‘I loved The Ballast Seed. I couldn’t put it down. Beautiful and sad and hopeful all at once – luminous and lush, full of dirt, darkness, sun light and soft new growth. It’s a story of vulnerability, persistence and the will to live. This is a memoir that will make you weep, then roll up your sleeves and plant the seeds of a new life.’ Cal Flyn author of Islands of Abandonment
The surprise of a second pregnancy, so soon after the birth of her first son, plunged Rosie into a despair that spiralled into deep depression. Terrified at the prospect of adding another child into her already precariously balanced life, Rosie was compelled to find a new way of living. She found herself instinctively drawn to the local parks and scraps of communal green spaces in her local south east London neighbourhood, and to therapy via tending a hidden garden deep within the city. Interlaced with her responses to the travel journals of an eccentric 19th century female botanist and adventurer, Rosie elegantly describes how these pockets of nature amidst the urban sprawl provided just enough to mend her broken soul.
‘This is my earliest memory. I am three years old and I sit in the bottom of my great-uncle’s pot boat and take off the bands from the lobsters’ claws. The deepest of blues, they creak over the bilges with robotic limbs towards my father’s bare feet as he rows. Over the scent of the herring bait I can smell the fresh, sweet smell of wrack on the shore. This book has come out of over twenty years of studying the sea and trying to protect it, and a lifetime of loving our other world beneath waves. The sea is my work and my passion. I have been its advocate in situations where I must be reasoned, considered and evidence-based. But, I am also seduced and obsessed by the infinite diversity of the sea, its breath-stopping beauty and capacity for surprise. I have stood frozen in primitive fear as a basking shark, its granite skin dappled by sunlight, looms under the boat for long seconds. I have dived on our cold water horse mussel reefs, where the queen scallops are encrusted in golden sponges and the crimson squat lobsters wave their claws in the current, laughing with delight into my regulator. I have breathed deep on the bow of a scallop dredger in the twilight before dawn as we make our way to the fishing grounds, the crew on the deck smoking in silence as the sun begins to rise out of the dark, silver sea.’
Spring Tides is the story of how marine biologist Dr Fiona returned to her childhood home of Ramsey Bay on the Isle of Man, after 12 years away studying marine life. She had grown up on the island in a traditional fishing family and developed a lifelong love of the sea and Manx culture. On her return she led a three-year-long struggle to protect Ramsey Bay as the very first Marine Nature Reserve, and raised a young son on the island. Together they explored the coast and coves of the island, spotting basking sharks, discovering eelgrass forests and combing the beach for mermaid’s purses and whelks’ eggs. With scientific insight and spellbinding prose she perfectly captures the wonder of island life, the transformative power of the sea, and the importance of protecting it for future generations.
Oxford thought it was at war. And then it was.
After the horrors of the First World War, Oxford looked like an Arcadia – a dreamworld – from which pain could be shut out. Soldiers arrived with pictures of the university fully formed in their heads, and women finally won the right to earn degrees. Freedom meant reading beneath the spires and punting down the river with champagne picnics. But all was not quite as it seemed.
Boys fresh from school settled into lecture rooms alongside men who had returned from the trenches with the beginnings of shellshock. It was displacing to be surrounded by aristocrats who liked nothing better than to burn furniture from each other’s rooms on the college quads for kicks. The women of Oxford still faced a battle to emerge from their shadows. And among the dons a major conflict was beginning to brew.
Set in the world that Evelyn Waugh immortalised in Brideshead Revisited, this is a true and often funny story of the thriving of knowledge and spirit of fun and foreboding that characterised Oxford between the two world wars. One of the protagonists, in fact, was a friend of Waugh and inspired a character in his novel. Another married into the family who inhabited Castle Howard and befriended everyone from George Bernard Shaw to Virginia Woolf. The third was an Irish occultist and correspondent with the poets W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice and W. B. Yeats.
This singular tale of Oxford colleagues and rivals encapsulates the false sense of security that developed across the country in the inter-war years. With the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich came the subversion of history for propaganda. In academic Oxford, the fight was on not only to preserve the past from the hands of the Nazis, but also to triumph, one don over another, as they became embroiled in a war of their own.
‘These journals are a revelation, a road map and a gift to us all’ TAYARI JONES, author of An American Marriage
From the acclaimed author Alice Walker – winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize – comes an unprecedented compilation of four decades’ worth of journals that draw an intimate portrait of her development as an artist, intellectual and human rights activist.
