Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives by Daisy Hay. (PB) Part of the recent trend for group biographies, this looks at the circle surrounding Leigh Hunt, including Shelley and Byron, but concentrating most on the remarkable life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.
The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson. (HB) A definitive and landmark work, telling the whole story of this fascinating civilisation in clear, comprehensible prose.
Chaplin’s Girl by Miranda Seymour. (PB) The very readable biography of Virginia Cherrill who, after appearing in Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, made almost no other films of any note but nonetheless enjoyed her life as a Hollywood star to the end.
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson. (PB) Another terrific instalment in the Jackson Brodie series, told in typical episodic fashion until all the story threads start to form a pattern.
Burley Cross Postbox Theft by Nicola Barker. (PB) It’s surprising to come across an epistolary novel in this era of emails and text messaging, but this one works extremely well and the reader gradually builds up a picture of the village and its eccentric inhabitants, their friendships and feuds, pleasures and pains: the ending is extremely satisfying.
The Privileges by Jonathan Dee. (PB) Cynthia and Adam love each other deeply and unquestioningly: the novel begins with their wonderful wedding and moves through their prosperous lives. Sounds dull? It isn’t, and although at times you may loathe these people and their seemingly charmed existences (I nearly gave up on them in the middle, thinking that, despite their wit and intelligence, I just didn’t like them), it’s worth carrying on to find out what happens.