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Book News: September 2010


from our favourite local book shop, The Book Case


TOP TEN: September's bestsellers at The Book Case

What a mixture! Popular at The Book Case in September were three local interest books, four novels, an outstanding book of poetry, and the memoirs of an ex-Prime Minister and of a woman who wanted it all.

1. Hebden Bridge: a short history of the area - Peter Thomas (£5.99)
Again at the top (and that's not counting the ones the TIC sells), Peter Thomas's account of the history of our area from ancient times to the present day.

2. A Journey - Tony Blair (£17.00 at The Book Case)
We had our doubts - but the ex-New Labour Prime Minister's memoirs sold well, even in Hebden Bridge.

3. A Human Chain - Seamus Heaney (£12.99)
Our Non-Fiction Book of the Month. His books make up two-thirds of the sales of living poets in the UK, said the BBC in 2007, and this is twelfth collection of poems with "some of the best poems he has written" (Colm Toibin).

4. Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver (£7.99)
This year's Orange Prize winner continued popular, telling the story of an American man working for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in 1930s Mexico.

5. Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert (£7.00)
"One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia". No doubt the new film had something to do with the renewed popularity of this readable travel book-cum-memoirs.

6. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson (£7.99)
Slightly higher this month, the third in the popular Millennium trilogy: Lisbeth Salander is plotting her revenge - against the man who tried to kill her, and against the government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

7. West Yorkshire Folk Tales - John Billingsley (£9.99)
Still in the top ten, local historian John Billingsley's latest collection of West Yorkshire folklore, entertainingly told, with atmospheric line drawings by Heptonstall illustrator, Stan McCarthy.

8. Gold Pieces - Phyllis Bentley (£5.95)
A gripping story about a hilltop handloom weaver's son, based on the real history of the Cragg Vale Coiners, giving a fascinating insight into life in the Calder Valley and the local weaving industry over 200 years ago. A Royd Press publication.

9. Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel (£8.99)
Back in the top ten, Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning story of Thomas Cromwell - political genius, briber, charmer and bully - as Henry VIII's pursuit of Anne Boleyn shakes the kingdom.

10. Freedom - Jonathan Franzen (£15.00 at The Book Case)
This much-hyped new novel from the author of "The Corrections" has been attracting a lot of interest_ it's about a well-meaning American couple and their son struggling to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world.



Local Interest

The Crosses of Aiolos
(a tale of wind and wallets) by Keith Milligan (£17.99)
From a Todmorden author, a chunky, potentially controversial, locally-based novel, based on actual events, describing the catastrophic effect of an unwanted wind farm on a small moorland town. Willie Dee is in favour of wind farms. He already lives near one. But when plans for another 78-turbine site are announced, he is not so sure. A journalist friend makes alarming discoveries on the Net. And Willie and his wife, Verity, help the townspeople fight the proposals. But he and the others are up against powerful forces: a Big State government, a Big Wind lobby and Big Money developers. The wind farm is pushed through. And the journalist's findings take on an apocalyptic feel as the wind farm makes its presence felt. The inexorable climax - the result of greed, skulduggery and uncaring dogma - is deeply shocking.

Hard Graft: Yorkshire at Work - Terry Sutton (£20)
Terry Sutton is one of Yorkshire's most gifted illustrators, and in Hard Graft he has used his talents - both as an artist and as a photographer - to pay tribute to Yorkshire's rich heritage of craftsmanship and industrial achievement - its willingness to roll up its sleeves and set to work. As well as over 75 of his own watercolours, Terry has included a carefully chosen selection of engravings and historic photographs to celebrate Yorkshire's industrial past and it appetite for hard graft. Available from mid-October. There'll be an exhibition at the Piece Hall next April.

Walking on Aire - Andy Owens
Illingworth-based Andy Owens intrepidly takes off along the River Aire in peril from psychotic motorists, homicidal livestock, sarcastic bus drivers and folk who get suspicious about you because you don't have a local accent! The cover was done by Mike Barrett of Frogs.

Magnificent Seven - ed. Andrew Collomosse (£16.99)
"Yorkshire's Championship Years: the men, the magic, the memories." The players' own story with Cragg Vale-based author and journalist Andrew Collomosse who tells the story of the men who won a magnificent seven County championships for Yorkshire and gave White Rose cicket its finest hour: Fred Trueman, Brian Close, Raymond Illingworth, Geoffrey Boycott - and Philip Sharpe, Jim Binks, Mel Ryan, Bob Platt, Richard Hutton and more.

