At twenty, when his reign began, Alexander the Great was already a seasoned soldier and a complex, passionate man. Fire From Heaven tells the story of the boy Alexander, and the years that shaped him. Resolute, fearless, and inheriting a striking beauty, Alexander still needed much to make him The Great. He must survive – though with lifelong scars – the dark furies of his Dionysiac mother, who kept him uncertain even of his own paternity; respect his father’s talent for war and kingcraft, though sickened by his sexual grossness; and come to terms with his heritage from both.
Peter Ackroyd - The House of Doctor Dee
This novel centres on the famous 16th-century alchemist and astrologer John Dee. Reputedly a black magician, he was imprisoned by Queen Mary for allegedly attempting to kill her through sorcery. When Matthew Palmer inherits an old house in Clerkenwell, he feels that he has become part of its past.
Peter Ackroyd - London – The Biography
Much of Peter Ackroyd's work has been concerned with the life and past of London but here, as a culmination, is his definitive account of the city. For him it is a living organism, with its own laws of growth and change, so London is a biography rather than a history. It differs from other histories, too, in the range and diversity of its contents. Ackroyd portrays London from the time of the Druids to the beginning of the twenty-first century, noting magnificence in both epochs, but this is not a simple chronological record. There are chapters on the history of silence and the history of light, the history of childhood and the history of suicide, the history of Cockney speech and the history of drink. London is perhaps the most important study of the city ever written, and confirms Ackroyd's status as what one critic has called 'our age's greatest London imagination.
Peter Ackroyd - Thames
Just as Peter Ackroyd's bestselling London is the biography of the city, Thames: Sacred River is the biography of the river, from sea to source. Exploring its history from prehistoric times to the present day, the reader is drawn into an extraordinary world, learning about the fishes that swim in the river and the boats that ply its surface; about floods and tides; hauntings and suicides; miasmas and malaria; locks, weirs and embankments; bridges, docks and palaces. Peter Ackroyd has a genius for digging out the most surprising and entertaining details, and for writing about them in the most magisterial prose; the result is a wonderfully readable and captivating guide to this extraordinary river and the towns and villages which line it.
Barry Unsworth - Land of Marvels
1914, and an English archaeologist called Somerville is fulfilling a lifelong dream: to direct an excavation in the desert of Mesopotamia. Yet forces beyond his control threaten his work. The Great War is looming, and various interest groups are vying for control over the land and its manyprizes. And Somerville, whose intention is purely to discover and preserve the land's ancient treasures finds his idealism sorely tested. Naked ambition, treachery and greed are at play, in a thrilling adventure from the master of the historical novel.
Tatiana de Rosnay - Sarah's Key
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life. Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.
Estelle Lazer - Resurrecting Pompeii
Recognizing the important contribution of the human skeletal evidence to the archaeology of Pompeii, Lazer presents an in-depth study of the people of pompeii, and gives students an essential resource in the study of this fascinating historical event.
Bruce Chatwin - On the Black Hill
An elegantly written tale of identical twin brothers who grow up on a farm in rural Wales and never leave home. In depicting the lives of Benjamin and Lewis and their interactions with their small local community, Chatwin comments movingly on the larger questions of human experience.
Paul Auster - Auggie Wren's Christmas Story
A timeless, utterly charming Christmas fable, beautifully illustrated and destined to become a classic When Paul Auster was asked by The New York Times to write a Christmas story for the Op-Ed page, the result, "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story," led to Auster's collaboration on a film adaptation, Smoke. Now the story has found yet another life in this enchanting illustrated edition. It begins with a writer's dilemma: he's been asked by The New York Times to write a story that will appear in the paper on Christmas morning. The writer agrees, but he has a problem: How to write an unsentimental Christmas story? He unburdens himself to his friend at his local cigar shop, a colorful character named Auggie Wren. "A Christmas story? Is that all?" Auggie counters. "If you buy me lunch, my friend, I'll tell you the best Christmas story you ever heard. And I guarantee every word of it is true." And an unconventional story it is, involving a lost wallet, a blind woman, and a Christmas dinner. Everything gets turned upside down. What's stealing? What's giving? What's a lie? What's the truth? It's vintage Auster, and pure pleasure: a truly unsentimental but completely affecting tale.
