The Golden Thread
By Kassia St Clair
** A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK **'Fascinating . . . The history of the world through the eye of a needle . . . I recommend this book to anyone' THE SPECTATOR'A charming, absorbing and history that takes us on a journey from the silk roads to sportswear, from ruffs to spacesuits . . . I devoured this quietly feminist book' SUNDAY TIMES'Joyful and beautiful' NATURE'Will make you rethink your relationship with fabric' ELLE DECORATIONAll textiles begin with a twist. From colourful 30,000-year old threads found on the floor of a Georgian cave to what the linen wrappings of Tutankhamun's mummy actually meant; from the Silk Roads to the woollen sails that helped the Vikings reach America 700 years before Columbus; from the lace ruffs that infuriated the puritans to the Indian calicoes and chintzes that powered the Industrial Revolution, our continuing reinvention of cloth tells fascinating stories of human ingenuity. When we talk of lives hanging by a thread, being interwoven, or part of the social fabric, we are part of a tradition that stretches back many thousands of years. Fabric has allowed us to achieve extraordinary things and survive in unlikely places, and this book shows you how -- and why.With a cast that includes Chinese empresses, Richard the Lionheart and Bing Crosby, Kassia St Clair takes us on the run with escaped slaves, climbing the slopes of Everest and moonwalking with astronauts. Running like a bright line through history, The Golden Thread offers an unforgettable adventure through our past, present and future.
Ghosts of Christmas Past
By Neil Gaiman, M. R. James, Jenn Ashworth, E. Nesbit, Louis de Bernières, Muriel Spark, Frank Cowper, E. F. Benson, Bernard Capes, L. P. Hartley, Robert Aickman, Jerome K. Jerome, Kelly Link
A present contains a monstrous secret.An uninvited guest haunts a Christmas party.A shadow slips across the floor by firelight.A festive entertainment ends in darkness and screams.Who knows what haunts the night at the dark point of the year? This collection of seasonal chillers looks beneath Christmas cheer to a world of ghosts and horrors, mixing terrifying modern fiction with classic stories by masters of the macabre. From Neil Gaiman and M. R. James to Muriel Spark and E. Nesbit, there are stories here to make the hardiest soul quail - so find a comfy chair, lock the door, ignore the cold breath on your neck and get ready to welcome in the real spirits of Christmas.
By Matthew Syed
What can Roger Federer teach us about the secret of longevity? What do the All Blacks have in common with improvised jazz musicians? What can cognitive neuroscientists tell us about what happens to the brains of sportspeople when they perform?And why did Johan Cruyff believe that beauty was more important than winning? Matthew Syed, the 'Sports Journalist of the Year 2016', answers these questions and more in a fascinating, wide-ranging and provocative book about the mental game of sport. How do we become the best that we can be, as individuals, teams and as organisations? Sport, with its innate sense of drama, its competitive edge, its psychological pressures, its sense of morality and its illusive quest for perfection, provides the answers.
The Good Guy
By Susan Beale
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2016'I fell into The Good Guy hook, line and sinker . . . utterly captivating' Last Word ReviewA summer of love and deceit in 1960s New England.Abigail has everything she's meant to want: a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful baby daughter, and a house in the suburbs. Inside, however, she's in turmoil: awkward with her neighbors, exhausted by the demands of motherhood, a failure at domesticity. Her husband, Ted, doesn't feel the same pressure. His professional life is on the up when a chance encounter with single-girl Penny offers a glimpse of the life he might have had, had he not blindly followed convention. Captivated, he tells a lie and then another. Lie by lie, he constructs a double life, convinced he can keep his two worlds separate, but can he?Brilliantly observed and deeply moving, The Good Guy proves that the worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves.'A sparkling debut, with a lifelike depiction of a time and place, and piercing insights into the fabled, and often tarnished, American dream' Lady'Extremely well-written, intelligent and perceptive, this also happens to be a novel that slips down like ice-cream on a hot day. I absolutely loved it' Shiny New Books'A delicious, slightly gossipy summer read with a Mad Men feel to it. I'd especially recommend this to readers who enjoyed The Longest Night by Andria Williams and Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann' Bookbag
The Glorious Heresies
By Lisa McInerney
WINNER OF THE BAILEYS' WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016WINNER OF THE DESMOND ELLIOT PRIZE 2016We all do stupid things when we're kids.Ryan Cusack's grown up faster than most - being the oldest of six with a dead mum and an alcoholic dad will do that for you.And nobody says Ryan's stupid. Not even behind his back.It's the people around him who are the problem. The gangland boss using his dad as a 'cleaner'. The neighbour who says she's trying to help but maybe wants something more than that. The prostitute searching for the man she never knew she'd miss until he disappeared without trace one night . . .The only one on Ryan's side is his girlfriend Karine. If he blows that, he's all alone. But the truth is, you don't know your own strength till you need it.
