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An English Christmas

By John Julius Norwich
Authors:
John Julius Norwich
'If I could work my will,' said Scrooge indignantly, 'Every idiot who goes about with "Merry Christmas" on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.'This year go carol-singing in the Cotswolds with Laurie Lee or attend church with a grumpy Samuel Pepys. Make plum puddings for bemused French villagers with Elizabeth David; go present shopping with Virginia Woolf or eat far too much with Agatha Christie. Celebrate Christmas at Chatsworth, in the workhouse or marooned in the ice with Shackleton ... For the last forty-five years, the arrival of John Julius Norwich's latest Christmas Cracker has become as essential a part of the Christmas experience as holly and mistletoe. In An English Christmas the legendary popular historian has finally gathered all the best writing about this strangest and most memorable time of year into one book and his brilliant eye for a story is evident on every page.Vividly evoking all the good things about the festive season, this unexpected anthology is just as entertaining about its darker aspects. Eight-year-old Princess Margaret's thank-you list jostles with moving letters home from the trenches. Sherlock Holmes solves his trickiest case. George Orwell writes about indigestion; Jane Austen about reluctant socialising and Thomas Hardy about the old folk belief that all animals kneel at midnight on 24 December. There are ghost stories, games and bizarre recipes. Diary-entries, recipes and letters sit alongside poems and short stories. An English Christmas could convert any Scrooge into an instant enthusiast.
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  • Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions

    By Mario Giordano
    Authors:
    Mario Giordano
    'Alive with a tang of lemons to set the senses zinging' The SpectatorFiction at its most charming - A Man Called Ove meets Andrea Camilleri, Auntie Poldi is this summer's most unlikely hero.Auntie Poldi can think of no finer place to wait for death than Sicily. All she asks is a sea view, fine wine (and plenty of it), and her family close around.When death instead takes her handsome young friend Valentino - and under mysterious circumstances at that - Poldi will not take it lying down.Perhaps it's in her blood (her father was a detective chief inspector); perhaps it's a diverting excuse to spend more time with men in uniform; or perhaps it's just the promise she makes to Valentino while holding his poor dead hand.But Auntie Poldi's hunting instincts have never felt more alive. Justice must be served - if it's the last thing she does . . . Auntie Poldi and the Fruits of the Lord, the second Auntie Poldi adventure, is now available for preorder
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    An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It

    By Jessie Greengrass
    Authors:
    Jessie Greengrass
    WINNER OF THE EDGE HILL SHORT STORY PRIZE 2016SHORTLISTED FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES/PFD YOUNG WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD 2016'Greengrass is undoubtedly that rare thing, a genuinely new and assured voice in prose. Her work is precise, properly moving, quirky and heartfelt' A. L. KennedyThe twelve stories in this startling collection range over centuries and across the world.There are stories about those who are lonely, or estranged, or out of time. There are hauntings, both literal and metaphorical; and acts of cruelty and neglect but also of penance.Some stories concern themselves with the present, and the mundane circumstances in which people find themselves: a woman who feels stuck in her life imagines herself in different jobs - as a lighthouse keeper in Wales, or as a guard against polar bears in a research station in the Arctic.Some stories concern themselves with the past: a sixteenth-century alchemist and doctor, whose arrogance blinds him to people's dissatisfaction with their lives until he experiences it himself.Finally, in the title story, a sailor gives his account - violent, occasionally funny and certainly tragic - of the decline of the Great Auk.
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    After Hitler

    By Michael Jones
    Authors:
    Michael Jones
    On 30 April 1945, Adolf Hitler committed suicide. The following day, his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels also killed himself and the crumbling Third Reich passed to Admiral Karl Dönitz. The Nazis' position seemed hopeless. Yet remarkably, the war in the rest of Europe went on for another ten days. After Hitler looks at these days as a narrative day-by-day countdown but also as a broader global history of a European war that had seen some of the most savage battles in history. Relations between the 'Big Three' - the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union - suddenly plunged to near breaking point. This book reveals that tumultuous story.After Hitler also looks at the wider canvas of the war and the terrible humanitarian catastrophe uncovered in Europe. It describes those who felt the joy of freedom, but also those who faced a highly uncertain future. As Red Army soldiers joined forces with their British and American allies, Stalin's East finally came face to face with Churchill's and Truman's West. After Hitler tells of their growing mistrust, but also of moments of remarkable goodwill and co-operation - the brief but poignant hope that these great nations could together fashion a new and safer future. This is a fascinating exploration of the brief but crucial period that shaped the emerging post-war world.
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    Abducting a General

