Mr Darley's Arabian
By Christopher McGrath
Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year AwardIn 1704 a bankrupt English merchant sent home the colt he had bought from Bedouin tribesmen near the ruins of Palmyra. Thomas Darley hoped this horse might be the ticket to a new life back in Yorkshire. But he turned out to be far more than that: and although Mr Darley's Arabian never ran a race, 95% of all thoroughbreds in the world today are descended from him. In this book, for the first time, award-winning racing writer Christopher McGrath traces this extraordinary bloodline through twenty-five generations to our greatest modern racehorse, Frankel.The story of racing is about man's relationship with horses, and Mr Darley's Arabian also celebrates the men and women who owned, trained and traded the stallions that extended the dynasty. The great Eclipse, for instance, was bred by the Duke who foiled Bonnie Prince Charlie's invasion (with militia gathered from Wakefield races) and went on to lead the Jockey Club. But he only became a success once bought and raced by a card-sharp and brothel-keeper - the racecourse has always brought high and low life together. McGrath expertly guides us through three centuries of scandals, adventures and fortunes won and lost: our sporting life offers a fascinating view into our history. With a canvas that extends from the diamond mines of South Africa to the trenches of the Great War, and a cast ranging from Smithfield meat salesmen to the inspiration for Mr Toad, and from legendary jockeys to not one, but two disreputable Princes of Wales (and a very unamused Queen Victoria), Mr Darley's Arabian shows us the many faces of the sport of kings.
Why We Love Music
By John Powell
Did you know that . . .carrying a musical instrument makes you more attractive?music can cure insomnia?music can change the taste of wine?the Mozart effect has nothing to do with Mozart?Barry Manilow songs can be used for crowd control?Why does music affect you so profoundly? It impacts the way you think, talk, feel, behave and even spend money. With his conversational style, humour, and endless knowledge, scientist and musician John Powell showcases fascinating studies - for example that shoppers spend more money in stores that play classical music and, even more astounding, they are more likely to buy German wine in stores playing German music. With chapters on music and emotions, music as medicine, music and intelligence, and much more, Why We Love Music will entertain through to the very last page. A delightful journey through the psychology and science of music, Why We Love Music is the perfect book for anyone who loves a tune.
By Josephine Wilkinson
'An impressive revisionist biography' The TimesLooming out of the encroaching darkness of the February evening was London Bridge, still ornamented with the severed heads of Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham; the terrible price they had paid for suspected intimacy with the queen.Katherine now reached the Tower of London, her final destination. Katherine Howard was the fifth wife of Henry VIII and cousin to the executed Anne Boleyn. She first came to court as a young girl of fourteen, but even prior to that her fate had been sealed and she was doomed to die. She was beheaded in 1542 for crimes of adultery and treason, in one of the most sensational scandals of the Tudor age.The traditional story of Henry VIII's fifth queen dwells on her sexual exploits before she married the king, and her execution is seen as her just dessert for having led an abominable life. However, the true story of Katherine Howard could not be more different. Far from being a dark tale of court factionalism and conspiracy, Katherine's story is one of child abuse, family ambition, religious conflict and political and sexual intrigue. It is also a tragic love story. A bright, kind and intelligent young woman, Katherine was fond of clothes and dancing, yet she also had a strong sense of duty and tried to be a good wife to Henry. She handled herself with grace and queenly dignity to the end, even as the barge carrying her on her final journey drew up at the Tower of London, where she was to be executed for high treason.Little more than a child in a man's world, she was the tragic victim of those who held positions of authority over her, and from whose influence she was never able to escape.
Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
By Giles Milton
'A magnificent story, brilliantly told. Read it!' Anthony HorowitzSix gentlemen, one goal - the destruction of Hitler's war machineIn the spring of 1939, a top secret organisation was founded in London: its purpose was to plot the destruction of Hitler's war machine through spectacular acts of sabotage. The guerrilla campaign that followed was to prove every bit as extraordinary as the six gentlemen who directed it. Winston Churchill selected them because they were wildly creative and thoroughly ungentlemanly. One of them, Cecil Clarke, was a maverick engineer who had spent the 1930s inventing futuristic caravans. Now, his talents were put to more devious use: he built the dirty bomb used to assassinate Hitler's favourite, Reinhard Heydrich. Another member of the team, William Fairbairn, was a portly pensioner with an unusual passion: he was the world's leading expert in silent killing. He was hired to train the guerrillas being parachuted behind enemy lines.Led by dapper Scotsman Colin Gubbins, these men - along with three others - formed a secret inner circle that planned the most audacious sabotage attacks of the Second World War. Winston Churchill called it his Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. The six 'ministers', aided by a group of formidable ladies, were so effective that they single-handedly changed the course of the war.Told with Giles Milton's trademark verve and eye for detail, Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is thoroughly researched and based on hitherto unknown archival material. It is a gripping and vivid narrative of adventure and derring-do and is also, perhaps, the last great untold story of the Second World War.Previously published in hardback as The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.
The Countenance Divine
By Michael Hughes
'Michael Hughes writes like a brilliant cross between David Mitchell and Hilary Mantel' Toby LittIn 1999 a programmer is trying to fix the millennium bug, but can't shake the sense he's been chosen for something.In 1888 five women are brutally murdered in the East End by a troubled young man in thrall to a mysterious master.In 1777 an apprentice engraver called William Blake has a defining spiritual experience; thirteen years later this vision returns.And in 1666 poet and revolutionary John Milton completes the epic for which he will be remembered centuries later.But where does the feeling come from that the world is about to end?
Elizabeth Jane Howard
By Artemis Cooper
Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923-2014) wrote brilliant novels about what love can do to people, but in her own life the lasting relationship she sought so ardently always eluded her. She grew up yearning to be an actress; but when that ambition was thwarted by marriage and the war, she turned to fiction. Her first novel, The Beautiful Visit, won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize - she went on to write fourteen more, of which the best-loved were the five volumes of The Cazalet Chronicle. Following her divorce from her first husband, the celebrated naturalist Peter Scott, Jane embarked on a string of high-profile affairs with Cecil Day-Lewis, Arthur Koestler and Laurie Lee, which turned her into a literary femme fatale. Yet the image of a sophisticated woman hid a romantic innocence which clouded her emotional judgement. She was nearing the end of a disastrous second marriage when she met Kingsley Amis, and for a few years they were a brilliant and glamorous couple - until that marriage too disintegrated. She settled in Suffolk where she wrote and entertained friends, but her turbulent love life was not over yet. In her early seventies Jane fell for a conman. His unmasking was the final disillusion, and inspired one of her most powerful novels, Falling.Artemis Cooper interviewed Jane several times in Suffolk. She also talked extensively to her family, friends and contemporaries, and had access to all her papers. Her biography explores a woman trying to make sense of her life through her writing, as well as illuminating the literary world in which she lived.
An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It
By 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.
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 Cyber Effect
By Mary Aiken
Dr Mary Aiken is the world's leading expert in forensic cyberpsychology - a discipline that combines psychology, criminology and technology to investigate the intersection between technology and human behaviour. In this, her first book, Aiken has created a starting point for all future conversations about how the Internet is shaping our perception of the world, development and behaviour, societal norms and values, children, safety and security.Covering everything from the impact of screens on the developing child to the explosion of teen sexting, and the acceleration of compulsive and addictive online behaviours (gaming, shopping, pornography), The Cyber Effect also examines the escalation in cyberchondria (self-diagnosis online), cyberstalking and organized crime in the Deep Web. Cyberspace is an environment full of surveillance, but who is looking out for us? Full of surprising statistics and incredible-but-true case studies of the hidden trends that are shaping our culture, this book raises troubling questions about where the digital revolution is taking us.Upending your assumptions about your online life and forever changing the way you think about the technology that you, your friends and your family use, The Cyber Effect offers a fascinating and chilling look at a future we can still do something about.
