Saturday 28 September 1996
Schliemann of Troy: Treasure and Deceit by David Traill (Penguin, pounds 8.99) A self-made tycoon who took up archaeology in his mid-forties to satisfy a life-long obsession with Homeric Troy, Heinrich Schliemann achieved worldwide celebrity through his amazing discoveries. Yet almost every aspect of his life was fissured by falsehoods. Traill puts it down in part to showmanship: ''an uncanny sense of what the public wanted to hear and an ability to satisfy that demand''. In the end Schliemann's achievements are undeniable and his life-story is made all the more fascinating by his failings.
Muggeridge: The Biography by Richard Ingrams (HarperCollins, pounds 7.99) Pithy and revealing, Ingrams has produced an entertaining portrait of this restless, waspish talent. Muggeridge was as fearless in his sexual adventures (nickname: ''The Pouncer'') as in his journalism. Ingrams treats his subject's late-flowering evangelism kindly - but describes one outburst as ''more than hypocritical'' - and writes movingly about his ''laughter, unfailing kindness and generosity''. Another fine life of Muggeridge by Gregory Wolfe (Hodder, pounds 9.99) gives far more details but lacks Ingram's insights.
Who Goes Home by Roy Hattersley (Warner, pounds 6.99) What a curious fellow R Hattersley is. So ponderous on the opposition front bench and prone to penning vast, unpick-upable novels like The Maker's Mark and In That Quiet Earth, yet these political reminiscences are lively, gossipy and packed with hilarious set-pieces. It is impossible not to warm to a man who comments that a ceramic phallus sent through the post must have come from a Tory, ''for left-wingers ususally chose to associate me with female genitalia.''
The Missing by Andrew O'Hagan (Picador, pounds 5.99) Why is it that the working classes don't pass down their family history like everyone else? In a stunning series of essays, Andrew O'Hagan delves into his own family's sketchy Glaswegian past and reflects how easy it is, and has always been, for people to ''disappear''. With nearly 25,000 ''Mispers'' currently on police files, the book ends with a compelling account of Fred West's first marriage and his early career cruising the Bridgeton area of Glasgow in a Mr Whippy van. One of the best non-fiction reads of the year.
The Bronski House by Philip Marsden (Flamingo, pounds 6.99) The farthest travel writer Philip Marsden ever got as a boy was Cornwall. But he always had a good idea of what ''abroad'' was like from visits to Zofia's house - an aristocratic Pole with a fund of tales of snow-laden forests, howling wolves and cheeses as big as cushions. As an adult, Marsden pieces together Zofia's story from family memoirs and diaries. Part Dr Zhivago, part travelogue, his books tells of a family whose lives were twice torn apart by revolution and war.
The Remarkable Journey of Miss Tranby Quirke by Elizabeth Ridley (Virago, pounds 9.99) Turn-of-the-century Camberwell is the setting for this compelling lesbian romance. Aware from an early age of her ''inverted'' sexual nature, Tranby Quirke has devoted her life to teaching and the suffragette cause. But when approached by a beautiful young woman for advice on the married state, it's not long before Miss Quirke's petticoats join the tea-cups by the fire. A gas-lit melodrama that wears its learning, and its strangeness, lightly. Jeanette Winterson for beginners.
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