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  • Tuesday Top Ten: Margaret Leroy

    Tue, 06 Apr 2010 02:47

    Photos by Nikki Gibbs | |

    Margaret Leroy grew up in the New Forest and studied music at St Hilda's College, Oxford. She has worked as a music therapist, teacher, and psychiatric social worker. For two years she wrote an agony aunt column for Options magazine, and her articles and short stories have been published in the Observer, the Sunday Express and the Mail on Sunday. She has written five novels and her books have been translated into ten languages. Margaret is married with two daughters and lives in Surrey.

    Margaret's latest novel, The Perfect Mother -- a New York Times notable book of the year -- is described as having "a premise familiar from some of Hitchcock's best movies: seemingly upright people, through no fault of their own, see their lives unravel before their eyes."(Seattle Times) and is available in February.

    Here is Margaret's Tuesday Top Ten:

    A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula le Guin

    I always go back to the Earthsea books when life gets difficult: there's something so healing about the slow, intricate rhythms of Ursula Le Guin's prose.

    The Siege by Helen Dunmore

    The siege of Leningrad, told from a female, domestic perspective. You really live this story when you read it -- you feel the hunger and the cold.

    The Mabinogion

    Dream-like Welsh stories, written down in the Middle Ages, and full of strange transformations. I love the story of Blodeuedd, a beautiful girl who is conjured up from the flowers of the oak and the broom and the meadowsweet.

    The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

    It's about a small group of people thrown together by war, worn down, somehow surviving. Ondaatje writes so lyrically about the desert and Renaissance angels and Tuscan gardens under rain.

    The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagan

    Musings and jottings and lots of lists from a court lady in 10th century Japan. Her writing is intimate, sensuous, and somehow very contemporary.

    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

    An iconic psychological thriller. I've read it lots of times, but at certain twists in the plot, my heart still goes racing off.

    Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

    It's the simplest story, about two girls and their elusive aunt, who reluctantly abandons her life as a drifter to bring them up. Perhaps the most wonderfully written book I've ever read.

    The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

    Adult fairy tales -- sexy, savage, and gorgeous.

    Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

    This story of two wizards during the Napoleonic Wars is my favourite new book of recent years. When I got to the end -- page 782 -- I went straight back to the beginning and read it all again.

    The Mahabharata

    As one of the characters says as he starts to tell the story: "If you listen carefully, at the end you'll be someone else."

  • Michael Lewis's 'The Big Short'

    Fri, 02 Apr 2010 05:24

    Nothing like a chunky book on the financial markets to get you through the weekend... but, believe me, this is a good one:

    The Big Short tells a story of spectacular, epic folly. It has taken the world's greatest financial meltdown to bring Michael Lewis back to the subject that made him famous. His international bestseller Liar's Poker exposed the greed and carnage of the City and Wall Street in the 1980s; he wrote it as a cautionary tale, but people seem to have read it as a how-to guide. Now, he wants to settle accounts.

    In this visceral tour to the heart of the financial system, Michael Lewis takes us around the globe and back decades to trace the origins of the current crisis. He meets the people who saw it coming, the people who were asleep at the wheel and the people who were actively driving us all of cliff. How could we have all been so deluded for quite so long? Where did it all start? Was it systemic? Was it avoidable? And who the hell can we blame? Michael Lewis has the answers. No one is better qualified to get to the heart of this labyrinthine story. And no one can make it such an enjoyable ride along the way.

  • Nothing like a chunky book on the financial markets... but, believe me, this is a good one:

    The Big Short tells a story of spectacular, epic folly. It has taken the world's greatest financial meltdown to bring Michael Lewis back to the subject that made him famous. His international bestseller Liar's Poker exposed the greed and carnage of the City and Wall Street in the 1980s; he wrote it as a cautionary tale, but people seem to have read it as a how-to guide. Now, he wants to settle accounts.

    In this visceral tour to the heart of the financial system, Michael Lewis takes us around the globe and back decades to trace the origins of the current crisis. He meets the people who saw it coming, the people who were asleep at the wheel and the people who were actively driving us all of cliff. How could we have all been so deluded for quite so long? Where did it all start? Was it systemic? Was it avoidable? And who the hell can we blame? Michael Lewis has the answers. No one is better qualified to get to the heart of this labyrinthine story. And no one can make it such an enjoyable ride along the way.

  • In November 1960, Frank Sinatra gave Marilyn Monroe a dog. His name was Maf. He had an instinct for the twentieth century. For politics. For psychoanalysis. For literature. For interior decoration. The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe (which you can pre-order now, of course) tells Maf's fantastic story...

    Really wonderful video here:

  • Beatrice and Virgil: the video

    Wed, 31 Mar 2010 01:44

    Yann Martel -- yes, he of massive selling and 2002 Booker prize-winning Life of Pi -- has a new book coming pretty soon, Beatrice and Virgil (which you can pre-order now, of course)...

    Nice video here:

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