Love from Boy
By Donald Sturrock
'Dear Mama, I am having a lovely time here. We play football every day here. The beds have no springs . . .'So begins the first letter that a nine-year-old Roald Dahl penned to his mother, Sofie Magdalene, under the watchful eye of his boarding-school headmaster. For most of his life, Roald Dahl would continue to write weekly letters to his mother, chronicling his adventures, frustrations and opinions, from the delights of childhood to the excitements of flying as a World War II fighter pilot and the thrill of meeting top politicians and movie stars during his time as a diplomat and spy in Washington. And, unbeknown to Roald, his mother lovingly kept every single one of them.Sofie was, in many ways, Roald's first reader. It was she who encouraged him to tell stories and nourished his desire to fabricate, exaggerate and entertain. Reading these letters, you can see Roald practicing his craft, developing the dark sense of humour and fantastical imagination that would later produce such timeless tales as The BFG, Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Witches.The letters in Love from Boy are littered with jokes and madcap observations; sometimes serious, sometimes tender, and often outrageous. To eavesdrop on a son's letters to his mother is to witness Roald Dahl turning from a boy to a man, and finally becoming a writer.
By Rebecca Rideal
1666 was a watershed year for England. The outbreak of the Great Plague, the eruption of the second Dutch War and the Great Fire of London all struck the country in rapid succession and with devastating repercussions.Shedding light on these dramatic events, historian Rebecca Rideal reveals an unprecedented period of terror and triumph. Based on original archival research and drawing on little-known sources, 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire takes readers on a thrilling journey through a crucial turning point in English history, as seen through the eyes of an extraordinary cast of historical characters. While the central events of this significant year were ones of devastation and defeat, 1666 also offers a glimpse of the incredible scientific and artistic progress being made at that time, from Isaac Newton's discovery of gravity to Robert Hooke's microscopic wonders. It was in this year that John Milton completed Paradise Lost, Frances Stewart posed for the now-iconic image of Britannia, and a young architect named Christopher Wren proposed a plan for a new London - a stone phoenix to rise from the charred ashes of the old city.With flair and style, 1666 shows a city and a country on the cusp of modernity, and a series of events that forever altered the course of history.
Dinosaurs on Other Planets
By Danielle McLaughlin
'An exquisite collection from an exciting new voice in short fiction' LadyA woman battles bluebottles as she plots an ill-judged encounter with a stranger; a young husband commutes a treacherous route to his job in the city, fearful for the wife and small daughter he has left behind; a mother struggles to understand her nine-year-old son's obsession with dead birds and the apocalypse.In Danielle McLaughlin's stories, the world is both beautiful and alien. Men and women negotiate their surroundings as a tourist might navigate a distant country: watchfully, with a mixture of wonder and apprehension. Here are characters living lives in translation, ever at the mercy of distortions and misunderstandings, striving to make sense both of the spaces they inhabit and of the people they share them with.
Street of Eternal Happiness
By Rob Schmitz
'Enjoyable and illuminating . . . Rob Schmitz writes with great affection' GuardianShanghai: a global city in the midst of a renaissance, where dreamers arrive each day to partake in a mad torrent of capital, ideas and opportunity. Rob Schmitz is one of them. He immerses himself in his neighbourhood, forging relationships with ordinary people who see a brighter future in the city's sleek skyline. There's Zhao, whose path from factory floor to shopkeeper is sidetracked by her desperate measures to ensure a better future for her sons. Down the street lives Auntie Fu, a fervent capitalist forever trying to improve herself while keeping her sceptical husband at bay. Up a flight of stairs, CK sets up shop to attract young dreamers like himself, but learns he's searching for something more. As Schmitz becomes increasingly involved in their lives, he makes surprising discoveries which untangle the complexities of modern China: a mysterious box of letters that serve as a portal to a family's - and country's - dark past, and an abandoned neighbourhood where fates have been violently altered by unchecked power and greed. A tale of twenty-first-century China, Street of Eternal Happiness profiles China's distinct generations through multifaceted characters who illuminate an enlightening, humorous and, at times, heartrending journey along the winding road to the Chinese dream. Each story adds another layer of humanity to modern China, a tapestry also woven with Schmitz's insight as a foreign correspondent. The result is an intimate and surprising portrait that dispenses with the tired stereotypes of a country we think we know, immersing us instead in the vivid stories of the people who make up one of the world's most captivating cities.