Books: Paperbacks

The Sunken Kingdom by Peter James (Pimlico, pounds 8.99) The misleading sub-title - ''The Atlantis Mystery Solved'' - makes the book sound like another load of extra-terrestrial trumpery. In fact, it is perfectly sane. After surveying the persistent belief in a lost continent, James advances a plausible hypothesis - based on the original source in Plato - that Atlantis was an Aegean city, lost in a Bronze Age earthquake. But this fascinating notion almost disappears under a welter of padding, including a blokeish account of Socrates ("he loved a drink and a Iaugh") and numerous unfathomable genealogies of the gods. For the price, the maps are a disgrace.

Explorers of the Western Himalayas 1820-1895 by John Keay (Murray, pounds 15.99) Keay is a good man to go into the mountains with. His great chunk of a book is packed with staggering achievements by a cast of scarcely credible characters, ranging from the mysterious pioneer, Col Gardiner, who went semi-native (a tartan turban) and had to clamp "a pair of steel pincers round his gullet" to facilitate drinking following a throat wound, to the Great Game hero, Younghusband, who continued cold-water dips when high in the Pamirs (the water froze in his tub before he could undress). Keay knows the territory well and tells his tales with great verve.

Naples '44 by Norman Lewis (Eland, pounds 8.99) Perhaps Lewis's finest work, this stylish diary covers his time as a Field Security Officer in the first, dangerous year after the Allied invasion. Though on the brink of starvation, the Neopolitans insisted on maintaining una bella faccia and a vigorous interest in sexual activities. The result is a memoir both shocking and hilarious. Its cast includes a professional Zio di Roma (a "Roman uncle" who brings a touch of class to funerals) and a gynaecologist who "specialises in the restoration of lost virginity". Often scathing about his fellow invaders, Lewis comes to admire his vivacious hosts.

The Breezes by Joseph O'Neill (Faber, pounds 5.99) Lightning never strikes twice, except in the Breeze family. Joseph O'Neill's chirpy tale of a suburban Irish family that survives two weeks of consecutive disasters will appeal to those of a neurotic cast of mind. Car accidents, late arrivals and health scares haunt the life of Johnny Breeze, who by the end of the novel has developed rings under his eyes as black as his father's, though a new nonchalance to telephone calls in the middle of the night. A second novel with a nice feel for the troubled warmth of family life, and the perils of stepping outside. The luck of the Irish has never been worse.

The Visitation by Sue Reidy (Black Swan, pounds 5.99) Yet another novel about growing up Catholic, but at least its setting, Sixties New Zealand, makes a refreshing change. Catherine and Theresa Flynn are obsessed by the lives of the saints, and spend many hours recreating their bloody deaths in the back yard. But it's only when the Virgin Mary actually appears to them (with rosebuds between her toes and a message for the Pope about contraception) that the girls start to take their vocation as martyrs seriously. Religious kitsch and Kiwi provincialism hang in the air like the after-smell of Mrs Flynn's mutton chops.

King David by Allan Massie (Sceptre, pounds 6.99) Allan Massie's biblical epic about the life and times of King David reads like a really bad B-movie. Everyone speaks in an archiac tongue more appropriate to Star Trek aliens, and it's almost impossible to keep a handle on all the characters (Doeg the Edomite, Achish of Gath and Adonijah the Goatskin) without frequent reference to the book's daunting "List of Characters''. A few passages detailing the "good, not evil'' passion that exists between David and Jonathan, son of Saul, occasionally peps up the proceedings, but even the slaying of Goliath manages to fall flat.

Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham (Penguin, pounds 6.99) In this generational novel of the Stassos family of New Jersey there is the usual litany of American woes: Homecoming Queens, incest, divorce, valium addiction and tract housing. But somehow Cunningham manages to keep the clouds of dysfunction sufficiently whippy to maintain reader interest well after 1958.

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
books
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Go figure: Matt Parker, wearing the binary code scarf knitted by his mother
comedy Mathematician is using comedy nights to teach and preach sums
Arts and Entertainment
Ryan Gosling in 'Drive'
filmReview: Ryan Gosling is still there, but it's a very different film
Arts and Entertainment
Urban explorer: Rose Rouse has documented her walks around Harlesden, and the people that she’s encountered along the way
books Rouse's new book discusses her four-year tour of Harlesden
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Franco Zeffirelli's production of 'Aida' at Milan's famed La Scala opera house
operaLegendary opera director in battle with theatre over sale of one of his 'greatest' productions
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Juergen Wolf won the Young Masters Art Prize 2014 with his mixed media painting on wood, 'Untitled'
art
Arts and Entertainment
Iron Man and Captain America in a scene from
filmThe upcoming 'Black Panther' film will feature a solo black male lead, while a female superhero will take centre stage in 'Captain Marvel'
Arts and Entertainment
The Imperial War Museum, pictured, has campaigned to display copyrighted works during the First World War centenary
art
Arts and Entertainment
American Horror Story veteran Sarah Paulson plays conjoined twins Dot and Bette Tattler
tvReview: Yes, it’s depraved for the most part but strangely enough it has heart to it
Arts and Entertainment
The mind behind Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin
books

Will explain back story to fictional kingdom Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Dorothy in Return to Oz

film Unintentionally terrifying children's movies to get you howling (in fear, tears or laughter)
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robert James-Collier as under-butler Thomas

TVLady Edith and Thomas show sad signs of the time
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Dad's Army cast hit the big screen

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge

books
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning?
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes