Friday, 15 May 2015

Book Reviews: 15 May

The Lady reviews of the latest books available to buy or download now


This year marks the centenary of the Anglo-French landings on the Gallipoli peninsula. The Gallipoli campaign off ered the hope that not only could Turkey be defeated, but the trenches of the Eastern and Western fronts outmanoeuvred. Two reissued classics bear witness to a tale of dashed hopes and unstinting courage.
GALLIPOLI by Alan Moorehead (Aurum Press, £25; offer price, £20)
The new edition of this 1956 classic introduces a new generation of readers to what is still one of the most balanced and readable accounts of the campaign. An acclaimed war correspondent, Moorehead writes lucidly, with insightful analysis. While his description of Kitchener’s thinking as ‘oddly feminine’ may sound strange to us today, and his assertion that armour would have broken the deadlock defi es logic, Moorehead’s treatment of the British high command is respectful but penetrating. In sharp contrast to the new introduction by Sir Max Hastings, he seeks to understand rather than hector.
Stephen Coulson

GALLIPOLI 1915 by Joseph Murray (Silvertail Books, £12.99; offer price, £11.69)
This is a fascinating first-hand account of a sailor in the Royal Navy Division, who fought as infantry alongside the Army. Originally published in 1965, it draws on the diary Murray kept throughout the campaign and his letters home. The result is a detailed and moving account of the soldiers’ daily life, from how they ate and coped with the heat and fl ies, to battles fought and friends killed.


Books-May15-SeaShore-176THE SHORE by Sara Taylor (William Heinemann, £12.99; offer price, £11.69)
The family tree at the front of this book should not be taken for granted: this is far from a methodical and predictable account of two family lines on the lonely ‘Shore’, a clutch of islands off the coast of Virginia in the United States.

Firstly, it spans several centuries, and takes a non-linear structure, initially appearing to be a collection of separate short stories. But the sense of lineage really comes from the women, always courageous in the face of adversity. The chapters about the part-Native American Medora in the 19th century are particularly memorable, but there are also stories of Letty, Mo, Chloe, and plenty of others who are ill-treated but are fighters rather than victims. There is even a dash of magic, the setting is hauntingly isolated, and yet each chapter is busy and bustling with life. Pluck and feminism stand out in stark contrast against condemnable or pitiable behaviour in this gritty yet highly impressive read. Twenty-four-yearold Taylor shows considerable promise in this cracker of a debut.


Books-May15-SnowKimono-176East meets west
THE SNOW KIMONO by Mark Henshaw (Tinder Press, £16.99; offer price, £13.99)
This remarkable thriller begins in Paris, with a mysterious encounter between the retired Inspector Auguste Jovert and Professor Tadashi Omura, who has much to say and a typewriter. It proceeds to sweep across Japan and Algeria, weaving a complicated web of identity and deception to the end.

At first the language is quite clean-cut, so that the occasional ‘archipelago of wine’ and ‘tent-peg figures of the kite flyers’ come as a pleasant surprise. And such expressions become more frequent, in harmony with the unfolding of the story.

And what a story it is, fates and actions enhanced by the symbolism of a jigsaw clicking into place. There is a powerful blend of Eastern and Western culture. At times it feels almost like a chase, although this is more psychological – a chase after the elusive and conniving mind of Katsuo Ikeda, Omura’s friend, while Omura tells his story. Jovert’s own chequered past is also confronted.

There is certainly a great deal crammed in, to some extent too much, especially in view of the fact that the most powerful writing is in the most immediate and simple actions. But nonetheless, it is a striking piece of work, with all the intricate, precise beauty of an origami bird.
Philippa Williams


Poldark’s Cornwall by Winston Graham (Macmillan, £20; offer price, £18)
Okay, so it was Aidan Turner who got pulses racing in the Poldark remake, but the Cornish backdrops were equally spectacular. They have inspired a beautifully illustrated celebration of the county’s rugged coastline, windswept heathland and picturepostcard villages.


A companion to Winston Graham’s original Poldark books, it is introduced by his son, Andrew. An immersive escape for the armchair traveller.
Matt Warren


KILLOCHRIES by Jim Carruth (Freight Books, £8.99; offer price, £8.54)
A sequence of precise and powerful poems charts the relationship of two very different characters, over the course of a year, on a remote sheep farm in Scotland. A young, urban poet is sent there to recover from a breakdown. His host, a weatherbeaten old shepherd, has never left the farm and is initially wary of the newcomer, with his modern ways and ‘fancy wurds’.

But working together through the hardships of weather and farming, they begin to forge an understanding of each other – and each other’s craft. While he learns about weaning and fly strike, the poet rediscovers his voice: ‘In this air, my writing/ a flourishing of lichen.’

As he explains sonnet construction to the old man while they build a dyke, it becomes apparent that their sensitivities are not so different after all: ‘It is the weygate spaces/that lat in the life,’ observes the laconic shepherd in his heather-rough Scots. A stunning collection that conjures up an unlikely meeting of minds, and an unsentimental glimpse into hill-farming life.
Juanita Coulson

THE HOUSE ON CARNAVAL STREET by Deborah Rodriguez (Sphere, £7.99; offer price, £7.59)
Hairdresser and motivational speaker Deborah Rodriguez refers to her two previous hits, The Kabul Beauty School and The Little Coffee Shop Of Kabul, throughout this latest autobiographical instalment, which suggests that perhaps the stories should have ended there. Frustrating accounts of refusing to take a therapist’s advice after being diagnosed with PTSD , and moving to Mexico without learning Spanish, are told in a rather narcissistic tone. A tangled narrative with little substance.
Sarah Fortescue

The Lady’s Holiday Reads

This summer’s essential reading, whether you’re on a city break, relaxing in your garden or on the beach. By Victoria Clark

Judges by Andrea Camilleri, Carlo Lucarelli and Giancarlo De Cataldo (MacLehose Press, £8.99; offer price, £8.54) These three novellas look at crime through the eyes of the judges as they navigate their way through the corruption of Italy’s judicial classes, whether in 19th-century Sicily or 1980s Bologna. Written with wit and flair, they are uncannily realistic and give a glimpse of a very foreign world.

Three Men And A Bradshaw by John George Freeman (Random House, £16.99; offer price, £14.99)
This Victorian travel diary is proof that the Pooters really did exist. An account of holidays taken in the 1870s by the Freeman brothers – armed with a Bradshaw’s railway guide – it’s full of instantly recognisable quirks and sayings, while their walks and excursions are impressive in scope. Jersey, North Devon and Scotland are just a few of their destinations.

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary (Headline, £13.99; offer price, £12.59)
In a damp and disused bunker in the garden of a southeast London new-build, the bodies of two young children lie concealed. They have been there for five years. When DI Marnie Rome starts to investigate she finds parallels with the trauma she experienced five years earlier, and the coincidences mount up. As her past intersects with the present, she has to keep her wits about her. Unnerving and compelling.

Tweet us your holiday reads @TheLadyMagazine using #ladyholidayreads


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