Here at Adventures With Words Towers, we know that sometimes, while it’s great reading a brand new book from a first-time author, the old ones can be the best. It’s worth taking some time to rediscover a few modern classics once in a while. Luckily, it turns out Hodder agree; they’re promoting some of their established authors – the backlist – to remind us about some of the good stuff already out there. Here are some suggestions to get you started…
Carter Beats the Devil – Glen David Gold
In 1923, the magician Charles Carter found himself implicated in the mysterious death of US President Harding. Glen David Gold takes the bare bones of a biography of a famous 1920s illusionist and escapologist, and fleshes it out into a marvellous and magical life story, as well as a tightly plotted thriller. The way in which Gold ramps up the tension has been compared to Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White. He brings to life the sparkle and temptation of the Jazz Age, as well as the public’s desperate need for escapism in a time of economic turmoil.
Penguins Stopped Play: Eleven Village Cricketers Take on the World – Harry Thompson
From a former writer of Have I Got News For You comes a comic tale of one of the most unusual sporting challenges ever conceived – to assemble a team of eleven men to play cricket in each of the seven continents of the globe. Except that what seems like a simple idea turns out to be a lot more complicated, what with incompetent airlines, a host of colourful international characters and a whole army of pitch-invading penguins! A top ten bestseller, this picaresque memoir is a great light read, even if you know next to nothing about cricket. Or indeed penguins, for that matter.
Mister Pip – Lloyd Jones
This wonderful book weaves its way through a tropical paradise full of dark secrets, revealing to us the dramatic effects of colonialism. Matilda is a young girl, growing up in Bourgainville, named for its lush flowers. The only white man on the island, Mr Watts, has appointed himself teacher of the tiny school, in which the only textbook is a copy of Great Expectations, so Matilda’s view of the world is influenced on the one hand by her family and traditions, and on the other hand by one of Dickens’ greatest works. Mister Pip was the winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007.
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
“Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies…” In this astonishing narrative, Mitchell guides the reader through history and lives, from the 19th century via mid- and late 20th to a far-off post-apocalyptic future to explore the development and consequences of the human desire of power and technology. Reading this book made me think of the layers of an onion, being peeled back to discover something even more exquisite, intricate but also sharp and biting. Also, because of the way the narrative is structured, the first half piques the reader’s curiosity, posing a myriad questions, which are then slowly answered and put into context as we read the second half. In 2003, Mitchell was selected as one of Granta Magazine’s Best of Young British Novelists, and Cloud Atlas was shortlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize.
What I Loved – Siri Hustvedt
This first person narrative traces the lives and loves of bohemian couples in New York’s art scene in the second half of the 20th century. The protagonists are middle class and intellectual but they are also passionate and only human, prey to lack of confidence, depression, exuberance and enthusiasm. The depiction of Bill’s art is also vivid and engaging. On top of the parental and marital dramas is an intriguing urban thriller.
Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour – Kate Fox
Kate Fox, a social anthropologist, is Co-Director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, and a Fellow of the Institute for Cultural Research. She brings this expertise to bear in her exploration of English culture and behaviour. You’ll cringe, you’ll laugh, you’ll be amused and horrified in equal measure as you recognise yourself in these pages. A really interesting sociological study that also entertains.
All these books are out now!
Kate Neilan @Magic_kitten