Biography: general

The Familia Grande

The Familia Grande

Author: Camille Kouchner Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2022

The family's secret weighs on everyone... THE FAMILIA GRANDE is a tender, groundbreaking and lacerating memoir written by a sister who could no longer remain silent... Set in amongst the French intellectual elite in Paris and their lavender scented estates in Provence, it tells a story of a corrosive secret that sits in a family for decades and ultimately razes it and the political, literary elite that enabled its silence, to the ground. Already an international bestseller, it has touched a nerve across the globe and has brought about a powerful reckoning of incest, and its far-reaching trauma. The Familia Grande is a book of a generation. 

Growing Out

Growing Out

Author: Barbara Blake Hannah Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

'A gorgeously exuberant account. . . writing that is natural and vivacious . . . a fascinating and hugely enjoyable read.' Bernardine Evaristo, from the Introduction Travelling over from Jamaica as a teenager, Barbara's journey is remarkable. She finds her footing in TV, and blossoms. Covering incredible celebrity stories, travelling around the world and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Germaine Greer and Michael Caine - her life sparkles. But with the responsibility of being the first black woman reporting on TV comes an enormous amount of pressure, and a flood of hateful letters and complaints from viewers that eventually costs her the job. In the aftermath of this fallout, she goes through a period of self-discovery that allows her to carve out a new space for herself first in the UK and then back home in Jamaica - one that allows her to embrace and celebrate her black identity, rather than feeling suffocated in her attempts to emulate whiteness and conform to the culture around her. Growing Out provides a dazzling, revelatory depiction of race and womanhood in the 1960s from an entirely unique perspective. A title in the Black Britain: Writing Back series - selected by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, this series rediscovers and celebrates pioneering books depicting black Britain that remap the nation.

The Missing Pieces of Mum

The Missing Pieces of Mum

Author: Sally Herbert Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/11/2021

The Missing Pieces of Mum is a heartbreaking true story of an abandoned baby and a daughter’s search for more information about her mother’s past. I felt as though I was reading the transcript of an episode of Long Lost Family - the television programme helping foundlings track down their personal history and reuniting separated family members. The details of Phyllis and her childhood years in a brutal orphanage, followed by a troubled marriage, left me in tears. Especially when her daughter, Sally, finally managed to find some answers after a decade of searching for the truth, just as it seemed that time was running out.The Missing Pieces of Mum is a fascinating and compelling story that reads like fiction. It's packed with despair, love, suspense, twists and turns, and family secrets. And it's also a story of hope and fighting against the odds, with Phyllis achieving her dream of becoming a nurse. A well-written book that tugs at the heartstrings and refuses to let go - not easily forgotten.

A Three Dog Problem

A Three Dog Problem

Author: SJ Bennett Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/11/2021

OK let’s be clear, Her Majesty, the Queen, does not investigate. At least, not as far as we know. Bennett is very clear about this. She explains on her website and elsewhere, that this book, together with The Windsor Knot, the first in what is now a wonderful series, are works of fiction. They are made up for our reading pleasure. But. What if Her Majesty did? As Bennett has written, “If the Queen wanted to, she would make a great detective, with access to any expert she wants and a deep understanding of her world of politics and palaces,” where, of course, all the real crimes take place. The monarch Marple is of course an utterly wonderful idea, and Bennett is such a talented writer and storyteller that the suspension of disbelief is effortless as she draws you into a world that soon moves from seeming all too possible to become delightfully credible.  A Three Dog Problem is centred on the mysterious appearance of a painting of the Royal Yacht Britannia in a Royal Naval exhibition and a body floating in a palace swimming pool, but really it doesn’t matter what the story is about. The true pleasure in this is that Bennett has really thought through how Her Majesty might actually conduct an investigation, then packed it with authentic details and more twists and turns than a palace intrigue, and created the unforgettable character of Rozie, Her Majesty’s trusted and ingenious Private Secretary, the Watson or Mma Makutsi to the Queen’s Holmes or Mma Ramotswe. Not since another authorial Bennett wrote The Uncommon Reader has our reigning monarch been so charmingly and affectionately portrayed in print and S.J. Bennett has surely put herself in the running for an MBE for “services to Royal literary inventiveness.” It is an honest-to-goodness, laugh out loud, wonder of a book filled with regal delight.

