October 2017 : New Titles
A personal selection from a plethora of titles …
The latest novel from the Man Booker Prize-winning Banville is a “sort of” sequel to Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady, although it also works beautifully as a standalone. It opens in London, where spirited heiress Isabel has fled to from her husband’s house in Italy, following the discovery of a shocking year-long betrayal. As she meets old friends and former admirers, she must decide what to do: return to the palazzo and her old life in Rome, or strike out on her own. Banville’s gorgeous prose is as elegant and refined as his heroine.
Viking, £14.99, 5th October 2017, 9780241260173
Egan, one of the most dazzling novelists writing today, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her previous novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad. Manhattan Beach, her first historical novel, opens in Brooklyn during the great Depression with young Anna Kerrigan and her father Eddie paying a visit to the wealthy and mysterious Mr Styles. Anna, an unusually perceptive child, divines that Mr Styles is somehow desperately important to her father.
The second chapter begins a few years later. The Second World War is underway and Anna, now grown up but still living at home, has found work at the Brooklyn Naval Yard. Her salary supports her mother and her severely disabled sister, Lydia. Her father has disappeared.
By chance Anna meets Mr Styles again,at a nightclub in Manhattan. Growing aware of his lifestyle and business associates, she starts to wonder if he may have had something to do with her father’s sudden disappearance.
Manhattan Beach is essentially the intertwined stories of Anna, Eddie and Mr Styles, and the solving of a mystery. but it is also a story about organised crime in New York, the US Merchant Marines and the effects of the war on the working class in America, even so far from the bombs. It is simply stunning; thrilling, heartbreaking and unputdownable.
Corsair, £20.00, 3rd October 2017, 9781472150875
The sixth novel from the Man Booker Prize winner and his first since 2011’s The Stranger’s Child. The Sparsholt Affair begins at Oxford University in 1940 where, observed by undergraduate Freddie Green, privileged Evert Dax develops a painful obsession with David Sparsholt: a strapping, handsome first-year from a humbler background, who has a fiance. What happens next sets in motion the mystery at the heart of the novel, which then moves through time from sexually liberated London in the 1960s to the present day.
Picador, £20.00, 1st June 2017, 9781447208211
A 77-year-old Neapolitan widower rediscovers his appetite for life. This sold 30,000 copies in the first two weeks in the author’s native Italy, and rights have sold in 12 territories.
Oneworld Publications, £12.99, 5th October 2017, 9781786072887
It’s 1962, and while the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolds, a group of schoolboys in Pretoria scan the horizon for signs that the world is about to end. Gradually, one of the boys becomes aware of the political unrest closer to home; the Sharpeville massacre, Nelson Mandela’s arrest and the State of Emergency.
Myriad Editions, £8.99, 26th October 2017, 9780995590021
Including such names as Biafra, New Brunswick, Labuan, Tannu Tuva and Eastern Karelia, an unorthodox history of 50 lost countries of the 19th and 20th centuries, illustrated with detailed maps, and postage stamps.
Thames & Hudson Ltd, £16.95, 12th October 2017, 9780500519905
Love Nina meets “Black Books” is the apposite billing for this wry, cantankerous and often hilarious diary of a year working in Scotland’s biggest second-hand bookshop by the owner of The Bookshop in Wigtown, which has “over a mile of shelving, packed with all sorts of things which you can’t get on the sodding Kindle”. Reflecting periodically on George Orwell’s own time as a bookseller, Bythell charts the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky, as well as his battles with Amazon.
Profile Books Ltd, £14.99, 28th September 2017, 9781781258620
Charismatic medical historian, creator of website “The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice” and presenter of YouTube series “Under the Knife” with a riveting account of how Joseph Lister – the “father of modern surgery” who inspired Listerine – transformed surgery from a bloody, brutal business with an appalling death rate to the overwhelmingly safe, clinical and life-saving practice it is today, devoting his life to uncovering the causes of post-operative infection and finding solutions to it. While some of the descriptions of amputations pre-Lister will undoubtedly make you wince, they provide a salutary reminder of how fortunate we are to live in the post-Lister age.
Allen Lane, £16.99, 17th October 2017, 9780241262498
What does it mean to be English in a post-Brexit world? Is it the beer-swilling, tea-drinking, Marmite-eating, wonky-toothed caricature? Or is it more nuanced? Fogle, who drives a Land Rover, owns a Labrador and wears a Barbour jacket, investigates over the course of a year and through the seasons.
William Collins, £20.00, 1st October 2017, 9780008222246
This lavish, definitive view of the oceanic world accompanies a seven-part instalment of the epic natural history series, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, which was more than four years in the making. Each chapter brings to life a different habitat, from coral reefs to shorelines. It looks breathtaking and is packed with genuine scientific “firsts”, I’m told.
