The New Review

Oliver James: It's all about you

The ultimate question of parenting: how to ensure your baby has a happy childhood. And the answer the flamboyant psychologist Oliver James has come up with? Selfishly enough, it's working out what you want to get out of the experience...

The new plastic surgery

Forget a little nip and tuck: all that's needed for a fresh look this season is a littlePerspex. From understated bangles at Prada to fabulous festival-wear at DSquared, it's never been so fashionable to fake it, says Rhiannon Harries

The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome, by Roland

The Arthur Ransome of popular imagination is as buoyant as one of his lake-lashed dinghies. He created, in the Swallows and Amazons series, a 1920s halcyon dream-world anchored to a permanently playful summer holiday. The Lakes of Ransome lore remain a landscape where nature is a cipher for innocence, toil and decency. It is, as biographer Roland Chambers states, an idyll of "cotton tents and grog and tea at four, and children who say 'jolly' and play by the rules; well-behaved children who rise early and know how to do things, tie knots and sail a boat." That legacy still fills the coffers of the thriving tourist industry of Windermere and Coniston Water.

Leon Fleisher: 'My life fell apart...'

At 16, he was 'the pianistic find of the century'. There followed a sparkling two decades before his right hand seized up mysteriously. Now, after a 40-year battle to regain mastery of the keyboard, Leon Fleisher is headlining next month's Aldeburgh Festival. Lynne Walker hears his extraordinary story

Mickey Rooney: The Mickey show

Mickey Rooney has eight wives and 320 films to his name. So why is the 'greatest actor America has ever seen' playing second fiddle to Bobby Davro in a West Country panto? Nick Duerden is granted an audience

Jonathan Meades: 'I have saucisson issues'

He is a former restaurant critic who was fed up with 'tosser' TV chefs and the 'ersatz' food culture of Britain. So Jonathan Meades fled to the belly of France to eat himself silly...

Weighty matters: The best of this season's cookbooks

It's not just a cookbook. It's not just an art book. It's not just a record of the most innovative and exhilarating self-taught chef to have ever come from the UK. The Big Fat Duck Cookbook transcends all others because Heston Blumenthal transcends all others. Like him, it is curious, inspired, visionary, equally enabled by art and by science. A true original

It's time for The Terrys!

Another year, another 280 meals out. Our restaurant critic Terry Durack presents the only food awards that count – as he recalls what slipped down a treat and what stuck in his throat

Alexei Sayle: A comrade in Bloomsbury

Alexei Sayle, the former Marxist comedian, has written a wince-inducing novel satirising the pretensions of British ex-pats in Spain. But these days his digs at the middle classes are fuelled by 'self-loathing'

Austerity entertainment: Hot to trot!

Trouble ahead? Then grab a partner, face the music and try dancing with the old-time party animals who are flocking to wild jive nights and afternoon tea waltzes all over Britain

Culture: Why Little Dorrit's grown in stature

I was having dinner at the Hix Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis with a well-known restaurateur last weekend when conversation inevitably turned to the credit crunch. Was his restaurant suffering? The answer was yes. He had had only 60 covers in the previous night, down from 75 a week earlier. What about the restaurant we were eating in? Would this high-end seafood restaurant in Dorset attract enough customers to ride out the storm? Only if it lowered its prices, he reckoned. We then noticed a recent addition to the desert menu: "Credit crunch ice cream". At £1.50 a scoop, it was significantly cheaper than any of the alternatives.