In this tense, erotically charged thriller by the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, two successful Peruvian couples become embroiled in the political corruption that engulfed the country in the 1990s. Adultery, blackmail and murder threaten to undermine their privileged existence.
A Life of Art and Nonsense
In 1827 the young Edward Lear (1812–1888) began to draw ‘for bread and cheese’; later he became a renowned wildlife and landscape artist and, later still, the author of the famous limericks and songs. Reproducing many of his paintings and drawings, Jenny Uglow’s critically acclaimed biography describes Lear the artist, traveller, writer of nonsense verse and self-appointed exile, and aims to discover ‘how the layers are laid down, how they overlap and twist like strata’ in a strange contradictory life of art and nonsense.
The Great Reindeer Disaster
After a reindeer falls down their chimney the Trubshaw family are whisked away with him to Yule-1, the distant planet where the real Father Christmas lives. The elves are in training and the toys are being made, but if rogue reindeer Krampus gets his way then the holiday will be ruined forever. Age 7+
Christmas Dinner of Souls
Monstrous guests are invited to tell terrifying tales at a secret dinner for those who hate children, happiness and Christmas. Called upon to serve their feast, kitchen boy Lewis discovers his fate is connected to their gruesome stories and he must find a way to escape. Age 7+
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Among the creatures in this wonderful re-imagining of the Christmas song, five athletic frogs spin the gold rings, the eight maids a-milking are suckling piglets and twelve woodpeckers are the drummers drumming. These double-page illustrations are a rich combination of watercolour, drawing and collage by the Scottish artist Anna Wright. Age 4+
A History of Civilization in Blood and Brick
David Frye explores the historical significance of walls and barriers, especially the way they separate and subdivide cities, empires and nations. There have been ‘Great Walls’ throughout history, from Persia, Rome and China to Central America, while mysterious labyrinthine complexes have been discovered in remote deserts. As the role of borders comes under increasing scrutiny today, Frye suggests the symbolism of walls has become an integral part of human understanding.
Travels with a Typewriter
Mid-career, the novelist and playwright Michael Frayn returned to his old trade of journalism, embarking on a series of journeys to discover 'not the extraordinary but the ordinary, the typical, the everyday'. These resulting articles for The Observer offer a look at life in the Sixties and Seventies: bicycles and mini-skirts in Cambridge, Greenwich Village psychedelia, and the privations of Soviet Moscow.
Chosen by the poet himself and described by Michael Hofmann as ‘a gift to old and new readers alike’, this selection comprises five poems from each of twelve published collections, from Muldoon’s first, New Weather, issued in 1973 while he was a student at Queens University, Belfast, to One Thousand Things Worth Knowing (2015), which includes ‘Cuthbert and the Otters’, written in memory of his mentor, Seamus Heaney.
The Faces and the Masks
Judith Chernaik describes Robert Schumann (1810–1856) as a key figure in Romanticism: ‘a true Romantic in his embrace of poetry and feeling, his love of emotional extremes, his intermingling of life and art’. In this groundbreaking biography, she traces the composer’s life and musical career, from his provincial, middle-class upbringing to his tragically early death, and draws on the medical records kept by Schumann’s doctor to shed light on the composer’s final illness in the Endenich asylum.
A Writer's Life
Philip Larkin (1922–1985) was the ‘unofficial Poet Laureate’ whose approachable poems about ordinary life won popularity if not laurels: at his memorial service in 1986, Westminster Abbey was filled to overflowing with his admirers. In this authorized biography, Andrew Motion, one the poet’s two literary executors, draws on and quotes extensively from a huge amount of previously unpublished material – poems, letters, stories and unfinished novels – to set Larkin's work in context while charting the complex course of his life.
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
Throughout the 1930s TS Eliot (under the nom de plume 'Old Possum') wrote a series of verses featuring cat characters such as Macavity, Mr Mistoffelees and Old Deuteronomy. Illustrated with witty, whimsical drawings by Rebecca Ashdown, this edition of his poems also includes two CDs of the 1981 London cast performing Cats, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical based on the poems, starring Brian Blessed, Elaine Page and Sarah Brightman.
Macavity's Not There!
A Lift-the-flap Book
Taking a verse from the famous poem and the idea of an elusive cat, this lift-the-flap picture book has readers searching the house for Macavity. There are sturdy flaps on the bedcover, the bath, the cupboard… but each time they’re lifted, ‘Macavity’s not there!’ Children will enjoy chanting the familiar refrain, until Macavity finally appears on the very last page. Age 3+
A Long Walk Home
One Woman's Story of Kidnap, Hostage, Loss – and Survival
One night in September 2011 during a Kenyan holiday, Judith Tebbutt was torn away from her husband by a gang of armed pirates and taken to lawless Somalia. In this unflinching memoir she recalls her life in captivity and explains the coping strategies she employed to survive.
The Leaping Hare
As well as the many mysteries surrounding the strange habits of the hare – behaviours as odd as congregating on airfield runways, boxing and sitting in circular assemblies – the authors investigate the hunting of hares, the hare as food, and its presence in myth and folklore, poetry and art across different cultures. This is a welcome re-issue of a remarkable account of the hare in nature and culture, first published in 1972.
George, Constant and Kit
The former poet laureate tells the story of three generations of an artistic family: George, a leading Australian painter; Constant, a composer-conductor; and Kit, who managed rock group The Who. With cultural insights into topics ranging from revivalist art and classical music to post-war ballet and pop, this depicts a family whose artistic urges were frequently undermined by internecine strife and self-destructive tendencies.
In My Mind's Eye
A Thought Diary
In 2017–18, at the start of her ‘tenth decade’, the popular historian, author of the Pax Britannica trilogy, and travel writer Jan Morris (b.1926) decided to keep a diary of thoughts. Ranging back and forth over an extraordinarily interesting life, but also examining the joys and frustrations of old age at home in North Wales, Morris’s 188-day diary treats us to her opinions on anything that comes to mind – be it Ovid, walls, whistling or Brexit. Slightly off-mint.
The Immeasurable World
Journeys in Desert Places
Throughout history, many travellers have seen deserts as hostile, desolate places; but William Atkins was drawn to them. Travelling to five continents over three years, he visited Oman’s Empty Quarter, Australia’s nuclear test grounds, China’s Gobi Desert, the dried-out Aral Sea, and the arid regions of the American West. Illustrated with maps of each area, his travelogue explores the history, the people, the cultures, the folklore and the symbolism of these forbidding places.
The Life and Choices of Lady Anne Barnard
Lady Anne Barnard lived at the heart of Georgian society – the Prince of Wales was a friend, and Walter Scott admired her verses – but her defiance of convention made her an outsider. Drawing on her unpublished papers, including six volumes of memoirs, this biography brings the poet, musician, artist and hostess vividly to life, and tells how she travelled to France to observe the Revolution, married an army officer twelve years her junior, and raised an illegitimate child.
Death on a Branch Line
As Britain edges towards the First World War, railway detective Jim Stringer escorts a young aristocrat, Hugh Lambert, due to be hanged for murdering his father. After Hugh warns that another murder is imminent in his remote village, Jim uncovers a conspiracy of international dimensions.
A Revolutionary Life
Adapted from Jon Lee Anderson’s acclaimed biography, this book tells the story of Che Guevara in the form of a graphic novel. Moody, atmospheric frames portray the political education of the young medical student in Buenos Aires, and the clandestine rendezvous that led to his formative encounter with Fidel Castro, his part in the Cuban revolution, and his execution in Bolivia.
The English Versailles
Boughton House in Northamptonshire, built for the Montagu family and home to the Dukes of Buccleuch since the 18th century, is one of Britain’s grandest and best-preserved stately homes. With contributions from experts including John Cornforth, Nicholas Barker and Gervase Jackson-Stops, this volume presents a richly illustrated study of the house and its contents, with chapters devoted to paintings, furniture, porcelain, silver, the amoury and the French influence that earned Boughton the epithet ‘the English Versailles’.
The Blue Touch Paper
In telling ‘the story of my apprenticeship’, David Hare (b.1947) recalls his life, from suburban childhood, through Cambridge University, tiny flats in Soho and years of trial and error as a young playwright, setting his experience against the political and cultural changes and uncertainties of post-war Britain, up to 1979, a watershed year for Hare and for the country.
A Literary Life of Jan Morris
Structured more thematically than a conventional biography, Derek Johns’s book explores the life of the soldier, journalist, travel writer, essayist and historian Jan Morris (born James Morris in 1926) through her work, with quotations from books such as Pax Britannica (1968), Conundrum (1974) and Fisher’s Face (1995); a study of her hero, Admiral ‘Jackie’ Fisher; and line drawings by Jan Morris herself.
1914: Poetry Remembers
To commemorate the First World War, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy asked modern poets to select a war poem and respond in verse. The resulting anthology contains familiar works by the great war poets as well as that of writers such as Akhmatova, Apollinaire and Trakl. Modern contributors include Seamus Heaney, Andrew Motion and Duffy herself.
The Essential Paradise Lost
Milton’s Paradise Lost is considered one of the greatest works of English literature, yet is little read today, largely on account of its complexity. These extracts preserve its epic sweep and the accompanying commentary explains the narrative, the ideas, and the protagonists’ motivations.
The Third Book of General Ignorance
What is marmalade made from? Silly me, thinking it was oranges. The QI team dip once more into the bottomless pit of ignorance and confound us with the right answers to questions we thought were settled once and for all. Whether it's history, science, sport, geography, literature, languages, medicine, classics or common wisdom, you'll be astonished to discover how hopelessly wrong you are about the things you thought you knew. Slightly off-mint.
The Rule of the Land
Walking Ireland's Border
On foot and by canoe, from Carlingford Lough to Derry/Londonderry, Lough Foyle and Magilligan Point on the northern coast, Garrett Carr follows the twisted border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Travelling along rivers and through divided towns, villages and farms in borderlands with a troubled past and an uncertain future, Carr aims to examine ‘how the land and its people have reacted to the border, and the ways in which the line is made manifest’.