised personal life, accusations of duplicity, faithlessness, racism and misogyny were levelled against him. There is, of course, no requirement that poets should be likeable or virtuous, but James Booth asks whether art and life were really so deeply at odds with each other. Can the poet who composed the moving 'Love Songs in Age' have been such a cold-hearted man? Can he who uttered the playful, self-deprecating words 'Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth' really have been so boorish? A very different public image is offered by those who shared the poet's life: the women with whom he was romantically involved, his friends and his university colleagues. It is with their personal testimony, including access to previously unseen letters, that Booth reinstates a man misunderstood: not a gaunt, emotional failure, but a witty, provocative and entertaining presence, delightful company; an attentive son and a man devoted to the women he loved. Meticulously researched, unwaveringly frank and full of fresh material, Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love definitively reinterprets one of our greatest poets.
Casting a long shadow over New Zealand history, Richard John Seddon, Premier from 1893 to his untimely death in 1906, held a clear vision for the country he led. Pushing New Zealand in more egalitarian directions than ever before, he was both the builder and the maintenance man - if not the architect - of our country. Challenging popular opinion of New Zealand's longest-serving Prime Minister as a ruthless pragmatist, cunning misogynist and Imperialistic jingoist, this landmark biography of Seddon presents an altogether more sympathetic, erudite appraisal. Reconciling two generations of New Zealand scholarship, Richard Seddon: King of God's Own demonstrates that, while holding fast to common ideals, Seddon was successful by mastering the art of the possible. He knew instinctively what his electorate would tolerate and remained in step with public opinion. Despite contradictions in his attitudes towards other races, he fought to ensure privilege did not become entrenched in what he envisioned as a white man's utopia. In this perceptive new evaluation, political historian Tom Brooking explains Seddon's complex relationship with Maori and shows how he in fact held a progressively bi-cultural vision for the future of 'God's Own Country'. Seddon was no saint. Somewhat autocratic and given to petty nepotism, he nevertheless remains the most dominant political leader in our country's history. Internationally, his high profile within the Empire helped put New Zealand on the map. Domestically, he sought a middle ground between free-market extremism and full-blown socialism. And more privately, Seddon was a devoted family man, his actions shaped much more by his supportive wife and assertive daughters than has previously been realised. Richard Seddon: King of God's Own is a superlative achievement in New Zealand history writing. Absorbing, wide-ranging and beautifully articulated, it reframes and repositions one of the founding fathers of modern New Zealand.
Jonathan Swift is best remembered today as the author of Gulliver's Travels, the satiric fantasy that quickly became a classic and has remained in print for nearly three centuries. Yet Swift also wrote many other influential works, was a major political and religious figure in his time, and became a national hero, beloved for his fierce protest against English exploitation of his native Ireland. What is really known today about the enigmatic man behind these accomplishments? Can the facts of his life be separated from the fictions? In this deeply researched biography, Leo Damrosch draws on discoveries made over the past thirty years to tell the story of Swift's life anew. Probing holes in the existing evidence, he takes seriously some daring speculations about Swift's parentage, love life, and various personal relationships and shows how Swift's public version of his life - the one accepted until recently - was deliberately misleading. Swift concealed aspects of himself and his relationships, and other people in his life helped to keep his secrets. Assembling suggestive clues, Damrosch re-narrates the events of Swift's life while making vivid the scents, sounds and smells of his English and Irish surroundings. Through his own words and those of a wide circle of friends, a complex Swift emerges: a restless, combative, empathetic figure, a man of biting wit and powerful mind, and a major figure in the history of world letters.
Delia Ephron brings her trademark wit and effervescent prose to a series of unforgettable, moving and provocative essays. The emotional lynchpin is the author's stirring, eloquent response to the death of Nora Ephron, her older sister and frequent writing companion. In 'Sister', she deftly captures the love, rivalry, respect and intimacy that made up her relationship with her sister in a way that is at once deeply personal and comfortingly universal. Other essays in the collection run the gamut from a hysterical piece about love and the movies - how romantic comedies completely destroyed her twenties - to the joy of girlfriends and best friendship, the magical madness and miracle of dogs, keen-eyed observations about urban survival, and a serious and affecting memoir of life with her mother - growing up the child of alcoholics. Ephron's sparkling wit and humanity is present on every emotionally resonant page.
'When people gave up on Wylie, Wylie refused to give up on people.' For a street dog born in the city of Kandahar, Afghanistan, to be crowned top dog at Scruffts, a competition for crossbreeds held during Crufts, the largest dog show on earth, is nothing short of a miracle. But for Wylie, the gentle, cropped eared ball of fur, miracles seemed to happen quite regularly. Beaten and abused while being used as a bait dog, Wylie suffered terrible injuries that needed urgent treatment. Rescued close to death, with hacked off ears and a severed tail, he was attended to by soldiers who feared he would not last the night. Astonishingly he did, only to return days later with new injuries. However a lifeline came when he was handed over to animal welfare Charity Nowzad and flown to Britain in the hope of finding a new life. But would anyone take a chance on a seemingly nervous and undomesticated stray? Luckily for Wylie his biggest adventure yet was about to begin...This is the incredible and heart-warming story, full of tragedy and triumph, of a dog who never gave up hope.
Millions of readers know and love him for his lyrical portraits of his life, from the moving and nostalgic tales of childhood and innocence found in the pages of Cider with Rosie, to the nomadic wanderings through Spain retold in As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, to his dramatic experiences fighting Franco's forces in A Moment of War. As a poet, playwright, broadcaster and writer, Laurie Lee created a legend around himself that would see him safely secured in the literary canon even within his own lifetime. Yet, though he wrote exclusively about his own life, Lee never told the whole story. His readers know him as a man devoted to two women: his wife and his daughter, 'the firstborn'. Among the pages of his published works there is little trace of the girls he left behind. He never identified in print the girl who inspired him to go to Spain, or the woman who supported him there. He never named the beautiful mistress he came home to, who was the great love of his young life and who led him into literary London, bore his child and broke his heart. In The Life and Loves of Laurie Lee, acclaimed biographer Valerie Grove delves into the letters and diaries he kept hidden from the world, building on her magisterial study
Bear Grylls is one of the world's most famous survivors. Bear Grylls: Two All-Action Adventures combines two of his greatest adventures told in Facing Up and Facing the Frozen Ocean. At the age of twenty-three, Bear Grylls became one of the youngest Britons to reach the summit of Mount Everest. At extreme altitude youth holds no advantage over experience, nevertheless, only two years after breaking his back in a freefall parachuting accident, he overcame severe weather conditions, fatigue and dehydration to stand on top of the world's highest mountain. Facing Up is the story of his adventure, his courage and humour, his friendship and faith. 'No one could fail to be gripped by his heartfelt excitement and emotion over what was the adventure of a lifetime' Independent Facing the Frozen Ocean tells of a carefully calculated attempt to complete the first unassisted crossing of the frozen north Atlantic in an open rigid inflatable boat. But this expedition became a terrifying battle against extreme elements and icebergs as large as cathedrals. Starting from the remote north Canadian coastline, Grylls and his crew crossed the infamous Labrador Sea, pushed on through ice-strewn waters to Greenland and then found themselves isolated in a perfect storm 400 miles from Iceland. This is a compelling, vivid and inspirational tale. 'An epic story of hardship, friendship and faith' Daily Telegraph
A genius immortalized her. A French king paid a fortune for her. An emperor coveted her. Every year more than 9 million visitors trek to view her portrait in the Louvre. Yet while everyone recognizes her smile, hardly anyone knows her story. Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, a blend of biography, history, and memoir, truly is a book of discovery-about the world's most recognized face, most revered artist, and most praised and parodied painting. Who was she, this ordinary woman who rose to such extraordinary fame? Why did the most renowned painter of her time choose her as his model? What became of her? And why does her smile enchant us still? Lisa Gherardini (1479-1542) was a quintessential woman of her times, caught in a whirl of political upheavals, family dramas, and public scandals. Her life spanned the most tumultuous chapters in the history of Florence-and of the greatest artistic outpouring the world has ever seen. Her story creates an extraordinary tapestry of Renaissance Florence, with larger-than-legend figures such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli. In Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, Dianne Hales takes readers with her to meet Lisa's descendants; uncover her family's long and colourful history; and explore the neighbourhoods where she lived as a girl, a wife, and a mother.
