We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk

The New Review

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.

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...

Ali Hewson: Edun regained

They live in a mass slum; she lives in luxury. But Ali Hewson – perhaps better known as Mrs Bono – is determined to bring a little bit of paradise to these African lives;and in so doing, she is breathing life back into her ethical-fashion company

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

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

Maia Norman: Move over, darling

She is Damien Hirst's partner, and enjoys all the trappings of life with one of the world's most bankable artists, but now Maia Norman wants to find fame on her own terms: as designer of a new high-octane fashion range

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

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'

The Austerity Issue: don't panic

Amid the bewildering complexities of the global financial crisis, one simple fact stands out: the little we have left needs to go a lot further. Fear not! We'll show you how to endure the forthcoming recession with a bit of grit, some nous and the wise advice of our post-war forebears. And you never know, you might have a laugh or two along the way... To begin our special issue, a celebration of the true heroine of austerity Britain: the housewife