Books – June 2011

Six of the best to for June…

Great food, great escapism and great writing – it’s the perfect recipe for spending those long evenings in some great company!

The Mumsnet Rules
Natasha Joffe and Justin Roberts
When dot com gave birth to mumsnet it allowed new mums to weep in public, question the value of hamsters and find out how to make a natty Easter bonnet out of a KFC bargain bucket. Those Q&As have now been rescued from the dressing up box and lovingly crafted into book form, a welcome distraction from the everyday task of turning your sweaty toddler into a superhero.

Rick Stein’s Spain
Rick Stein
Padstow has the gorgeous Camel estuary, the ineffably beautiful Betjeman, and Rick Stein. Stein’s enquiring mind has turned him into one of our foremost ambassadors for the love of food and here, in a tantalisingly Technicolored Spain, he indulges us in a range of recipes and recollections culled from vibrant coastline and rugged Andalucian hill to enrich the best of our summer socials.

The Psychopath Test
Jon Ronson
To quote War Games: the only winning move is not to play. If your master plan requires the faith of fools then the author of The Men Who Stare at Goats has a cracker. Ronson’s style (engagingly louche but really rather readable) sucks us in to a whirlpool of legitimacy which has us believing every word dripping from the mouths of those nice young men selling the king’s new clothes.

River of Smoke
Amitav Ghosh
Ghosh’s latest epic, winding its way from Mauritius to Canton via the relentless Indian Ocean and an exotic cast of traders, slaves and ne’er do wells, is likely to sit alongside Masefield’s small but perfectly formed Cargoes as a collection of words so rich as to remove you completely from this workaday world. One to kick off the shoes to and go ahh with admiration.

On His Majesty’s Service
Allan Mallinson
Mallinson’s microscopic research, fearlessly revealed in The Making of the British Army, bears fictional fruit here as it bursts into the ferocious battles between the Ottoman Empire and Russia in the early 19th century. Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Hervey of the 6th Light Dragoons is every bit as chirpy as Cornwell’s Sharpe as he throws himself into the hell of bloody conflict and national glory.

Wish You Were Here
Graham Swift
War is often someone else’s, but when the distant Iraqi conflict causes Jack Luxton to lose his equally remote brother it blunders into his personal space like a bear. The supreme storytelling that Swift brought to Waterland returns home in a tale that’s intimate and reassuring on the one hand and burning and severe on the other as it launches Jack into an uninvited journey with an inescapable and shocking conclusion.

Our lovely little book group meets once again over the teacups in the store’s philosophy section at 4pm. This time it’s Ghost Light by Joseph O’Connor, a romantic story that begins in a 1907 Dublin theatre and ends in a war-torn London as its heroine searches once again for a forgotten fire. Come if you can – you’re always more than welcome!

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