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.
OUTSIDE, THE SKY IS BLUE is a beautifully drawn, heart-breaking yet also joyful memoir of growing up, of living with mental ill health and cancer, and of working out what it means to be in a family, what it means to lose a family - and what's left when you're the last one left. When Christina Patterson's brother Tom died very suddenly, she faced the harrowing task of clearing out his house. Tom had always been the one who held on to the family treasures and memories, but now Christina had to sift through box after box of letters, papers, photos and belongings, not just of Tom's, but of their parents and their older sister, Caroline. Those boxes, albums and papers tell the story of a young couple who decide, when their children are small, to swap a glamorous diplomatic life in Rome for a housing estate in Surrey. But their new suburban life, of trips to National Trust houses, fizzy drinks over TV costume drama and walks at Wisley Gardens, is increasingly disrupted by Caroline's, erratic behaviour. As she is diagnosed with schizophrenia, Tom seeks solace in sport and Christina in a youth club where she hopes to meet boys, but finds God.
Sequins for a Ragged Hem narrates Johnson's return tour to Trinidad as a spiritual homecoming made problematic, among other reasons, by the fact that the house where she was born had been demolished. Amryl Johnson came to England from Trinidad when she was eleven. In 1983 she set off for a six month journey in the Caribbean. From the moment she steps off the plane into 'carnival fever', we are caught up in the excitement of her journey: her reunion with her mother, the exhilaration of dancing all night to calypso on the streets of Port-of-Spain . . . But she cannot escape, nor wants to, from the inheritance of colonialism. Her time in the Caribbean is also a journey of the self. The quest for memory is as powerful as the desire to escape. As her trip draws to a close, she describes with courage and eloquence her attempts to reunite the selves that have been separated by different cultures.
Moving from South Africa to the UK in her youth, Drawn in Colour begins when Noni is summoned back to South Africa as a young woman for the funeral of her brother. After the funeral, she spends time travelling around South Africa and Uganda, reflecting on the complex, layered impacts of colonialism on the communities she meets. This is a thoughtful, insightful memoir from a singular voice - as one of the first African women to pursue a literary career in the UK, Noni Jabavu is a pioneer whose talent shines through in this extraordinary narrative.
'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 story [Onyeama] had to tell was so gripping and shocking, it wouldn't let me go . . . A remarkably well-written memoir.' Bernardine Evaristo, from the Introduction Dillibe was the second black boy to study at Eton - joining in 1965 - and the first to complete his education there. Written at just 21, this is a deeply personal, revelatory account of the racism he endured during his time as a student at the prestigious institution. He tells in vivid detail of his own background as the son of a Nigerian judge at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, of his arrival at the school, of the curriculum, of his reception by other boys (and masters), and of his punishments. He tells, too, of the cruel racial prejudice and his reactions to it, and of the alienation and stereotyping he faced at such a young age. A Black Boy at Eton is a searing, ground-breaking book displaying the deep psychological effects of colonialism and racism. 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.
Mark Hodkinson grew up among the terrace houses of Rochdale in a house with just one book. His dad kept it on top of a wardrobe with other items of great worth - wedding photographs and Mark's National Cycling Proficiency certificate. If Mark wanted to read it, he was warned not to crease the pages or slam shut the covers. Today, Mark is an author, journalist and publisher. He still lives in Rochdale, but is now snugly ensconced (or is that buried?) in a 'book cave' surrounded by 3,500 titles - at the last count. No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy is his story of growing up a working-class lad during the 1970s and 1980s. It's about schools (bad), music (good) and the people (some mad, a few sane), and pre-eminently and profoundly the books and authors (some bad, mostly good) that led the way, and shaped his life. It's also about a family who just didn't see the point of reading, and a troubled grandad who, in his own way, taught Mark the power of stories. In recounting his own life-long love affair with books, Mark also tells the story of how writing and reading has changed over the last five decades, starting with the wave of working-class writers in the 1950s and 60s, where he saw himself reflected in books for the first time.
