In just under 1000 days between 1347 and 1351 the black death swept across Europe. When it finally left, 25 million people lay dead. In “The Great Mortality – An Intimate History of the Black Death,” published by Harper Perennial in 2005, John Kelly takes us into the fascinating and often frightening world of 14th century Europe and into the lives of the people who lived there. We spend time in community after community, city after city, and country after country, where simple people going about their lives are stalked by a menace that cannot be seen, cannot be understood, and cannot be stopped. Continue readingby
This is a very difficult question to answer. A few obvious answers immediately flew to mind, like the Boden catalogue as this is a book that impacts my bank balance on an all too frequent occurrence. A little more thought brought my favourite childhood book to the fore which was ‘The One Hundred and One Dalmatians’ by Doddie Smith although the only real impact I think that book has had is my compulsion for things that are spotty (see earlier reference to Boden addiction).
There was a chicklit book that I once read that when I had persevered to the end it gave me the encouragement that if they had been published then I at least stood I fighting chance – book and author will of course remain nameless.
When you sit down and really think about it, it’s amazing how many books you have read and loved and remember fondly. I love a bit of poetry so Wendy Cope would always make it into my top five books but to choose just one is a hard task.
So after a few cups of tea Continue readingby
One of the most memorable books I’ve read recently is Leah Fleming’s novel, The Captain’s Daughter. The story begins with the sinking of the Titanic and something that happens amid the ensuing carnage and confusion, which will have repercussions that echo down decades.
There’s more than one love story in this huge and sweeping epic and more than one kind of love, as the stories and lives of several families are entwined over the years. To say a novel took you on a journey is a cliché, but this one certainly did – and a mystery tour at that, since I found it impossible to guess where we were going until we got there. I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t read it, but the resolution literally hangs by a lacy thread…by
The sheer size of Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy creates an impact. Its fat spine takes up four books-worth of space on the shelf. I took this monster thirteen hundred page novel with me on holiday twenty years ago and although I was in Italy, for much of the time I was transported to India.
But it wasn’t the foreign travel that provided the book’s greatest hook for me. At the heart of the novel is a simple question. Continue readingby
I moved house recently, and when faced with my monolith-like bookshelf I decided it was time for a little cull. A few books that I had read once and enjoyed were tossed (sorry: placed, lovingly) into a hessian bag and ferried across the road to the local Age Concern shop, but there was one book I knew I wouldn’t have parted with in a million years.
I first met Captain Corelli and his mandolin at college (steady on, I’ll make the jokes). I’d been given a beautiful virgin copy of the book ready for my annotations, and as a class we began to read through certain chapters in class, ending each ‘lecture’ as we called it with a series of questions on each chapter. This method had been practiced before with many texts from Shakespeare to McEwan. Normally the books you study at college or uni are groundbreaking and vastly important, but oftentimes boring and irrelevant; especially for a lovelorn sixteen-year-old who thought her life made up the centre of the whole universe.by
Today, Sue tells us about the book that’s had the most impact on her…
Dream a Little Dream. When I chose to give Dominic Christy the neurological condition of narcolepsy, which causes uncontrolled sleep, I hadn’t realised what a fantastical and hard-to-understand condition it is. I became a research junkie and in September 2013, Narcolepsy UK asked me to speak at their conference about why I wrote that book and how I did my research. Quite a few people with narcolepsy have now read Dream and they seem to feel that I’ve done OK with my portrayal. Satisfying.by