A collection of essays about life as a surgical intern. Terrence Holt brings a writer's eye and a doctor's touch to this powerful account of residency. Intense, ironic, heartfelt, and heartbreaking, these nine vivid stories put us at the bedside of a patient dying in a house full of cursing parrots, through a nightmarish struggle to convince a man that he has cancer, at a life-and-death effort to keep an oxygen mask on a claustrophobic patient, and in the lounge of a snowbound hospital where doctors swap yarns through the night. Out of these 'dioramas from the Museum of Human Misery,' Holt draws meaning, beauty, wonder, and truth. Personal, poignant, and meticulously precise, these stories evoke Chekhov, Maugham, and William Carlos Williams, admitting readers to the beating heart of medicine. Internal Medicine is an account of what it means to be a doctor, to be mortal, and to be human.
Christopher Isherwood was a celebrated English writer when he met the Californian teenager Don Bachardy on a Santa Monica beach in 1952. They spent their first night together on Valentine's Day 1953. Defying the conventions, the two men began living as an openly gay couple in an otherwise closeted Hollywood. The Animals provides a loving testimony of an extraordinary relationship that lasted until Chris' death in 1986 - and survived affairs (on both sides) and a thirty-year-age-gap. In romantic letters to one another, the couple created the private world of the Animals. Chris was Dobbin, a stubborn old workhorse; Don was the playful young white cat, Kitty. But Don needed to carve out his own identity - some of their longest sequences of letters were exchanged during his trips to London and New York, to pursue his career as an artist and to widen his emotional and sexual horizons. Amidst the intimate domestic dramas, we learn of Isherwood's continuing literary success - the royalty cheques from Cabaret, the acclaim for his pioneering novel A Single Man - and the bohemian whirl of Californian film suppers and beach life. Don, whose portraits of London theatreland were making his name, attends the world premiere of The Innocents with Truman Capote and afterwards dines with Deborah Kerr and the rest of the cast, spends weekends with Tennessee Williams, Cecil Beton, or the Earl and Countess of Harewood, and tours Egypt and Greece with a new love interest. But whatever happens in the outside world, Dobbin and Kitty always return to their 'Basket' and to each other. Candid, gossipy, exceptionally affectionate, The Animals is a unique interplay between two creative spirits, confident in their mutual devotion.
Zelda la Grange grew up in South Africa as a white Afrikaner who supported the rules of segregation. Yet just a few years after the end of Apartheid she would become a most trusted assistant to Nelson Mandela, growing to respect and cherish the man she had been taught was the enemy. Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. It is the incredible journey of an awkward, terrified young typist in her twenties later chosen to become the President's most loyal and devoted servants, spending most of her adult working life travelling with, supporting and caring for the man she would come to call 'Khulu', or 'grandfather'. Here Zelda pays tribute to Nelson Mandela as she knew him - a teacher who gave her the most valuable lessons of her life. A man who refused to be defined by his past, who forgave and respected all, but who was also frank, teasing and direct. As he renewed his country, he also freed Zelda from a closed world of fear and mistrust, giving her life true meaning. Now she shares his lasting and inspiring gifts with the world. This is a book about love and second chances. It will touch your life and make you believe that every one of us, no matter who we are or what we have done, has the power to change.
In the winter of 1939 in the cold snow of no-man's-land, two loners met and began an extraordinary journey together, one that would bind them for the rest of their lives. One was an orphaned puppy, abandoned by his owners as they fled the approaching Nazi forces. The other, a lost soul of a different sort - a Czech airman, flying for the French Air Force but soon to be bound for the RAF and the country that he would call home. Airman Robert Bozdech stumbled across the tiny German Shepherd after being shot down during a daring mission over enemy lines. Unable to desert his charge, he hid the dog inside his flying jacket as he made his escape. In the months that followed the pair would save each other's lives countless times as they fled France and flew together with Bomber Command; the puppy - which Robert named Ant - becoming the Squadron mascot along the way. Wounded repeatedly in action, shot, facing crash-landings and parachute bailouts, Ant was eventually grounded due to injury. Even then he refused to abandon his duty, waiting patiently beside the runway for his master's return from every sortie. By the end of the war Robert and Ant had become very British war heroes, and Ant was justly awarded the Dickin Medal, the 'Animal VC'. Thrilling and deeply moving, their story will touch the heart of anyone who understands the bond that exists between one man and his dog.
