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Book-ish: Book Reviews

The best reads that have landed on our desk this week

Published on August 2nd 2011.

Book-ish: Book Reviews

Twenties London: Sex, Shopping & Suburban Dreams by Mike Hutton

THE roaring ’20s was said to be a decade unlike any other as Britain turned from war to peace, determined to embrace the new. At the heart of it all was cosmopolitan London; the world's greatest capital city was embracing change on all fronts.

Twenties London sets out to cover as much of this as possible. Mike Hutton chronicles London’s social, sporting, retail, theatrical, gastronomic and fashion worlds with plenty of anecdotes to amuse and enlighten. Anything you want to know about dancing, drugs, cocktails, hotels, department stores, horse racing, night-clubs, boxing, jazz, tennis, fashion, film, stage, books, magazines, suburbia and scandal and murder, it's all in there.

Valentino, Cole Porter, Gershwin and Noel Coward are among the usual suspects, along with some great portrayals of lesser-known characters such as the infamous nightclub hostess Kate Merrick and black performers Florence Mills and Leslie Hutchinson. Ignoring the omission of some of the decade’s greatest moments, such as the Empire exhibition of 1924, and the lack of an index, this is a fantastic introduction to a thriving era for our great capital.

Twenties London: Sex, Shopping & Suburban Dreams was published on 30th June, Book Guild Publishing, £9.99.



Long Gone

Long Gone by Alafair Burke


Alice Humphrey is alone and unemployed. She is doing her best to extricate herself from her past and start a new life. A brief encounter with Drew Campbell gives her a dream opportunity ­– a job managing a gallery of her own in Manhattan's trendy Meatpacking District.

Drew offers her the position at the gallery within moments of meeting her. Yet when protestors start picketing outside the first show due to the use of daring imagery in some paintings, an investigation into the age of the model in one of the provocative images is called for. Then one morning, Alice turns up to find the gallery stripped bare of everything except her recruiter's dead body. Worse still, the investigation reveals Drew wasn't actually who he said he was and Alice becomes the prime suspect.

Alafair builds suspense with intricate details of Alice's background at the beginning until she unleashes an unpredictable and winding array of plot twists, complete with intricately linked characters that make this fast-paced mystery a page-turner.

Long Gone was published on 21st July, Avon publishing, £6.99.



The Darling Strumpet 

The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell


The long-awaited novel, The Darling Strumpet, set in seventeenth century Covent Garden, finally makes its debut to the UK on the 4th of August. Gillian Bagwell writes a stunningly detailed novel based on the famous courtesan Nell Gwynn who ‘captured the heart of the King...’, and effortlessly captures the heart of any reader.  

The novel is said to of taken twenty years to write, which makes it no wonder that Bagwell is critically praised for writing with such precision and wealth of detail. The potent opening of the novel, and the explicit scenes, transports us from reader to voyeur. Bagwell provides the reader with an integral understanding of the role of women and the dominance of men in the seventeenth century. A must read for any avid reader of historical drama.     

The Darling Strumpet will be published on the 4th of August 2011, HarperCollins paperback, £6.99.






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