Books: Paperbacks

Conversations with Wellington by Earl Stanhope (Prion, pounds 10)

This volume condenses 20 years of chat with the great warrior. We learn not only his admiration of Napoleon, whose defence of Paris was "Excellent - quite excellent", and his scorn for an enemy general ("Don Carlos merely answered with an Hah! Hah! Hah! Hah! - one of the silliest devils I ever knew") but also that he had central heating installed in 1834: "The Duke showed me his new apparatus for warming the house by tubes of hot water. It had cost pounds 219." His views are often far-sighted. As early as 1845, he insisted: "I confess I feel no great security in any English colony". It is a pleasure to sit round the radiator with the old boy.

Rules of the Wild by Francesca Marciano (Cape, pounds 9.99)

White Mischief revisited - except this generation of ex-pats are more excited by a hand-me-down Hello! and a packet of Hobnobs than orgies and ostrich feathers. Set in Nairobi, Marciano's very readable first novel tells the story of Esme, a resourceful Euro-yuppie who, while making a new life for herself in Africa, falls for two very different men: Adam, a handsome bush boy, and Hunter, a misogynistic (but strangely alluring) stringer for the Independent. Karen Blixen rewritten by Bridget Jones.

On Queer Street by Hugh David (HarperCollins, pounds 8.99)

Kissed by a man who kissed Bosie, the author notes that he is "only two pecks away from Oscar Wilde". David deftly traces the social history of homosexuality in Britain from the "long aftermath" of the Wilde trial (though Philip Hoare in Wilde's Last Stand insists that it wasn't so long) to post-Aids disillusion. In the interwar period, he describes "a tacit agreement between the homosexual and the wider community". The dour Fifties put paid to that, but an "ostensibly unnatural conjunction of agit-prop marching and self-satisfied partying" meant that "the whole of Thatcher's Britain became a giant YMCA" by the Eighties.

Eleven Days by Donald Harstad (Fourth Estate, pounds 9.99)

Like Patricia Cornwall, ex-cop turned novelist Donald Harstad's main claim to fame is that he knows what a pair of testicles look like when whizzed up in the blender. Set in a remote corner of Iowa, the novel kicks off with the discovery of several mutilated bodies and one dead dog. It's up to Deputy Sheriff Houseman (with help from FBI special agent Hester Gorse) to comb the corn-fields for an answer. A good place to hide spare parts.

Rebels and Outcasts by Charlie Pye-Smith (Penguin, pounds 7.99)

Despite cover reviews confined to the Catholic Herald and The Tablet, this "journey through Christian India" is too enjoyable to be restricted to believers. Indeed, the happy-clappy brigade may take against Pye-Smith's sympathetic account of a New Delhi priest. "'So you believe it's possible for Muslims, Hindus, whoever, to reach paradise?' I asked. 'If there is one,' he replied." Supplying succinct verbal shapshots, Pye-Smith pursues a faith observed by around 30 million. Our own threadbare clergy may gain solace from an ancient Jesuit in Goa who is "particularly impressed by the fact that Anglican vicars earned over pounds 10,000 a year".

The New Life by Orhan Pamuk (Faber, pounds 6.99)

Described by its publicists as the fastest-selling novel in Turkish history, Orhan Pamuk's third novel is not quite as exhilarating as it sounds. Part road-novel, part metaphysical mystery, it tells the story of a young student whose life is transformed after reading a magical book, and who then goes on to survive a Ballardian coach crash and an enigmatic love affair. Some evocative descriptions of the Anatolian steppe en route.

The Life & Strange Surprising Adventures of Daniel Defoe by Richard West (Flamingo, pounds 8.99)

You won't find a more enjoyable or action-packed work on the biography shelves. We learn that, prior to inventing the English novel, Defoe's desperate money-making schemes - they included buying 70 civet cats for pounds 850 - resulted in him going bankrupt for the stupendous sum of pounds 17,000. A prominent spy for Queen Anne, he advocated the creation of the forerunners of M15 and M16. For badmouthing London aldermen in a scabrous lampoon, he was condemned to three days in the pillory, but was pelted only with flowers. Defoe's restless, inventive spirit produced an all-time bestseller in Robinson Crusoe, but even on his death bed he was still harried by duns.

Night moves: one of the cult covers by Dave McKean from the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. Taken from Dustcovers: the collected Sandman covers 1989-1997 by Dave McKean (Titan Books, pounds 16.99)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
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

    Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

    £24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    £45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    £45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

    Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

    £18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

    "I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
    Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

    11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

    Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
    Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

    Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

    The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
    Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

    The school that means business

    Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
    10 best tablets

    The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

    They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
    Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

    Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

    The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
    Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

    Pete Jenson's a Different League

    Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
    John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
    The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

    The killer instinct

    Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
    Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

    Clothing the gap

    A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

    The Fall of the Berlin Wall

    Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain