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Kate Davies' Book Selection for April 2024

Foolery is afoot as we enter April, and Loki, the Norse God of Mischief, is in full swing.

A dash of nonsense to start us off? Perhaps a dip into the world of Spike Milligan, with his legendary and subversive first-hand accounts of being a soldier in WW2, starting with Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall. Or for a more classical twist, you might want to revisit Lewis Carrol: whether the brilliantly bizarre and escapist story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or in poems such as the Jabberwocky: 

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

Fools across the ages have come in many guises: playful, tricky, malicious and bizarre, from William Shakespeare’s Feste, Touchstone, Lear’s Fool and Trinculo, to the merry Peregrin Took in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the questor Don Quixote (in Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote) and the outright odd Zaphod Beeblebrox in Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The Tudor and Stuart courts seem to have been awash with fools - The Queen’s Fool  by Philippa Gregory and Steven Veerapen’s excellent historical biography of James VI and I, The Wisest Fool.

From fools to foibles and failings, and the delicious cut of the satirist’s pen. I could suggest pretty much all of Terry Pratchett’s books, funny, clever and zany, holding a wonky (but recognisable) mirror up to us humans: enter his Discworld series with The Colour of Magic. Likewise, much of Muriel Spark’s writing is delightfully sharp. Very conveniently, I can recommend a particularly apposite collection: Spark’s Satire: Aiding and Abetting, The Abbess of Crewe and Robinson.   And finally, one from Evelyn Waugh: Scoop.

Of course, I can’t neglect some new books that have just been published – outwith this month’s theme of satire and foolery, but good nonetheless. First up is an ingenious whodunnit Anna O by Matthew Blake.   Next a lost novel, newly found and translated, from Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Until August New out in paperback is Nothing Left To Fear From Hell by Alan Warner. 

Finally, published on 1 April, a new guru book: Trump: The Art of the Statesman by I M D Luded. Possibly fake news?

I hope you enjoy these recommendations. Do let me know of any suggestions you would like to share.


PS: The Adventure into Books Book Blether group meets on 17th April to blether about Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes (ISBN: 9781529061512, paperback, Pan Macmillan, 2023). In May, we’re back to our usual slot of meeting on the first Wednesday of the month (1st May) when we will be chatting about The Wager by David Grann (ISBN: 9781471183706, paperback, Simon & Schuster, 2024). All are welcome.
PPS: BOOKMARK Chair, Gail Wylie, will be taking us on an Adventure into Poetry on 30th April at 7pm in Adventure into Books. If you would like to join us on the journey, please get in touch. Tickets are £5 and include a glass of wine, tea or coffee.

For full synopsis of Kate's selection, please click here