Friday, 04 December 2015

The Christmas Book Guide: Part Two

Whether it’s Victorian baking, hair-raising hoaxes, love-fests or tragic historic tales, avoid last-minute gift panic with our pick of the best books for foodies, fans of the uncanny, incurable romantics and history buffs.

FOOD AND DRINK

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THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF: CELEBRATIONS by Linda Collister (Hodder & Stoughton, £20; offer price, £16.50)

It’s the TV cookery programme we can’t get enough of, and its latest book doesn’t disappoint. This selection of sweet and savoury recipes for special occasions, from the 2015 series, includes some by judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. There are longstanding favourites including Madeira cake with candied peel, and more exotic treats from around the world, such as Anzac Day biscuits, Turkish bourekas and Middle Eastern flatbreads with lemon and za’atar. Festive ideas are the highlight, with offerings from panettone to spiced figgy pudding and galette des rois.

MRS BEETON’S GUIDE TO BAKING by Isabella Beeton, edited by G Coleby (Amberley, £9.99; offer price, £9.49)
Cake mavens with a penchant for vintage will love this compilation of the best baking advice and recipes by the original domestic goddess. Beeton published her classic Book Of Household Management in 1861, which quickly became a bible for Victorian housewives. But it is her recipes and cooking tips that have stood the test of time. Arranged by season to make the most of fresh ingredients, these offer an insight into the Victorian kitchen – and delicious ideas for the modern cook, too.

CONTRABAND COCKTAILS: How America Drank When It Wasn’t Supposed To by Paul Dickson (Melville House, £13.15; offer price, £12.59)
This riveting run through of the origins of cocktail culture in America’s 1920s Prohibition era comes with 48 recipes, including some favoured by celebrities from Audrey Hepburn to Ernest Hemingway. The recipes are easy to recreate at home and are accompanied by the history of each cocktail. Perfect for flappers and mixologists-in-the-making.

THE ROYAL TOUCH: Simply Stunning Home Cooking From A Former Royal Chef by Carolyn Robb (ACC Editions, £25; offer price, £22.50)
A beautiful book, with mouth-watering photography and delightful watercolour illustrations, by the former personal chef to TRH The Prince and Princess Of Wales and TRH Prince William and Prince Harry. Surprisingly fresh and uncomplicated recipes, some of the best are in the Magnificent Morsels section (caprese tartlets and Parmesan and herb risotto balls make perfect party nibbles). For regal hostesses and kitchen queens.

THE NEW ENGLISH KITCHEN: How To Make Your Food Go Further by Rose Prince (Fourth Estate, £16.99; offer price, £15.29)
This 10thanniversary reissue of baker and cookery writer Rose Prince’s modern kitchen bible is a must for foodies and savvy cooks. Celebrating local and seasonal ingredients and promoting a sensible, thrifty approach to avoid waste, it is full of effortlessly elegant recipes, including ideas to use up leftovers creatively – and deliciously. Prince shows us how to make good, nutritious and highly enjoyable dishes in a sustainable and economical way. A very useful present for youngsters going off to university.

DELICIOUSLY ELLA by Ella Woodward (Yellow Kite, £20; offer price, £17)
It was this year’s culinary revelation, and behind the glossy and styled image there is a wealth of brilliant recipe ideas. Despite being free from dairy, meat, gluten and refined sugar, there is nothing austere about these easy-tomake, original and flavoursome dishes. Superhealthy but exciting food that will make any January detox a breeze.

EVERYDAY SUPER FOOD by Jamie Oliver (Michael Joseph, £26; offer price, £20)
If in doubt, there’s always Jamie. The lovable geezer of TV chefs returns with a brilliant selection of healthy, nutritionally balanced and waistline-conscious recipes that are, as we’d expect from him, scrumptious and easy to make, too. These are the recipes that allegedly helped Oliver lose two stone, but with the likes of herby jewelled tabbouleh rice and fish tacos with kiwi, lime and chilli salsa, there is clearly no compromising on flavour and variety.

SCI FI AND HORROR

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A Ghost ’s Story by Lorna Gibb (Granta, £12.99; offer price, £11.69)
Set in the 1870s, this horror-lite nods to Victorian ghost story motifs (seances, buried secrets, sudden death) while maintaining a brisk, contemporary tone. Is medium Florence Cook really channelling the spirit known as Katie King, or is she a hoax? Ideal fireside reading: creepy enough to make you shudder deliciously, but it won’t disturb your sleep.