    By Patrick Leigh Fermor
    Authors:
    Patrick Leigh Fermor
    A daring behind-enemy-lines mission from the author of A Time of Gifts and The Broken Road, who was once described by the BBC as 'a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene'. Although a story often told, this is the first time Patrick Leigh Fermor's own account of the kidnapping of General Kriepe, has been published.One of the greatest feats in Patrick Leigh Fermor's remarkable life was the kidnapping of General Kreipe, the German commander in Crete, on 26 April 1944. He and Captain Billy Moss hatched a daring plan to abduct the general, while ensuring that no reprisals were taken against the Cretan population. Dressed as German military police, they stopped and took control of Kreipe's car, drove through twenty-two German checkpoints, then succeeded in hiding from the German army before finally being picked up on a beach in the south of the island and transported to safety in Egypt on 14 May.Abducting a General is Leigh Fermor's own account of the kidnap, published for the first time. Written in his inimitable prose, and introduced by acclaimed Special Operations Executive historian Roderick Bailey, it is a glorious first-hand account of one of the great adventures of the Second World War. Also included in this book are Leigh Fermor's intelligence reports, sent from caves deep within Crete yet still retaining his remarkable prose skills, which bring the immediacy of SOE operations vividly alive, as well as the peril which the SOE and Resistance were operating under; and a guide to the journey that Kreipe was taken on, as seen in the 1957 film Ill Met by Moonlight starring Dirk Bogarde, from the abandonment of his car to the embarkation site so that the modern visitor can relive this extraordinary event.
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    Acts of Omission

    By Terry Stiastny
    Authors:
    Terry Stiastny
    Winner of the Paddy Power Political Novel of the Year1998: foreign minister Mark Lucas is in a dilemma. A disk containing the names of British informants to the Stasi has ended up in the hands of the government. Now he faces resistance from the diplomatic service who don't want him to return it to the Germans.Alex Rutherford, a young man working for the intelligence services, wakes up one morning with a hangover and a frightening memory that his computer is lost and, with it, the only copy of that disk.When the disk is delivered to the newspaper where journalist Anna Travers works, she finds herself unravelling not just a mystery, but many people's lives . . .Based on the true story of Stasi files of agents in the UK, Acts of Omission is suspenseful, exquisitely constructed and thought-provokingly topical - it is a novel about the leak of state secrets, the responsibility of newspapers, and the human cost of all of those.
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    Alphabetical

    By Michael Rosen
    Authors:
    Michael Rosen
    From minding your Ps and Qs to wondering why X should mark the spot, Alphabetical is a book for everyone who loves words and language. Whether it's how letters are arranged on keyboards or Viking runes, textspeak or zip codes, this book will change the way you think about letters for ever. How on Earth did we fix upon our twenty-six letters, what do they really mean, and how did we come to write them down in the first place? Michael Rosen takes you on an unforgettable adventure through the history of the alphabet in twenty-six vivid chapters, fizzing with personal anecdotes and fascinating facts. Starting with the mysterious Phoenicians and how sounds first came to be written down, he races on to show how nonsense poems work, pins down the strange story of OK, traces our seven lost letters and tackles the tyranny of spelling, among many, many other things. His heroes of the alphabet range from Edward Lear to Phyllis Pearsall (the inventor of the A-Z), and from the two scribes of Beowulf to rappers. Each chapter takes on a different subject - codes, umlauts or the writing of dictionaries. Rosen's enthusiasm for letters positively leaps off the page, whether it's the story of his life told through the typewriters he's owned or a chapter on jokes written in a string of gags and word games. So if you ever wondered why Hawaiian only has a thirteen-letter alphabet or how exactly to write down the sound of a wild raspberry, read on . . .
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  • Assassin's Reign

