Paperbacks: Return to Paris

The Birds of the Innocent Wood

The Invention of Dr Cake

The London Pigeon Wars

The Curious Incident

Apology for a Murder

Clouds of Glory

Return to Paris by Colette Rossant (BLOOMSBURY £6.99 (245pp))

Good food writers, like good novelists, seem to benefit from a touch of maternal deprivation, and this is certainly true in the case of Franco-Egyptian cookery writer Colette Rossant. Shipped off to Cairo at the start of the war, she was looked after by her Sephardic grandparents and large extended family. Seven years later, her mother reappeared to take her back to France. Her latest foodie memoir (the sequel to Apricots on the Nile) describes a lonely adolescence trapped in the culinary cross-currents of a deeply foreign city. Rossant's first experience of French food was on the train from Marseille to Paris. The dining car menu consisted of two simple choices: omelette aux fines herbes or sandwich jambon beurre. She chose the omelette, realising if French food was this good, even on a train, she was going to have a good time. Once installed in the family's gloomy 17th-arrondissement apartment, she made friends with Georgette, her grandmother's cook. Georgette inducted her into the classics of French cuisine and showed her how to shop. Some of her recipes are included in the book. Rossant concludes this sentimental homage to the larders and markets of postwar Paris with a passion even stronger than food. Her courtship with a young American architect is sealed over salade des tomates and beouf en gelée - though by the end of the book she has baked her first pumpkin pie. EH

The Birds of the Innocent Wood by Deirdre Madden (FABER £6.99 (147pp))

First published in 1988, Deirdre Madden's startlingly accomplished novel still sends shivers down the spine. The circumstances of her heroine, Jane, are as tragic (and romantic) as any in Irish literature. An orphan before she could talk, Jane moves straight from the convent into the chilled silences of a tortured marriage. Madden describes Jane's inner demons with a poet's precision, while the quiet narrative of her life unfurls with the momentum of a good thriller. A truly haunting novel, set in an unsettling landscape of remote farmhouses and glassy loughs. EH

The Invention of Dr Cake by Andrew Motion (FABER £6.99 (142pp))

Andrew Motion's new book opens with a brainy meditation on the pitfalls of biography. "Aren't human beings always odder than their histories suggest? Aren't the connections between experience and achievement always more oblique?" His re-telling of the life of Dr Cake - a north London doctor and amateur poet of the mid-Victorian period - attempts to bypass the usual hours "spent sleuthing in the archives", with a more intuitive way of rendering the truth. In this, the kind of erudite novella you might expect from a poet laureate, Motion also speculates on the secret lives of Byron, Shelley and, above all, Keats. EH

The London Pigeon Wars by Patrick Neate (PENGUIN £7.99 (383pp))

Patrick Neate's Whitbread-winning novel Twelve Bar Blues was an epic trail through African-American history. Attacked at the time for being a white boy writing about black culture, Neate cheekily pre-empts his critics this time round with a character who possesses every race and class credential. Murray is a "social terrorist" who, let loose among west London twentysomethings, causes social havoc. More surreal is the arrival of talking pigeons - city birds who cherrypick every dialect going. Neate's targets include performance poets - and anyone over 30. EH

The Curious Incident... by Mark Haddon (VINTAGE £6.99 (272pp))

In spite of its huge success, some grown-up readers may have written off Mark Haddon's near-miraculous creation of the 15-year-old, Asperger's-afflicted Christopher Boone as just a cute and clever kids' story. As, on one level, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is. Shift the literary focus, however, and a sort of Swindon-set nouveau roman comes into view: a dazzling scherzo stuffed with avant-garde devices, boldly experimental to its grubby teenage fingertips. "Prime numbers", says Christopher, "are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away." Just like life. Haddon lets us work out the hidden patterns for ourselves. BT

Apology for a Murder by Lorenzino de Medici (HESPERUS £6.99 (58pp))

A wonderful Renaissance curiosity. In 1537, the young hellraiser Lorenzino de Medici assassinated his cousin Alessandro, Duke of Florence. As a trigger for rebellion, it failed dismally: Lorenzino fled to Venice, but penned this eloquent, swaggering defence of tyrant-killing. It's a little gem of moralising spin, in defence of pre-emptive violence. In a hilariously grim coda, translator Andrew Brown also reprints the rougher testimony of the thug who exacted Medici revenge on Lorenzino in 1548. BT

Clouds of Glory by Bryan Magee (PIMLICO £7.99 (343pp))

The Hoxton of Bryan Magee's childhood was a far cry from its current incarnation as the coolest place on the planet. In this vivid memoir, he offers lovingly detailed descriptions of a vanished world of barber shops, market stalls and pub pavements lined with prams. The mothers, he reveals, would nip out and "give the baby a drink" before returning to their hard-won booze. Violence was endemic and so was suicide: "There seemed to be two ways they did it," says Magee matter-of-factly, "the gas oven" and "cutting their throat". CP

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
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.

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick