Posted by: billpurdue | March 11, 2009

46 Carol Thatcher, debutantes and global warming

Maggie’s daughter

carol-thatcherCarol Thatcher has been in the news recently for perhaps the wrong reasons, but we won’t go into that here: her autobiography – or memoirs – came out last autumn and I’ve been dipping into it. A swim-on part in the Goldfish Bowl [Headline Review £18.99 9780755317066] is the story of her life so far, but not all in chronological order. It begins with her appearance in “I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here” and how, against all the odds, she came out as the winner. We then get to know a lot about her early life and what it’s like to be the daughter of a prime minister, the twin sister of Mark and the atmosphere at Number 10 during the Falklands war. Occasionally we are taken from the sublime to the ridiculous, such as her description of ultra high tech Japanese loos! An entertaining read- the paperback is due in the summer.

High society

julian-fellowesI had high hopes of this book – Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes [Weidenfeld £17.99 9780297855224]. There are so many wonderful comments about his previous book Snobs[ Phoenix £6.99 9780753820094] that I thought this one should be pretty good. The plot sounds good too: Damian Baxter is worth millions but has a terminal illness. He appears to have no son or heir, but thinks that one of the liaisons early in his life (before a bout of mumps turned him sterile) might have produced a child to whom he can leave his fortune. The only person he can think of who can help him search for his successor is his sworn enemy. This enemy, the narrator of the story, was, like Damian, part of the London set at a time just after the debutante tradition came to an end. So, he invites his enemy to stay and asks him to do the research by visiting each of the ladies on his list of possibles to discover who his heir might be.

This sounds like a good plot, but the action proceeds painfully slowly as the ladies on the list are visited in turn and in each case we get a detailed family history, with plenty of reminiscences about the post debutantes era just when many mothers were still trying to launch their daughters on London society without the aid of the debutante balls and everything that goes with them. We are told just how rich the families were and whether they had fallen on hard times or weathered the financial storms. The plot became rather predictable in format and, I have to say, I had had enough after little more than a hundred pages…which is at odds with most of the short reviews I have seen, except one. Another unimpressed reviewer is Kate Kellaway in the Observer so I’m not on my own!

What to do about climate change

hot-topicI have been trying to be more “green” for a very long time, though I don’t think I am succeeding very well. Be that as it may, I came across this book the other week, which seems to put across a really convincing message and isn’t all doom and gloom: The Hot Topic: how to tackle global warming and still keep the lights on by Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King [Bloomsbury £9.99 9780747593959] explains what global warming is, how we can prepare for it, the technological solutions and how we as individuals can do our bit. It even suggests ways in which all the countries of the world, including the “problem” countries such as China and India can be brought round the negotiating table to thrash out a solution acceptable to all. As I said the outlook- according to these authors who have excellent credentials –  is no totally black as long as we do something now . (The authors refer the reader to a special website – but this seems to redirect to the Bloomsbury publisher’s website)

It’s well written and fine if you are  non-technical like me. However, after that I feel like some light relief and I have just the thing……… to be continued.

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