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In their own words or from the pen of a biographer, the lives of others hold a magnetic intrigue. Indulge your curiosity here… Read and find out more about the lives of well-known figures. Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.
An interesting and thought-provoking memoir based on Ruth Hartley’s escape to London, and the ordeal she went through to get here in the early 1960’s while pregnant with her first born. I’m not one to get emotional over books but this is one of those rare occasions where I went through a whole roller-coaster of emotions, ranging from Sadness to happiness to even angry about some of the attitudes that people had in the early 60’s. I know some of these prejudices and stigmas still exist to this day but these day’s people and even communities are learning to accept it a little better. This was a very well written memoir, which I found easy to read. I managed to race through this book quite quickly. In fact I finished it in 2 sittings. This was due to the fact that I just wanted to keep reading to find out what happens next. Overall a very enjoyable read. I haven’t read Ruth’s other books but I will definitely be adding them to my TBR list. I highly recommend this book, especially if enjoy reading memoirs and your looking for a memorable read. Manisha Natha, A LoveReading Ambassador
'Purnell's account of Hall's hectic, amphetamine-fuelled exploits never falters. It recalls Caroline Moorehead's wonderful book, Village of Secrets but has an added touch of Ben Macintyre's brio ... A rousing tale of derring-do' The Times Book of the Week 'Riveting ... one of the most breath-taking stories yet told of female courage behind enemy lines' Sarah Helm, author of A Life in Secrets In 1942, the Gestapo would stop at nothing to track down a mysterious 'limping lady' who was fighting for the freedom of France. The Nazi chiefs issued a simple but urgent command: 'She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.' The Gestapo's target was Virginia Hall, a glamorous American with a wooden leg who broke through the barriers against her gender and disability to be the first woman to infiltrate Vichy France for the SOE. In so doing she helped turn the course of the intelligence war. This is the epic tale of an heiress who determined that a hunting accident would not define her existence; a young woman who gambled her life to fight for the freedoms she believed in; an espionage novice who helped to light the flame of French Resistance. Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall, an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance and personal triumph over shocking adversity. 'A gripping, relevant and timely read about a remarkable woman from a talented writer' Deborah Frances-White, author of The Guilty Feminist 'A fitting and moving tribute to an amazing woman' The Economist
Has appeal as a rags to riches story but also will act as an inspiration for anyone dreaming of starting their own business. Showing that you don't need qualifications and good school results to get ahead Jo Malone has a passion for business and for encouraging others to reach their potential. Her own poignant story frames her business life - facing cancer and the loss of her business she came through and is now back with her new fragrance house Jo Loves– you can smell one of her first successes, Pomelo, due to the perfumed page tipped in at the front of the book. ~ Sue Baker
Anyone familiar with Mount Everest – the world’s highest peak – will also know the names Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing. In 1953, these two men were the first to stand atop this mountain. The equipment they used to achieve this remarkable feat making it all the more something of legend. Even before I first opened Michael Gill’s book, I sensed I was holding something rather special. It did not disappoint. Michael was Hillary’s friend and expedition companion for 50 years. It shows. The detail in this book is incredible and it never ceases to engage the reader. Interspersed with letters, photographs, anecdotes from contributors and the words of Hillary himself, this is a fascinating insight into the life of one of our world’s true heroes. Hillary was first and foremost a mountaineer. He was also a beekeeper, a diplomat, an author, an explorer and a philanthropist. He suffered tragedy – his wife and 16-year-old child killed on their way to see him – and he overcame depression. Hillary said to others who wrote accounts of his life ‘I write my own books.’ I suspect he may have made an exception in this case. Hillary was a truly remarkable man and Michael Gill has, quite rightly, afforded him the honour of writing his story with respect and with great skill. Superb, just superb.
THE MASSIVE NO.1 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER. A powerful, heart-warming and inspiring memoir from the UK's most famous and beloved vet, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick - star of the Channel 4 series The Supervet.Growing up on the family farm in Ballyfin, Ireland, Noel's childhood was spent tending to the cattle and sheep, the hay and silage, the tractors and land, his beloved sheepdog Pirate providing solace from the bullies that plagued him at school. It was this bond with Pirate, and a fateful night spent desperately trying to save a newborn lamb, that inspired Noel to enter the world of veterinary science - and set him on the path to becoming The Supervet. Now, in this long-awaited memoir, Noel recounts this often-surprising journey that sees him leaving behind a farm animal practice in rural Ireland to set up Fitzpatrick Referrals in Surrey, one of the most advanced small animal specialist centres in the world. We meet the animals that paved the way, from calving cows and corralling bullocks to talkative parrots and bionic cats and dogs. Noel has listened to the many lessons that the animals in his care have taught him, and especially the times he has shared with his beloved Keira, the scruffy Border Terrier who has been by Noel's side as he's dealt with the unbelievable highs and crushing lows of his extraordinary career. As heart-warming and life-affirming as the TV show with which he made his name, Listening to the Animals is a story of love, hope and compassion, and about rejoicing in the bond between humans and animals that makes us the very best we can be.
