Posted by: billpurdue | August 12, 2008

18 Sorry for the delay…

What with computer problems and a short holiday, I’ve not been able to post a new blog in the last week or so, but, you’ll be pleased to know (I hope!), that I’m back in harness. I’m still missing some decent weather though.


First there’s another crime novel award announced last month – it’s the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2008. This year the prize goes to Stef Penney for TheTenderness of Wolves [ Quercus £7.99 9781847240675  ]  This novel also won the Costa Book Award in 2006, so a lot of people – or at least of lot of judges of literary prizes – must like it, though not if the reviews on Amazon are anything to go by.


Well, your roving reader ( er… that’s me) has been out and about in some new bookshops, but this time quite a long way from Mansfield.  At the end of July I visited Belfast and as the weather wasn’t very good, looked around for a good bookshop. There is a Waterstone’s, but I wanted a more local bookshop. Eason’s on Donegall Place looks like a newsagents and stationer’s but it has a sizeable book department with plenty of choice including many titles on Northern Ireland’s recent past. I did read one book connected with the “Troubles” many years ago – Who Framed Colin Wallace? by Paul Foot, now out of print, but I had no idea how much had been published on the subject. Amongst the wealth of reading matter on offer, two or three titles stood out. Watch my Lips – I’m Speaking by Baroness May Blood [Gill and Macmillan, £16.99  9780717142521 ] is the autobiography of a woman who grew up in a “mixed community” and , having witnessed the disintegration of that community, she became an active participant in the peace process. May Blood is a woman of many achievements and in recognition of her efforts, she was offered a seat in the House of Lords, which she reluctantly accepted.


Men that God Made Mad: a journey through truth, myth and terror in Northern Ireland by Derek Lundy [Vintage £8.99 9780099469476 ] is the story of the troubles told from the Protestant perspective, but, as most reviewers seem to agree, is not a biased account. It’s a story from a man who was born in Northern Ireland and emigrated at an early age to Canada. It’s part history, part memoir, part reportage from a man who may or may not be related to Robert Lundy, governor of the City of Derry who supposedly tried to abandon the city to the Jacobites during the Siege of Derry in 1689. There’s a lengthy review of the book on the Guardian website.


My Father’s Watch by Patrick Maguire [Fourth Estate £16.99 978-0-00-724213-9 – paperback due out next year] is the story of the Guildford pub bombings in 1974 and the wrongful imprisonment of Patrick Maguire (at the age of only 14) and several members of his family. It wasn’t until 1989 that the convictions of the Guildford Four were quashed and 1991 before the convictions of the Maguire Seven for handling explosives were also quashed. Patrick Maguire was imprisoned for four years and when released from jail had no home and no family as his parents were both still in custody. Read more here.


Let’s get away from politics now – Jane Green’s books were being promoted in Eason’s – and there’s quite a list : Babyville, Bookends, The Beach House and many more. Jane Green lives in the USA, but was born in London and is described on her website as being one of the “founding writers” of the so-called chick-lit genre: stories about real women today. Not my kind of books of course, but you might find them interesting.


My last choice from across the water is Going Dutch in Beijing [Mark McCrum, Profile Books 9781861971708] . If you’re a seasoned traveller and have often wondered if you’re doing the right thing in the right country, by for example using the thumbs up sign or offering to pay your share of the meal, then this book could help. Offering to “go Dutch” in China would mean that your host will lose face and using the thumbs up sign in Sardinia means – well you’ll have to read the book!


Finally, if you happen to find yourself in Northern Ireland, here are two more bookshops well worth a browse: The Bookshop at Queen’s (at Queen’s University, Belfast – academic, but with a good general section) and Sheehy’s in Cookstown, County Tyrone.


In future postings: Jasper Fforde and a new book about the Stags.

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