Friday, 06 November 2015

Book Reviews: 6 November

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


OUT NOW

books-slade-houseSlade House by David Mitchell (Sceptre, £12.99; offer price, £10.99)
Set in the same uncanny universe as his novel The Bone Clocks, Mitchell’s novella takes us to a world where the boundaries between life and death, mortality and immortality, are not so much trespassed upon as trampled over with gusto.

It begins in 1979, with a boy called Nathan and his mother, both on Valium, visiting the house of the title: accessed through a shabby dark alley and an iron door with no handle and too grand for its location, it is both enticing and ominous. The narrative then moves in nine-year increments until a shocking conclusion around Halloween 2015.

Home to sinister twins with a predatory strategy for immortality, the house is haunted by nightmarish visions and the ghosts of ‘guests’ who are summoned there every nine years… never to emerge again. A sequence of unexplained events attracts the attention of Detective Inspector Gordon Edmonds, ‘local crank’ Fred Pink and a veritable tableau of eccentrics.

For too long David Mitchell has been known as the ‘author of Cloud Atlas’. Hereafter it should be ‘author of Slade House’, given the marvellously horrific, sharp and concise masterpiece he has delivered. Its brevity should not lead the reader to underestimate just how much punch Mitchell’s prose packs. His fiction is intoxicating and his ideas are hauntingly vampiric.
Martyn Colebrook
books-marble-collectorThe Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern (Harper Collins, £16.99; offer price, £14.99)
 
Famed for writing romantic tearjerkers such as the bestselling PS, I Love You, Ahern takes a pleasantly surprising direction in her latest novel. Yes, there is a love story, but it isn’t the obvious kind: a daughter’s love for her father, and an old but newly rediscovered love.

Embroiled in secrecy, the plot unfolds through the alternating past and present narratives of a father-and-daughter combination – Fergus and Sabrina. When a collection of marbles is delivered to Fergus’s care home, Sabrina is perplexed. But the one person she’d like to ask about them, her father, is suffering fromstroke-induced memory loss. Sabrina’s quest to uncover the story behind the mysterious delivery leads her into a labyrinth of family feuds, secrets and unbelievable discoveries that will alter the way she views her life.

Impressive in its detail, the novel describes marbles with contagious enthusiasm, as objects of great fascination: their varieties, games and manufacturing process have been painstakingly researched. A tearjerker, yes, but not in the way you have come to expect from Ahern – this is an entrancing read.
Lilly Cox


BOOK OF THE WEEK

books-book-fo-the-weekThe Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende (Simon & Schuster, £16.99; offer price, £14.99)
The latest novel by the acclaimed Chilean- American writer is a love story between two outcasts who find one another, are forced to part, and rekindle their forbidden love through several lifetimes, despite their paths going in separate directions.

In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, Alma Belasco is sent to live in safety with an aunt and uncle at their mansion in San Francisco. There, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the son of the estate’s Japanese gardener – and they fall in love. But following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Ichimei and his family are placed in an internment camp.

Decades later, Alma lives in a nursing home where she is cared for by Irina, a young Moldovan who forms a friendship with her grandson. The two become intrigued by a series of gifts and letters sent to Alma. They discover the secret of Ichimei and the passion that has endured for almost 70 years.

Allende’s poetic prose balances the dark themes of war, xenophobia and inner conflict. It is a novel that sweeps through time, spanning generations and continents to explore questions of identity, abandonment, redemption and fate. A tale of family secrets, human frailty and resilience, it is an uplifting masterpiece.
Lyndsy Spence

COFFEE TABLE BOOK

KAY NIELSEN: East Of The Sun And West Of The Moon by Noel Daniel (Taschen, £24.99; offer price, £22.49)
Star-rating-5-stars-590

Danish artist Kay Nielsen (1886- 1957) was famed for his much-loved children’s book illustrations. His illustrated edition of East Of The Sun And West Of The Moon, a collection of Nordic fairytales gathered by folklorists Asbjørnsen and Moe, remains one of the most dazzling masterpieces of 20th century children’s literature.

books-coffee-table-book

This luxurious slip-cased book contains an exquisite reprint, along with essays and previously unseen work by Nielsen. It is a world of elongated knights on prancing steeds, wind-swirled forests and starcrossed lovers. The perfect gift for anyone, young or old, who loves art and the power of storytelling.
JC

