Paperbacks

Ian Fleming by Andrew Lycett (Phoenix, pounds 8.99) The perfect example of a second-rate subject resulting in a first-rate biography. Unsurprisingly, Fleming turns out to be a moody, snobbish, fantasist with a penchant for sadism: "All women love semi-rape." When his wife's pregnancy forced him to lay aside the whip, he channelled his energies into Casino Royal, the first volume of Bond.

The Hallelujah Revolution by Ian Cotton (Warner, pounds 7.99) Despite its intriguing subject - the boom in charismatic Christianity - this book is hard going. The reason for the profusion of references, one-word sentences and forest of exclamation marks is made plain on page 34, where there is a long quote from Tom Wolfe - a risky stylistic model. Cotton discovers much of interest: a cultist who depends on prayer for income; believers who insist they can cure illness by talking in tongues; a woman whose faith leads to bankruptcy.

Hannibal by Ross Leckie (Abacus, pounds 6.99) A superior sort of toga-saga in which the Punic generalissimo tells his own story. Free of awkward archaisms, Leckie's vivid style is enthralling, particularly in the childhood section. The politics of Hannibal's makeshift alliances, the corrosion of his humanity and the ghastly mechanics of war, are brilliantly described.

Madame Blavatsky's Baboon by Peter Washington (Secker, pounds 12.99) A spritely canter through the "western gurus" who emerged from the cult of theosophy and influenced artists from Yeats to Isherwood. Blavatsky was the first and oddest, a 17-stone chain-smoker who cobbled together theosophy from the novels of Bulwer-Lytton. The spiritual baton was taken up by the "self- pitying and egotistical" Krishnamurti, along with Rudolf Steiner and Gurdjieff. Though his book is packed with revelations, Washington does not judge the colourful figures who fill our religious vacuum.

No End of a Lesson by Anthony Nutting (Constable, pounds 9.95) Nutting's promising parliamentary career was brought to an abrupt halt when he resigned as Minister of State at the Foreign Office because of Britain's deceitful and ignominious role in the 1956 Suez crisis. His revealing account of this sad, bad business shows admirable objectivity. Occasionally, deep emotion breaks through Nutting's prose: "I hope I shall never know a sadder moment than the last quarter of an hour before I left the Foreign Office for good."

The Shrine by Cristina Odone (Phoenix pounds 5.99) Workmanlike, if cliched, first novel from the ex-editor of the Catholic Herald, set in an Italian village. The shrine in question is proposed by the local priest when a beautiful girl begins to see visions of the Virgin Mary. The rest of the plot centres on the fading fortunes of the Ferrati family: when the old patriarch dies, the son and daughter are forced to sell off the land to pay his debts. Various love affairs, dodgy deals and pasta recipes spice up the action, but the novel remains stronger on local colour than on theme or characterisation.

A Burmese Legacy by Sue Arnold (Sceptre, pounds 6.99) Although Sue Arnold had the most English of upbringings, both her grandmothers were Burmese. In her youth, she felt painfully ambivalent about her Eurasian heritage - which is unsurprising given the racism she encountered both at boarding school and as a young journalist. In 1985, she decided to rediscover her roots, and visited Rangoon in search of her relatives. The resulting memoir is chattily introspective, with fascinating insights into colonial history and a chilling account of the oppressive regime in present-day Burma.

The Drowning Room by Michael Pye (Penguin pounds 6.99) While researching a history of New York, Michael Pye found the name Gretje Reyniers coming up again and again in the law court reports of New Amsterdam, the 17th- century Dutch settlement on Manhattan. He was intrigued by this abrasively litigious woman, who worked as a prostitute and money-lender, revelled in foul language, and used her broomstick to measure the members of visiting sailors. This compelling novel is an imaginative reconstruction of Gretje's life.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
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.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test