There is a piece of cod-wisdom regularly dispensed to single women: romance will arrive when you least expect it. I had assumed it would also make its own travel arrangements too. Emma John is in her 40s; she is neither married, nor partnered, with child or planning to be. In her hilarious and unflinching memoir, Self Contained, she asks why the world only views a woman as complete when she is no longer a single figure and addresses what it means to be alone when everyone else isn't. In her book, she captures what it is to be single in your forties, from sharing a twin room with someone you've never met on a group holiday (because the couples have all the doubles with ensuite) to coming to the realisation that maybe your singleness isn't a temporary arrangement, that maybe you aren't pre-married at all, and in fact you are self-contained. The book is an exploration of being lifelong single and what happens if you don't meet the right person, don't settle down with the wrong person and realise the biggest commitment is to yourself.
Stephen Port was jailed in November 2016 after luring four young, gay men through dating apps so he could drug them to death and rape them. Easy Kills tracks Port's life and crimes and questions the role of Barking and Dagenham Police, who were investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) as a result. Officers neglected to check Port's electronic devices when the first overdosed body turned up outside his flat in June 2014. They found Port had called 999 trying to pose as a bystander after hiring the young man as an escort. He was not charged with murder, but perverting the course of justice. In August 2014, a second body turned up 400 yards from Port's front door. The young immigrant's corpse showed signs of being dragged. No investigation was opened. Less than one month later, another body turned up in the same churchyard. Port was jailed in March 2015 after being given eight months for perverting the course of justice. He served four. Had he served the full sentence, he wouldn't have been free to murder his fourth victim, Jack Taylor. The case has garnered massive national media attention. It resulted in a series being filmed for the BBC starring Sheridan Smith. The yet-to-air drama, postponed during the Covid-19 lockdown, is called Four Lives and will propel the case back into the mainstream media.
‘Entrenched: A Memoir of Holding on and Letting GO’ by Linda Lee Blakemore is a memoir detailing the interesting relationship and life choices taken by one woman through her life. An honest and open memoir that deals with childhood trauma, affairs, multiple separations, divorce and loss. This is a narrative that follows a toxic relationship that breaks down and comes back together numerous times before ending for good. This story may be of interest to those who have been in or a part of a destructive relationship. Although, as someone who hasn’t, I did find myself rolling my eyes each time Jack came back on to the scene. As a “learn from my bad decision/experiences” memoir ‘Entrenched’ does effectively display the futility of constantly returning to a toxic relationship, and serves as a warning for those in the mindset to take it to focus on your own independence, security and wellbeing ahead of a relationship, and while in one. The book is very well-written and put together, and I thought that it dealt with the more sensitive aspects of the narrative well. After such a heavy focus on the bad relationships, I would have liked to have had more of a balance and heard more about the good marriage that followed, but as it is, this book focuses on a trying time in the author’s life and ends with a happy ending and on a hope-filled note. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
You will know Martha’s name for her insightful and trustworthy reporting on the run up to the Iraq war, the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the life and death of Nelson Mandela and so much more, for CBS News and as a contributor on CBS Sunday Morning, in a journalistic career that has won her 10 Emmys and 5 James Beard Foundation Awards. What you may not know is that Martha has been a committed, long term owner of Bull Terriers, the egg-headed, pointy-eared dogs that are full of playful, eccentric character and who, when they don’t want to go anywhere, lower their “leg at each corner” centre of gravity, like a Citroën DS, and firmly stay put. In this beautifully written memoir, at times both tear-inducingly heart-wrenching and profoundly heart-warning, Martha introduces us to the dogs that have kept her company and along the way recounts how adopting Harry, whose owner, Martha, had been diagnosed with a life shortening liver cancer, gave rise to extraordinary canine and human friendships. While Minnie and Harry are very much the lead characters, it is Martha herself who steals the show, with beautifully evoked scenes of her Leelanau County, Michigan childhood and her NYC adult home and life, revealing her to be the loyal and committed friend we would all like in our lives. From the endless, and eyewatering, vet bills, to dog au pairs, and from Manhattan farmer’s markets to South Carolina beaches, Martha tale of friendship and of death is actually a profound celebration of the happy coincidences of fate and of lives lived with love and style, whether you have four legs or two. The LoveReading LitFest invited Martha Teichner to the festival to talk about When Harry Met Minnie. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member.
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.