    By Michael Arnold
    Authors:
    Michael Arnold
    Assassin's Reign, the fourth in The Civil War Chronicles, Michael Arnold's acclaimed series of historical thrillers, sees battle-scarred hero Captain Stryker, 'the Sharpe of the Civil War', in the fight of his life.'Stands in comparison with the best of Cornwell' Yorkshire PostThe forces of King Charles are victorious; their Parliamentarian enemies in deep crisis. In the west, the crucial port city of Bristol has fallen, and Royalist eyes fall quickly upon neighbouring Gloucester. Its walls are weak, its garrison under strength, and its governor - Sir Edward Massie - suspected of harbouring sympathy for the King.Stryker and his men are with the army as it converges on Gloucester, still reeling from the loss of a close friend at the bloody Battle of Stratton. Ordered to infiltrate the rebel city on a mission to discover whether Massie will indeed surrender, Stryker reluctantly embarks upon his most desperate mission yet. But Gloucester's defenders are more resolute than any had imagined, and catastrophe soon befalls him. With his life seemingly forfeit, Stryker is spared by an unlikely saviour; Vincent Skaithlocke, his former commander. The mercenary has returned to England to fight for Parliament, and offers Stryker his protection. As old friends adjust to life fighting for opposing sides, Stryker begins to question his own loyalties . . . but a chance discovery makes him realise that all in Gloucester is not what it seems, for a hidden menace threatens his own life, and that of King Charles himself.
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    An Englishwoman in New York

    By Anne-Marie Casey
    Authors:
    Anne-Marie Casey
    This homage to the charm and romance of New York is a coming-of-age novel for grown-ups that will appeal to readers of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary, Allison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does It and Melissa Bank's Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing.When Lucy's husband loses his job and is relocated to New York, she is forced to give up her posh London life and move to a tiny Manhattan apartment. Homesick and resentful at first, Lucy soon finds herself embarking on an exhilarating new affair - no, not with her husband, although she is surprised to find they do still love each other, but with the city itself and the three women she meets at the school gates who, against all odds, become her friends.Christy, married to a wealthy older man, questions her life choice as she fantasizes about her doorman and tries to make peace with her angry stepdaughter. Julia is a workaholic television writer who becomes convinced her family is better off without her, until a neighbour's dog makes her re-think everything. Meanwhile Robyn, bread-winning wife to an aspiring novelist, has had enough. She wants what her friends are having - even if it means an affair with at least one, if not all, of their husbands . . .In the tradition of Melissa Bank's The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, with shades of Sex and the City, An Englishwoman in New York is the perfect coming-of-age novel for grown-ups.This book is published in the US under the title No One Could Have Guessed the Weather'Very smart, very savvy and very very funny' Rosamund Lupton, bestselling author of Sister'Fabulously clever, brilliantly observed' Cathy Kelly'Readers will find themselves on these pages and revel in the connection . . . I loved it' Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of The Shoemaker's Wife
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    The Adventures of Sylvia Scarlett

    By Compton Mackenzie
    Authors:
    Compton Mackenzie
    With the spirited and unforgettable Sylvia Scarlett, a character acclaimed as being 'one of the few really great women in fiction', Compton Mackenzie brings us his very own Becky Sharp. Originally published in two volumes, this complete edition follows her fortunes from childhood and marriage, through her escape into prostitution and her later career as a singer and cabaret artiste, until at last she finds romance with Michael Fane.A tale weaved with Dickensian skill and humour in characterisation, THE ADVENTURES OF SYLVIA SCARLETT holds its place as one of the most vital and picaresque romances of the twentieth century.
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    An Unsocial Socialist

