Nurture through nature: Eight Master Lessons of Nature by Gary Ferguson, Where Poppies Grow: The British Soldier, Nature, The Great War by John Lewis-Stemple, and The Invention of Clouds by Richard Hamblyn

‘We can’t go there. It’s full of drug dealers.’ Thus laboured my beloved’s worn refrain whenever I suggested we explore the mysterious woodland at the top of our road. It took a pandemic, and the dawning realisation that we had exhausted all other fruitful walks within a one-hour radius during the first lockdown, for the…

The Diary of a Georgian Shopkeeper by Thomas Turner (1754-1765)

It’s unclear why Thomas Turner (1729-1793) – shopkeeper, churchwarden and overseer to the Parish Vestry, aka a semi-Big Cheese – decided to keep a diary at the age of 25, and why he abandoned it upon marrying his second wife eleven years later. I wondered if he, in a brief 18th century equivalent (given Georgian…

The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

In 21st century England, 70% of the land is still owned by less than 1% of the population; the second most unequal rate of land ownership on the planet, after Brazil.  It is questionable whether this would  be the case had the Normans not concentrated all of it in the hands of the King and…

The Blunders of Our Governments by Anthony King & Ivor Crewe

A significant proportion of maternity leave involves navigating Rufus’s perilous bowel activities –  flying poos*, ‘poonamis’, and good old-fashioned leakage – and, although prompting Conradian cries of  ‘L’horreur! L’horreur!’ and constant fear of having undetected baby poo about my person, I optimistically maintain that such vicissitudes keep me limber for a return to Her Majesty’s…

Mothers and Shadows by Marta Traba (1981)

Mothers and Shadows centres on a group of women involved in the movement to quash civil-military dictatorships in Latin America’s Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile and Uruguay) during the 1970s/80s. Traba – who died in a plane crash alongside her husband and other prominent Latin America authors in 1983 – opens her tale with a meeting between…

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2018!

Following our posts to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2016 and 2017, we’re back again for #IWD2018 with a bounty of books to explore woman’s place in the world. Set in Rosenau, an isolated alpine farming community in Austria, Homestead by Rosina Lippi begins with a mysterious love letter – its intended recipient potentially being…

Some (arguably-tenuously-linked-to) Christmas books! 

Following on from our Christmas countdown last year, here are some literary treats in which to seek comfort and placidity this Yuletide. The late 14th century Middle English Sir Gawain and the Green Knight centres on a strange ‘Christmas game’ at King Arthur’s court on New Year’s Day.  The tale of a green knight presenting Arthur’s knights with…

Books ‘N’ Babies!

Upon discovering I was pregnant this time last year, my ponder of the forthcoming journey dwelled on two things: 1) ‘Wow I’m up the duff and gonna be a muvver!’ Who signed that off?’ etc and 2) ‘Finally,  some time to deal with Bertie aka my TBR book case, so monstrous it inspired a rap,…

Cities of the World by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg (1617)

Cities of the World has been described as ‘Google Earth’s ancestor’. Focusing on Europe but including important cities and landmarks in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the maps in this beautiful book were originally created and published as six volumes of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum between 1572 and 1617. Taschen’s volume includes 564  original engravings (mostly…

Moll: The Life & Times of Moll Flanders by Sian Rees

In The Life & Times of Moll Flanders, Sian Rees retraces the story of one of fiction’s most infamous, intriguing and oft-misrepresented heroines to reveal how thin the line between fiction and reality can really be. It’s 20 years (eek) since I read Moll Flanders during the summer holiday between GCSEs and A-levels. It has…