Saturday 17 December 1994
Anyone hoping to catch pearls of wisdom from the generous lips of the smart and funny Lauren Bacall might be a little disappointed by this book. Yes she's always had to work, yes she's raised three children on her own, yes she's danced flamenco and stayed up late with the best of them (John Huston, Larry Olivier et al), but that doesn't mean life is complete - Bacall is looking for a man. She was only 31 when Humphrey Bogart died, but several lives and nearly 40 years later it's still the pain of being single that keeps her awake in the small hours. Lauren... you weren't meant to say that.
Sophie's Journey by Sophie Thurnham, Warner Books, £6.99
An eccentric English girl with a donkey decides to go to Romania. The donkey exits stage-left pretty early on, as do Sophie's travel plans when, one warm summer evening, she arrives at the gates of a Moldavian orphanage. Perched high on a ridge, not unlike Bram Stoker's castle, it turns out to be little more than a holding pen for abandoned children, mired deep in their own faeces and misery. What starts as a run-of-the-mill travelogue, turns into a terrifying indictment of a country living on the edge.
Scenes Prom a Poisoner's Life by Nigel Williams, Faber and Faber, £14.99
Fans of the television series will be glad to know that family life hasn't changed much for Henry Farr since he tried to murder his wife at a Wimbldeon drinks party six years ago. The large-arsed Elinor continues to prefer gigantic hardbacks to any attempts at intimacy (at least Henry's) and daughter Maisie, now in her last year at Mary Louisa Haddock's School for Girls, has developed a taste for Strongbow cider and boys as ugly as herself. Henry Farr's ode to fearsome cleaning ladies, farting labradorsand trips to Sainsbury's is as poignant a cry from suburbia as any ever voiced by Mr Pooter or Gerry Leadbetter.
You Don't Have to be Your Mother by Gayle Feldman, Hamish Hamilton, £10.99
If your grandmother and mother have both died of breast cancer, when do your own cells decide to assert their heritage? For Gayle Feldman the moment arrives when she's eight months pregnant with her first child. Unlike her mother and grandmother, she's able to take immediate action, and within the space of three weeks undergoes 50 hours of induced tabour, two biopsies and a mastectomy. Feldman's book is a curiously comforting account of serious illness, and a fascinating insight into New York's medicalestablishment with its fleets of female surgeons and gynaecologists - one wonders how many women in Britain would receive such informed attention?
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 James Foley beheading: Fox news presenter Megyn Kelly annoyed by Ferguson update during broadcast about murdered journalist
- 4 Kajieme Powell: Missouri police release video footage of second man killed by officers
- 5 Paul Scholes: Manchester United need five experienced players who can turn round a desperate situation
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
The Top Ten: Horrible buildings
JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing 'Singing Sorceress' Celestina Warbuck
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Celebrity Big Brother 2014 line-up: Meet the contestants from Lauren Goodger to Kellie Maloney and Audley Harrison
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women