Friday, November 30, 2012
What to buy the women in your life for Christmas? In the first of a daily December guide to top 10s for Christmas EDP books editor KEIRON PIM offers 10 books that might just make a perfect present for a sister, mother, wife or girlfriend. LEAVE YOUR TIPS IN THE COMMENT SECTION AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STORY.
The Diaries of Nella Last: Writing in War and Peace
Patricia and Robert Malcomson, ed.
Profile Books, 12.99.
Nella will come to be seen as one of the major 20th-century English diarists, according to the historian David Kynaston, though Nella herself would never have guessed. I can never understand how the scribbles of such an ordinary person ... can possibly have value, she wrote in her diary on September 2, 1949 as a participant in the Mass-Observation project during the second world war and its aftermath. More than 60 years on, tens of thousands of people have enjoyed three volumes of her vivid and moving diaries, which formed the basis for Bafta-winning drama Housewife 49 starring Victoria Wood. This book collects in a single volume the best of Nellas prolific outpourings, including much unpublished material from the war years.
Oh Dear Silvia
Michael Joseph, 18.99
Dawn Frenchs debut novel, A Tiny Bit Marvellous became the biggest selling Christmas book of 2010. Oh Dear Silvia, her follow-up, is a darkly entertaining tale that consolidates Frenchs position as a comic novelist as well as much-loved comedienne. Like its predecessor the novel explores modern family life but this time her central character, Silvia Shute, doesnt speak shes in a coma and it is her shattered loved ones whove gathered to tell the story. Frenchs memorable cast of characters lie at the heart of this very original novel.
The Persephone Book of Short Stories
Persephone Books, 14.
Persephone have been publishing beautiful editions of often-overlooked books by female authors for the last decade, and for their 100th publication in October they released this 450-page collection of 28 short stories dating from 1909 to 1986. Most of the stories focus on the small, quiet or unspoken intricacies of human relationships rather than grand dramas, they say, and the contributors comprise a mixture of familiar names and those who have slipped into semi-obscurity. Among the former would be Norfolk-born Diana Athill, who is still going strong aged 94, Katherine Mansfield, Irene Nemirovsky and the acerbic Dorothy Parker, whose witticisms so scandalised Jazz Age America.
My Animals and Other Family
Clare Balding was the broadcasting star of this summers Olympic Games and her calm, assured style has won her a legion of admirers over the last few years, many of whom, male and female alike, have enjoyed this memoir of her childhood. Her father trained racehorses and Balding grew up surrounded by horses and dogs, and it is through their stories that she reveals her own story. By the time I was ten I had discovered the pain of unbearable loss, she writes. I had felt joy and jealousy. Most important of all, I knew how to love and how to let myself be loved. All these things I learnt through animals.
Sandstone Press, 8.99.
Winner of the Fiction category in this years EDP-Jarrold East Anglian Book Awards, this novel from Cambridge academic Rosy Thornton is atmospherically set in the Fens and is a well-observed exploration of mother-daughter relationships. Ninepins is an isolated former tollhouse thats now home to Laura and her 12-year-old daughter Beth. Laura rents out the old pumphouse next door to students - but then troubled teenager Willow moves in and exerts a worrying influence Beth. Is Willow just vulnerable, or is she truly dangerous?
Kate Mosses Labyrinth was a huge seller and kicked off her Languedoc Trilogy, which concludes with Citadel, set during the second world war between 1942 and 1944. It is the story of Sandrine Vidal, who is drawn into the resistance in Carcassonne; her network, codenamed Citadel, consists of ordinary French women, like her sister Marianne and best friend Lucie. Fighting alongside them are the men who love them, including Raoul Pelletier, a member of Maquis, the rural resistance, who falls for Sandrine. Running parallel to their story is the tale of Arinius, a young monk and his wife Lupa, who live in Gaul in the fourth century and face similar battles from an invading army. A powerful and magical religious text connects the two eras, which are brought together in a dramatic battle at the foothills of the Pyrenean mountains leading to a heartbreaking denouement.
Ebury Press, 18.99.
In her highly successful How to be a Woman, Caitlin Moran was by her own admission restricted to one subject: women. Here she revels in being set free to tackle THE REST OF THE WORLD: Ghostbusters, Twitter, caffeine, panic attacks, Michael Jacksons memorial service, being a middle-class marijuana addict, Doctor Who, binge-drinking, Downton Abbey, pandas, my own tragically early death, and my repeated failure to get anyone to adopt the nickname I have chosen for myself: Puffin. Oh, and she also goes to a sex club with Lady Gaga, cries on Sir Paul McCartneys guitar and gets drunk with Kylie Minogue, among many other incidents recounted in this very entertaining book.
The Hedgerow Handbook: Recipes, Remedies and Rituals
Square Peg, 12.99
Hedgerows are such a familiar part of the British countryside that we can easily take them for granted - but look closer and the diversity of plants that form them, and animals that live among them, is quite breathtaking. For instance, at least 65 species of birds live in our hedgerows and they in turn are crucial to the survival of moths, bats and dormice. But they can also provide a great fund of wild food for humans too. This book reintroduces the natural hedgerow ingredients that were once used on a regular basis, giving them a fresh and contemporary twist - rather than blackberry pie or nettle soup, think Beechnut Turron, Red Clover Lemonade and Wild Raspberry Vodka.
The Missing Ink: The Lost Art Of Handwriting (And Why It Still Matters)
Handwriting seems to be a dying art in an increasingly electronic age, and in this book Philip Hensher takes a fascinating look back over its history, showing how writing styles have changed - and in particular how changes in the past 80 years to the way children learn have made handwriting more individualistic, forming a stark contrast to the uniform styles once enforced on young learners.
But this new individuality also opened the doors for analytical experts to identify all sorts of character traits in each writer, he explains, not to mention to illegible exam papers. One for anyone interested in what handwriting can tell us about individuals, but also what it can tell us about society.
Heroines and Harridans: A Fanfare of Fabulous Females
Sandi Toksvig (with illustrations by Sandy Nightingale)
Robson Press, 17.99.
Broadcaster Sandi Toksvig notes that it is not by chance that the relation of matters in the past are called History. It is, generally, his story with many men doing grand things while the women stayed home to make the soup. Here she seeks to put that right by penning portraits of as eccentric a melange of women throughout history as you are ever likely to find. All of them were terrific good fun, helped shape the world they lived in but in many cases disappeared into obscurity. Each of Toksvigs witty accounts of these womens lives is accompanied by an equally striking and imaginative illustration by artist Sandy Nightingale.
Tomorrow - Christmas books for him.