By Michael Rosen
We live in a world surrounded by all the stuff that education is supposed to be about: machines, bodies, languages, cities, votes, mountains, energy, movement, plays, food, liquids, collisions, protests, stones, windows. But the way we've been taught often excludes all sorts of practical ways of finding out about ideas, knowledge and culture - anything from cooking to fixing loo cisterns, from dance to model making, from collecting leaves to playing 'Who am I?'. The great thing is that you really can use everything around you to learn more.Learning should be much more fun and former children's laureate, million-selling author, broadcaster, father of five and all-round national treasure, Michael Rosen wants to show you how. Forget lists, passing tests and ticking boxes, the world outside the classroom can't be contained within the limits of any kind of curriculum - and it's all the better for it. Long car journeys, poems about farting, cake baking, even shouting at the TV can teach lessons that will last a lifetime. Packed with enough practical tips, stories and games to inspire a legion of anxious parents and bored children, Good Ideas shows that the best kind of education really does start at home.
By George Mackay Brown
The small Orcadian community of Greevoe has remained unchanged for generations. Now a shady government project, Operation Black Star, threatens to destroy the islander's way of life. George Mackay Brown's first novel describes a week in the life of the islanders as the come to terms with the repercussions of Operation Black Star in a masterful mix of prose and poetry from one of Scotland's greatest writers.
The Girl on the Stairs
By Louise Welsh
Jane and Petra have been together for six years and after deciding to have a child, they move to Petra's hometown, Berlin. But things do not quite go according to plan. Jane, at six months pregnant, finds herself increasingly isolated and preoccupied with the monuments and reminders of the Holocaust which echo around the city - imagining the horrors that happened in the spaces around her. She becomes uneasy in the apartment and conceives a dread of the derelict backhouse across the courtyard. She also begins to suspect their neighbour, Alban Mann, of sexually assaulting his daughter, and places a phone call to the police which holds more significance than she can ever have known . . .
By Chris Bellamy
The Gurkhas have fought on behalf of Britain and India for nearly two hundred years. As brave as they are resilient, resourceful and cunning, they have earned a reputation as devastating fighters, and their unswerving loyalty to the Crown has always inspired affection in the British people. There are also now up to 40,000 Gurkhas in the million-strong army of modern India.But who are the Gurkhas? How much of the myth that surrounds them is true? Award-winning historian Chris Bellamy uncovers the Gurkhas' origins in the Hills of Nepal, the extraordinary circumstances in which the British decided to recruit them and their rapid emergence as elite troops of the East India Company, the British Raj and the British Empire. Their special aptitude meant they were used as the first British 'Special Forces'. Bellamy looks at the wars the Gurkhas have fought this century, from the two world wars through the Falklands to Iraq and Afghanistan and examines their remarkable status now, when each year 11,000 hopefuls apply for just over 170 places in the British Army Gurkhas.Extraordinarily compelling, this book brings the history of the Gurkhas, and the battles they have fought, right up to date, and explores their future.