NUMBER 1 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER No one is born a leader. But through sheer determination and by confronting life's challenges, Ant Middleton has come to know the meaning of true leadership. In First Man In, he shares the core lessons he's learned over the course of his fascinating, exhilarating life. Special forces training is no walk in the park. The rules are strict and they make sure you learn the hard way, pushing you beyond the limits of what is physically possible. There is no mercy. Even when you are bleeding and broken, to admit defeat is failure. To survive the gruelling selection process to become a member of the elite you need toughness, aggression, meticulous attention to detail and unrelenting self-discipline, all traits that make for the best leaders. After 13 years service in the military, with 4 years as a Special Boat Service (SBS) sniper, Ant Middleton is the epitome of what it takes to excel. He served in the SBS, the naval wing of the special forces, the Royal Marines and 9 Parachute Squadron Royal, achieving what is known as the `Holy Trinity' of the UK's Elite Forces. As a point man in the SBS, Ant was always the first man through the door, the first man into the dark, and the first man in harm's way. In this fascinating, exhilarating and revealing book, Ant speaks about the highs and gut-wrenching lows of his life - from the thrill of passing Special Forces Selection to dealing with the early death of his father and ending up in prison on leaving the military - and draws valuable lessons that we can all use in our daily lives.
There is no nice way to kill an enemy soldier who is trying to kill you. Soldiers are our guardians, we expect them to go to the places we don’t want to go and do things we are untrained and afraid to do. We expect them to keep the bad guys at bay, away from our safe and peaceful lives. And we expect them to do all this with dignity, restraint and within the constraints of law. In May, 2004, together with a small group of lightly armed fellow soldiers from the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, Brian Wood left the comparative safety of a Warrior personnel carrier to engage in a close-quarters fire-fight with enemy soldiers. The bravery he showed in the subsequent engagement resulted in his being awarded the Military Cross. In 2009, enemy combatants who surrendered during the battle attempted – through an established firm of UK lawyers – to sue the British Government by claiming they were innocent farmers going about their normal day when they had been attacked by British soldiers, beaten, tortured, unlawfully imprisoned and then some of their number had been murdered while in detention. Double Crossed tells the story of Brian Wood’s fight to clear his name, of the duplicity and highly questionable motives of certain members of the legal profession, and of the effect of discovering your every move, your every thought and your every decision - made during a tense and life-threatening battle - can be the subject of ill-informed and ill-qualified analysis by others in the safe environment of a court where, should those that have never been there and will never truly understand, decide you have acted outside the law, the price you may pay for surviving is imprisonment. This is an excellent read, and not just for those who empathise with Brian Wood. Frightening at times, infuriating at others, Double Crossed never fails to engage the reader. Anyone who is interested in modern society’s struggle to differentiate between right and wrong, between good and evil, and between justice and injustice should read it.
For more than 25 years, David Nott has taken unpaid leave from his job as a general and vascular surgeon with the NHS to volunteer in some of the world's most dangerous war zones. From Sarajevo under siege in 1993 to clandestine hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, he has carried out lifesaving operations and field surgery in the most challenging conditions, and with none of the resources of a major London teaching hospital. The conflicts he has worked in form a chronology of 21st-century combat: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur, Congo, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Gaza and Syria. But he has also volunteered in areas blighted by natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal. Driven both by compassion and passion, the desire to help others and the thrill of extreme personal danger, he is now widely acknowledged to be the most experienced trauma surgeon in the world. But as time went on, David Nott began to realise that flying into a catastrophe - whether war or natural disaster - was not enough. Doctors on the ground needed to learn how to treat the appalling injuries that war inflicts upon its victims. Since 2015, the foundation he set up with his wife, Elly, has disseminated the knowledge he has gained, training other doctors in the art of saving lives threatened by bombs and bullets. War Doctor is his extraordinary story.
Random House presents the audiobook edition of Educated by Tara Westover, read by Julia Whelan. Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn't exist. She hadn't been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she'd never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn't believe in hospitals. As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it.
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER WITH A NEW CHAPTER ON TURNING THIRTY Winner of Autobiography of the Year at the National Book Awards 2018 Award-winning journalist Dolly Alderton survived her twenties (just about) and in Everything I Know About Love, she gives an unflinching account of the bad dates and squalid flat-shares, the heartaches and humiliations, and most importantly, the unbreakable female friendships that helped her to hold it all together. Glittering with wit, heart and humour, this is a book to press into the hands of every woman who has ever been there or is about to find themselves taking that first step towards the rest of their lives.
Simple, stunning, provocative, loved it! Author Raynor Winn has written about her own journey around the South West Coastal Path with her husband Moth. The synopsis sounds heartbreaking, it is heartbreaking, yet this is one of the most positive and hopeful memoirs I have read. After a three year trial Moth and Raynor lose their home and livelihood then within days Moth is informed he is terminally ill. Hiding under the stairs with the bailiffs at the door Raymor and Moth decide to wild walk the coastal path around the south west of England. The Salt Path was shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography Award and the hardback was a Times Top 10 bestseller, all deservedly so. The prologue captures a moment on the journey, a moment of wonder, of joy, of realisation and I just knew I was going to fall in love with this tale. Raynor Winn writes her own story with such positivity, she puts everything in, opens the door and lays her life bare. Raynor allowed me to see that this so could so easily be my situation, encouraged me to think, ponder, contemplate, I felt wonder at their determination and almost elated as I came to the end of the book. The Salt Path is an eye-opening, truly inspirational read and I’ve chosen it as one of my picks of the month.
Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astounding account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness. We watch Christie as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient's agonising heart-lung transplant, and we hold our breath as she washes the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive. In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us. She is a guide, mentor and friend. And in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.
There are people who just read biographies, interested only in the details of the lives of real people. There are others, like us, who enjoy dipping a toe, every now and then, into the deep inviting waters of the biography pool, to see first-hand the experiences of a person, past or present, who captures our imagination or pique’s our interest. From the First Man on the Moon to the latest winner of a jungle-based reality TV programme; sport-star to leading politician; religious leader to Arctic explorer, the choice is vast!
Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.