Books: Paperbacks

The Quest for Kim by Peter Hopkirk (Oxford, pounds 7.99)

After five enthralling books on the Great Game - the struggle between the great powers for supremacy in Central Asia - Hopkirk turns his attention to Kim, the novel which prompted his lifelong obsession. His pursuit of the locations and exotic personalities in Kipling's fiction makes wonderful reading. Though disappointed that the 03.25 Lahore-Umballa express no longer follows the 1878 schedule (nor does it stop at Umballa), Hopkirk finds the Lahore horse bazaar and Col Crighton's bungalow (still occupied by a colonel).

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (Virago, pounds 6.99)

Convicted at the age of 18 of the murder of her master and his housekeeper, Grace Marks, a penniless Irish maid, was one of the most notorious women in 1840s Canada. Her accomplice in crime, James McDermott, was hanged, while Grace entered the Provincial Penitentiary in Kingston to become the case study of an interested prison doctor. Atwood's reconstruction of this real-life story reads with all the verve of an upstairs-downstairs pot-boiler spiced with the dismal details of 19th-century immigrant life. Extracts from Emily Dickinson and Christina Rossetti add to the atmosphere of sexually charged gloom.

Emily Tennyson: The Poet's Wife by Ann Thwaite (Faber, pounds 14.99)

Over 700 pages may seem excessive for a poetic spouse, even if her partner happens to be the greatest bard of the 19th century. But Ann Thwaite's vast, addictive biography - she portrays a dazzling literary pantheon including Browning, Lear and Lewis Carroll - makes good the claim of Julia Margaret Cameron that Lady Tennyson was "as great as he was". At the age of nine, she perceived her future husband (then 13) as being "full of strength and spirituality and tenderness". Emily emerges as a Victorian superwoman, an able and brilliant individual who, surprisingly, found happiness with the irascible laureate.

Knights In White Armour by Christopher Bellamy (Pimlico, pounds 12.50)

Like many military experts, Bellamy, ex-soldier and former Defence Correspondent of The Independent, is an ardent humanitarian: "There are no nice ways of killing people." In this perceptive book, he insists that "total war" has had its day. However, armies will "be used for real with increasing regularity". A conflict like the Gulf War may occur every decade. He believes that the UN should set an example with a French Foreign Legion-style force: "Conducting diplomacy as well as being formidable in battle." Judging by recent off-duty scandals, the British squaddie has some way to go.

The Bull Calves by Naomi Mitchison (Virago, pounds 7.99)

First published in 1947, Mitchison's novel tells the story of her 18th- century Scottish ancestors, the Haldanes, and their role in the Jacobite risings. Complicated (you have to get your Pretenders straight), romantic (Black William and Kirstie may be hitting 50 but they still make love by moonlight) and energetic, the author's appetite for historic detail is daunting.

About Modern Art by David Sylvester (Pimlico, pounds 12.50)

Despite the daunting epithets ("he is the best living writer in English about modern art": Lord Gowrie), Sylvester's collected essays reveal a surprising lightness of touch, Picasso and Braque are compared to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Gilbert and George to Morecambe and Wise. Sylvester is generous in his praise - G & G display "a mature compassion", while Warhol is described as "magnificent" - though he sideswipes critics from John Berger to Ted Hughes. He admits his errors, as in his late discovery of Pollock in 1958: "What could I have been using for eyes?" This passionate and inspiring book is an eye-opener.

Ecstasy by Irvine Welsh (Vintage, pounds 5.99)

Bad-boy Scot Irvine Welsh has more in common with headgirls Fay Weldon, A S Byatt and Penelope Lively than he'd like to think. Take away the dialogue and the smattering of E numbers, and these novellas are as waspish and stylish as the most classic of modern British fiction. In "Lorraine Goes to Livingston" a middle-aged romantic novelist exchanges her suburban marriage for the joys of soft porn and jungle music; while in another story a young woman goes on Prozac when her husband takes up reading The Independent and talking about having children.

Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
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
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

    £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

    Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

    C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

    C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home