The Guardians of the Covenant
By Tom Egeland
In the year 1013, Viking warriors raided an Egyptian tomb and unknowingly stole the greatest secret of the Old Testament.When a quirky archaeologist finds ancient Viking parchments containing runes and riddles, his mundane life is changed for good. These codes lead him on a quest for clues in mysterious places, from Egyptian tombs to antiquarian bookshops.Powerful forces are against him, but he manages to unveil a religious cover-up with potentially fatal consequences.
The Great Silence
By Juliet Nicolson
Peace at last, after Lloyd George declared it had been 'the war to end all wars', would surely bring relief and a renewed sense of optimism? But this assumption turned out to be deeply misplaced as people began to realise that the men they loved were never coming home. The Great Silence is the story of the pause between 1918 and 1920. A two-minute silence to celebrate those who died was underpinned by a more enduring silence born out of national grief. Those who had danced through settled Edwardian times, now faced a changed world. Some struggled to come to terms with the last four years, while others were anxious to move towards a new future.Change came to women, who were given the vote only five years after Emily Davidson had thrown herself on the ground at Ascot race course, to the poor, determined to tolerate their condition no longer, and to those permanently scarred, mentally and physically, by the conflict. The British Monarchy feared for its survival as monarchies around Europe collapsed and Eric Horne, one time butler to the gentry, found himself working in a way he considered unseemly for a servant of his calibre. Whether it was embraced or rejected, change had arrived as the impact of a tragic war was gradually absorbed.With her trademark focus on daily life, Juliet Nicolson evokes what England was like during this fascinating hinge in history.
The Glass of Time
By Michael Cox
1876. Nineteen-year-old orphan Esperanza Gorst arrives at the great country house of Evenwood to be interviewed for the position of lady's-maid.But Esperanza is no ordinary servant. She has been sent by her guardian, the mysterious Madame de lOrme, to uncover the dark and dangerous secrets that her new mistress has sought to conceal, and to set right a past injustice in which Esperanzas own closest interests are bound up.Gradually those secrets are revealed, and with them the truth of who Esperanza really is, enmeshing her in a complicated web of intrigue, deceit, and murder that culminates in betrayal by those she trusted most.A sequel to the widely praised The Meaning of Night, The Glass of Time is a page-turning period mystery and a gripping novel about identity, obsession and secrets.
By Kelly Grovier
For over 800 years Newgate was the grimy axle around which British society slowly twisted. This is where such legendary outlaws as Robin Hood and Captain Kidd met their fates, where the rapier-wielding playwrights Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe sharpened their quills, and where flamboyant highwaymen like Claude Duval and James Maclaine made legions of women swoon. While London's theatres came and went, the gaol endured as Londons unofficial stage. From the Peasants Revolt to the Great Fire, it was at Newgate that England's greatest dramas unfolded. By piecing together the lives of forgotten figures as well as re-examining the prison's links with more famous individuals, from Dick Whittington to Charles Dickens, this thrilling history goes in search of a ghostly place, erased by time, which has inspired more poems and plays, paintings and novels, than any other structure in British history.
By Sean Kingsley
God's Gold charts the fate of the greatest religious treasure in history, the key symbols of the Jewish faith - looted from the Temple of Jerusalem. The golden candelabrum, silver trumpets and bejewelled table were ransacked by the Roman emperor Vespasian in AD 70. They were cast adrift in Mediterranean lands, which saw 550 years of turbulent history and the rule of four different civilisations. Now, only an intriguing trail of clues remains as to their whereabouts. The Temple treasure is an immeasurably precious hoard, but it has yet greater significance as a symbol of man's communications with God. The gold is central to Israel's dreams for messianic redemption and its discovery could signify the return to an age of biblical sacrifice. Using untapped historical texts and new archaeological sources, Sean Kingsley reveals the incredible history of this treasure, its composition and religious, political and financial meaning across the ages. Unexpected discoveries send him on a physical pilgrimage to trace the treasure's destiny, which exposes facts more astonishing than fiction.