    By George Bernard Shaw
    Authors:
    George Bernard Shaw
    Sidney Trefusis is a proselytizing socialist. Armed with irony and paradox, he is determined to overthrow a society riddled with class and sexual exploitation.Henrietta, his adoring wife, 'loves' him: he must abandon her. Son of a millionaire, he gives up everything to pose as an 'umble peasant'. But when this unsocial socialist goes to work as a gardener in the vicinity of a girls' school he meets his match - for Agatha Wylie is a new kind of woman, perfectly armed: and she doesn't love him.With the character of his clown-prophet Trefusis, George Bernard Shaw presented for the first time his view of what the relationship between the sexes should be. Galloping, exuberant, and irresistibly entertaining, AN UNSOCIAL SOCIALIST is a brilliant satire on social prejudice from a great author of the past.
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    All in One Basket

    By Deborah Devonshire
    Authors:
    Deborah Devonshire
    Entertaining, instructive, thought-provoking and hilarious, the unmistakeable voice of Deborah Devonshire rings out of this volume which combines her two collections of 'occasional' writings - Home to Roost and Counting my Chickens.The pieces are broad and eclectic in their subjects, ranging from treasures unearthed while the kitchen was being redecorated, musings about the reason for the reworded town sign, tourism at Chatsworth, a ringside view of both John F. Kennedy's inauguration and funeral, and the value of deportment. No matter what she's writing about she is always affectionate, shrewd and uproariously funny.
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    The Art of Conversation (digital download)

    By Catherine Blyt
    Authors:
    Catherine Blyt
    Every day we use our mobiles and computers to communicate, but ironically we are losing touch with face-to-face talk. Catherine Blyth reveals the endless possibilities of conversation and shows that when it works it can come close to heaven. With examples from Elizabeth I to Tommy Cooper, courtesans to nomads, The Art of Conversation is full of tips on listening, the perfect handshake, talking shop and surviving conversational bores. Be it sharing a joke with a stranger, sparking a new idea or just letting off steam with a friend, there are infinite adventures to be had if you break the ice and say hello . . .
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    The Art of Marriage

    By Catherine Blyth
    Authors:
    Catherine Blyth
    Joining your life with another person's, until death do you part, is perhaps the biggest decision you can take. But once the vows have been sworn, the cake has been cut, and the honeymoon is over, what are the secrets of a lasting marriage?The Art of Marriage explains why marriage matters. This timeless institution still casts its spell, not thanks to the sentimental grip of tradition, but because it eases the ups and downs of existence and makes them meaningful. Each marriage is unique, so there are no universal laws for being a good husband or wife. But Catherine Blyth's insights and anecdotes gather wisdom from history, psychology, and couples who have been there, to show how best to negotiate the three-legged obstacle race that is married life. Whether it's upturned loo-seats, badly squeezed toothpaste, in-laws who should be outlawed, rows over the rubbish, or sly, wandering eyes, you will find a solution in this entertaining survivor's guide.
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    Along the Enchanted Way

    By William Blacker
    Authors:
    William Blacker
    When William Blacker first crossed the snow-bound passes of northern Romania, he stumbled upon an almost medieval world.There, for many years he lived side by side with the country people, a life ruled by the slow cycle of the seasons, far away from the frantic rush of the modern world. In spring as the pear trees blossomed he ploughed with horses, in summer he scythed the hay meadows and in the freezing winters gathered wood by sleigh from the forest. From sheepfolds harried by wolves, to courting expeditions in the snow, he experienced the traditional way of life to the full, and became accepted into a community who treated him as one of their own. But Blacker was also intrigued by the Gypsies, those dark, foot-loose strangers of spell-binding allure who he saw passing through the village. Locals warned him to stay clear but he fell in love and there followed a bitter struggle.Change is now coming to rural Romania, and William Blacker's adventures will soon be part of its history. From his early carefree days tramping the hills of Transylvania, to the book's poignant ending, Along the Enchanted Way transports us back to a magical country world most of us thought had vanished long ago.
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    All the Dead Voices

