The Measure Of All Things
By Ken Alder
THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS tells the story of how science, revolutionary politics, and the dream of a new economy converged to produce both the metric system and the first struggle over globalization. Amidst the scientific fervor of the Revolution two French scientists, Delambre and Mechain, were sent out on an expedition to measure the shape of the world and thereby establish the metre (which was to be one ten-millionth the distance from pole to equator). Their hope was that people would use the globe as the basis of measure rather than an arbitrary system meted out by the monarchs. As one scientist went north along the French meridian and the other south, their experiences diverged just as radically. After seven years, they received a hero's welcome upon their return to Paris. Mechain, however, was obsessed over a minute error in his calculations that he'd discovered and concealed, and which eventually drove him to his grave. His death forced his colleague Delambre to choose between loyalty to his friend and his science.
By Valerie Martin
From the acclaimed author of Orange Prize winning PROPERTY comes a fresh twist on the classic Jekyll and Hyde story, a novel told from the perspective of Mary Reilly, Dr. Jekyll's dutiful and intelligent housemaid. Faithfully weaving in details from Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, Martin introduces an original and captivating character: Mary is a survivor-scarred but still strong-familiar with evil, yet brimming with devotion and love. As a bond grows between Mary and her tortured employer, she is sent on errands to unsavory districts of London and entrusted with secrets she would rather not know. Unable to confront her hideous suspicions about Dr. Jekyll, Mary ultimately proves the lengths to which she'll go to protect him. Through her astute reflections, we hear the rest of the classic Jekyll and Hyde story, and this familiar tale is made more terrifying than we remember it, more complex than we imagined possible.
Morality For Beautiful Girls
By Alexander McCall Smith
THE NO.1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY published in 1998, introduced the world to the one and only Precious Ramotswe, the engaging and sassy owner of Botswana's only detective agency. TEARS OF THE GIRAFFE took us further into this world, and now, continuing the adventures of Mma Ramotswe, MORALITY FOR BEAUTIFUL GIRLS, finds her expanding her business to take in the world of car repair and a beauty pageant. Alexander McCall Smith's sense of humour and gentle charm have created a substantial cult following. MORALITY FOR BEAUTIFUL GIRLS will win him yet more fans.
The Mitford Girls
By Mary S. Lovell
'A cracking read ' Lynn Barber, ObserverThe Mitford Girls tells the true story behind the gaiety and frivolity of the six Mitford daughters - and the facts are as sensational as any novel: Nancy, whose bright social existence masked an obsessional doomed love which soured her success; Pam, a countrywoman married to one of the best brains in Europe; Diana, an iconic beauty, who was already married when at 22 she fell in love with Oswald Moseley, the leader of the British fascists; Unity, who romantically in love with Hitler, became a member of his inner circle before shooting herself in the temple when WWII was declared; Jessica, the family rebel, who declared herself a communist in the schoolroom and the youngest sister, Debo, who became the Duchess of Devonshire.This is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, containing much new material, based on exclusive access to Mitford archives.
Me Talk Pretty One Day
By David Sedaris
A hilarious collection of essays from 'the premier observer of our world and its weirdnesses,' New York Times bestselling author David Sedaris (Adam Kay, author of This is Going to Hurt)Anyone who has heard David Sedaris speaking live or on the radio will tell you that a collection from him is cause for jubilation. A move to Paris from New York inspired these hilarious pieces, including 'Me Talk Pretty One Day', about his attempts to learn French from a sadistic teacher who declares that 'every day spent with you is like having a caesarean section'. His family is another inspiration. 'You Can't Kill the Rooster' is a portrait of his brother, who talks incessant hip-hop slang to his bewildered father. And no one hones a finer fury in response to such modern annoyances as restaurant meals presented in ludicrous towers of food and cashiers with six-inch fingernails.Readers say:'Fantastically funny book which gets better and better''Oh how I loved this book. David Sedaris and his adventures in learning to speak French made me cry with laughter, especially the terrifying teacher at the language classes''Why have I not discovered him before'
Mr Wroe's Virgins
By Jane Rogers
In 1830, as the end of the world approached, the charismatic, hunchbacked prophet of a religious sect settled in Lancashire heeds the biblical injunction and chooses seven virgins 'for comfort and succour'. Basing her novel on the life of the real John Wroe, a leader of a group called the Christian Israelite Church, Rogers crafts an impeccable narrative, interweaving the diverse mindsets of some of the chosen women and the prophet during the nine months of complex interaction. Part morality tale, part history, packed with accurate details of early 19th century life, the stories of Leah, Joanna, Hannah and Martha unfold as they cope with the hypocrisy, blind beliefs and idealism of the sexually threatening prophet.Told with humour, irony and a generosity that embraces even the sinister Wroe, this is a compelling story of astonishing depth, elucidating religious idealism, the beginnings of socialism and the ubiquitous position of women as unpaid labourers.
