Friday, 18 July 2014

Book Reviews: 18 July

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

OUT NOW

Books-July18-GirlWithWidowsPeak-176THE GIRL WITH THE WIDOW’S PEAK: The Memoirs by Lady Ursula d’Abo (d’Abo Publications, £12.50; offer price, £11.25)
At only 192 pages, this elegant little hardback is a memoir of the best kind. Lady Ursula paints a vivid portrait of a privileged childhood spent at Belvoir Castle and writes with great hilarity of her relationship with her aunt, the socialite Lady Diana Cooper.

Lady Ursula takes us from her coming-out ball to the coronation of King George VI, where she was one of the six maids of honour to the Queen. Mixing tales of her gilded life with the tragedy of war, famous friendships and two marriages, she allows the reader to become a spectator of a bygone age. Originally written for her grandchildren, this is a tome to be treasured.
Lyndsy Spence












Books-July18-BecomingFreud-176BECOMING FREUD: THE MAKING OF A PSYCHOANALYST by Adam Phillips (Yale University Press, £18.99; offer price, £16.99)
This account of Freud’s early years highlights how psychoanalysis was his way of coming to terms with the Jews’ situation in late 19thcentury Europe. As well as quoting from the brilliant writings of Freud and his contemporaries, the book explores his most influential relationships.

Phillips bravely exposes Freud like no other – how he pursued those he wanted with great passion, and dismissed those for whom he had no further use. But he also portrays his subject as a genius at observing people’s thought processes, showing us why Freud is one of the most infl uential people in the history of psychology. Informative and insightful.
Patricia Phillips











Books-July18-DarkTwistedTide-176A DARK AND TWISTED TIDE by Sharon Bolton (Bantam Press, £12.99; offer price, £11.69)
The author formerly published as SJ Bolton delivers her trademark fast-paced action in her latest thriller – the plot has an undercurrent of evil and edge-of-yourseat suspense. Lacey Flint, the plucky female police officer from Bolton’s previous novels, makes a comeback, now working with the Thames Marine Unit in London. Having resigned from the detective branch in the hope of a less hazardous life, she is soon caught up in another dangerous mystery when she finds the body of a young woman, wrapped in cloth like a mummy, fl oating in the river near her own houseboat.

When it becomes apparent that someone – possibly the killer – is watching Lacey’s every move and delivering strange gifts, the sinister nature of the case is revealed. For Lacey and her colleagues, it will take every ounce of their inner strength and stubbornness to find the murderer and put an end to the evil that lies beneath the river. Darkly gripping.
Julie Hall








BOOK OF THE WEEK

Books-July18-MotherIsland-176Drowning in jealousy
MOTHER ISLAND by Bethan Roberts (Chatto & Windus, £14.99; o­ffer price, £12.99)
How does it feel to find your two-year-old gone? How does it feel to steal another woman’s child? These are questions that Roberts answers vividly and insightfully in her novel, tracing the story of two women’s lives as their paths diverge and intersect.

Nula, struggling with postnatal depression and a fragile marriage, hires her cousin Maggie to look after her baby, Samuel. Maggie, an eccentric loner and Oxford drop-out, is a highly competent nanny. She forms an easy, affectionate bond with Samuel – while Nula’s relationship with her son is fraught. The claustrophobic atmosphere in the outwardly perfect house crackles with jealousies.

Over time, Maggie’s grip on reality slips. Believing Samuel would be better off­ in her care, and that doing so will heal past wounds, she takes the toddler with her to Anglesey – where Maggie and Nula first met as teenagers one summer.

The rivalry between the two women is gradually traced back to the events of that summer. Roberts maps her characters’ psychological landscapes with un…flinching honesty: a new mother’s con…flicting surges of love, anger and boredom; a misfit’s intense capacity for love that tips into obsession.

The tension in this cleverly constructed novel comes not so much from the skilful unravelling of events as from the forensic dissection of its characters’ inner worlds and relationships. Uncomfortable and gripping in equal measures. Juanita Coulson

COFFEE TABLE BOOK

EXPOSED: A HISTORY OF LINGERIE by Colleen Hill (Yale University Press, £20; offer price, £18)
Books-July18-CoffeeTable02-590
Books-July18-CoffeeTable01-176The enduring allure of lingerie, with its conflicting functions of revealing and concealing, is captured in this visually stunning survey of the history of women’s underwear, from the mid-18th century to the present day. Full-page illustrations feature corsets and petticoats, couture creations from the great fashion houses and contemporary brands, as well as depictions of lingerie in fashion photography and art.

Inevitably, it is the vintage pieces that steal the show: dreamy peignoirs, Edwardian lace nightgowns, embroidered boudoir mules. Charting the development of ideas about the female body and notions of propriety, it is a feast for fashion-conscious eyes.
JC










PAPERBACKS
Books-July18-Paperbacks-590

CHURCHILL’S REBELS: JESSICA MITFORD AND ESMOND ROMILLY by Meredith Whitford (Umbria Press, £12.95; offer price, £11.65)
A departure from the deft prose and lighter style of the various tomes written about the famous Mitford family and the individual girls, this biography is very academic in its handling of communist sympathisers Jessica Mitford and Esmond Romilly. Treating her subjects as something more than disenchanted aristocrats, Whitford has painstakingly researched Romilly’s background, allowing him to become a player in his own right.

Although the original research tends to lean more towards Romilly than Mitford, this book fills in the gaps that were previously left unexplained. A thoughtprovoking look at the relationship that shaped ‘Decca’ Mitford’s destiny.
LS

THE BROKEN ROAD: FROM THE IRON GATES TO MOUNT ATHOS by Patrick Leigh Fermor (John Murray, £9.99; offer price, £9.49)
Completing arguably the greatest piece of travel writing in the English language, this book documents the final stages of Fermor’s incredible walk from the Iron Gates in Romania to the city of Constantinople.

Like the first and second parts of his trilogy (A Time Of Gifts and Between The Woods And The Water), The Broken Road displays the author’s incredible eye for detail and his gift for words against the backdrop of a continent on the verge of war. His love of language, discovery and people takes him through some of Eastern Europe’s most beautiful cities and documents a world the like of which we will probably never see again.
Alastair Brent

ALSO ON THE SHELF

THE FALL: A FATHER’S MEMOIR IN ›œ› STEPS by Diogo Mainardi (Harvill Secker, £12.99; offer price, £11.69)
In this moving memoir, a father’s reflections on his son’s life with cerebral palsy after a disastrous birth in a Venice hospital are threaded through with insights about art, history and the city itself. Lyrical and harrowing.
JC

3 GREAT BOOKS: SET IN IRELAND
Books-July18-3OfBest-590

  • ULYSSES by James Joyce
  • THE GATHERING by Anne Enright
  • ANGELA’S ASHES by Frank McCourt

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