SLADE HOUSE by David Mitchell (Sceptre, £12.99; offer price, £10.99)
Mitchell, of Cloud Atlas fame, returns with another unsettling and expertly crafted read. Set in a world where the boundaries between life and death, mortality and immortality are disturbingly broken down, the house of the title is home to sinister twins with a predatory plan for immortality. A sharp and punchy masterpiece.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (Orbit Books, £16.99; offer price, £14.99)
Environmental meltdown meets sci-fi in this gripping neo-noir thriller set in a dystopian US of the near future. An extreme drought means water runs at a premium and those who control it are worth their weight in liquid gold. Texas has become a wasteland, Phoenix is nearly on the brink of collapse. But Las Vegas thrives after a series of ‘water grabs’, led by a daunting oligarch-cumanalyst with all the power.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (Canongate, £18.99; offer price, £16.99)
One of the most intriguing writers on the sci-fi scene, Faber revisits his recurrent interests: religion and aliens. A committed Christian is tasked with missionary work – on an unnamed planet. While he preaches to his flock of 16-toed aliens, apocalyptic events unfold back on Earth. Powerful writing that takes readers out of their comfort zone.

ROMANCE

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BOYFRIEND BY CHRISTMAS by Jenny Stallard (Penguin, £6.99; offer price, £6.64)
Genie Havisham has to find a beau by Christmas. Her hunt for the eligible bachelor leads to an avalanche of dates – but was love around the corner all along?

SONGS OF LOVE AND WAR by Santa Montefiore (Simon & Schuster, £16.99; offer price, £14.99)
Set at the dawn of the 20th century – a sweeping tale of three women whose lives are disrupted by Ireland’s struggle for independence. Celia is torn between rebel Jack and her country, but which will she choose?

AFTERNOON TEA AT THE SUNFLOWER CAFÉ by Milly Johnson (Simon & Schuster, £7.99; offer price, £7.59)
When Connie discovers her husband has been unfaithful, she plans revenge at the café of the title, but a dashing chocolatier may be about to melt her scarred heart. An uplifting read for anyone going through a break-up.

THE WOMAN WHO FELL IN LOVE FOR A WEEK by Fiona Walker (Sphere, £7.99; offer price, £7.59)
Divorcee teacher Jenny agrees to house-sit for a famous author and her husband. Expecting a relaxing spell, she instead must contend with their naughty dog and a mysterious artist. When he persuades Jenny to sit for him, she starts to reveal her secrets. This pacey tale of scandal pulsates with flirtation and desire.

The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins, £16.99; offer price, £14.99)
When a set of marbles is delivered to Fergus’s care home, his daughter is perplexed. Her father, who has the answers – is suffering from memory loss. The quest to uncover the secrets leads to life-changing discoveries.

HISTORY
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SPQR: A History Of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard (Profile Books, £25; offer price, £20)
Covering 1,000 years of Roman history and about 600 pages long, the acclaimed classicist’s latest is impressively thorough. From Romulus and Remus to Livy and Camillus, it sets out to explore how our modern world has been shaped by Ancient Rome. A fascinating book with epic insights into ordinary Roman life.

Gallipoli by Alan Moorehead (Aurum Press, £25; offer price, £20)
This re-issue of Moorehead’s 1956 history introduces a new generation to what is one of the most balanced accounts of the ill-fated First World War campaign. He writes with insightful analysis, and his treatment of the British high command is respectful. A masterful account that bears witness to a tale of unflinching bravery in the face of defeat.

WATERLOO: The History Of Four Days, Three Armies And Three Battles by Bernard Cornwell (William Collins, £8.99; offer price, £8.54)
This book by the creator of the fictional rifleman Richard Sharpe, is a skirmish into historical writing, as he describes the three battles at Quatre Bras, Ligny and Waterloo. Cornwell writes with a superb eye for detail. Best of all is his depiction of the action as it would have appeared to the British soldier: Wellington’s ‘scum of the Earth’ who kept their nerve while an emperor lost his.

Joan of Arc : A history by Helen Castor (Faber & Faber, £9.99; offer price, £9.49)
Unlike most biographies of the legendary peasant girl who revived France’s military fortunes after Agincourt, Castor puts her life within the context of early 15th-century political history. Clearly outlining the causes and effects of the civil war between the Burgundians and Armagnacs, the book sets the scene that allowed Joan’s prophecies to be received by the French.

The Lady Bookshop

Order by phone 0843-060 0035
Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your telephone company’s access charge.
Online www.theladybookshop.com
By post Send your cheque, payable to The Lady Bookshop, to: The Lady Bookshop, PO Box 69, Helston TR13OTP
To avoid disappointment, order by 14 December to receive your book in time for Christmas.



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