BBC Books, £25.00, 19th October 2017, 9781849909679
In Tudor times, there were almost 400 Africans living and working in Britain, and they were free men and women. Such is the revelation in this fascinating, brilliantly researched and eminently readable history which tells the stories of 10 of them, from the black porter who whips a white Englishman in a Gloucestershire manor house; to the Moroccan woman baptised in a London church; the Mauritanian diver dispatched to salvage lost treasures from the “Mary Rose”; and John Blanke, who came to be royal trumpeter to Henry VII and later Henry VIII, and whose representation adorns the striking jacket of this title.
Oneworld Publications, £18.99, 5th October 2017, 9781786071842
“Using ‘utilise’ instead of ‘use’ is, in 99 cases out of 100, just stupid.” From fixing broken sentences to avoiding pomposity, the Spectator’s literary editor explains the art of persuasive writing, from work reports to Valentine’s cards, and from emails of condolence to tweets of complaint. “Astute, sprightly and illuminating,” says Profile.
Profile Books Ltd, £14.99, 12th October 2017, 9781781254769
SAS Ghost Patrol
by Damien Lewis
AS Ghost Patrol is the explosive true story of the day in 1942 when the SAS donned Nazi uniforms to perpetrate the most audacious and daring mission of the war. Beyond top secret, deniable in the extreme (and of course enjoying Churchill’s enthusiastic blessing), this is one of the most remarkable stories of wartime lawlessness, eccentricity and raw courage in the face of impossible odds – a thoroughly British undertaking.
What unfolded – the longest mission ever undertaken by Allied special forces – was an epic of daring, courage, tragedy and survival that remains unrivalled to this day, and which rightly became a foundation stone of Special Forces legend. Written with Lewis’s signature authenticity and dramatic verve, SAS Ghost Patrol is peopled by a cast of the utterly maverick and the extraordinary. In its quirky eccentricities and outrageous rule-breaking, this is a story that only the British could have authored, and with such panache and aplomb. It may read like the stuff of impossible myth or folklore, but every single word is true.
Quercus, £20.00, 19th October 2017, 9781786483133
This official account of the marvellous British success that is Aardman Animations is packed with interviews from the key people who have made such box-office hits such as “Chicken Run” and (my favourite) “Shaun the Sheep”. The book, billed as part business memoir, part humour, will be further supported by global release of the company’s new film, “Early Man”, in January 2018.
Simon & Schuster Ltd, £20.00, 19th October 2017, 9781471164743
The story of Mandela’s presidential years, drawing heavily on the memoir he began to write as he prepared to finish his term of office, but was unable to finish. It charts South Africa’s transition from decades of Apartheid rule, and the challenges he had to overcome to make a reality of his cherished vision for the nation. Acclaimed South African writer Mandla Langa has completed the task using Mandela’s unfinished draft.
Macmillan, £25.00, 19th October 2017, 9781509809592
This extremely classy, mint green debut cookbook from the luxury London hotel contains over 100 dishes and drinks from The Foyer and Reading Room, the Bar and Fumoir. Omelette Arnold Bennett or Claridge’s Chicken Pie, anyone?
Mitchell Beazley, £30.00, 5th October 2017, 9781784723293
This landmark edition of Plath’s letters contains 16 never-before-seen letters to Ted Hughes, along with complete and unabridged letters to 47 different recipients, 18 unpublished poems, 25 new line drawings and six unpublished photographs. “The literary gift of the season,” says Faber.
Faber & Faber, £35.00, 5th October 2017, 9780571328994
Volume two of Schama’s epic and eclectic history rejoins the story of the Jewish people in 1492, crossing continents and five centuries. A poetess in the ghetto of Venice, a boxer in Georgian England, a general in Ming China and a teacher of the deaf in 18th-century France all feature.
The Bodley Head Ltd, £25.00, 12th October, 9781847922809
Written as a diary, starting in September, this is a chronicle of Slater’s love for winter, its fables and its family feasts. It includes everything you need to prepare for and survive midwinter, from a rundown of Europe’s Christmas markets and which books to read and films to watch, to where to go for a winter break and which candles to buy. As you’d expect, at the heart of the book are Slater’s recipes, from quick fireside suppers to winter baking and marmalade making. Slater does hygge, and then some.
Fourth Estate Ltd, £20.00, 19th October 2017, 9780008260194
“What is money and why does debt exist? Where do wealth and inequality come from?” Via a letter to his teenage daughter, the bestselling economist uses universally accessible stories to explains what economics is and why it is so dangerous. Economics is not a science, he says, but an epic drama and a battleground of ideas; a war between the powerful for our allegiance.
The Bodley Head Ltd, £14.99, 19th October 2017, 9781847924445
Using science to explain why sleep is so essential, Walker, a US professor of neuroscience and a sleep expert, reveals what happens during REM sleep, why our sleep patterns change across our lifetimes, and the crucial links between sleep and a range of health issues, including Alzheimer’s and PTSD. Margaret Thatcher’s famous need for only four hours’ sleep a night may have affected her mental health, he argues.
Allen Lane, £20.00, 3rd October 2017, 9780241269060