Books: Paperbacks

Sotheby's

by Robert Lacey,

Warner, pounds 8.99, 354pp

AFTER RETAILING the history of the auction house a touch dutifully, Lacey's account takes off when the raffish Peter Wilson enters the company in 1939. After war service in MI5 (his number was 007), the "old twister" became public face for almost 40 years. During which time, this august institution lent its name to a cigarette brand (not a success), while the accounts dept used the Bond Street premises for orgies. In order to finance a dubious silver deal, Wilson offloaded his shares before a set of poor annual profits. As a result, spent a decade as a subsidiary of General Felt industries.

The Stillest Day

by Josephine Hart,

Vintage, pounds 5.99, 210pp

HUSBANDS AND wives don't last long in Josephine Hart novels. Nor do their poor offspring. Like her previous novels, Damage, Sin and Obsession, her latest is a highly-charged period melodrama that reeks of guilty secrets and the grave. It's clear from the start that a tragedy of Hardyesque proportions awaits country school ma'am Bethesda Barnet. Falling for her next-door neighbour (and the school's new English master), she takes to pressing her ear against his bedroom wall. Passions spill over and the repressed spinster ends up committing an unspeakable act over the tea-cups.

Modern House

by John Welsh,

Phaidon, pounds 19.95, 240pp

FORGET THE tawdry confections of the BBC's Changing Rooms; if you really want a home with a difference, this is the book to buy. Lavish colour spreads enable you imaginatively to inhabit the cutting edge of domestic architecture: a minimalist castle by John Pawson in Mallorca, an Australian beach house like a vast packing case, the "assumed disorder" of Frank Gehry's Minnesota guest house (six one-room buildings), a house in the Californian desert like an expressionist theatre set, a glass cube in Japan which forces inhabitants into "private, though unpleasantly crowded downstairs rooms". Which is chez vous?

Taking Doreen Out of the Sky

by Alan Beard,

Picador, pounds 6.99, 165pp

A WRITER of the kind of short stories tailor-made for Radio 4: Alan Beard's tales of West Midland folk are comic, sad and quietly downbeat. Hedged in by boring jobs and tatty homes, his characters take refuge in nostalgia and sex, and, failing that, the odd urban riot. Particularly good on worn-out marriages, Beard's best stories include "Dad, Mum, Paula and Tom", about a son who catches his dad sleeping with his brother's girlfriend (while his mum explores the Internet), and "Country Life", in which an expectant father takes refuge from reality in the arms of a blonde from work.

The Penguin Book of the Horse

edited by Candida Baker,

Penguin, pounds 7.99, 378pp

DESPITE SOME odd omissions (Swift, Surtees), Baker provides a lively canter round equine literature. Her choice ranges from adolescent favourites (My Friend Flicka, Black Beauty) to a scatological fragment from de Bernieres. Horses inspire literary giants in unexpected ways: roguery on the race-track from Hemingway; a fable about greed from Lawrence; a tender tragedy from Runyon. Authors as diverse as Jim Crace and M E Patchett explore the rapport between man and beast, but many readers will empathise with Carroll's White Knight. "Any bones broken?" asked Alice. "None to speak of."

Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall

by Neil Bartlett,

Serpent's Tail, pounds 6.99, 313pp

NEIL BARTLETT'S novel of gay sex in the Nineties begins and ends with Madame - an ageing cabaret artiste who brings together two of London's most desirable men with "arse-stounding" results. More than just a catalogue of choreographed erotica, Bartlett's story of "O" (the older man) and "Boy" (just 19), their courtship and eventual marriage, is told with the kind of chummy curiosity that leads the reader to suppose he is as much in on the act as the writer himself. First published in 1991; Bartlett's subsequent novels include the critically acclaimed Who Was That Man?, a meditation on Oscar Wilde.

A Gift Imprisoned

by Ian Hamilton,

Bloomsbury, pounds 7.99, 242pp

THE POETIC life of Matthew Arnold may not be the most seductive topic in the world, but Ian Hamilton is one of our most readable literary critics. In this absorbing account, he reveals that Arnold's talent flowered after the death of his starchy dad, the headmaster of Rugby. Inspired by a number of Frenchwomen, in particular the mysterious Marguerite, Matthew produced some hot stuff: "Ah, they bend nearer - Sweet lips, this way!" This emotional outpouring ceased when Arnold, in homage to his father's arid morality, returned to the straight and narrow, passing 30 years as a schools inspector. Duty sucked him dry.

Hannah's Gift

by Thomas Eidson,

Penguin, pounds 6.99, 360pp

IF YOU'RE not man enough for the novels of Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Eidson writes the B-movie version. A mystical Western set in the brush covered deserts of New Mexico and Arizona, Eidson's tale relates the story of tough, but tender, lawman Tucker Gibbens and the woman who saves his life. A recent widower, Tucker carries around his memories like a sore thumb; injured in a shoot-out, he falls for the auburn-haired beauty who miraculously brings him back to life. Apaches and ambushes and mesquite burning fires - the American West at its rootin' tootin' best.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Building Manager / Head Porter

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

    Recruitment Genius: Medical Copywriter / Account Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

    Recruitment Genius: Transport Clerk / Debriefer

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading temperature contro...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketer

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific