A Backward Place
By Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Six colourful, comic characters inhabit A Backward Place. All but one are Westerners who have come to Delhi to experience an alternative way of life. But, far from being hippies, their ability to adapt to this exotic culture often leaves something to be desired. Etta, an aristocratic, faded beauty maintains her Parisian chic while Clarissa talks enthusiastically about the simple life but stops short of ever roughing it herself. On the other hand Bal, the one Indian protagonist, holds quite Western aspirations to Hollywood glamour.A Backward Place humorously explores contradictions in attitudes and lifestyles and the interplay between culture and individuality. But it is also a Dickensian drama, charting the highs and lows of everyday life against the enchanting backdrop of a bustling Indian city.
The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick-Maker
By Roger Hutchinson
At the beginning of each decade for 200 years the national census has presented a self-portrait of the British Isles.The census has surveyed Britain from the Napoleonic wars to the age of the internet, through the agricultural and industrial revolutions, possession of the biggest empire on earth and the devastation of the 20th century's two world wars.In The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker, Roger Hutchinson looks at every census between the first in 1801 and the latest in 2011. He uses this much-loved resource of family historians to paint a vivid picture of a society experiencing unprecedented changes.Hutchinson explores the controversial creation of the British census. He follows its development from a head-count of the population conducted by clerks with quill pens, to a computerised survey which is designed to discover 'the address, place of birth, religion, marital status, ability to speak English and self-perceived national identity of every twenty-seven-year-old Welsh-speaking Sikh metalworker living in Swansea'.All human life is here, from prime ministers to peasants and paupers, from Irish rebels to English patriots, from the last native speakers of Cornish to the first professional footballers, from communities of prostitutes to individuals called 'abecedarians' who made a living from teaching the alphabet.The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker is as original and unique as those people and their islands on the cutting edge of Europe.
The Bertie Project
By Alexander McCall Smith
Bertie's respite from his overbearing mother, Irene, is over. She has returned from the middle-east, only to discover that her son has been exposed to the worst evils of cartoons, movies and Irn Bru, and her wrath falls upon her unfortunate husband, Stuart. Meanwhile, Bruce has fallen in love with someone other than himself; Big Lou wants to adopt her beloved Finlay; Matthew and Elspeth host the Duke of Johannesburg for supper and Bertie decides he wants to move out of Scotland Street altogether and live with his grandmother, Nicola.Can Irene and Stuart's marriage survive? Will Bruce's newfound love last? And will Bertie really leave Scotland Street? Find out in the next instalment of this charming, beloved series.
By Chris Brookmyre
'A celtic Gone Girl... guaranteed to keep you guessing'Ian Rankin*****WINNER Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year**********WINNER Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Prize for Crime Novel of the Year*****Twists abound in the brilliant new psychological thriller from master author Chris Brookmyre - perfect for readers of The Girl on the Train, I See You and Disclaimer.Did she do it? Did he deserve it?Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.Then she meets Peter. He's kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she's been waiting for. Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance.But Peter's sister Lucy doesn't believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow...'Black Widow is a stand-out thriller'Renee Knight, author of Disclaimer
By Taylor Downing
Paralysis. Stuttering. The 'shakes'. Inability to stand or walk. Temporary blindness or deafness.When strange symptoms like these began appearing in men at Casualty Clearing Stations in 1915, a debate began in army and medical circles as to what it was, what had caused it and what could be done to cure it. But the numbers were never large.Then in July 1916 with the start of the Somme battle the incidence of shell shock rocketed. The high command of the British army began to panic. An increasingly large number of men seemed to have simply lost the will to fight. As entire battalions had to be withdrawn from the front, commanders and military doctors desperately tried to come up with explanations as to what was going wrong. 'Shell shock' - what we would now refer to as battle trauma - was sweeping the Western Front.By the beginning of August 1916, nearly 200,000 British soldiers had been killed or wounded during the first month of fighting along the Somme. Another 300,000 would be lost before the battle was over. But the army always said it could not calculate the exact number of those suffering from shell shock. Re-assessing the official casualty figures, Taylor Downing for the first time comes up with an accurate estimate of the total numbers who were taken out of action by psychological wounds. It is a shocking figure.Taylor Downing's revelatory new book follows units and individuals from signing up to the Pals Battalions of 1914, through to the horrors of their experiences on the Somme which led to the shell shock that, unrelated to weakness or cowardice, left the men unable to continue fighting. He shines a light on the official - and brutal - response to the epidemic, even against those officers and doctors who looked on it sympathetically. It was, they believed, a form of hysteria. It was contagious. And it had to be stopped.Breakdown brings an entirely new perspective to bear on one of the iconic battles of the First World War.
