laden_sm

Welcome to the British Book Shop

Dear Customer, here is just a small sample of the wide selection of books we stock. You are always welcome to give us a phone call, send us a fax or email us, if you need help or information - or just come and browse!

Thank you very much.

EARLY SPRING LIST 2015

 

Gerritsen, Tess: Die Again, Bantam Press, € 16.99

This superb thriller featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles investigates a bizarre murder where a man has been gutted and left hanging in his home. When the remains of other victims have been found bearing the same three body marks,

Healey, Emma: Elizabeth is Missing, Penguin, € 10.49

Often, Maud forgets. Once the tea is made, she forgets to drink it. When she goes out the door to shop, she forgets the reason why she went. But apart from her forgetfulness, there is one thing Maud is certain about. She is certain that her friend Elizabeth is missing. Thanks to a note she always carries in her pocket, Maud has been reminded every day for seventy years about an unsolved mystery. Others discourage Maud from talking about it, let alone doing anything about it, but she is determined to find a solution. The only trouble with Maud’s determination to unravel the mystery is that she cannot remember the clues. Emma Healey’s novel is no conventional crime story. It is a darkly funny, moving, well-crafted read, combining suspense and sympathy to powerful effect.

Hiraide, Takashi: The Guest Cat, Picador, € 11.50

A bestseller in France and winner of Japan’s prestigious Kiyama Shokei Literary Award, this acclaimed novel by poet Takashi Hiraide, is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful work about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic but deep-rooted ways of living. A childless couple in their thirties lives in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo, working at home as freelance writers, caught up in their daily, somewhat boring, routine. But one day there is a disruption to their peaceful lives – a neighbour’s cat, Chibi, invites itself into their flat and eventually into their lives. Warmth and caring slowly seep into their relationship again, with each other and with Chibi. Gradually their lives change in subtle yet impactful ways as the ‘guest cat’ makes dangerous connections between people – until, finally, a dark secret, buried and abandoned in their garden, forces them to realize that nothing can stay the same forever. A quiet but disturbing little gem of a book!

Johnson, Deborah: The Secret of Magic, Penguin, € 10.49

It is 1946 and a black soldier returning by bus to his home in Mississippi after the Second World War is murdered. Regina Robichard, a black female attorney working for the NAACP in New York City, is intrigued by the case, and by the letter sent requesting help from M.P. Calhoun, the reclusive writer of the children’s book The Secret of Magic. This ‘scandalous’ tale, which tells of the adventures of both black and white children playing together in a magical forest, was one of Robichard’s childhood favorites. On her first trip to the Deep South, the young lawyer soon experiences and has to learn to work within the reality of a Jim Crow society. But her determination, along with the help of the childhood story, leads her through the obstacles of racism and the deeply embedded social order of the Deep South to find the truth. A work of fiction interwoven with non-fiction, Johnson’s novel uses the literary device of a story within a story, allowing Calhoun’s book to parallel Robichard’s own experiences. While this elements-of-magic thread keeps the tone of an otherwise racially complex story light, Johnson’s vivid characters and sharp descriptive details nevertheless authentically recreate the segregationist world of 1946 Mississippi, delving into the mysteries of this postwar town’s shrouded past with spellbinding subtlety.

Lane, Harriet: Her, Orionbooks, € 11.50

This novel belongs to an emerging ‘women beware of women’ sub-genre indebted to Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal. Emma is a struggling mother of two who has put her ambitions on hold. When she meets sophisticated and independent Nina, Emma generously draws her into her world, but it is not the first time they have met. While Emma has no recollection of a prior meeting, Nina remembers Emma well and has a score to settle. What did Emma do to incur such feelings of hatred and revenge in Nina? The story is told by both women with an underlying tension which builds and erupts with the final scene. Harriet Lane is a deft conjurer of middle-class scenarios. This second offering pinpoints the toxic friendships which can exist between women and those secrets which lurk unwittingly ready to leap out and wreak their cruel revenge on a hapless victim. Through her elegant, poetic prose, Lane pin-prinks her characters with perverse pleasure.

Parmar,Priya: Vanessa and her Sister, Bloomsbury, € 15.99

In 1905, London is alight with change and at its forefront are the Stephen siblings Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby and Adrian. They bring together a brilliant circle of artistic friends, who will become known as the legendary Bloomsbury Group. In time, each of them will make their own way to fame and success, but for now they embrace the freedom of being young and single Bohemians in London. The landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and Virginia feels dangerously abandoned, having been used to her sister’s constant attention and encouragement. Tragedy and betrayal threatens to destroy the family and Vanessa must choose whether to protect Virginia’s happiness or promote her own. This novel is a multilayered, fascinating take on this literary family’s life from the perspective of Virginia Woolf’s sister, Vanessa Bell.

Roffey, Monique: House of Ashes, Simon & Schuster, € 11.90

House of Ashes portrays in vivid detail and with heart-racing intensity, the bloody consequences of an attempted coup d'état on a fictional Caribbean island. Although the stories of the people involved are engagingly particular and personal, Roffey is skillful in incorporating the larger political and historical issues which have built up to this hostile takeover. The novel takes a sympathetic and fresh look at what motivates young men to become radicalised, indicting parents and governments for leaving them vulnerable to exploitation. The terror felt by the ill-prepared hostage takers is as palpable as that of their hostages and the violence they inflict is shocking, as it is realistic rather than gratuitous. Roffey's suspenseful novel provides unpredictable developments in each chapter while her increasingly desperate characters are forced to confront their perceptions of religion and morality. She has created a potent and heartrending story which has the ability to make the reader question their own perspectives on government and the abuse of power.

Tobin, Sophia: The Silversmith's Wife, Simon & Schuster, € 9.99

This atmospheric and sophisticated novel focuses on the death of Pierre Renard, an upwardly mobile, secretive silversmith who is found by the night watchman with his throat cut. His wife, Mary, finds his death a release from their oppressive, unhappy marriage, but Renard has left behind a tangled web of deceit in which she becomes inextricably involved. Withdrawn and weak from her own personal history of abandonment, lost love and buried secrets, Mary must find a way to renew her life away from Renard’s difficult, past entanglements. This dense, intricate, beautifully written thriller takes the reader deep into the heart of late eighteenth century London with the sensitive exploration of its main characters and an equally finely tuned unravelling of the novel’s main intriguing mystery.

Armstrong, Karen: Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, Bodley Head, € 19.91

Popular atheists claim that religions and their followers are by nature violent, but in Fields of Blood, Karen Armstrong argues otherwise. She defends religion as a cause for countering aggression through an examination of the historical reasons for war and violence. Armstrong claims that it was the invention of agriculture that brought about military violence and social oppression. She argues that the resulting accumulation of wealth caused societies to develop industrialised warfare as well as the ‘all-powerful’ modern state. Armstrong suggests that we should not confuse extremism with religion and argues that extremism is a distorted search by disaffected, marginalized people who have lost touch with deeper meaning, which could be revitalized through religion’s saner, more creative aspects. Fields of Blood is a thoroughly researched celebration of religious ideas and movements that oppose aggression and, in fact, promote equality and peace.

Borman, Tracy: Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant, Hodder, € 13.90

In this comprehensively researched, well-balanced and compellingly written biography, Tracy Borman brings Cromwell and the court of Henry VIII to life. She examines the life, loves, and legacy of the man who changed the shape of Britain. Although born a blacksmith’s son, Cromwell swiftly advanced as a lawyer to become the right-hand man of Henry VIII and one of the most powerful men in Tudor history. He oversaw England’s break with the Roman Catholic Church and the dissolution of the monasteries, as well as being influential in the securing of Henry’s controversial divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Cromwell has been reviled as a Machiavellian schemer with a ruthless drive for power, but he was an ingenious politician, a loving husband, father, guardian and a loyal, devoted servant. This is a worthy companion to Hillary Mantel’s Wolf Hall now being televised!

Hussey, Andrew: The French Intifada, Granta, € 14.50

This timely book explores the relationship of France to its Muslim Arabs. Beyond the affluent centres of French cities in the deprived banlieues, historian Andrew Hussey argues that a war is raging between the French state and its former subjects for whom the mantra of ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ conceals a bitter history of domination, oppression, racism and brutality. Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, Hussey creates a compelling new portrait of France as an old, authoritarian nation and brings to life the strange, complex and compelling relationship between secular republican France with the Muslim world of North Africa. A must read.

Levitin, Daniel J.: The Organized Mind, Penguin/Viking, € 18.49

Author of the bestseller This is Your Brain on Music, Daniel J. Levitin turns his cognitive neuroscience focus on the problem of information overload in today’s society with The Organized Mind. Using the latest research on the brain and how it works, he not only writes on how the brain organizes the world around us but also explains how to apply these insights to more efficiently organize our own personal, social and professional lives. Fundamentally, the most critical principle behind this management system suggests that we ‘shift the burden of organizing from our brain to our external world.’ Levitin offers several strategies for doing this, from setting up a home filing system to organizing social relationships to paying attention to information flows in businesses and forgetting the illusion that successful multi-tasking is possible. Such strategies not only relieve the stress of having to organize information but also free the mind to explore more creative ventures. An intellectually enlightening read which has practical advice that everyone can benefit from!

NewScientist: Question Everything, Profile Books, € 10.49

Why does freshly fallen snow squeak when you walk on it? Why are the eyelids of different races different shapes? Why are some eggs double yoked? If heat destroys magnetism, why doesn’t the heat inside the Earth destroy its magnetic field? Why does your own snoring usually not wake you up? Since 1994, the ‘Last Word’ column in New Scientist magazine and its online version has brought together reader questions and answers to such everyday facts, ones that we may have accepted but then one day wondered “Why does...?” Question Everything is the newest in the New Scientist collection of books (which includes titles such as Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? and Will We Ever Speak Dolphin?) and answers 132 science questions with accurate and often funny explanations. This unpredictable, entertaining collection will supply you with plenty of interesting tidbits to amuse your friends.

Reviews by Evelyn, Jayne, Liz, Michaela, Ruth and Sophie