By Eden Robinson
Growing up a tough, wild tomboy, swimming, fighting and fishing in the remote Native village of Kitamaat, where the land slips into the green ocean on the northern edge of the world and strange things bubble below the surface, LisaMarie has always been different. Visited by ghosts and shapeshifters, tormented by premonitions, she can't escape the sense that something terrible is waiting for her at the end of the line. Then one day her little brother Jimmy goes missing at sea, and as LisaMarie sits waiting for news, aged nineteen but feeling a hundred, she sorts through the blackest secrets of her damaged life, in search of hope. Wild, sensuous and terrifying, MONKEY BEACH binds our most primal fears to an exquisitely haunting landscape in an unforgettable modern ghost story.
By Beryl Bainbridge
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 1998SHORTLISTED FOR THE GUARDIAN FICTION PRIZEWINNER OF THE JAMES TAIT MEMORIAL PRIZE FOR FICTIONWINNER OF THE WH SMITH BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDWhen Master Georgie - George Hardy, surgeon and photographer - sets off from the cold squalor of Victorian Liverpool for the heat and glitter of the Bosphorus to offer his services in the Crimea, there straggles behind him a small caravan of devoted followers; Myrtle, his adoring adoptive sister; lapsed geologist Dr Potter; and photographer's assistant and sometime fire-eater Pompey Jones, all of them driven onwards through a rising tide of death and disease by a shared and mysterious guilt.Combining a breathtaking eye for beauty with a visceral understanding of mortality, Beryl Bainbridge exposes her enigmatic hero as tenderly and unsparingly as she reveals the filth and misery of war, and creates a novel of luminous depth and extraordinary intensity.
The Moral Animal
By Robert Wright
THE MORAL ANIMAL examines the significance of this extraordinary shift in our perception of morality and what it means to be human.Taking the life of Charles Darwin as his context, Robert Wright brilliantly demonstrates how Darwin's ideas have stood the test of time, drawing startling conclusions about the structure of some of our most basic preoccupations. Why do we commit adultery, express suicidal tendencies and have the capacity for self-deception? Wright not only provides the answers to such fundamental moral questions from the perspective of evolutionary psychology but challenges us to see ourselves anew through the clarifying lens of this fledgling and exciting science.
The Music Of The Spheres
By Jamie James
From the 5th century BC, when Pythagoras first composed his laws of Western music and science, until the flowering of Romanticism over 2000 years later, scientists and philosophers perceived the cosmos musically, as an ordered mechanism whose smooth operation created a celestial harmony - the music of the spheres. The separation of science and music began with the scientific revolution during the Renaissance, and reached a peak with Romanticism, which celebrated what was human, individual and local. 20th-century science and music, argues Jamie James in this book, have rejected the Romantic ideal and placed the ultimate focus outside the reach of human reason once again. The book provides a survey of the history of science and music, a reassessment of Romanticism and the modernist reaction to it, and a radical intellectual journey.
Myra Breckinridge And Myron
By Gore Vidal
It is a risky (and risque) business becoming 'Woman Triumphant' - exercising total power over men like Rusty Godowski. Rusty just wants to be a Hollywood star like everyone else at Buck Loner's academy, but now that Buck's niece, Myra Breckinridge, has arrived, the curriculum is taking a wildly strange turn. Willing to risk all to be superb and unique, Myra means to prove to her old friend Dr Montag that it is possible to work out in life all one's fantasies - and survive.'From Myra's fist appearnce on the page she was a megastar', explains her creator, Gore Vidal. Myra caused a second furore when she returned in Myron to battle it out with her eponymous alter ego, a drab little man fallen into marriage and a job in Chinese catering. Theirs is a contest of hormonal roulette, with glorious Myra off on time-travelling missions of mercy back to 1948 to try to change cinema history and to introduce her own radical theories of popuation control. Meanwhile Myron tries desperately to stay in the present as inconspicuously as Mrya will allow.
By Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal's satirical fantasy, with a new introduction by the author. From his long-time hiding-place in provincial Egypt, Eugene Luther tells the story of John Cave, a former Californian undertaker, his rise to power and the subsequent global impact of his new religion.
The Man Who Knew Infinity
By Robert Kanigel
The Man Who Knew Infinity is the true story of a friendship between Srinivasa Ramanujan and G.H. Hardy that forever changed mathematics. In 1913, a young unschooled Indian clerk wrote a letter to G H Hardy, begging the pre-eminent English mathematician's opinion on several ideas he had about numbers. Realising the letter was the work of a genius, Hardy arranged for Srinivasa Ramanujan to come to England. Thus began one of the most improbable and productive collaborations ever chronicled.With a passion for rich and evocative detail, Robert Kanigel takes us from the temples and slums of Madras to the courts and chapels of Cambridge University, where the devout Hindu Ramanujan, 'the Prince of Intuition,' tested his brilliant theories alongside the sophisticated and eccentric Hardy, 'the Apostle of Proof'. In time, Ramanujan's creative intensity took its toll: he died at the age of thirty-two and left behind a magical and inspired legacy that is still being plumbed for its secrets today.Adapted into a film in 2016 starring Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Stephen Fry, Toby Jones and Devika Bhise.