BOOKMARK December 2019 Book recommendations

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Here are our recommendations from December 2019.

All books are available from Waterstones in Perth and Adventure Into Books in Blairgowrie.

Anecdotal Evidence
Anecdotal Evidence by Wendy Cope
(Faber, 2018)

A favourite poet for decades now, Wendy Cope’s newest collection introduces her readers to some quieter, more reflective poems. Her wit is still in abundance, however. Evidence ‘A great deal of anecdotal evidence suggests that we respond positively to birdsong.’ (Daily Telegraph, 8.2.2012) Centuries of English verse Suggest the self-same thing: A negative response is rare When birds are heard to sing. What’s the use of poetry? You ask. Well, here’s a start: It’s anecdotal evidence About the human heart.

The Man in the Red Coat
The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes
(Cape, 2019)

Julian Barnes continues to surprise his readers with his new book, neither novel nor completely non-fiction. Set during the Belle Epoque in Paris and London, Barnes tells the story of three men, a Count, a Prince and a commoner, the surgeon Samuel Pozzi, made famous by Singer Sargent’s powerful portrait. Elegantly written, Barnes always shines a light onto the unexpected and makes us see things in his own inimitable way – exactly as Singer Sargent painted his subjects.

The Dutch House
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
(Harper, 2019)

This well-known American writer has produced what looks like the most beautiful book of the year – you’ll want to put it on your shelves with the spine against the wall, as the edge papers resemble a piece of Delft china. This is a terrific novel of family hopes and disappointments set in Philadelphia after World War II. Bought by an ambitious man, the Dutch House marks his escape from poverty – but not for long, as his children, a brother and sister, are expelled from this paradise by their stepmother. Sounds familiar? You’ll be surprised – Patchett’s families are never what they appear and the superb characters and plot pull the reader along at a brisk pace. One of the best novels of 2019.

The Art of Dying
The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry
(Canongate, 2019)

The eagerly awaited follow up to their debut novel, The Way of All Flesh, of this writing pair (Christopher Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman). Set in 19th century Edinburgh, at a time of advance and experimentation in medicine, Will Raven, Dr James Young Simpson’s protégé, and Sarah Fisher, set out to clear Simpson’s name after the death of a patient in suspicious circumstances. The storytelling is first class, and the evocation of the two halves of Edinburgh city life are realistic and haunting. An ideal book for the dark days of winter!

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