George Mackay Brown
By Maggie Fergusson
George Mackay Brown was one of Scotland's greatest twentieth-century writers, but in person a bundle of paradoxes. He had a wide international reputation, but hardly left his native Orkney. A prolific poet, admired by such fellow poets as Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes and Charles Causley, and hailed by the composer Peter Maxwell Davies as 'the most positive and benign influence ever on my own efforts at creation', he was also an accomplished novelist (shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize for Beside the Ocean of Time) and a master of the short story. When he died in 1996, he left behind an autobiography as deft as it is ultimately uninformative. 'The lives of artists are as boring and also as uniquely fascinating as any or every other life,' he claimed. Never a recluse, he appeared open to his friends, but probably revealed more of himself in his voluminous correspondence with strangers. He never married - indeed he once wrote, 'I have never been in love in my life.' But some of his most poignant letters and poems were written to Stella Cartwright, 'the Muse of Rose Street', the gifted but tragic figure to whom he was once engaged and with whom he kept in touch until the end of her short life.Maggie Fergusson interviewed George Mackay Brown several times and is the only biographer to whom he, a reluctant subject, gave his blessing. Through his letters and through conversations with his wide acquaintance, she discovers that this particular artist's life was not only fascinating but vivid, courageous and surprising.
Ghost Train Through the Andes
By Michael Jacobs
It was not until long after his grandmother, Sophie, had died that Michael Jacobs was eventually permitted to read the lengthy and passionate letters that his grandfather Bethel had written her from nine thousand miles away. In these letters, Jacobs discovered a remarkable story of hardship, deprivation and enduring love. His grandfather's work on the railway through the Andes was exhausting and desperately lonely. He had little in common with his fellow workers and became consumed by a mounting despondency, from which only his love for Sophie could save him. But, as the months and years of separation passed, the world in which Sophie was blossoming appeared more and more remote from his own.Michael Jacobs' journey back through time takes him from a rain-swept Hull churchyard to desolate Antofagasta in Chile and to the former silver capital of Potosí. Climbing through ghostly, lunar-like scenery towards the snow-capped summits of the Andes, he follows the route of his grandfather's railway - across giant rocky plateaux, through terrifyingly steep gorges and valleys of tropical lushness, and past grim mining townships buffeted by winds, rain and snow - to reveal an extraordinary love story.
A Golden Age
By Tahmima Anam
As Rehana Haque awakes one March morning, she might be forgiven for feeling happy. Today she will throw a party for her son and daughter. In the garden of the house she has built, her roses are blooming; her children are almost grown-up; and beyond their doorstep, the city is buzzing with excitement after recent elections. Change is in the air. But none of the guests at Rehana's party can foresee what will happen in the days and months that follow. For this is East Pakistan in 1971, a country on the brink of war. And this family's life is about to change for ever. Set against the backdrop of the Bangladesh War of Independence, A Golden Age is a story of passion and revolution, of hope, faith and unexpected heroism. In the chaos of this era, everyone - from student protesters to the country's leaders, from rickshaw-wallahs to the army's soldiers - must make choices. And as she struggles to keep her family safe, Rehana will find herself faced with a heartbreaking dilemma.
The Greek For Love
By James Chatto
The two-line ad in the Sunday Times advertising Villa Parginos in Corfu conjured an image of long afternoons drinking wine on a marble patio shaded by a grape arbour, looking out over an impossibly blue Greek sea. Instead James Chatto and his wife Wendy got a little pink bungalow with linoleum, a buzzing fluorescent light and a patio separated from the village's main street by a wire fence.Yet Corfu delivered so much more than their wildest fantasy had suggested. There was the intoxicating warmth of the sun, walks along sage-bordered byways, and swimming naked off an idyllic beach. There were olive trees that dropped their fruit into nets, as well as fresh apricots, grilled sardines, marinated lamb and long evenings of storytelling at the local taverna. The couple arrived as young tourists, new to each other and in love, and were captivated by the way the islanders embraced them. It was their deep connection to Corfu and its people that later sustained them through the darkest tragedy, just as it had carried them into the most wonderful love.
The Great Game
By Peter Hopkirk