Based on a series of talks, commissioned by BBC Radio 4, Colley's book about the British Isles takes a timely look at the stresses and strains of what we now call the United Kingdom. Full of interesting asides, providing answers to such unusual questions as why the heir to the throne is traditionally called "The Prince of Wales", or when the moniker "UK" caught on, this is an enjoyable and thought-provoking book bringing history very much to the fore as Scotland's referendum on independence approaches. Whilst I am sure that there are weightier (in all senses of the word) books out there about the future and politics of the United Kingdom, one could do a lot worse than to… Read more
'Down the Rabbit Hole' is a slight novel about life inside the bizarre world of a Mexican drug baron as seen through the eyes of Tochtli, a nine-year old boy. Except of course that the title 'Down the Rabbit Hole' has echoes of Alice in Wonderland, that strange distorted fantasy world as seen through the eyes of child experiencing something unusual and that link, that other-worldliness is very evident within this book.
Tochtli isn't your average nine year-old, he's lived in isolation from the rest of the world, apparently all his life, he lives in the middle of an emotionless world, where he can count the number of live people he knows and he's well aware that people turn into… Read more
Otto de Kat's "Julia" begins with a driver, Van Dijk, turning up unexpectedly at his boss's house ostensibly to check out the car. He can't find his boss, Christiaan Dudok, so he looks around the house for him. What follows next is a perfectly constructed almost poetic little story of love and loss in the midst of Nazi Germany.
This is such an engaging little book, right from the first chapter, that it's hard to put down. Dudok's story is the everyman story, that poses questions about what to do in extraordinary times and that weighs the cost of regret. It is a book about love, but also about responsibility, courage and cowardice, fate and fatalism. It's a brilliant… Read more