PAPERBACKS

books-also-published

Let's Compromise and Say I'm Right: Calman On Love & Relationships with a foreword by Michael Palin (Souvenir Press, £10; offer price, £9.50)
Mel Calman was one of Britain’s most popular cartoonists, whose work appeared in the national press from the 1950s until his death in 1994. He was best known for his ‘little man’ cartoons, featuring an angstridden character not unlike his hero, Woody Allen. In his signature minimalist style, he also skewered the highs and lows of relationships, as shown in this collection compiled by his daughter, writer and broadcaster Stephanie Calman. Drawn with expressive simplicity, men and women stare at each other with wry incomprehension across the battlefield of the sexes. In domestic scenes that crackle with suppressed tension or explode with disproportionate anger, the punchlines come in hand-lettered captions. Close to the bone and hilarious – a great gift for your (in)significant other.
Juanita Coulson

The Tangier Diaries by John Hopkins (Tauris Parke Paperbacks, £11.99; offer price, £10.79)
Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Tennessee Williams, Barbara Hutton and Yves Saint Laurent, along with myriad other writers and artists, musicians and mystics, eccentrics and hedonists, all succumbed to the magnetic, libertine draw of Tangier and Marrakech in the 1950s and 1960s. In diary entries that are as starkly beautiful as the Sahara, a landscape that has so often inspired him, John Hopkins evokes the timeless appeal of Moroccan culture, its music and its people, and records the exploits of a most extraordinary expatriate community. Though he may not be the most celebrated member of this bohemian ‘set’, Hopkins is most assuredly its finest chronicler.
Richard Tarrant

THE LADY'S RECIPE READS

More than pretty pictures, every week we will be casting a culinary and critical eye over the new batch of cookery books. By Juanita Coulson

books-recipe-reads

Chocolate Fit For A Queen by Historic Royal Palaces Enterprises Limited (Ebury Press, £10; offer price, £9.50)
Introduced to Britain around 1600, chocolate soon became a fashionable drink at court, with dedicated chocolate kitchens at many Royal residences. The rest, as they say, is history; in its many forms, it remains the nation’s favourite sweet treat today. With an introduction by chief curator of HR P Lucy Worsley, and fascinating historical notes, this celebration of chocolate is much more than a cookbook. But the recipes are brilliant too: short, sweet and exquisite, from Prince William’s reputed favourite, chocolate fridge cake, to a version of the spiced, boozy hot chocolate that Queen Anne enjoyed to gluttonous excess.

Kew’s Teas , Tonics And Tipples: Inspiring Botanical Drinks To Excite Your Tastebuds by Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (Kew Publishing, £18; offer price, £16.20)
From teas to herb-infused spirits and fruit liqueurs, the plant world has been the main source of supping – medicinal, intoxicating, ritual or social – for centuries. So Kew Gardens is best placed to serve up this eclectic selection of drinks, the history of their ingredients, and how to make them. There are healthy tisanes, sumptuous smoothies and cocktails with a kick.

Winter warmers include loganberry vodka, set to become my hipflask-filler of choice this season. Botanical art from Kew’s archives and a colourful design make this book beautiful as well as extremely useful and informative.

Tweet us your recipe reads @TheLadyMagazine using #ladyrecipereads


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Set in the same
uncanny universe as his
novel The Bone Clocks,
Mitchell’s novella takes
us to a world where the
boundaries between life
and death, mortality
and immortality, are
not so much trespassed
upon as trampled over
with gusto.
It begins in 1979,
with a boy called
Nathan and his mother,
both on Valium, visiting
the house of the title:
accessed through a
shabby dark alley and
an iron door with no
handle and too
grand for its
location, it is
both enticing
and ominous.
The narrative
then moves in
nine-year
increments until
a shocking
conclusion around
Halloween 2015.
Home to sinister
twins with a predatory
strategy for immortality,
the house is haunted by
nightmarish visions and
the ghosts of ‘guests’
who are summoned
there every nine years…
never to emerge again.
A sequence of
unexplained events
attracts the attention
of Detective Inspector
Gordon Edmonds,
‘local crank’ Fred Pink
and a veritable tableau
of eccentrics.
For too long David
Mitchell has been
known as the ‘author of
Cloud Atlas’. Hereafter
it should be ‘author of
Slade House’, given the
marvellously horrific,
sharp and concise
masterpiece he has
delivered. Its brevity
should not lead the
reader to underestimate
just how much punch
Mitchell’s prose packs.
His fiction is
intoxicating and his
ideas are hauntingly
vampiric.
Martyn Colebrook



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