By David Andress
'If it had not been for you English, I should have been Emperor of the East; but wherever there is water to float a ship, we are sure to find you in our way.' Emperor NapoleonBut just thirty-five years earlier, Britain lacked any major continental allies, and was wracked by crises and corruption. Many thought that she would follow France into revolution. The British elite had no such troubling illusions: defeat was not a possibility. Since not all shared that certainty, the resumption of the conflict and its pursuit through years of Napoleonic dominance is a remarkable story of aristocratic confidence and assertion of national superiority. Winning these wars meant ruthless imperialist expansion, spiteful political combat, working under a mad king and forging the most united national effort since the days of the Armada. And it meant setting the foundations for the greatest empire the world has ever known.
By Andrew Davidson
Andrew Davidson goes behind the scenes at Britain's largest hospital trust and describes a year in the life of a hospital through the stories of those who work there and those who pass through. St Thomas' Hospital, opposite the Houses of Parliament, is one of the most famous centres of medical excellence in the world. For the past two years it has been the subject of bitter political controversy over the decision to amalgamate it with its rival, Guy's. From the man who runs the Mortuary to the Chief Executive who has 'finished' an affair with the head of PR - but who has just born his child - to the patients with Multi Drug Resistant Infection (an extremely scary potential by-product of going into hospital) and those who come into Casualty to have frozen fish removed from unlikely places - this is the most vividly realised book that has ever emerged from a modern hospital. It reveals the choices that doctors, nurses, administrators and patients must make each day - decisions that are often literally a matter of life and death.
The Book of Daniel
By E. L. Doctorow
FBI agents pay a surprise visit to a Communist man and his wife in their New York apartment, and after a trial that divides the country, the couple are sent to the electric chair for treason. Decades later, in 1967, their son Daniel struggles to understand the tragedy of their lives. But while he is tormented by his past and trying to appreciate his own wife and son, Daniel is also haunted, like millions of others, by the need to come to terms with a country destroying itself in the Vietnam War. A stunning fictionalization of a political drama that tore the United States apart, The Book of Daniel is an intensely moving tale of political martyrdom and the search for meaning.
By Ulick O'Connor
When Brendan Behan died in 1964 at the age of 41, he had rung the changes in his short life: bomber, gunman, borstal boy, alcoholic and, finally, international literary figure with the success of The Quare Fellow , The Hostage and Borstal Boy . But Behan drowned his talent in a whiskey bottle and became the caricature of an Irish stage drunk, clowning his way with oaths and stories between bars in Dublin, London, Paris and New York. Written in association with his widow, his mother and others of his family and friends, and old IRA comrades, this is a biography of Brendan Behan.
The Book of Fate
By Parinoush Saniee
A teenager in pre-revolutionary Tehran, Massoumeh is an ordinary girl, passionate about learning. On her way to school she meets a local man and falls in love - but when her family discover his letters they accuse her of bringing them into dishonour. She is badly beaten by her brother, and her parents hastily arrange a marriage to a man she's never met. Facing a life without love, and the prospect of no education, Massoumeh is distraught - but a female neighbour urges her to comply: 'We each have a destiny, and you can't fight yours.'The years that follow Massoumeh's wedding prove transformative for Iran. Hamid, Massoumeh's husband, is a political dissident and a threat to the Shah's oppressive regime and when the secret service arrive to arrest him, it is the start of a terrifying period for Massoumeh. Her fate, so long dictated by family loyalty and tradition, is now tied to the changing fortunes of her country. Spanning five turbulent decades of Iranian history, from before the 1979 revolution, through the Islamic Republic and up to the present, The Book of Fate is a powerful story of friendship and passion, fear and hope - and a rare insider's view of Iranian society.
Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers
By Alexander McCall Smith
As summer blooms in Edinburgh's gardens and Bertie Pollock's birthday appears on the horizon, all at 44 Scotland Street is not cake and sunshine. Newlywed Angus Lordie has been booked by his bride into what he must not call the loony bin; Bruce's first encounter with hot wax brings more anguish than he bargained for; and Bertie's birthday dreams of scout camp and a penknife look set to be replaced by a game of Royal Weddings and a gender-neutral doll. But fate, an amorous Bedouin and the Dubai Tourist Authority conspire to transport Bertie's mother Irene to a warmer - if not a better - place, and once again in Scotland Street the triumph of human kindness over adversity gives cause for celebration.
Bring Me Sunshine
By Charlie Connelly
We talk about the weather a lot. It exasperates, confounds and on occasion delights us. Our national conversation is dominated by the weather, but how much do we really know about it? In Bring Me Sunshine, Charlie Connelly sets off on the trail of our island obsession. He breezes through the lives of meteorological eccentrics, geniuses, rainmakers and cloud-busters and brings vividly to life great weather events from history. He sheds light on Britain's weirdest wind, why we have the wettest place in England to thank for the trusty pencil, the debt that umbrella owners owe to Robinson Crusoe and why people once thought firing cannons at clouds was a great idea. Having adventured round the shipping forecast areas for his bestselling Attention All Shipping, Connelly is the perfect guide through a mélange of gales, blizzards, mists, heatwaves and the occasional shower of fish. By turns informative, entertaining and hilarious, Bring Me Sunshine answers all your weather questions as well as helping you to distinguish your graupel from your petrichor.
By Iain Banks
The man who wakes up in the extraordinary world of a bridge has amnesia, and his doctor doesn't seem to want to cure him. Does it matter? Exploring the bridge occupies most of his days. But at night there are his dreams. Dreams in which desperate men drive sealed carriages across barren mountains to a bizarre rendezvous; an illiterate barbarian storms an enchanted tower under a stream of verbal abuse; and broken men walk forever over bridges without end, taunted by visions of a doomed sexuality.Lying in bed unconscious after an accident wouldn't be much fun, you'd think. Oh yes? It depends who and what you've left behind.Which is the stranger reality, day or night? Frequently hilarious and consistently disturbing, THE BRIDGE is a novel of outrageous contrasts, constructed chaos and elegant absurdities.
By Iain Banks
Kate Telman is a senior executive officer in The Business, a powerful and massively discreet transglobal organisation. Financially transparent, internally democratic and disavowing conventional familial inheritance, the character of The Business seems, even to Kate, to be vague to the point of invisibility. It possesses, allegedly, a book of Leonardo cartoons, several sets of Crown Jewels and wants to buy its own State in order to acquire a seat at the United Nations.Kate's job is to keep abreast of current technological developments and her global reach encompasses Silicon Valley, a ranch in Nebraska, the firm's secretive Swiss headquarters, and a remote Himalayan principality. In the course of her journey Kate must peel away layers of emotional insulation and the assumptions of a lifetime. She must learn to keep her world at arm's length. To take control, she has to do The Business.