Kingsley Amis - The Old Devils
Malcolm, Peter and Charlie and their Soave-sodden wives have one main ambition left in life: to drink Wales dry. But their routine is both shaken and stirred when they are joined by professional Welshman Alun Weaver (CBE) and his wife, Rhiannon, returning to their Celtic roots...
David Wild - Friends... 'til the End
Friends ... 'Til the End is the official companion to one of the world's most popular sitcoms ever and includes exclusive interviews with all six cast members, the complete story of all ten seasons. From Rachel's first flee from the alter, to her final flee from a plane bound for Paris, this book brings back all the memories of the ten years fans have spent with the Friends in their homes, and in the coffee shop, and sometimes in Phoebe's cab. In spring 2004, more than 8 million British fans of the series said goodbye to Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe and Joey when the final season came to an end. This is the ultimate companion to a series we have enjoyed for the past ten years.
Julia Gregson - East of the Sun
Autumn 1928. The _Kaiser-i-Hind_ is en route to Bombay. In Cabin D38, Viva Hollowat, an inexperienced chaperone, is worried she's made a terrible mistake. Her advert in _The Lady_ has resulted in three unsettling charges to be escorted to India. Rose, a beautiful, dangerously naive English girl, is about to be married to the cavalry officer she has met only a handful of times. Victoria, the bridesmaid, is determined to lose her virginity on the journey before finding a husband of her own in India. And overshadowing all three of them, the malevolent presence of Guy Glover, a strange and disturbed schoolboy. Three potential Memsahibs with a myriad of reasons for leaving England, bu the cargo of hopes and secrets they carry has done little to prepare them for what lies ahead. From the parties of the wealthy Bombay socialites to the poverty of the orphans on Tamarind Street, _East of the Sun_ is everything a historical novel should be: alive with glorious detail, fascinating characters and masterful storytelling.
Ibrahim S. Amin - The Monster Hunter's Handbook
In this incomparable and fully illustrated compendium, classicist Ibrahim S. Amin reintroduces the ancient art of monster hunting to a whole new generation of intrepid warriors. From a hellhound's three-headed assault to a brain-eating-zombie attack, The Monster Hunter's Handbook instructs readers in the background of each creature and the dangers each presents. It also includes an impressive catalog of the premodern world's most powerful armament. Illustrated by Richard Horne, the creator of the wildly successful 101 Things to Do Before You Die, this trusty book details everything a new generation of valiant monster hunters needs to know to vanquish antiquity's biggest—and baddest—beasts.
Michael Feeney Callan - Robert Redford - The Biography
Among the most widely admired Hollywood stars of his generation, Redford has appeared onstage and on-screen, in front of and behind the camera, earning Academy, Golden Globe, and a multitude of other awards and nominations for acting, directing, and producing, and for his contributions to the arts. His Sundance Film Festival transformed the world of filmmaking; his films defined a generation. America has come to know him as the Sundance Kid, Bob Woodward, Johnny Hooker, Jay Gatsby, and Roy Hobbs. But only now, with this revelatory biography, do we see the surprising and complex man beneath the Hollywood façade. From Redford’s personal papers—journals, script notes, correspondence—and hundreds of hours of taped interviews, Michael Feeney Callan brings the legendary star into focus. Here is his scattered family background and restless childhood, his rocky start in acting, the death of his son, his star-making relationship with director Sydney Pollack, the creation of Sundance, his political activism, his artistic successes and failures, his friendships and romances. This is a candid, surprising portrait of a man whose iconic roles on-screen (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, The Natural) and directorial brilliance (Ordinary People, Quiz Show) have both defined and obscured one of the most celebrated, and, until now, least understood, public figures of our time.