Local Authors

Letters to Charlotte: The Letters from Ellen Nussey to Charlotte Bronte - Caeia March (£8.99)
In January 1831, two adolescent schoolgirls meet at Roe heading boarding School in Mirfield, and are instantly drawn to each other. One is Ellen Nussey; the other is Charlotte Bronte. Through a blend of journal entries, real and fictionalised letters, this touching narrative charts the intimate relationship between the pair as they become friends, confidantes and spiritual lovers. It is both a fascinating social document, and an account of how two remarkable women responded to the joys, fears and sorrows of their age, and to the deep emotional bond they found with each other. Caeia March, who is a nationally-published author, lives in Halifax.

Richard - Ben Myers (£12.99)
Mytholmroyd-based Ben Myers is the author of several works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. His writing has appeared in a number of publications including Melody Maker, NME, Mojo and the Guardian. This new novel from Picador tells the story of Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers (who vanished in 1995 and was presumed deceased in 2008) as he might have told it. A story of hope and despair in equal measure, it's an account of an unhappy young man who'll try anything and everything to get some peace from the voice in his head that tells him he's useless, that he'd be better off dead.

The Man They Couldn't Hang - Michael Crowley (£14.95)
"A Tale of Murder, Mystery and Celebrity". From a Heptonstall author and former prison writer in residence, a complete do-it-yourself bonding kit to raise issues of crime and punishment amongst groups in and out of prison or people involved with criminal justice. It's a two-act play that tells the story of John "Babbacombe" Lee, the only person in English history to have been reprieved after a gallows trap failed to open, at Exeter Prison in 1885. The hangman, James Berry from Heckmondwike, took to the boards on retirement telling gruesome tales of his former trade. This play explores the idea that Lee teamed up with Berry in a music hall act, on the latter's final release.

S.L.A.M. by Maia Craven-Smith (£7.99)
From a Halifax born and bred author who works as a teacher, a novel set in 2012 - Britain has been taken over and is under strict control. And S.L.A.M. are the Silent Law-Abiding Majority ...
A Source of Strange Delight - Poems about the Brontes (Calendar 2011), ed.Joy Howard, £3.00
A month-by-month collection featuring poets for whom a connection with the Bronte family, the Parsonage and Haworth has special meaning.

Available again:
No Priest but Love: Excerpts from the Diaries of Anne Lister, 1824-1826, ed. Helena Whitbread (£19.00)
Another selection from her diaries, covering Anne Lister's amours in Derbyshire, Halifax and Paris in 1824.



We highlight every month books we think are of particular interest: from adult fiction and non-fiction and a children's book.

Adult fiction: Things We Didn't See Coming - Steven Amsterdam (£12.99). Richly imagined, dark, and darkly comic, this novel follows a man over three decades as he tries to survive - and to retain his humanity - in a world savaged by successive cataclysmic events. But even as the world is spinning out of control, essential human impulses still hold sway - that we never entirely escape our parents, envy the success of those around us and, chiefly, that we crave love.

Adult non-fiction: A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain - Owen Hatherley (£16.99). Enjoyably disgruntled book about the nasty new buildings of millennial Britain with a lot of glum grey photos showing it all at its worst. He likes Halifax's People's Park but finds an "an almost all-pervasive air of latent violence" in the town.

Children's book: Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats - T S Eliot, illus. Axel Scheffler(£6.99). Cats! Some are sane, some are mad and some are good and some are bad. Meet magical Mr Mistoffelees, sleepy Old Deuteronomy and curious Rum Tum Tugger. But you'll be lucky to meet Macavity because Macavity's not there! This charming new edition contains original colour illustrations by the award-winning illustrator of "The Gruffalo", Axel Scheffler. We also have the hardback at £4.99.

CD: Ghostly Tales - BBC Audiobooks (£12.99). Tingle your spine with ghostly short stories read by well-known actors - "The Phantom Coach", "The Tapestried Chamber" by Sir Walter Scott, "The Judge's House" by Bram Stoker and "The Man of Science" by Jerome K. Jerome: read by Michael Maloney, Eleanor Bron and Andrew Sachs.