In 2002, at age twenty-eight, David MacLean woke up in a foreign land with his memory wiped clean. No money. No passport. No identity. Taken to a mental hospital by the police, MacLean then started to hallucinate so severely he had to be tied down. Soon he could remember song lyrics and scenes from television shows, but not his family, his friends, or the woman he loved. All of these symptoms, it turned out, were the result of the commonly prescribed malarial medication he was taking. Upon his return to the States, he struggled to piece together the fragments of his former life in a harrowing, absurd, and unforgettable journey back to himself. A deeply felt, closely researched, and intensely personal book, The Answer to the Riddle Is Me, drawn from MacLean's award-winning This American Life essay, confronts and celebrates the dark, mysterious depths of our psyches and the myriad ways we are all unknowable, especially to ourselves.
The incredible life story that inspired the forthcoming new musical, Tiger Woman Versus The Beast Dancer, singer, gang member, cocaine addict and sometime confectionist, Betty May's autobiography Tiger Woman thrilled and appalled the public when her story first appeared at the end of the roaring twenties. 'I have often lived only for pleasure and excitement but you will see that I came to it by unexpected ways' Born into abject squalor in London's Limehouse area, May used her steely-eyed, striking looks and street nous to become an unlikely bohemian celebrity sensation, a fixture at the Cafe Royal, London, marrying four times along the way alongside numerous affairs. 'I wondered why men would not leave me alone. They were alright at first when they offered to show one life, and then at once they became a nuisance' She elbowed her way to the top of London's social scene in a series of outrageous and dramatic fights, flights, marriages and misadventures that also took her to France, Italy, Canada and the USA. 'I learnt one thing on my honeymoon - to take drugs' Her most fateful adversary was occultist and self-proclaimed 'Great Beast' Aleister Crowley, who intended her to be a sacrificial victim of his Thelemite cult in Sicily, but it was her husband - Oxford undergraduate Raoul Loveday - who died, after conducting a blood sacrifice ritual. Betty May's vitality and ferocious charisma enchanted numerous artistic figures including Jacob Epstein and Jacob Kramer. A heroine like no other, this is her incredible story in her own words, as fresh and extraordinary as the day it was first told.
'On the last day of 1959 my father, the Beau Brummel of morticians, piled us into his green and white Desoto in which we looked like a moving pack of Salem cigarettes. He drove away from Lanesboro, the city in which we all were born, and into a small town on the Kentucky and Tennessee border. It was only a ninety-minute drive, but it might as well have been to Alaska. When our big boat of a car glided into Jubilee we circled the town square and headed towards the residential section of Main Street. My father pulled the car over and our five dark heads turned to face a huge, slightly run down house. My parents were total strangers to this tiny enclave, but it didn't matter because my father had finally realised his dream in this old house, which was to own his own funeral home.'
Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband T.J. and their toddler Daniel holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation-performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counselling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy's two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a first-hand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines flight 587. Lively, action-packed, and loaded with mordant wit, Working Stiff offers a first-hand account of daily life in one of America's most arduous professions, and the unexpected challenges of shuttling between the domains of the living and the dead. The body never lies-and through the murders, accidents, and suicides that land on her table, Dr. Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorized depictions of autopsy work on shows like CSI and Law & Order to reveal the secret story of the real morgue.
In My Shoes by Tamara Mellon, tells the Jimmy Choo founder's jaw-dropping account of her life in the fashion business. Wonderfully bling . (Sunday Times). Part memoir, part MBA masterclass ...an impressively erudite and candid autobiography . (Glamour). From her troubled childhood and her time as a young editor, to her partnership with Jimmy Choo and her very public relationships, Mellon offers a gripping account of the episodes that have made her. A book Jackie Collins would be proud of, with the added bonus that it is all true. A voyeuristic joy from start to finish . (Harpers Bazaar). Brilliant . (Mail on Sunday). Pure Danielle Steel, with added MBA, that jets from Vogue shoots in Nepal and dates with Christian Slater, to trade fairs, boardroom takeovers and a family showdown over missing millions. Perfect for grown-up fashionistas and wannabe entrepreneurs . (Sunday Times). A juicy and honest memoir from one of the most successful and self-made British businesswomen of her generation . (Financial Time). Tamara Mellon, OBE, is Founder and Creative Director of Tamara Mellon, a luxury lifestyle brand. She is the cofounder and the former CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Jimmy Choo, which she led for fifteen years until selling her share of the company. She divides her time between London and New York. William Patrick has co-written numerous memoirs, including Sidney Poitier's number-one bestseller The Measure of a Man.
Journalists have trekked to Harper Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, where she has lived with her sister Alice for decades, trying and failing to get an interview with the author. But in 2001, the Lee sisters opened their door to Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills. It was the beginning of a long conversation and a great friendship. In 2004, with the Lees' blessing, Mills moved in next door to the sisters and spent the next eighteen months there, sharing their lives as they slowly revealed their life stories and their love of literature and the South.
TRAVELLING TO WORK is the third volume of Michael Palin's widely acclaimed diaries. After the Python years and a decade of filming, writing and acting, Palin's career takes an unexpected direction into travel, which will shape his working life for the next twenty-five years. Yet, as the diaries reveal, he remained ferociously busy on a host of other projects throughout this whirlwind period. TRAVELLING TO WORK opens in September 1988 with Michael travelling down the Adriatic on the first leg of a modern-day AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. He was not the BBC's first choice for the series, but after its success and that of the accompanying book the public naturally wanted more. Palin, though, had other plans. Following the tumultuous success of A FISH CALLED WANDA, he is in demand as an actor. His next film, AMERICAN FRIENDS, is based on his great-grandfather's diaries. Next he takes on his most demanding role as the head teacher in Alan Bleasdale's award-winning drama series GBH. There is also his West End play, THE WEEKEND, and a first novel, HEMINGWAY'S CHAIR, and a lead role in FIERCE CREATURES, the much-delayed follow-up to WANDA. Michael describes himself as 'drawn to risk like a moth to a flame. Someone grounded and safe who can be tempted into almost anything.' He duly finds time for two more travel series, POLE TO POLE in 1991, FULL CIRCLE in 1996, and two more bestselling books to accompany them. These latest Diaries show a man grasping every opportunity that came his way, and they deal candidly with the doubts and setbacks that accompany this prodigious word-rate. As ever, his family life, with three children growing up fast, is there to anchor him. TRAVELLING TO WORK is a roller-coaster ride driven by the Palin hallmarks of curiosity and sense of adventure. These ten years in different directions offer riches on every page to his ever-growing army of readers.
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is an irresistible blend of literature and memoir revealing the big experiences and little moments that shaped Ann Patchett as a daughter, wife, friend and writer. Here, Ann Patchett shares entertaining and moving stories about her tumultuous childhood, her painful early divorce, the excitement of selling her first book, driving a Winnebago from Montana to Yellowstone Park, her joyous discovery of opera, scaling a six-foot wall in order to join the Los Angeles Police Department, the gradual loss of her beloved grandmother, starting her own bookshop in Nashville, her love for her very special dog and, of course, her eventual happy marriage. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a memoir both wide ranging and deeply personal, overflowing with close observation and emotional wisdom, told with wit, honesty and irresistible warmth.
Siegfried Sassoon is the greatest and most famous of all British war poets. Established as a writer of some merit before the Great War broke out, his near-suicidal acts of courage and defiance in the face of enemy fire earned him the Military Cross - and the nickname 'Mad Jack'. However, as the war dragged on, he came to see it as a cynical exercise, leading him to write an anti-war letter to The Times and to tear the ribbon of his MC Cross from his tunic and throw it into the River Mersey. Alarmed authorities sent him to a hospital for the shell shocked, where he befriended a young officer of the Manchester Regiment named Wilfred Owen. Although Sassoon returned to active service, his hatred for the war remained, and by the Armstice in 1918 he had declared himself a pacifist. Written with a clarity and directness that would have pleased the great man himself, John Stuart Roberts's widely praised biography is a gripping and accessible account of a man of deep contradictions. War hero, pacifist, towering literary figure unaligned to any movement; this biography looks beyond the common perception of Sassoon as a mere soldier poet, and looks at the man in full. It is a book that any admirer of Sassoon will cherish.
