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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.
Busy and deeply absorbed in all the complexity of life, Ruth Scott's packed diary suddenly had to be cleared when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She said, `Discovering that life might be shorter than expected or hoped for concentrates the mind wonderfully. Whatever life is left to me, I do not want to waste it.' In the final months of her life, in the shadows between living and dying, she learned to live with the extremes of treatments that were as aggressive as the disease - and with daily ups and downs that created constant uncertainty. Throughout it all, Ruth creatively explored - through insight, literature, poetry and song - what life is about and how it should be lived. This book is the result. Here, she cuts through all the things in life that we waste our energies on. She explores the depth of life in ways that allow for doubt, absence and uncertainty while also making room for mystery and understanding beyond rational limitations. As she reflects on how we relate (or not) to each other, to the environment and to the `more-than-me-ness' of life, she offers real inspiration for us all.
'[Prior-Palmer's] gorgeous, sensual depiction of this race is a literary marvel; it feels like you are riding alongside her across the desolate steppes; her verbal acuity makes vivid the most elusive of landscapes; her triumph becomes ours' NYLON The Mongol Derby is the world's toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km. Many riders don't make it to the finish line. In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer - nineteen, underprepared but seeking the great unknown - decided to enter the race. Driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses, she raced for seven days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she found she had nothing to lose, and tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. In one of the Derby's most unexpected results, she became the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win the race. A tale of adventure, fortitude and poetry, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one young woman's encounter with oblivion, and herself.
Tommy Barnes was fed up; frustrated by his boring job, loathing the daily commute and to cap it all, failing to make it as a stand-up comedian. But he didn’t break; he made himself redundant and took off to France with girlfriend Rose. Settled in a dilapidated house in the Loire they are plagued by calamities (mainly of Tommy’s making), excitable neighbours, a destructive puppy and an unexpected pregnancy. When it looks like the money has run out. Tommy has an epiphany. Beer will save him, of course, it will, it always has. After all, there is a craft beer revolutions sweeping the world. Sadly it turns out that 20 years of drinking beer doesn’t qualify you to brew it. Featuring colourful characters, a stunning location, and an inspiring collection of beer recipes, this is an irresistible feast
In the face of urgency and uncertainty, would you respond analytically or trust your instincts? How would you decide who lives and who dies? Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton has been a firefighter for eighteen years. She decides which of her colleagues rush into a burning building and how they confront the blaze. She makes the call to evacuate if she believes the options have been exhausted or that the situation has escalated beyond hope. This is her astonishing account of a profession defined by the most difficult decisions imaginable. Taking us to the very heart of firefighting, Sabrina uses her award-winning research to reveal the skills that are essential to surviving – and even thriving – in such a fast-paced and emotionally-charged environment. And she immerses us in this extraordinary world; from scenes of devastation and crisis, through triumphs of bravery, to the quieter moments when she questions herself and the decisions made in the most unforgiving circumstances. Here is the truth about how we respond in our most extreme moments.
I'm a barrister, a job which requires the skills of a social worker, relationship counsellor, arm-twister, hostage negotiator, named driver, bus fare-provider, accountant, suicide watchman, coffee-supplier, surrogate parent and, on one memorable occasion, whatever the official term is for someone tasked with breaking the news to a prisoner that his girlfriend has been diagnosed with gonorrhoea. Welcome to the world of the Secret Barrister. These are the stories of life inside the courtroom. They are sometimes funny, often moving, and ultimately life-changing. How can you defend a child-abuser you suspect to be guilty? What do you say to someone sentenced to 10 years who you believe to be innocent? What is the law and why do we need it? And why do they wear those stupid wigs? From the criminals to the lawyers, the victims, witnesses, and officers of the law, here is the best and worst of humanity, all struggling within a broken system which would never be off the front pages if the public knew what it was really like. Both a searing first-hand account of the human cost of the criminal justice system, and a guide to how we got into this mess, The Secret Barrister wants to show you what it's really like and why it really matters.
Made redundant from her job, Kamin Mohammadi flees the bleak streets of London for a friend's sun-dappled apartment in Florence. There, among the cobbled streets, the bustling, vibrant markets and the majestic palazzos, she finds a new lease of life, and a new way to live it. At once lyrical and practical, Bella Figura shows us how to make every aspect of life as beautiful as it can be. From how to choose the perfectly ripe tomato to how to walk down the street in style, Kamin Mohammadi explores the intricate nuances of Italian culture, and sets down a simple guide to a better, more elegant – and ultimately more satisfying – life.
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
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.
From the Horse’s Mouth
… or the Groom’s
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