Star Books
Diddly Squat

Diddly Squat

Author: Jeremy Clarkson Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/11/2021

Love him or loathe him, you cannot help but be sucked into the shenanigans at Clarkson's Diddly Squat Farm. An unlikely farmer, in June 2021 Clarkson's TV series Clarkson's Farm, documenting an intense, tough but funny year at his farm in the Cotswolds, debuted on Amazon Prime Video. If you read the Sunday Times, you will have already read this book as the content first appeared in his column. If not, grab your wellies and join new eco-warrior Clarkson on his voyage of discovery through the farming calendar, in the year he decided to actually do something on the sprawling thousand acre farm he bought in 2008 as he learns to become a farmer. The repetition from the columns are a little frustrating but nevertheless it's a funny book with lots of take outs. Following his attempts to become the potato king of Chipping Norton, we see the brutal reality of full-on vegetable farming, his attempt at doing a "Morgan Freeman" with bees and how the farming lifestyle becomes part of him, despite it paying him forty pence a day.

A Beautiful Nightmare

A Beautiful Nightmare

Author: Christine McGuinness Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/11/2021

It's easy to focus on the glitz and glamour of celebrity lifestyles without knowing what's happening behind the scenes. Christine McGuinness is well known for being the wife of comedian and Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness, as well as being a model and TV star in her own right. In her book, A Beautiful Nightmare, she offers a raw account of her life, including dealing with anorexia, heavy drinking, infertility and, in more recent years, parenting three young, autistic children. Her book offers honest insight into the nitty-gritty of daily life – schooling, mealtimes, family outings, parties, and more – with its tough times, challenges, love and laughter. She shows that autism is more than just a statistic or description on a page. This is a real family struggling and worrying about what the future holds. As a final revelation, a diagnosis reveals that Christine is autistic, too, leading to much soul searching about her own life experiences. Hopefully, having been written by a high-profile TV celebrity, A Beautiful Nightmare will offer some comfort and support to other parents in a similar situation – that they're not alone – and will also raise awareness and understanding of autism among the book's readers and Christine's existing fans.  

eBooks of the Month
Will

Will

Author: Will Smith, Mark Manson Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/11/2021

One of the most dynamic and globally recognized entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, in a brave and inspiring book that traces his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had. Will Smith's transformation from a fearful child in a tense West Philadelphia home to one of the biggest rap stars of his era and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, with a string of box office successes that will likely never be broken, is an epic tale of inner transformation and outer triumph, and Will tells it astonishingly well. But it's only half the story. Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn't see it that way: they felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn't signed up for. It turned out Will Smith's education wasn't nearly over. This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Written with the help of Mark Manson, author of the multi-million-copy bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Will is the story of how one exceptional man mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world's biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Lyrics

The Lyrics

Author: Paul McCartney, Paul Muldoon Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/11/2021

A self-portrait in 154 songs, by our greatest living songwriter 'More often than I can count, I've been asked if I would write an autobiography, but the time has never been right. The one thing I've always managed to do, whether at home or on the road, is to write new songs. I know that some people, when they get to a certain age, like to go to a diary to recall day-to-day events from the past, but I have no such notebooks. What I do have are my songs, hundreds of them, which I've learned serve much the same purpose. And these songs span my entire life.' In this extraordinary book, with unparalleled candour, Paul McCartney recounts his life and art through the prism of 154 songs from all stages of his career - from his earliest boyhood compositions through the legendary decade of The Beatles, to Wings and his solo albums to the present. Arranged alphabetically to provide a kaleidoscopic rather than chronological account, it establishes definitive texts of the songs' lyrics for the first time and describes the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what he thinks of them now. Presented with this is a treasure trove of material from McCartney's personal archive - drafts, letters, photographs - never seen before, which make this also a unique visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time. We learn intimately about the man, the creative process, the working out of melodies, the moments of inspiration. The voice and personality of Paul McCartney sings off every page. There has never been a book about a great musician like it. Each volume is 480 pp, not available separately

Relentless

Relentless

Author: Eddie Hearn Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/10/2021

WINNER AT THE TELEGRAPH SPORTS BOOK AWARDS 2021 HEALTH AND FITNESS What does it take to succeed? What is the mindset required to be the best? How do you stay at the top of your field? How do you come back from failure? Eddie Hearn knows what it takes. In his remarkable career, Hearn has worked alongside some of the biggest names in sports entertainment and has seen first-hand the grit and relentless determination that it takes to succeed. Structured around the key skills that Eddie Hearn values the most, this book looks at his business, life, and the drive to succeed. Covering subjects such as discipline, passion, preparation, motivation and failure, this book shows you what it takes to get the most in your life and career. In this insightful and revealing book, Eddie talks about the highs and lows of his career - from negotiating a billion dollar boxing deal to selling out Wembley for the Joshua Klitschko fight - and draws the valuable lessons that we can learn from boxing's toughest performers. The perfect book for when life deals a knockout blow, an invaluable guide about making the most from life, drawn from the hard-won lessons of one of the most successful boxing promoters in the world.