This is the brilliant memoir of a man who starts out in Manhattan and comes of age in the skies over Korea, before emerging as one of America's finest authors in the New York of the 1960s. Burning the Days showcases James Salter's uniquely beautiful style with some of the most evocative pages about flying ever written, together with portraits of the actors, directors and authors who later influenced him. It is an unforgettable book about passion, ambition and what it means to live and to write.
Virginia Woolfs many novels, notably Night and Day (1919), Jacobs Room (1922), Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and The Waves (1931), transformed ideas about structure, plot and characterisation. The third child of Leslie and Julia Stephen, and sister of Vanessa (later Bell), Woolf was a central figure in the Bloomsbury Group: that union of friends who revolutionised British culture with their innovative approach to art, design and society in the early years of the twentieth century. Portraiture figured greatly in Woolfs life. Portraits by G.F. Watts and photographs made by her aunt, Julia Margaret Cameron, furnished rooms in which she lived. Written portraits were produced in the family home; her father, Leslie Stephen, published short biographies of Samuel Johnson, Pope, Swift, George Eliot and Thomas Hobbes, while editing the first twenty-six volumes of the Dictionary of National Biography. Throughout her life, Woolf, a sharp observer and a brilliant wordsmith, composed memorable vignettes-in-words of people she knew or encountered, and was herself portrayed by artists and photographers on many occasions. Illustrated with over a hundred works from public and private collections, documentary photographs and extracts from her writings, this book catches Woolfs appearance and that of the world around her. It also points to her pursuit of the hidden, the fleeting and the obscure, in her desire to understand better the place and moment in time and in history in which she lived. In charting some of the milestones in Woolfs life, author Frances Spalding acknowledges the seen and unseen aspects of her subject; the outer and the inner, the recognisable and the concealed.
'All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.' Rick Stein's childhood in 1950s rural Oxfordshire and North Cornwall was idyllic. His parents were charming and gregarious, their five children much-loved and given freedom typical of the time. As he grew older, the holidays were filled with loud and lively parties in his parents' Cornish barn. But ever-present was the unpredicatible mood of his bipolar father, with Rick frequently the focus of his anger and sadness. When Rick was 18 his father killed himself. Emotionally adrift, Rick left for Australia, carrying a suitcase stamped with his father's initials. Manual labour in the outback followed by adventures in America and Mexico toughened up the naive public schoolboy, but at heart he was still lost and unsure what to do with his life. Eventually, Cornwall called him home. From the entrepreneurial days of his mobile disco, the Purple Tiger, to his first, unlikely unlikely nightclub where much of the time was spent breaking up drink-fuelled fights, Rick charts his personal journey in a way that is both wry and perceptive; engaging and witty. It is shortlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 2013.
Letters from a Young Poet shimmers with wit and warmth, and offers unforgettable vignettes of the young poet in those happy days before extraordinary fame found him.
As a young man, Rabindranath Tagore wrote a series of letters to his niece during what he described as the most productive period of his life. By turns contemplative and playful, gentle and impassioned, Tagore's letters abound in incredible insights—from sharply comical portrayals of English sahibs to lively anecdotes about family life, from thoughts on the nature of poetry to spiritual contemplation and inner feeling. And coursing through all these letters, like a ceaseless heartbeat, is Tagore's deep love for the natural splendour of Bengal. In this manner, this volume also serves as a prose companion to his magnificent work Gitanjali.
Sylvain Tesson, found a radical solution to his need for freedom, one as ancient as the experiences of the hermits of old Russia: he decided to lock himself alone in a cabin in the middle taiga, on the shores of Baikal, for six months. Noting carefully his impressions of the silence, Sylvain Tesson shares with us an extraordinary experience.
In Dante in Love, A. N. Wilson presents a glittering study of an artist and his world, arguing that without an understanding of medieval Florence, it is impossible to comprehend the meaning of Dante's great poem. He explains how the Italian States were at that time locked into violent feuds, mirrored in the ferocious competition between the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy. He explores Dante's preoccupations with classical mythology, numerology and the great Christian philosophers which inform every line of the Comedy. Dante in Love also lays bare the enigma of the man who never wrote about the mother of his children, yet immortalized the mysterious Beatrice, whom he barely knew. With a biographer's eye for detail and a novelist's comprehension of the creative process, A N Wilson paints a masterful portrait of Dante Alighieri and unlocks one of the seminal works of literature for a new generation of readers.