Saturday 14 December 1996
Dreams of Love and Modest Glory by Joan Lingard (Mandarin, pounds 6.99) Big historical novel, taking in the Russian Revolution, two world wars and the collapse of Communism. It opens in 1913 with the double wedding of twin sisters from Aberdeen. One marries a tsarist count, the other a Latvian intellectual, and their love stories open out into a family saga, marked by secrets and lies, spanning three generations. This is a good, effortless read, instantly involving and unpretentious.
Byzantium: The Decline and Fall by John Julius Norwich (Penguin, pounds 9.99) Anyone seeking a reading project this Christmas will not do better than Lord Norwich's acclaimed trilogy about Byzantium. This dazzling conclusion (from Easter 1081 to 29th May 1453) maintains the same scorching pace and penchant for intriguing detail as the first two volumes (Byzantium: the Early Centuries and Byzantium: The Apogee republished at pounds 9.99 each).
The People of Providence by Tony Parker (Eland, pounds 9.99) A sequence of 49 in-depth interviews from a down-at-heel London housing estate may seem an unusual choice by a publisher who specialises in travel books. But this is an extraordinary work. Parker, who died this year, spent five years on the project. First published in 1983, it merits comparison with Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor for depth and clear-eyed sympathy.
The Plastic Tomato Cutter by Michael Curtin (Fourth Estate, pounds 6.99) In alternate chapters, two narrators describe how the Sixties transformed a small Irish community. One is Mr Yendall, the martinet of a fusty gents' outfitters. The other is Tim Harding, an over-educated snooker champ who ekes a living out of Fagend, his one-man agency for the treatment of nicotine addicts. Yendall's world is turned upside-down by long-haired pop groups and the disappearance of the half- crown. Harding has a more serious problem: consanguinity. He falls for a beauty who turns out to be his sister. Curtin's inventive, beguiling imbroglio is a delight from start to finish.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 5 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
Top Gear Burma episode breached Ofcom rules over Jeremy Clarkson's racial slur
Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
Game of Thrones season 4 blooper reel unveiled at Comic-Con 2014
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 teaser trailer sees Katniss lead rebellion against the Capitol
The Simpsons Family Guy trailer: First look at crossover episode after Comic-Con debut
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace