Posted by: billpurdue | September 27, 2008

24 Autumn: A busy time for new releases

Yes, now that October is almost upon us, it’s a busy time for publishers getting all their popular titles out in time for Christmas. If you like (auto)biographies, there is the usual wide selection. These four caught my eye:


At my Mother’s Knee…and Other Low Joints: The Autobiography is by Paul O’Grady and describes his early life in Birkenhead [Bantam £18.99 978-0593059258 ] I was totally put off by his Lily Savage character, but for me he became a little more likeable in the Paul O’Grady Show. Dawn French’s autobiography Dear Fatty [Century £18.99 978-1846053443 ] might be more to my liking – it’s due out next month. You can read a review in the Times Online. Entirely up to You, Darling is Richard Attenborough’s autobiography [Hutchinson £20 978-0091797089 ] ; he has directed some memorable films and met some notable figures in the process, so this should make for a fascinating book. Click here for a brief biography to whet your appetite. Finally Sheila Hancock writes about her life after the death of her husband John Thaw in Just Me [Bloomsbury £18.99 978-0747588825].


A few editions – or posts – ago, I wrote about whether to continue reading a book if I wasn’t entirely satisfied with it. Well, I had that feeling about a novel I picked up at the library a week or two ago, but I did finish it after all. In The Rain before it Falls by Jonathan Coe, [Penguin £7.99 9780141033211 ] a 73 year old woman records on tape the memories evoked by a collection of family photographs especially for her cousin Beatrix’s  granddaughter, Imogen, who is blind. The woman, Rosamund, dies soon after completing the recording and relatives are unable to trace the granddaughter, so they listen to the tapes themselves. A tragic family history unfolds, which eventually reveals why Imogen is blind and what happened to her. I find it difficult to describe my feelings for this novel – at times, I was motivated to read on and at others, I felt like giving up, but the more I read the better it became. Reviews I have found on Amazon are very mixed. Before this one, Jonathan Coe had already written 11 novels and biographies and won quite a few literary prizes.


Finally a couple of books I was able to browse through the other day, courtesy of my friend Daphne from Staffordshire Libraries. Froth on the Cappucino – how small pleasures can save your life  by Maeve Haran [Hay House £8.99 9781401911058 – paperback available at the end of October] is all about the simple pleasures in life – those we often take for granted or think nothing of. Possibly aimed mainly at women, it’s a great antidote to all those books that complain about life in general such as the “grumpy old men/ women” books. It was apparently inspired at least in part by Margaret Thatcher, who once said that the thing that gave her the greatest pleasure in life was “taking the fluff out of the tumble dryer”. I can think of nicer simple pleasures!


Sausage in a Basket: the Great British of How Not to Eat  by Martin Lampen [Bloomsbury £10.99 9780747589181] is a sort of alphabetical catalogue of all those awful foods which at one time or another we may have inflicted on ourselves before healthy eating “came into fashion” as it were – by that I mean instant whip and freeze dried peas and when deep fat fryers were all the rage. Reaction to this book seems to range between “laugh out loud funny” and “drivel”. I tend to lean towards the latter – it didn’t appeal to my sense of humour I’m afraid. Check out the website and get a taste of what to expect from the book – look for the words “deep fat friar” – the mind boggles!

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