Philippa Gregory - The Boleyn Inheritance
From the bestselling author of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, Philippa Gregory, comes a wonderfully atmospheric evocation of the court of Henry VIII and his final queens. The year is 1539 and the court of Henry VIII is increasingly fearful at the moods of the ageing sick king. With only a baby in the cradle for an heir, Henry has to take another wife and the dangerous prize of the crown of England is won by Anne of Cleves. She has her own good reasons for agreeing to marry a man old enough to be her father, in a country where to her both language and habits are foreign. Although fascinated by the glamour of her new surroundings, she senses a trap closing around her. Katherine is confident that she can follow in the steps of her cousin Anne Boleyn to dazzle her way to the throne but her kinswoman Jane Boleyn, haunted by the past, knows that Anne’s path led to Tower Green and to an adulterer’s death. The story of these three young women, trying to make their own way through the most volatile court in Europe at a time of religious upheaval and political uncertainty, is Philippa Gregory’s most compelling novel yet.
William Boyd - A Good Man in Africa
Morgan Leafy isn't overburdened with worldly success - he is refreshingly free from it. But then, as a representative of Her Britannic Majesty in tropical Kinjanja, it was not very constructive of him to get involved in wholesale bribery with sensitive local politicians.
Salman Rushdie - Shalimar the Clown
Los Angeles, 1991. Ambassador Maximilian Ophuls, one of the makers of the modern world, is murdered in broad daylight on his illegitimate daughter India's doorstep, slaughtered by a knife wielded by his Kashmiri Muslim driver, a myscerious figure who calls himself Shalimar the clown. The dead man is a World War II Resistance hero, a man of formidable intellectual ability and much erotic appeal, a former US ambassador to India and subsequently America's counter-terrorism chief. The murder looks at first like a political assassination, but turns out to be passionately personal. This is the story of Max, his killer, and his daughter - and of a fourth character, the woman who links them, whose story finally explains them all. It is an epic narrative that moves from California to Kashmir, France and England, and back to California again. Along the way there are tales of princesses lured from their homes by demons, legends of kings forced to defend their kingdoms against evil. There is kindness and magic, capable of producing miracles, but there is also war, ugly, unavoidable, and seemingly interminable. And there is always love, gained and lost, uncommonly beautiful and mortally dangerous. Everything is unsettled. Everything is connected. Lives are uprooted, names keep changing - nothing is permanent. The story of anywhere is also the story of everywhere else. Spanning the globe and darting through history, Rushdie's narrative captures the heart of the reader and the spirit of a troubled age.
Iris Murdoch - The Time of the Angels
Carel is rector of a non-existent City church (it was destroyed in the war). In the rectory live his daughter, Muriel, his beautiful invalid ward, Elizabeth, and their West Indian servant, Patti. Here too are Eugene, a Russian emigre, and his delinquent son, Leo. Carel's brother, Marcus, co-guardian with him of Elizabeth, tires to make contact with Carel but is constantly rebuffed. These seven characters go through a dance of attraction and repulsion, misunderstanding and revelation, the centre of which is the enigmatic Carel himself - a priest who believes that, God being dead, His angels are released. At the end, Muriel finds herself with the power of life and death over her father.
Iris Murdoch - The Unicorn
When Marian Taylor takes a post as governess at Gaze Castle, a remote house upon a beautiful but desolate coast, she finds herself confronted with a number of weird mysteries and involved in a drama she only partly understands. Some crime or catastrophe in the past still keeps the house, like the castle of the Sleeping Beauty, under a spell, whose magic also touches the neighbouring house of Riders, inhabited by a scholarly recluse. Marian's employer, Hannah, and her retainers, seem to be acting out some tragic pattern: but it is not clear whether Hannah herself, the central figure, the Unicorn, is innocent victim or violent author, saint or witch... In a novel that has all the beauty of a fairy story and the melodrama of a Gothic tale, Murdoch explores the fantasies and ambiguities which beset those who are condemned to be passionately abandoned and yet hopelessly imperfect in their search for God.