Friday, 26 June 2015

Book Reviews: 26 June

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

Written by Melonie

OUT NOW


Book-Jun26-WeightlessWorld-176The Weightless World by Anthony Trevelyan (Galley Beggar Press, £11; offer price, £9.90)

When Steven Strauss sets off for Mumbai in pursuit of an antigravity machine, he assumes it exists only in the head of his boss, Raymond Ess. So does Martin Cantor, Ess’s nemesis, who is planning to wind up the company founded by Ess. With Ess safely out of the way in India, there seems to be no obstacle to his plan – unless, that is, Ess is actually telling the truth about having discovered a truly extraordinary machine.

Published by the small (and highly successful) independent Galley Beggar Press, this is a novel steeped in the heat and light of the subcontinent. And while it requires an initial suspension of disbelief, its themes are wholly serious. As we learn more about Steven’s past, and the trip begins to strain his relationship with his girlfriend, this strikingly original debut probes not just the implications of technology but human ties, too.

Stephanie Cross


Book-Jun26-TurningPoint-176The Turning Point by Freya North (HarperCollins, £12.99; offer price, £11.69)

Asking for directions in a London tube station is to change several lives. Musician Scott is from Canada and has a daughter, Jenna, who suffers from epilepsy. Children’s author Frankie, based in Norfolk, has also brought her two children up singlehanded, as well as writing her bestselling books. Their paths cross.

Freya North writes excitingly, while keeping her topics ordinary. The novel’s themes of long-distance relationships, hopes never quite suppressed, and the demands of juggling work, family and new horizons will resonate with many readers. Her feat is pulling off what could, in lesser hands, be a clichéd story with real panache. From the initial spark and through the unfolding drama, it is joyous but understated. And the great cruelties life harbours are not forgotten, either.

Addictive and full of warmth, North’s work is hugely popular and can be read at any time. Her latest novel is bound to be another hit.
Philippa Williams

Books-Jun26-OnlyWeKnow-176Only We Know by Karen Perry (Michael Joseph, £16.99; offer price, £13.99)

Set in 1980s Kenya and present-day Dublin, this is an account of a life-changing incident. In 1982, while the Yates family are living in Kenya, their two boys and a guest’s daughter are involved in an accident while camping, an event that will haunt them into adulthood.

Fast-forward 30 years and, when one of the now grown-up children commits suicide, the remaining two are forced to confront the past. The two-voiced narrative gives alternating views of the accident and the present, showing how our distorted memories can affect subsequent actions, and how difficult it is to be truthful with oneself. A complex and absorbing read that strips its characters to the bone.
Victoria Clark



Book of the Week

BookOfTheWeek-Jun26-176
Understanding Alice

The Looking Glass House by Vanessa Tait (Corvus, £14.99; offer price, £13.49)

Written to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, this historical novel charts the life of Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired the much-loved children’s classic. It centres around the family’s governess, Mary Prickett, who dislikes her charges, especially the precocious Alice. Mary’s world is turned upside down when she meets mathematician Charles Dodgson. Although Mary falls in love with him, his interest lies in the three Liddell girls. Obsessed with his ‘child friends’, and with Alice in particular, Dodgson’s favourite hobby is to photograph the children, often against the wishes of their mother.

A rivalry develops between Alice and Mary for his affection. On an outing, he tells the children a tale, which Alice asks him to write down. The rest, as they say, is (literary) history.

But the friendship ends abruptly when Dodgson’s letters to Alice are discovered, exposing his romantic love for the child, whom he hopes to marry one day.
As Alice Liddell’s great-granddaughter, Vanessa Tait’s insider information and access to letters and diaries give the familiar back-story a new slant. Her captivating book conjures up the topsy-turvy world of Alice – the factual and the fictional girl. It is a story that is both whimsical and disturbing.
Lyndsy Spence


Coffee Table Book

Vogue On: Giorgio Armani by Kathy Phillips (Quadrille Publishing, £16.99; offer price, £15.29)
Books-Jun26-CoffeeTable-02-590
Giorgio Armani celebrates his 40th anniversary in the industry this year, still at the head of his globally successful brand – a feat of longevity in fashion terms. He made his name by desconstructing the jacket, creating tailoring that expressed rather than repressed the body.


Books-Jun26-CoffeeTable-01-590

Part of a series from Vogue on the creative geniuses that defined modern fashion, this stylish book examines his remarkable career. Wearability and timelessness are the key to Armani’s success, as shown by photographs of his designs on the catwalk, on the red carpet – and on women of all ages. A must for any fashonista’s coffee table.
Juanita Coulson


Paperbacks

                                        Books-Jun26-Paperbacks-590
24 Hours At Waterloo: 18 June1815 by Robert Kershaw (WH Allen, £9.99; offer price, £9.49)


This year marks the 200th anniversary of Waterloo, one of the greatest battles in history – not only for its consequences but also for the clash of military minds. Napoleon, master of manoeuvre, meets Wellington, master of terrain. In terrible weather and thick mud, and after three days of being wrong-footed, the allies meet the French for the decisive encounter. They become locked in a stalemate with Napoleon – until the final few hours of the day and the entry of the Prussians.

Kershaw’s account covers both sides, as well as the gruesome details of this bloodiest of battles. A wonderfully interesting read.
Thomas Hughes 

Virginia Woolf in Manhattan by Maggie Gee (Telegram, £7.99; offer price, £7.59)

Maggie Gee’s imaginative and amusing novel brings Virginia Woolf back to life: the towering literary icon, the woman and the tragic heroine. When a bedraggled Woolf suddenly materialises in a New York library, novelist and academic Angela is flabbergasted. Dashing after her heroine onto the Manhattan streets, Angela has no idea what she is letting herself in for.

Gee masterfully reimagines the writer in present-day New York City, with a doting and somewhat frazzled Angela as chaperone. Her brilliant writing allows both characters to leap off the page. The result is an exceptionally funny, incredibly witty and artfully crafted love letter to Woolf.
Lilly Cox


Holiday Reads

Our pick of this summer’s essential reading, no matter where you are enjoying a well-deserved break. By Victoria Clark

Books-Jun26-HolidayReads-590
AT THE BEACH
Tightrope by Simon Mawer (Little, Brown, £16.99; offer price, £14.99)
This is a study of the grey uncertainties of the Cold War. After capture and incarceration by the Nazis, Marian Sutro returns to Britain. She finds it hard to connect to the world around her, and work, friendship and marriage pass her by as if in a dream. It is only when she returns to the world of espionage that she awakens. Exploring themes of distrust and dissembling this is a thoughtful look at an ambiguous subject.

IN THE CITY
River Of Souls by Kate Rhodes (Mullholland Books, £19.99; offer price, £17.99)
The River Thames is the chief protagonist of this novel. Victims are being sacrificed along its banks and psychologist Alice Quentin is recruited to help investigate. With the pressure mounting, Alice and her nemesis DCI Burns must explore the hidden alleys and rotting wharves of the riverbank to find the killer. An atmospheric and suspenseful tale.

IN THE GARDEN
The Queen ’s English by Bernard C Lamb (Michael O’Mara Books, £7.99; offer price, £7.59)
Should time hang heavy in the garden and the need for self-improvement arise, look no further than this estimable little guide to English grammar and spelling. With clearly laid-out chapters and short tests, this is all you require for a gentle reminder of those long-ago and swiftly forgotten English language lessons of youth. Indispensable.

Tweet us your holiday reads @TheLadyMagazine using #ladyholidayreads


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