In Gathering Blossoms Under Fire, Walker offers a passionate, intimate record of her intellectual, artistic and political development. She also intimately explores – in real time – her thoughts and feelings as a woman, a writer, an African American, a wife, a daughter, a mother, a lover, a sister, a friend, a citizen of the world.
In an unvarnished and singular voice, she writes about an astonishing array of events: marching in Mississippi with other foot soldiers of the civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., or ‘the King’ as she called him; her marriage to a Jewish lawyer, partly to defy laws that barred interracial marriage in the 1960s South; an early miscarriage; the birth of her daughter; writing her first novel; the trials and triumphs of the women’s movement; erotic encounters and enduring relationships; the ‘ancestral visits’ that led her to write The Color Purple; winning the Pulitzer Prize; being admired and maligned, in sometimes equal measure, for her work and her activism; burying her mother; and her estrangement from her own daughter. The personal and the political are layered and intertwined in the revealing narrative that emerges from Walker’s journals.
Reissued for the 40th anniversary of the Falklands conflict
The most in-depth and powerful account yet published of the first crucial clash of the Falklands war – told from both sides.
‘Thorough and exhaustive’ Daily Telegraph
‘An excellent and fast paced narrative’ Michael McCarthy, historical battlefield guide
Goose Green was the first land battle of the Falklands War. It was also the longest, the hardest-fought, the most controversial and the most important to win. What began as a raid became a vicious, 14-hour infantry struggle, in which 2 Para – outnumbered, exhausted, forced to attack across open ground in full daylight, and with inadequate fire support – lost their commanding officer, and almost lost the action.
This is the only full-length, detailed account of this crucial battle. Drawing on the eye-witness accounts of both British and Argentinian soldiers who fought at Goose Green, and their commanders’ narratives, it has become the definitive account of most important and controversial land battle of the Falklands War.
A compelling story of men engaged in a battle that hung in the balance for hours, in which Colonel ‘H’ Jones’ solo charge against an entrenched enemy won him a posthumous V.C., and which for both sides was a gruelling and often terrifying encounter.
When Lily Dunn was just six years old, her father left the family home to follow his guru to India, trading domestic life for clothes dyed in oranges and reds and the promise of enlightenment with the cult of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Since then he has been a mystery to her.
She grew up enthralled by the image of him; effervescent, ambitious and elusive, a writer, publisher and entrepreneur, a man who would appear with gifts from faraway places, and with whom she spent the long, hot summers of her teenage years in Italy, in the company of his wild and wealthy friends.
Yet he was also a compulsive liar, a delinquent, a man who abandoned his responsibilities in a pursuit of transcendence that took him from sex addiction, via the Rajneesh cult, to a relentless chase of money, which ended in ruin and finally addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs.
A detective story that charts two colliding narratives, Sins of My Father is a daughter’s attempt to unravel the mysteries of a father who believed himself to be beyond reproach. A dazzling work of literary memoir, it asks how deep legacies of shame and trauma run, and if we can reconcile unconditional love with irreparable damage.
ONE OF THE TIMES AND SUNDAY TIMES’ BEST BOOKS FOR 2022
John Constable, the revolutionary nineteenth-century painter of the landscapes and skies of southern England, is Britain’s best-loved but perhaps least understood artist.
His paintings reflect visions of landscape that shocked and perplexed his contemporaries: attentive to detail, spontaneous in gesture, brave in their use of colour. What we learn from his landscapes is that Constable had sharp local knowledge of Suffolk, a clarity of expression of the skyscapes above Hampstead, an understanding of the human tides in London and Brighton, and a rare ability in his late paintings of Salisbury Cathedral to transform silent suppressed passion into paint.
Yet Constable was also an active and energetic correspondent. His letters and diaries – there are over one thousand letters from and to him – reveal a man of passion, opinion and discord, while his character and personality is concealed behind the high shimmering colour of his paintings. They reveal too the lives and circumstances of his brothers and his sisters, his cousins and his aunts, who serve to define the social and economic landscape against which he can be most clearly seen. These multifaceted reflections draw a sharp picture of the person, as well as the painter.
James Hamilton’s biography reveals a complex, troubled man, and explodes previous mythologies about this timeless artist, and establishes him in his proper context as a giant of European art.
‘Offers the most complete picture ever published of how Highsmith saw herself’ New York Times
‘One of the finest writers in the English language’ Richard Osman
‘I love Highsmith so much. What a revelation her writing was’ Gillian Flynn
‘My secrets – the secrets that everyone has – are here, in black and white.’
Published for the very first time for the centenary of her birth, Patricia Highsmith’s diaries and notebooks offer an unforgettable insight into the life and mind of one of the twentieth century’s most fascinating writers.