    By Declan Hughes
    Authors:
    Declan Hughes
    Ed Loy has made some changes. He has moved into an apartment in Dublin's city centre, leaving behind his family home: he wants to break free of the ghosts of his own past, to live in the teeming present. But if that's what he wants for his own life, it's not always what his clients will permit: the baggage they bring with him propel him relentlessly into past. The police are working along similar lines with their new Cold Case unit. Looking back over a fifteen-year-old murder, they are satisfied by their original findings - but not so Loy. He has been hired by the victim's daughter to investigate the suspects ignored by the first investigation: a rich property developer, an ex-IRA man and Loy's own nemesis, George Halligan. But Loy has to watch his back: in the murky world into which he has fallen, he can't tell which threats come from the IRA and which from the police protecting their old case. Can Loy persuade his longstanding friend DI Dave Donnelly to help solve the Fogarty case, or does he have to rely on the murderous George Halligan? Does it all go back to the IRA? Are the men who gave the commands now respectable citizens? In his toughest case yet, Ed Loy delves into the dirty side of life in the New Ireland, where progress comes at a price and no one is free of their past.
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    Among the Mad

    By Jacqueline Winspear
    Authors:
    Jacqueline Winspear
    Christmas Eve,1931. On the way to see a client, Maisie Dobbs witnesses a man commit suicide on a busy London street. The following day, the Home Secretary receives a letter threatening a massive loss of life if certain demands are not met. Maisie is invited into Scotland Yard's elite Special Branch as a special adviser on the case - and becomes involved in a race against time to find a man who soon proves he has the knowledge, and will, to murder thousands of innocent people. Before this harrowing case is over, Maisie must negotiate her way through a darkness not encountered since she was a nurse in wards filled with shell-shocked men. In Among the Mad, Jacqueline Winspear combines a heart-stopping story with a rich evocation of a fascinating period to create her most compelling and satisfying novel yet.
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    The Art of Conversation

    By Catherine Blyth
    Authors:
    Catherine Blyth
    Every day we use our mobiles and computers to communicate, but ironically we are losing touch with face-to-face talk. Catherine Blyth reveals the endless possibilities of conversation and shows that when it works it can come close to heaven. With examples from Elizabeth I to Tommy Cooper, courtesans to nomads, The Art of Conversation is full of tips on listening, the perfect handshake, talking shop and surviving conversational bores. Be it sharing a joke with a stranger, sparking a new idea or just letting off steam with a friend, there are infinite adventures to be had if you break the ice and say hello . . .
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    An Incomplete Revenge

    By Jacqueline Winspear
    Authors:
    Jacqueline Winspear
    1931. Maisie Dobbs' new case takes her investigation into the pastoral beauty of the Kent Weald where acts of arson, theft and vandelism around the village of Heronsdene have gone suspiciously unreported for more than a decade. With the country in the grip of economic malaise, Maisie is relieved to accept an assignment from an old friend who wants her to uncover the truth behind these crimes, before he can buy part of the magnificent Sandermere estate at the heart of the village. It's hop-picking time and Londoners, including Maisie's assistant Billy Beale, wanting to escape the Smoke for the summer, set up camp in nearby fields. Gypsies, too, have arrived to work the land. Maisie discovers the villagers are bitterly prejudiced against outsiders and, even more troubling, seem possessed by the legacy of a war-time Zepplin raid. She has less than a month to find out why no one has been brought to justice and why secrecy shrouds the village. She must draw on all of her finely honed skills of detection to solve one of her most intriguing cases.
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    After the Reich

    By Giles Macdonogh
    Authors:
    Giles Macdonogh
    In 1945 Germany was a nation in tatters. Swathes of its population were despairing, homeless, bombed-out and on the move. Refugees streamed towards the West and soldiers made their way home, often scarring the villages they passed through with parting shots of savagery.Politically the country was neutered, carved into zones of occupation. While Britain and America were loathe to repeat the crippling reparations demands of the First World War, Russia bayed for blood, stripping their own zone of everything from rail tracks to lavatory bowls.After the Reich is the first history to give the full picture of Germany's bitter journey to reconstruction. Giles Macdonogh expertly charts the varied experiences of all who found themselves in the German melting pot. His people-focused narrative unveils shocking truths about how people continued to treat each other, even outside the confines of war. It is a crucial lesson for our times.
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