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?
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food