Though the famously secretive Highsmith refused to authorise a biography during her lifetime, she left behind 8,000 pages of notebooks and diaries, along with tantalising instructions on how they should be read. This one-volume assemblage reveals, at last, the inscrutable figure behind the pen. The diaries show Highsmith’s unwavering literary ambitions – coming often at huge personal sacrifice. We see Highsmith drafting Strangers on a Train while attending the Yaddo artists’ colony in 1948, alongside Flannery O’Connor and at Truman Capote’s recommendation. We feel her euphoria writing The Price of Salt (later adapted into the film Carol), one of the first mainstream novels to depict two women in love. And we watch Highsmith in Positano, subsisting on little more than cigarettes and gleefully conjuring Mr Ripley, the sociopathic anti-hero that would cement her reputation.
In these pages Highsmith reflects on good and evil, loneliness and intimacy, sexuality and sacrifice, love and murder. She describes her tumultuous romantic relationships, alongside her sometimes dizzying social life involving Jane Bowles, Peggy Guggenheim, Carson McCullers, Arthur Koestler and W. H. Auden. And in her skewering of McCarthy-era America, her prickly disparagement of contemporary art and ever-percolating prejudices, we see Highsmith revealing the roots of her psychological angst and acuity.
At once lovable, detestable and mesmerising, Highsmith put her turbulent life to paper for five decades. Offering all the pleasures of Highsmith’s novels, the result is one of the most compulsively readable literary diaries to publish in generations
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER!
‘Wonderfully rich and mesmerising’ William Boyd
‘As brutal, withering and funny as you’d expect’ Julian Clary
‘Fabulously entertaining, impossibly glamorous, and utterly irresistible’ Piers Morgan
‘A treat from start to finish’ Elizabeth Hurley
Joan Collins has been a diarist from the age of twelve, writing enthusiastically over the years. She dictated most of these entries in real time into a mini-tape recorder at the end of the day, and now she is spilling the beans – well, nearly all of them. What you will discover was written when Joan ‘felt like it’ between 1989 and 2009. Whether it is an encounter with a superstar or a member of the Royal Family, or her keen and honest insights into other celebrities at dinner parties and events, Joan is honest and unapologetic.
Taking us on a dazzling tour around the globe – from exclusive restaurants in Los Angeles to the glittering beaches of St Tropez, from dinner parties in London to galas in New York City – some of the characters you will meet in these pages include Rod Stewart, Princess Margaret, Donald Trump, Michael Caine, Princess Diana, Elizabeth Taylor, Rupert Everett, Roger Moore, Shirley MacLaine, Andrew Lloyd Webber and many more. Her diaries are intimate and witty, and they pull no punches, with NO apologies to anyone mentioned in them!
Sunday Times 2012 Books of The Year
Mail on Sunday’s 2012 Books of The Year
Independent’s 2012 Books of The Year
The Times 2012 Books of The Year
During the US book tour for his memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens collapsed in his New York hotel room to excoriating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of deeply moving Vanity Fair pieces, he was being deported ‘from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.’ Over the next year he underwent the brutal gamut of modern cancer treatment, enduring catastrophic levels of suffering and eventually losing the ability to speak.
Mortality is the most meditative collection of writing Hitchens has ever produced; at once an unsparingly honest account of the ravages of his disease, an examination of cancer etiquette, and the coda to a lifetime of fierce debate and peerless prose. In this eloquent confrontation with mortality, Hitchens returns a human face to a disease that has become a contemporary cipher of suffering.
The superb classic memoir from a dazzlingly eccentric and endlessly fascinating author and feminist icon – a woman very much ahead of her time – including her time spent on the glorious island of Skiathos
‘A happy, hilarious book’ Daily Express
Nancy Spain was one of the most celebrated – and notorious – writers and broadcasters of the 50s and 60s. Witty, controversial and brilliant, she lived openly as a lesbian (sharing a household with her two lovers and their various children) and was frequently litigated against for her newspaper columns – Evelyn Waugh successfully sued her for libel… twice.
Nancy Spain had a deep love of the Mediterranean. So it was no surprise when, in the 1960s, she decided to build a place of her own on the Greek island of Skiathos. With an impractical nature surpassed only by her passion for the project, and despite many obstacles, she gloriously succeeded. This classic memoir is infused with all Spain’s chaotic brilliance, zest for life and single-minded pursuit of a life worth living.
Perfect for fans of A PLACE IN THE SUN and ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY
‘Full of fun, and that zest of intelligence that never left her’ Sunday Times