By Robert Winder
The story of the way Britain has been settled and influenced by foreign people and ideas is as old as the land itself. In this original, important and inspiring book, Robert Winder tells of the remarkable migrations that have founded and defined a nation.'Our aristocracy was created by a Frenchman, William the Conqueror, who also created our medieval architecture, our greatest artistic glory. Our royal family is German, our language a bizarre confection of Latin, Saxon and, latterly, Indian and American. Our shops and banks were created by Jews. We did not stand alone against Hitler; the empire stood beside us. And our food is, of course, anything but British . . . Winder has a thousand stories to tell and he tells them well' Sunday Times
Breathing On Glass
By Jennifer Cryer
Rhea - dark, intense and brilliant - and her golden, voluptuous sister Amber are not alike, but they are bound tighter than most: by love, by the loss of their father, and by the man who stands between them. Lewis is Amber's husband and the ferociously driven director of the biotech lab where Rhea is a rising star.In search of funding, academic advancement and in alchemical pursuit of the perfect stem cell - their Holy Grail in one flawlessly reproducing genetic blueprint - Rhea and Lewis inhabit a rarefied world. Putting their trust in science, they are blinkered against the fatal human element: sex and envy, treachery and error. Amber, however, desperate for a child and embarking on fertility treatment, must confront precisely this flawed physicality, and a Faustian pact is forged. As the three are increasingly drawn into a transgressive relationship, the result is a series of betrayals that none, finally, will be able to forgive. Breathing on Glass is both coolly analytical and erotically subversive in its exploration of passion and power intertwined, and breeds a whole DNA sequence of cautionary tales: on weakness, temptation, ambition and the limits of science.
The Black Rose Of Florence
By Michele Giuttari
A strikingly beautiful young woman is found dead in her Florence apartment. She lies on her bed, naked, a black rose between her legs. And the murders do not stop there: shortly afterwards, a woman is burned to death in a church, and a man is shot on the Ponte Vecchio. Chief Superindendent Michele Ferrara is all too familiar with the dark side of Florence. But he has never seen anything of this magnitude before - he is up against a mysterious, powerful enemy who would do anything to hide his identity, and manages to controls events at every turn. As more violent deaths occur, Ferrara has to face the most dangerous investigation in his entire career and must confront deadly secrets from his own past . . .Originally published in Italian as Le rose nere di Firenze.
The Bitter Cross
By Simon Mawer
A Knight of the Order of St John, Gerard Paulet is languishing in the Grand Priory of Rome. He is a man who fought alongside the legendary Leone Strozzi, who made extreme sacrifices for his faith, and is the last of a generation able to speak of the great crusades. The young novice tasked with tending to Paulet's broken body is desperate to hear the tales of the former glories of his hero and his comrades. But what makes a hero? Is it the man who stays true to his vows, even in the face of a woman's love? Is it the man who resists the politics of others and always chooses the path that is right, despite the consequences? Is it the crusader who saves the most souls? Gerard Paulet has a lot to teach about the nature of heroism, and sometimes it's nothing like the rumours, and just about a will to survive . . .
Beneath the Blue Sky
By Dominic Reeve
In a lifetime traversing Britain's lanes and byways, Dominic Reeve has witnessed a changing world for the Romani Gypsies. Since the 1950s, the horse-drawn wagons have given way to brightly chromed vehicles, stopping-places have disappeared - but the Travellers still cling to the precious old traditions and the freedom of an outdoor life.Beneath the Blue Sky tells of horse-fairs and fireside deals, of snowbound Christmases and the joy of taking possession of a new motor. Dominic Reeve recalls feuds and friendships, cycles of parting and meeting, and the struggle in the face of prejudice. Above all, he paints an unforgettable picture of the self-reliance, wit and courage of the Romani people.
Bertie Plays The Blues
By Alexander McCall Smith
Even down to its well-set Georgian townhouses, Edinburgh is a hymn to measure and harmony. But on Scotland Street, domestic accord is in short supply. Matthew and Elspeth welcome three new arrivals, though the joys of multiple parenthood are somewhat lost due to sleep deprivation and the difficulties of telling their brood apart. Angus and Domenica are to marry, and Domenica has ambitious and disturbing plans for their living arrangements, especially when it appears that Antonia, in Italy recuperating from Stendhal Syndrome, may not return. And little Bertie, feeling blue, puts himself up for adoption on eBay. Can Edinburgh's most deliciously dysfunctional residents forsake discord and learn to dance to the same happy tune?