Free

Free

Author: Lea Ypi Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

'I never asked myself about the meaning of freedom until the day I hugged Stalin. From close up, he was much taller than I expected.' Lea Ypi grew up in one of the most isolated countries on earth, a place where communist ideals had officially replaced religion. Albania, the last Stalinist outpost in Europe, was almost impossible to visit, almost impossible to leave. It was a place of queuing and scarcity, of political executions and secret police. To Lea, it was home. People were equal, neighbours helped each other, and children were expected to build a better world. There was community and hope. Then, in December 1990, a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, everything changed. The statues of Stalin and Hoxha were toppled. Almost overnight, people could vote freely, wear what they liked and worship as they wished. There was no longer anything to fear from prying ears. But factories shut, jobs disappeared and thousands fled to Italy on crowded ships, only to be sent back. Predatory pyramid schemes eventually bankrupted the country, leading to violent conflict. As one generation's aspirations became another's disillusionment, and as her own family's secrets were revealed, Lea found herself questioning what freedom really meant. Free is an engrossing memoir of coming of age amid political upheaval. With acute insight and wit, Lea Ypi traces the limits of progress and the burden of the past, illuminating the spaces between ideals and reality, and the hopes and fears of people pulled up by the sweep of history.

Don't Laugh, It'll Only Encourage Her

Don't Laugh, It'll Only Encourage Her

Author: Daisy May Cooper Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

'When I'm up on stage, I don't want to be anywhere else in the world' Since I was little, I've had a cast of characters living inside my head, an over-active imagination and the urge to be a massive f**king show-off. Not only was my family completely insane, but we grew up battling rural poverty, and together with my brother Charlie, I staggered my way through adolescence like a p**sed-up butterfly. In Don't Laugh, It'll Only Encourage Her, I'll take you on a rollercoaster ride so extreme it'll make you laugh, then cry, then barf your guts up. From my misspent childhood skulking around car boot sales to reimagining WWE Smackdowns for a Cirencester audience; from my one-armed internet boyfriend to a lover who doubled as a coat-stand; from snogging a pole at a lap-dancing audition to imitating a warthog at RADA to finally having This Country commissioned by the BBC. And, I answer all of life's great mysteries . . . Can wall plaster be part of your five-a-day? Can the afterlife be found in the back of a sh**ty pub? How do you give your tits added drama? Who dropped the monster turd at the fake audition? How much of a humiliating, ridiculous, screw-up of a sh**-storm life do you need to have led before you finally achieve your dream . . . ?

Windswept & Interesting

Windswept & Interesting

Author: Billy Connolly Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

In his first full-length autobiography, comedy legend and national treasure Billy Connolly reveals the truth behind his windswept and interesting life. Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of 4, and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Billy's life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds. Billy found his escape first as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde. Later he became a folk musician - a 'rambling man' - with a genuine talent for playing the banjo. But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that truly set him apart. As a young comedian Billy broke all the rules. He was fearless and outspoken - willing to call out hypocrisy wherever he saw it. But his stand-up was full of warmth, humility and silliness too. His startling, hairy 'glam-rock' stage appearance - wearing leotards, scissor suits and banana boots - only added to his appeal. It was an appearance on Michael Parkinson's chat show in 1975 - and one outrageous story in particular - that catapulted Billy from cult hero to national star. TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed. Billy's pitch-perfect stand-up comedy kept coming too - for over 50 years, in fact - until a double diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson's Disease brought his remarkable live performances to an end. Since then he has continued making TV shows, creating extraordinary drawings... and writing. Windswept and Interesting is Billy's story in his own words. It is joyfully funny - stuffed full of hard-earned wisdom as well as countless digressions on fishing, farting and the joys of dancing naked. It is an unforgettable, life-affirming story of a true comedy legend. 'I didn't know I was Windswept and Interesting until somebody told me. It was a friend who was startlingly exotic himself. He'd just come back from Kashmir and was all billowy shirt and Indian beads. I had long hair and a beard and was swishing around in electric blue flairs. He said: Look at you - all windswept and interesting! I just said: Exactly! After that, I simply had to maintain my reputation...'