We do hope you are enjoying our book suggestions. Please feel free to comment or to add a suggestion or two of your own. Just ‘click’ on the ‘Contact Us’ page of this web site and send us your thoughts. We will be so pleased to hear from you. Here are the latest of our suggestions
Scottish Book of the Month – The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
For all lovers of Pride and Prejudice, Janice Hadlow brings the middle sister, Mary to the fore. With all eyes and expectations on her two older sisters, and the scandal surrounding her younger one, what does Mary expect from life – and how does her family treat her? Janice Hadlow treats her readers to a welcome return to world of the Bennets and all their ups and downs.
Novel – Darktown by Thomas Mullen
This is quite simply one of the best novels I’ve read in recent years. Set in Alabama in the 50s, this is the story of the city’s first black policemen and is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of that time. Mullen shows an extraordinary ability to give his readers a gripping story-line and unforgettable characters who avoid stereotypes. His sequel Lightning Men proved to be just as good, and there’s a third novel in this series due this year.
Non-Fiction – Motherwell: A Girlhood by Deborah Orr
This memoir from late and much-loved journalist has garnered so much acclaim over the past few months since its publication. She writes movingly about her relationship with her mother and her need to leave Motherwell to go to London. This will not disappoint.
Poetry – The Zoo of the New edited by Nick Laird and Don Paterson
Two of the best contemporary poets have compiled an outstanding anthology of poems, listed in alphabetical order by title. Its eclectic range covers the world of poetry, with the one proviso that all living poets had to be over 60. You’ll reconnect with the famous (Sappho, Burns, Browning, Plath) and meet the new, including poets in translation such as Nobel Laureate Zymborska. A leading critic said this collection ‘captures poetry’s visceral thrill’ – a must for all poetry lovers
Scottish Fiction: The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal (Picador, 2019)
This debut novel, set in 1851 with a backdrop of the Great Exhibition, has a cast of unforgettable characters who tell a gripping story of the darker side of Victorian London. Its main character, Iris, becomes involved with the pre-Raphaelite movement and Macneal’s ability to weave fact and fiction gives her readers a satisfying journey into the past while throwing light on the present.
Novel: The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy (Hamish Hamilton)
An intriguing story from a writer who is surprisingly overlooked. One man, two time zones and two car accidents, Saul’s story provides an unusual take on the ideas of responsibility within society. A fascinating read.
Non-Fiction: Seashaken Houses by Tom Nancollas (Penguin)
This fascinating book about eight of Britain’s most famous lighthouses is one of the most interesting non-fiction books I’ve read recently. Nancollas takes us from Eddystone to Fastnet, via the Bell Rock, Wolf Rock and four more. Lyrically written, with a strong narrative flow, this book reveals so much not just about the importance of the lighthouses but the bravery of the men who constructed them.
Poetry: Being Alive, anthology edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe)
This is not a new book (published in 2004) but it is one of the best anthologies available. If you’re new to reading poetry, or simply want a book to dip into, this is a perfect choice as Astley’s choice is a perfect blend of the familiar and the surprising.
Scottish Fiction: Ambrose Parry, The Art of Dying, (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!
Novel: Ann Patchett, The Dutch House, (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.
Non-fiction: Julian Barnes, The Man in the Red Coat, (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.
Poetry: Wendy Cope, Anecdotal Evidence (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.
‘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.
November’s Suggestions –
Scottish Fiction: Gillian Galbraith, The End of the Line, (Polygon)
Gillian Galbraith has been an advocate, a journalist, legal correspondent. Previous novels, following the investigations of her detectives Alice Rice and Father Vincent Ross, have won her many followers. Her new book introduces her new hero, Anthony Sparrow, an antiquarian book dealer who arrives in a suitably gloomy and wintry mansion to clear the house of books left by the recently deceased professor of medicine. But Sparrow uncovers letters, diaries and other documents which make his death increasingly suspicious.
Fiction: Lauren Groff, Florida (Penguin)
Even if you think you don’t like reading short stories, every so often a writer will dazzle you into changing your mind (think Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, William Trevor). Lauren Groff, an award-winning American , joins this celebrated crew. Florida was praised highly in The Sunday Times: ‘A fine collection…The characters in these stories set in the southern state endure extreme weather, power cuts and other serious threats, but the book as a whole is buoyed up by a sense of survival and teeming life…As a terrain for fiction Florida is well-suited to Groff’s style, lush and tinged with paranoia. This is not just a place but a state of mind.’ Unforgettable.
Non-fiction: Desmond Seward, The King over the Water, The Jacobite Cause 1688-1807 (Birlinn)
Desmond Seward is a highly popular historian who has written over 30 books. This one is the first full modern history of the Jacobite cause, taking its subject far beyond the battlefield of Culloden. Full of intrigue and interest, and peopled with larger-than-life characters from the implacable Lord George Murray to the wildly eccentric Charles XII of Sweden, this is a thoroughly entertaining history of a fascinating time.
Poetry: Roseanne Watt, Moder Dy (Polygon)
Winner of the 2018 Edwin Morgan Prize, this debut collection from Roseanne Watt, a filmmaker and musician from Shetland evokes landscape, nature all through a stunning blend of the rhythms of the languages of her background. ‘Even in the poems written entirely in English the lilt and the cadence of the Shetlandic moves behind everything, like the sea…in these profound, assured and wilfully spare poems’ (John Glenday)
If you like this section and you would like to suggest a book, please go to the ‘contact us’ page and leave your suggestions.
Did you know that two of our 2019 Authors received Literary Awards from The Saltire Society at a ceremony at the National Museum of Scotland on Saturday 30 November?
Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2019-
Melanie Reid – The World I fell Out Of
Saltire First Book of the Year 2019-
Claire Hunter – Threads of Life
For more information on these and other lucky winners please go to the Society’s web site https://www.saltiresociety.org.uk/awards/literature/literary-awards/
Thought you might be interested in the following link:
The BBC programme covering this article can be seen on BBC I-player.
March 14 – Book Launch – Olga Wojtas – Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace – St Catharine’s Community Centre
June 14 – Literary Lunch – Joshua Rozenberg QC in conversation with Mungo Bovey QC – Enemies of the People? How Judges Shape Society – Ballathie House Hotel
July 25 – BOOKMARK 2020 Launch – Colin Ballantyne – Scotland’s Mountain Landscapes: A Geomorphological Perspective – St Catharine’s Community Centre
For more information on these events, please look at the ‘Programme’ / ‘Author’ sections of this web site.
October 2- 4 – BOOKMARK 2020 Book Festival – Blairgowrie Community Campus
Have you heard the latest news? BOOKMARK has a new Blog! If you would like an insight into all the wonderful authors who are coming to Blairgowrie in October and the books they will be discussing, please click on the link below:
Brianna looks forward to hearing from you.
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